HANSON — A lawyer for five former Recreation Commission members named in labor lawyer Leo Peloquin’s report on mismanagement of Camp Kiwanee has filed a report refuting Peloquin’s findings with Peloquin, who has forwarded copies to the Board of Selectmen.
The report dated Nov. 28 charges that Peloquin’s findings were “designed for the sole purpose of justifying the expenditure of $62,905 … for an investigation that far exceeded its scope,” according to attorney George H. Boerger of Duxbury, who is representing Kiwannee caretaker James Flanagan and former Recreation Commission members Maria McClellan, Sue Lonergan, Dave Blauss and Janet Agius.
At the Nov. 29 Selectmen’s meeting, however, the issue was not posted on the agenda at the recommendation of Town Administrator Michael McCue, following discussions with Selectmen Chairman James McGahan and Peloquin.
“There was information provided that went to town counsel and he’s reviewing it,” McCue told Selectmen at the Nov. 29 meeting. “I believe town counsel will be before the board at the next meeting on Dec. 13 to advise the board on his recommendations and findings.”
McCue assured Boerger in an email about the agenda decision that he would “make the Board aware of your request to come before the Board at a future meeting,” McCue.
McCue was not available for further comment this week due to illness.
Boerger’s report said his clients do not have the resources to respond to every single allegation in Peloquin’s report, but highlighted “key facts and errors, which should call into question most, if not all of the allegations.”
According to Boerger’s report:
• The original audit conducted on Camp Kiwanee’s operations did not lead to the investigation ultimately conducted;
• The Recreation Committee had been prohibited from accessing camp files for the last two years;
• There was cooperation among commission members with the investigation;
• Issues raised concerning the Kiwanee Cash program were resolved more than two years ago;
• Allegations of improper rates charged are not accurate;
• David Blauss’ cousin was permitted to stay at the camp to bolster security and stopped when ordered to; and that
• Criticism of his clients for attempting to micromanage the camp are unjust.
• He also stressed that McClellan was not the “administrator” of Kiwanee Cash, as Peloquin had repeatedly described her, but had only volunteered to type records because, as a retiree, she had the time.
Boerger wrote that investigation interviews with Lonergan, McClellan and Dave Blauss were either never scheduled by former interim Town Administrator Richard LaCamera or were delayed. McClellan, for example offered to meet with Peloquin as early as May 3, but was not contacted for an interview until Sept. 19.
McClellan, Lonergan, Dave Blauss, Agius and James Flanagan are now hoping they will have their chance to review Boerger’s report in a public meeting.
“I am so disappointed in this investigation and the people who could have handled it so differently,” McClellan wrote in an Oct. 20 letter to McCue and McGahan attached to Boerger’s report. “You have beaten up some very great people by accepting evidence from people with clear agendas to keep their own jobs and destroy other people.”
Boerger also opined that the scope of the investigation and Peloquin’s report were “an attempt to destroy the reputation” of his clients as well as being extremely detrimental to the town, which relies on volunteers to fill many positions.
“Could operations of Camp Kiwanee been improved? Certainly,” Boerger wrote in his conclusions. “Was there ever any intent by the respondents to gain any improper advantage from their role with Camp Kiwanee? Absolutely not!”
Selectman Bruce Young, who has been supportive of the Recreation Commission, declined comment on the rebuttal report at this time.
“I will refrain from making any comments on this, until we receive the formal response and possible amended version of the original investigative report from Atty. Peloquin,” Young stated in an email to the Express Tuesday, Dec. 6. Young noted that Peloquin is preparing a response to Boerger’s rebuttal, which he plans to email to Selectmen before the Dec. 13 meeting, and urged the board to hold off on permitting Boerger to make a presentation until after the board has received his response, “i.e., everything is in.”
McGahan said Dec. 6 that he felt the Recreation Commission already went over many of the points touched on in Boerger’s report at the Oct. 18 Selectmen’s meeting.
“I don’t want to go into complaints about how things were done,” McGahan said. “I want them to go into hard evidence. They’ve been accused of misusing the camp up there for their own purpose and I’d like them to come back with some sort of concrete evidence — ‘Here’s my cancelled check’ — but I’ve not seen anything to refute any of those specific charges.”
Recreation members have been seeking a public forum to present their rebuttal. In answer to a question from James Flanagan at the Aug. 23 selectmen’s meeting, McGahan said that, in his personal opinion, once the investigation was complete and on paper, it should be made available to all parties involved, which was done in October.
“I would like to see that,” McGahan had said, agreeing with James Flanagan’s request that a public session be held to discuss it, including refutations from those named in the investigation.
“Open discussion on that document would be open to the public,” McGahan said in August, but contends the Oct. 18 meeting provided that forum.
Selectmen, at that meeting decided that those named in the report could have until Nov. 30 to file corrections with Peloquin’s office.
McGahan had cited the Nov. 30 deadline in his statement against voting to appoint a new Recreation Commission at that meeting.
“Maybe something else is coming up, I don’t know,” he said. Selectman Kenny Mitchell agreed, saying he wanted the Camp Kiwanee issues behind them before a vote.
Some residents have expressed dismay at the board’s decision not to vote on the slate of applicants which is: former Recreation Commission members Audrey Flanagan and Kevin Cameron, John Mahoney, Diane Cohen, Brian Fruzetti, Brian Smith and John Zucco.
“I felt we’re still doing the investigation on this [commission],” McGahan said Tuesday, Dec. 6. “I also want to check on what the director’s position description is, I want to make sure that’s where it should be.”
He also said he’d like to see some new faces on the commission.
Young asked when the Recreation Commission members could expect to publicly refute the report as they were told they could expect to do.