The Town Council's approval of a new Assistant Town Clerk was delayed on Tuesday night when a member objected to an expedited request, arguing that there was no emergency despite the looming presidential election.
Town Clerk Joe Powers asked for same night action on the appointment, but was denied when Councilor Leland Dingee said that he saw no compelling reason to ratify the clerk's choice for a new employee without the normal process of referring the matter to committee and then back to the full council.
"It's for emergency measures," Dingee said. "It has nothing to do with the person. It's the procedure and policy of the council."
That person, who will replace former Assistant Town Clerk Deborah Carlino, was not named by Powers on Tuesday. Powers said after the meeting that he will present the new assistant clerk's name and the procedure he followed in selecting him or her to the Committee on Personnel Issues. The appointment approval was sent to that committee by unanimous vote.
Carlino resigned in August, Powers said. He declined to say whether she provided a reason for leaving, referring inquiries to human resources.
Powers said he declined to name his appointee Tuesday night because even the council is not aware of the person nor the other candidates, and for them or their current employers to learn about the matter through the press ahead of time would be inappropriate.
"I'm very excited about the person I have chosen," Powers said. "The person is going to do a great job."
Not everyone on the council agreed that allowing same night action would have set an improper precedent. On the contrary, Councilor Tom Bowes said, the council has been presented with 12 requests for same night action since its inception in 2008 and approved 11 of those. The 12th did not go through because of a family illness, he said.
What about the upcoming appointment of a new police chief? Bowes asked. Will the council approve a likely same night action request from the mayor on that or will it follow precedent set on Tuesday and delay the appointment because it is not an emergency?
Dingee said after the meeting that he will review that request like all others, with an eye for necessity.
Responding to a question on that necessity from Councilor Ronald DeNapoli, Powers said that "time is of the essence" because of the upcoming election.
"I'm just looking to get my staff in place as soon as I can," Powers said. "Four weeks from today we have a federal election that is going to be quite significant."
The Braintree Town Charter gives the Town Clerk the power to appoint an assistant. Councilors must only approve or disapprove of the selection, Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray wrote in a memo to the council.
Also, in response to a request from Council President Charles Kokoros, Murray said that resumes are confidential personnel records and the council "is not automatically entitled to receive a copy."