AYER - Ayer Finance Committee Chairman Scott Houde vented to his committee on Sept. 12 meeting, voicing his displeasure with Ayer Board of Selectmen Chairman Jim Fay. The flap stems out of the Sept. 5 joint meeting of the two groups to discuss the Ayer-Shirley High School project.
Houde said it was "very disrespectful to the members of our committee" when Fay effectively self-appointed himself as the chairman of the joint meeting, then allegedly called on selectmen first and had Finance Committee members wait to be heard on the subject at hand.
"I have no problem if the Board of Selectman chair wants to take the lead, but favoritism should not be shown to his own board," said Houde. Houde recalled Fay entertained "five or six questions" from the selectmen before allowing Finance Committee member Michael Pattenden to speak though he'd raised his hand before others.
Fay also sought a motion to adjourn the meeting which quickly passed and caused the audience to get up to leave. Actually, the Finance Committee was still in session and hadn't adjourned, said Houde, but he threw in the towel and left the room. After the meeting Houde and Fay huddled in the hallway and Houde voiced his concerns directly to Fay.
"I vowed before - this happened before - that it would not happen again," said Houde. "I apologize on our behalf. I'll work very diligently to be treated as equals."
"You were clearly slightly upset," said Pattenden to Houde.
"It just didn't look comfortable," said Muldoon. "I just thought it was unprofessional."
Muldoon said he had his hand up to pose a question but was not recognized to speak from his audience seat.
Asked for comment, Fay responded on Wednesday, "Scott and I had a conversation to resolve his displeasure with how the meeting ended. We agreed at the next joint session we would agree ahead of time as to conduct of future joint meetings."
"My mindset was that I would conduct the Ayer BOS portion and then defer to Fincom for their portion. My thought process was have Scott run his portion of the meeting," said Fay. "When I called for Adjournment it was relative in my mind only to the BOS as I did not have authority over the Fincom. We convened our meetings separately and adjourned our meetings separately."
"There was never any intended disrespect on my part to any of the members and we have agreed to insure this will not be perceived in the future," said Fay. "The short story is that this issue is now a non-issue given Scott and I came to an understanding."
Follow Mary Arata on facebook.com/mary.arata and twitter.com/maryearata.