HANSON — The abrupt resignation of former interim Town Administrator Richard LaCamera, who walked out in the midst of the Tuesday, April 12 Board of Selectmen’s meeting, was not immediately recognized for what it was by the board when it happened.
At the end of the meeting, Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young had expressed confidence that, when he calmed down, LaCamera would be back to work the next day. Young, too, had been so angry that he contemplated walking out of the meeting, but was convinced to stay.
It was not until members of the board found the note in the second-floor Selectmen’s office later in the evening that it was clear what LaCamera had meant when he had gathered up his files, saying, “I’ve had enough,” after the second of two contentious discussions about an audit of Camp Kiwanee.
“He did leave a message on his desk, saying that he was resigning immediately,” Young said Friday, April 15.
LaCamera’s last day had been scheduled for Friday, April 22, after he completed Town Meeting preparations. That was accomplished when selectmen voted to finalize and sign the warrants on April 12. He had submitted his 30-day notice a few weeks ago, Young said.
“He was there on a temporary basis, he served the town well and we have actually signed a contract with a new town administrator the following night (Wednesday, April 13) for a three-year contract,” Young said.
Michael McCue will begin serving as town administrator on Monday, May 9.
McCue and selectmen signed a three-year contract with an automatic one-year renewal and which returns an indemnification clause, such as the one in former Town Administrator Réne Read’s contract, during an executive session on Wednesday, April 13. Young said indemnification, required by MGL Chapter 258 Section 9, holds the town to indemnification not to exceed $1 million.
McCue has been most recently town administrator in Rochester and prior to that in Avon. He has also served as assistant to the Mendon Board of Selectmen and was himself a selectman in Mansfield.
Young declined to comment on why or why not LaCamera would suddenly resign. A request for comment from LaCamera was not responded to by presstime this week.
Immediately before his departure, LaCamera had engaged in a heated exchange with Young over the chairman’s comments concerning drinking at Camp Kiwanee as the issue was being discussed as one of the safety and security concerns surrounding the Bluegrass on the Bog festival.
Two women in the audience had just given conflicting comments about drinking during the festival.
Event organizer Michael Foster said alcohol is not permitted at the festival, but a Hanson resident said she had seen drinking when she visited the festival last year with her two children, challenging Recreation Commission Chairman David Blauss’ statement last week that it is a family event. Another resident in the audience challenged that accusation.
“There was alcohol, I’ve seen it,” said Kristine Briggs Coose.
“Just because there’s a red Solo cup, doesn’t mean there’s alcohol in it,” the second woman countered. “I understand there’s a song about it, but it doesn’t always mean that.”
Young had said “people drink everywhere,” comparing any alcohol consumption at public events with restaurants to which parents bring children where there are bars.
“What comes to mind is you’ve got a bunch of drunks up there, walking around bothering people and accosting them and forcing people off the premises,” he said of the depictions of festival behavior. “There can be people drinking, but they can be civil, I mean people drink everywhere, almost, they’re not accosting people.”
LaCamera had then pointed out that police details are required.
After the discussion concluded, LaCamera confronted Young in an exchange difficult to hear in the noisy room as the crowd filed out, but which was picked up clearly by Whitman-Hanson Community Access microphones.
“You’re out of line, Bruce,” LaCamera said as people were leaving. “You were way out of line.”
“I’m out of line?” Young replied.
“You were way out of line,” LaCamera repeated.
“How am I out of line?” Young asked.
“Come in and see me tomorrow morning, because I’m probably leaving tomorrow,” LaCamera said, jabbing a finger in Young’s direction.
“How the hell am I out of line?” Young asked. “You’d like to tell me, go. Let’s do it right now.”
“Defending them and saying that drinking is OK?” LaCamera said.
“No, I didn’t say that,” Young countered.
“Yes, you did,” LaCamera said.
“I never said that. Never in the world did I say that,” Young said.
“I can’t believe it,” LaCamera said.
“Let’s do it right now,” Young said. “Let’s do it right now.
“We’re not going to do it right now,” LaCamera said.
Selectmen Kenny Mitchell and James McGahan urged a short recess to cool the air.
“He’s not going to accuse me of … I’m taking a short recess is right,” Young said, banging the gavel.
“Yeah, goodbye,” LaCamera said. “I’ve had enough.”