Stagecoach Controversy

Front Page / Dec. 19, 2013 10:14am EST

Selectboard Asked To Remove Town Rep.
By M. D. Drysdale

Four Randolph citizens, including State Rep. Patsy French, came to a selectboard meeting Tuesday evening to ask the board to replace Randolph’s representative on the Stagecoach board of directors.

But during a discussion later in the meeting, the selectboard indicated it would do no such thing.

The representative, Greg Nazarow, was part of the organization’s four-member finance committee, which notified Stagecoach founder and executive director David Palmer that he would be asked to step down at the end of December. Palmer then submitted his immediate resignation.

Every town which contributes financially to Stagecoach operations is eligible to appoint a representative to serve on the board of directors; the representatives then serve at the pleasure of the selectboard.

Nazarow was president of the Stagecoach board for several years before becoming part of the finance committee.

The four citizens who spoke Tuesday evening said that they did not believe that he was representing the town well in the dealings with Palmer and that the town needs stronger representation in the restructuring that is likely to follow.

“I would request that we have a new representative,” Rep. French told the selectboard.

Her research, she said, showed that “there was a lot of not-good leadership, (during the November changes) and that our representative was a part of that.”

She saw a need for a “far strongĀ­er” board guiding the next phase in order to protect what she termed “a fantastic resource for our area.”

Others asking the board to appoint a new Randolph representative to the Stagecoach board included Patrick French, who is the town assessor, Gay Gaston, and Marty Strange.

Strange read a statement which also expressed the fear that a new alliance with Addison County Transit Resources in Middlebury (ACTR) would make Stagecoach a “subordinate” organization that would be controlled by ACTR.

VTrans is pushing for a cooperative relationship with ACTR.

No Comment

The board made no response whatsoever to the citizen concerns at that point, but at the end of the meeting, board chair Dennis Brown brought up the topic under “other business.”

He asked whether the board members wanted to put the question of replacing the representative on the agenda of a later meeting.

Board members, Brown told The Herald later, did not want to do that, and he personally agreed.

“My thoughts are that the selectboard could find itself in a way micromanaging,” he said. “And I don’t want to do that. It feels very uncomfortable to me.

“I don’t like what happened to David (Palmer),” he said, But I don’t know if it’s right or wrong for the organization as a whole.”

Also at the end of the meeting, selectboard member Trini Brassard challenged the earlier statements by Strange that the Stagecoach would become “subordinate” under a new relationship with ACTR in Middlebury.

Brassard, an employee of VTrans, which sends substantial funding to Stagecoach, reportedly said that the new arrangement would be more along the lines of mentoring, especially in financial matters.

Contacted by The Herald, selectboard member and state Rep. Marjorie Ryerson said she felt the important questions to be asked now need to focus on the structure and the on-going health of the organization.

Other board members, Brassard, Tom Schersten, and Larry Richburg, did not return calls or emails asking for comment.

Nazarow’s Response

At the urging of Strange and others, the selectboard on November 27 did send a request to both Nazarow and the Stagecoach board as a whole, requesting more information.

Nazarow’s short reply said, in part: “I know that Stagecoach greatly appreciates the popular and financial support it has enjoyed from the Town and its taxpayers up to now. Not only is it appreciated, it is absolutely essential.

“However and most respectfully, the Randolph Selectboard will have to either trust the twelve people who are seated on the Stagecoach board or pursue the appropriate process for appointing someone else to represent the Town’s interests there.”

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