Selectmen Again Seek To Abolish Stoneham Board

2007 MAY - Failed At Last Year’s Town Meeting - Stoneham’s Selectmen are a tenacious bunch. It seems they
intend to clutter Town Meeting with the same warrant article that was soundly
defeated last year.

The article, which would be heard at Town Meeting on May 7,
would eliminate the Stoneham Retirement Board and transfer its duties to the
State Retirement Board. Employees would remain employees of the town.

Last year, freshman Selectman John DePinto, angered by the
Board’s refusal to advertise for the board’s fifth seat, was the moving force
behind the Town Meeting article. The Board had voted a new three-year term for
25-year Board member Janice Houghton. A local bank president, Houghton is the
Board’s chairman.

DePinto said that, “It sounds like a Kangaroo Court to me. I
can’t see how a Board could refuse to advertise and just snub their noses at
the rest of us like that.” DePinto said he had nothing against Houghton and his
frustration centered on the process.

Houghton explained that past practice has always been to ask
the current fifth member if they wished to remain with the Board at the end of
each term. “In the 25-years I’ve served on the Board, it’s never been
advertised, and when they asked me if I wanted to stay, I said yes, I enjoy it
and I work with a great group,” Houghton said.

This year, an article in a local paper, The Stoneham
Independent, indicated that Board members Elsie Wallace and Jim McDermott plan
to attend a national conference in Honolulu this spring. According to DePinto,
the trip was another example of how the Board expends funding at the expense of
retirees who could benefit from abstaining such a trip.

“Not so,” says Wallace. “We put some money aside for
educational conferences, but I know that no Board member intended to go to Honolulu.
However, we will be attending the retirement systems’ in-state school and
conference this spring. It’s part of our duty.”

“Stoneham members can be assured that we will again work
with the Board’s two elected members (Jim McDermott, Elsie Wallace) and any
other Board members to defeat an attempt to abolish the Stoneham Board,” says
Association President Ralph White. “It’s all about petty politics.”