HANSON — And then there were none.
As of 8:15 a.m., Monday, Aug. 15, the entire seven-member Hanson Recreation Commission had resigned, stating their ability to function effectively has been “severely compromised” by the prolonged investigation of Camp Kiwanee operations.
Chairman James Hickey had resigned during the Recreation Commission’s Thursday, Aug. 11 meeting.
Camp Kiwanee’s operations, including Cranberry Cove, are not affected by the resignation, officials say.
The resignation letter, signed by six of the commission members [see page 12] described a “shroud of secrecy and impending doom outside of our control” which they had been instructed not to speak about as the investigation continued.
“This brings the total number of volunteers and caretaking staff who have been hounded and harassed by the Town Administrator [former interim Town Administrator Richard LaCamera and current Town Administrator Michael McCue] and labor counsel to 17,” according to a former staff member.
McCue and the Board of Selectmen maintain that, on the whole, the commission has been less than helpful throughout the process.
“With few exceptions, Commission members and Commission employees, including those of longstanding tenure, have been less than fully cooperative,” McCue stated. “Dealing with the lack of cooperation has delayed the conclusion of the investigation.”
He and Selectmen “regret that it has come to this but we respect their decision,” McCue said.
“Monday morning, this office and the Board of Selectmen received the resignations of the remaining members of the Recreation Commission,” McCue said. “When it was brought to the attention of the Board and this office that there were issues with the way business was being conducted at Camp Kiwanee, an investigation was compelled and began in late March.”
Selectmen voted 5-0 Tuesday, April 19 to continue an audit review begun by interim Town Administrator Richard LaCamera under the oversight of town labor counsel Leo Peloquin, rather than starting over again when McCue began work on May 9.
That investigation is not yet complete, costing the town $27,572.50 since February 2016 [see chart].
The town’s auditor — Lynch, Malloy, Marini LLP — had made some suggestions and comments concerning documentation of employee work hours, integration of the Camp Kiwanee computer system into the town’s system, adherence to the fee schedule for rental facilities, improved tracking of receipts, the need for an inventory log and a better process for issuing beach passes.
LaCamera was also taking a “closer look at some of those issues” after the December 2015 audit.
LaCamera had resigned abruptly during an April 12 Selectmen’s meeting following a heated exchange with then-Selectmen Chairman Bruce Young over the Bluegrass on the Bogs contract negotiation that involved allegations of drinking at Camp Kiwanee. LaCamera’s scheduled departure date had been April 22.
“Mr. LaCamera started this project as a result of findings by the town auditor in the town’s annual audit,” Young said at the time. “The inquiry started by the town administrator is not complete. It must be completed with a report and recommendation provided to the Board of Selectmen.”
The investigation will continue, officials maintain.
“Notwithstanding the recent and past resignations, the inquiry will continue to its conclusion,” McCue said. “The goal of this office and the Board has been, and continues to be, to insure that business operations are conducted appropriately at Camp Kiwanee. The Board and this office intend to honor all scheduled events and programs, now and in the future, at Camp Kiwanee.”
In July eight non-union employees resigned due to the extreme scrutiny of unsubstantiated claims, according to the former staff member, adding that one commission member resigned in January due to extreme online harassment by anonymous Facebook accounts. On May 2, the Board of Selectman dismissed Recreation Commission Chairman David Blauss citing his non-cooperation in the Camp Kiwanee Investigation, they said.