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Monday, April 18, 2011

Brookline selectmen schedule private meeting to discuss relationship between police chief and his secretary

BROOKLINE – The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a nonpublic session today to discuss the relationship between the police chief and his secretary.

The meeting scheduled for this evening was called by Selectman Darrell Philpot in response to e-mails and comments on newspaper websites about the personal relationship between Chief William Quigley III and his administrative assistant, Donna Matheson.

Philpot, who was elected in March to a first term on the board, said he was concerned about both “real and perceived” conflicts of interest stemming from Quigley’s relationship with the secretary.

He also noted that according to town police rules about “on-duty relationships,” officers are directed to “avoid romantic relationships that would detract from the image of the department or interfere with the quantity or quality of work performed by either party, or with the ability to supervise or be supervised.”

Philpot, who served in the Marines for 20 years and is vice president for Information Technology at BAE, has posted the Brookline police rules, a 20-page document, on his FaceBook page.

Philpot said residents are “continually mentioning” the relationship in e-mails and online, and he has also heard comments from people outside the community.

“An interesting thing happened. I was putting in for a security clearance (at work) and the investigator who came up from Boston, a person in my company, was aware of what was going on in Brookline,” Philpot said.

The selectman said companies, and the military, generally frown on personal relationships between supervisors and employees because of “real or perceived” concerns about fairness.

“A peer or subordinate may wonder if they’re getting a fair shake,” Philpot said. “It creates an environment where people are unsure how their work will be viewed.”

Quigley hired Matheson, with whom he has a personal relationship, as full-time administrative assistant after the longtime secretary, Celia Lingley, resigned in January.

When he was hired in October, Quigley received the board’s permission to hire Matheson as a temporary administrative assistant. Several months later, the chief submitted a petition warrant article asking voters to fund a permanent position for Matheson.

He withdrew the warrant article following Lingley’s resignation and appointed Matheson to the full-time position without first posting it.

In her resignation letter, Lingley, administrative assistant for 15 years, said she felt Quigley questioned her loyalty and her skills. She said she had been demoted to a data entry clerk.

Late last month, during a question-and-answer session with the police chief, a resident asked about the chief’s relationship with Matheson.

Minutes from the March 28, say that “Scott Delage asked if the chief can be objective having his personal assistant work for him. Bill (Quigley) said Donna is a highly qualified administrative assistant and his personal life is his business.”

Because of the personal nature of the discussion and the potential for injuring reputations, the board is expected to conduct the meeting in nonpublic session.

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 24 or hbernstein@cabinet.com.