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Monday, January 30, 2012

Putney’s Brookline selectman stint done

BROOKLINE – The town’s top board will need new leadership, after Tad Putney announced this week that he would not be running for re-election.

Putney, chairman of the town Board of Selectmen, made the announcement at a public hearing on this year’s proposed town budget last Monday night. Putney, a stay-at-home dad, said he’s a firm believer in term limits and that the amount of work required of him as chairman convinced him it’s time for Brookline to hire a town administrator.

Putney said that by far the chief reason for his departure is a strong belief that public office should be a revolving door. New ideas among town leaders are vital, he said.

“It’s useful after 31⁄2 years to step aside and hopefully let someone else come in to serve the town,” he said. “I’m a firm believer in term limits, and I feel I need to live by that belief myself.”

Putney was appointed to finish the term of Dale Owens, and was then elected to his own term in March 2009.

Putney said he spends a good 20 to 25 hours a week on town and Board of Selectmen’s business, from preparing for meetings, taking care of his “to do list” after each meeting and then dealing with issues that crop up during the week.

Relying on a volunteer to take care of that much work isn’t sustainable, he said, since not everyone who serves has that much time.

“I suggest that as a town, we’re at a point that we need a full-time town administrator,” Putney said. “I feel that’s probably not in the town’s best interest moving forward to have to depend on a board member to do that.”

An article on this year’s warrant asks voters if they want to spend approximately $60,000 to hire a full-time administrator.

Putney said his term being dominated by turmoil, chiefly centering on the town Police Department, did not play a part in his decision.

“If we had a quiet last 18 months, I firmly believe I would make the same decision,” he said.

The town is on its third police chief since Putney took office. Thomas Goulden was fired in 2010. The town hired former Hollis and state police veteran William Quigley III to replace him. On Tuesday, Putney was in Hillsborough County Superior Court because former police Sgt. Michael Kurland, who served as interim chief after Goulden’s dismissal, has sued the town over his April 2011 firing.

Putney said the process hasn’t always been comfortable but “sometimes upheaval is necessary to make things better.”

He said he’s already seen the benefits of Quigley’s experience on the department, including a flat turnover rate and that, perhaps for the first time, the town has hired already-certified officers, saving the town thousands of dollars.

“Where the Brookline Police Department is today a much stronger place than it has been for years,” Putney said. “I would say, looking back, that I’m very pleased with where our Police Department is today. It’s led by an individual who has brought tremendous experience to the department.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or Also follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).