GROTON -- Selectmen are looking to create a communications policy after Town Manager Mark Haddad refused to communicate with some members of the local media, prompting a complaint from a Groton-based online publisher.
Discussions on the policies may also include whether the town should appoint someone else as its spokesperson so that Haddad won't have to talk to the press.
At a selectmen's meeting Monday night, Art Campbell, publisher of The Groton Line, proposed the Board of Selectmen consider establishing a media policy to ensure better communication between the Town Manager's Office and news organizations.
Campbell complained Haddad has not responded to his inquiries in years saying Dec. 14, 2011, was the last time Haddad emailed him.
Campbell told the board that news organizations help municipal governments disseminate information to residents and said Haddad should not let his personal feelings toward particular entities interfere with his professional conduct. Campbell of Groton, also noted that he expects town employees to deal with all residents in the same manner.
Selectman Anna Eliot said there is nothing in the Town Charter that obligates the town manager to respond to media inquiries, but said the board could create a communications policy. Selectmen Chairman Joshua Degen said he respects Haddad's right not to respond to inquiries and proposed to appoint a "communications officer" to work around the issue.
Degen noted Town Clerk Michael Bouchard is willing to take on the role.
"The idea to having to establish a communications officer is like adding a fifth wheel to a vehicle that is not working," Selectman Jack Petropoulos said. "We need to fix the vehicle."
Petropoulos said the board needs to make sure Haddad provides services to everyone equally and nothing less would be acceptable.
The Sun had no part in Campbell's request to establish media policy. When asked by a Sun reporter why the board was not trying to determine whether Campbell's complaint is warranted and why Haddad was allegedly refusing to deal with the media, Degen noted during the meeting that he understood that Haddad has "personal issues" that kept him from talking to The Groton Line. He has talked with Haddad about his refusal to communicate with the media over the years, Degen said.
During the meeting, Degen asked Haddad if he wanted to explain why he did not want to communicate with The Groton Line.
"No comment," Haddad said.
The board agreed to discuss communications policies.
Also at the meeting, selectmen approved a temporary contract for Fire Chief Joseph Bosselait, who officially retired from the position Monday. Since incoming Chief Steele McCurdy will start Aug. 18, Bosselait agreed to stay in the position on a temporary basis until then, Haddad said. Bosselait will work at the hourly rate of $52.24 until Aug. 18.