Selectman, vehicle-use policy approved

BROOKLINE – The town has a new selectman and a new vehicle-use policy, and both have been around before.

The new selectman, who fills the vacancy left by Bill Owens, is Tad Putney, a member of the town’s finance committee.

Owens resigned recently due to health problems.

Putney has lived in town for about three years. He is a former compensation consultant in the financial industry and has been active in community affairs, including helping to start the weekly farmers market; advocating for improved pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety; and encouraging residents to join a “study circle” aimed at updating the town’s master plan.

Putney holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance, is the father of three and has been a full-time at-home dad for the past three years.

He was one of two candidates who threw their hats into the ring.

Attorney Bob Parodi, a former selectman, also offered to fill the term that ends in March.

Both candidates attended the board meeting Monday night, and each was asked to tell the board why he wanted the job.

“I put my name in to help out, but I have a question for Tad,” Parodi told the board when it was his turn to speak. “Are you going to run in March? If you want to try it, I’d like to withdraw my name.”

Selectmen’s Chairwoman Linda Saari told Parodi, “You’re an easy person to take us through the budget season.”

Putney told the board he planned to step down from the finance committee and had already found a replacement, resident Larry Rodman.

Rodman won’t take over the job, however, until after the board announces the open seat on the committee. The board will consider other applicants, Saari said.

Selectman James McElroy said he received 11 letters from townspeople expressing support for Putney, who the board approved by a 3-0 vote. Selectman Kevin Gorgoglione showed up late to the meeting because of a work emergency.

The board also approved a revised vehicle-use policy, a process that began in July amid concerns about skyrocketing gasoline prices.

At issue was the police chief’s use of his town vehicle to commute to and from his home in Nashua every day, a 25-mile roundtrip.

The town allows public safety department heads to use town vehicles to commute to and from home, a practice thought to reduce response time in the event of an emergency.

But selectmen singled out Police Chief Thomas Goulden for having the longest commute.

The fire chief lives less than a quarter-mile from the fire station, and the ambulance director, who lives in Pepperell, Mass., uses his own vehicle, which is equipped with a radio.

After changing a number of “shalls” to “mays” throughout the policy, the board approved the policy, 3-1.

Saari, McElroy and Gorgoglione voted in favor, while Selectman Clarence Farwell opposed the revised policy.

“As it is now, it hasn’t really changed,” Saari said of the vehicle-use policy. “It’s been clarified. It hasn’t really changed.”

“My personal opinion is that the vehicle should be used by people in town. I still don’t believe we should be having a vehicle driven to Nashua a couple of times a day.”

Said Farwell, “If you really want my vote, I would put this in the round file.”