Selectmen voted – again – to dismiss Jim Dombrowski, Karen Bowen and Joanne Demack- Harding from the Conservation Commission following a two-hour closed-door hearing.
The vote to dismiss Dombrowski was 5-0. The vote to dismiss Bowen and Demack-Harding was a 4-1 vote, with Selectman Tim Chapin voting no.
The board voted unanimously to rescind the 15-day suspension of Lynne Mullen. However, she already served the suspension following the original August hearing,
Bowen, Mullen, and Demack-Harding appeared at the hearing with an attorney. Dombrowski did not attend the hearing. The four members had the choice of having the hearing in public session or in executive session.
The hearing centered around a site visit to a Dale Street property. More details are available here and here.
The Abington Town Charter allows the Board of Selectmen to remove or suspend members of appointed boards for certain reasons including “but not be limited to incapacity other than temporary illness, inefficiency, insubordination and conduct unbecoming the office.” Selectmen declined to cite the reasoning behind the dismissals, saying they couldn’t comment until the meeting minutes are approved.
Mullen and Demack-Harding declined to comment on the hearing or its outcome saying they’re “investigating options.”
“I’m going to continue to support the environment regardless of whether I’m on any committee or not,” Demack-Harding said.
Bowen said she wouldn’t challenge the decision.
“I won’t give them the satisfaction of wasting my time & energy,” she said. “I can be a better conservation advocate not being restricted. After all, isn’t conservation supposed to be about protecting our natural resources & having a clean, healthy environment to leave for the generations behind us?
Selectmen issued the following statement following the hearing:
“As you are aware, on the agenda for executive session was the contemplated discipline of 4 members of the Conservation Commission. After an administrative hearing, including evidence presented on behalf of the officials involved, the Board has voted the following
-With respect Ms. Mullen, no discipline was imposed
-With respect to Mr. Dombrowski, Ms. Bowen and Ms. Mullen, the Board voted to remove all 3 members.
“I understand that members of the public may have been frustrated by this matter being held in executive session. As a Board, we must always balance the public’s right to know against any statutory rights of those accused. Here, the individuals had the opportunity to request that the matter be declared public. No request was made. The Board will respect the individuals decisions.”