March 12 marked the beginning of the end for DiLibero’s job as administrator. At a council meeting, it was revealed that he had been aware since January 2011 of National Park Service objections to the installation of wind turbines at Ninigret Park, but had failed to inform the council of his communications with the agency. Citing the turbine issue, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, a local political advocacy group, had been calling for DiLibero’s termination for several weeks. CCA sent out a series of emails featuring comments from its readers, largely critical of DiLibero.
CHARLESTOWN – Town Administrator William DiLibero quit on Thursday night after less than two years on the job, his departure officially muted and unexplained.
DiLibero listened calmly as Town Council President Thomas Gentz announced his resignation at the conclusion of a 90-minute executive session attended by council members, DiLibero and the town’s lawyer.
“The Town Council of the town of Charlestown is unanimously accepting William DiLibero’s resignation as town administrator, effective June 18, 2012,” Gentz said. “He will be vacating his duties tonight. The town will give him a severance of four months after his resignation date, to allow Mr. DiLibero time to transition into new employment. The Town Council thanks Mr. DiLibero for his commitment to the town, and wishes him well.”
Fifteen residents waited in the council chambers during the closed session, anticipating a decision that had been five weeks in the making. Councilor Gregory Avedisian left before the end of the executive session. The remaining council members, DiLibero, and Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero left quickly after the meeting.
Vice President Daniel Slattery, Councilors Lisa DiBello and Marjorie Frank, and Ruggiero declined to comment on the matter. Gentz could not be reached after the meeting for comment.
DiLibero declined to comment, other than to offer one parting statement: “It’s been a pleasure working for the town.”
March 12 marked the beginning of the end for DiLibero’s job as administrator. At a council meeting, it was revealed that he had been aware since January 2011 of National Park Service objections to the installation of wind turbines at Ninigret Park, but had failed to inform the council of his communications with the agency.
Citing the turbine issue, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, a local political advocacy group, had been calling for DiLibero’s termination for several weeks. CCA sent out a series of emails featuring comments from its readers, largely critical of DiLibero.
DiLibero had expressed an interest in installing wind turbines along the border of the park, but a regional official of the agency told him in January 2011 that such a use would be prohibited under the terms of the federal government’s transfer of Ninigret Park to the town 20 years earlier.
While most in attendance Thursday night declined to comment, Economic Improvement Commission Chairman Frank Glista and Parks and Recreation Commission Chairwoman Paula Andersen, both supporters of DiLibero, expressed their dismay that he would be leaving Charlestown.
“I feel badly that it went the way it went, but I think Bill had pretty much made his decision, and it went friendly,” Andersen said.
“We’ve enjoyed having you,” Glista said to DiLibero as he was getting into his car. “You’ve been a tremendous asset to the town, and we’re sorry to see you go.”
“I think the whole [Town Hall] staff is sad to see you go, Bill,” Andersen added before DiLibero drove off. “They held you in high esteem.”
DiLibero was hired in May 2010 after serving as Hopkinton’s town manager for three years.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Ruth Platner, who is listed on CCA’s website as providing technical support for the organization, said she felt the appropriate action had been taken.
“The administrator serves at the pleasure of the council,” she said. “It’s different than a regular employee. So if it any point, for any reason, the council’s not comfortable with their administrator, then it’s appropriate that they resign.”
On April 9, the council began a “personnel discussion” with DiLibero in a closed session. Before the executive session, DiBello – fired from her post as parks and recreation director in May 2010 at the recommendation of DiLibero – said she would recuse herself from the matter. In the meantime, she requested a ruling from the state Ethics Commission to determine whether she could participate in the council’s proceedings with the administrator.
DiBello has a pending lawsuit in Superior Court against the town over her termination. DiLibero is a defendant, along with Avedisian and Frank.
On Tuesday, the commission released an official advisory opinion concluding that DiBello, elected to the council in November 2010, was within her rights as a councilor to participate in the personnel decision. According to the advisory, DiBello told the commission that any concerns she had about DiLibero related to his performance during her time on the council.
“The petitioner represents that the issues up for discussion relative to the town administrator are unrelated to the factual allegations of the petitioner’s lawsuit” the Ethics Commission opinion said. “As such, her participation in the Town Council’s consideration of the town administrator’s recent job performance is not likely to result in a direct financial impact upon the petitioner or her Superior Court lawsuit.”
In addition to the wind turbine issue, DiLibero came under fire in February for editing and approving an email, written by Parks and Recreation Director Jay Primiano, in support of the installation of sports lighting at Ninigret Park. DiLibero said that his involvement with the email was not intended as advocacy, as his critics had charged.
Slattery recommended that a reprimand be placed in DiLibero’s file over the matter. A vote was taken and passed 3-to-2, with Slattery, Gentz and DiBello in favor of the reprimand, and Avedisian and Frank opposed.
The agenda for the council’s next meeting on April 23 – which was posted to the Secretary of State’s website at 9:17 a.m. on Thursday – includes the item “Discussion and possible appointment of an acting town administrator.”
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