Marc P. Finneran has long had an antagonistic attitude toward Falmouth government and last night it was nearly enough to lead Department of Public Works Director Raymond A. Jack to exchange blows with the Teaticket resident.
The fight nearly erupted following the board’s discussion of pay-as-you-throw for curbside trash. As several residents exited the selectmen’s meeting room, Mr. Finneran exchanged words with Mr. Jack, leading the DPW director to stand up and yell, “Don’t you say anything to my wife.”
“You scumbag,” Mr. Jack said to Mr. Finneran as his wife, Alice M. Jack, stood by his side.
The heated exchange was quickly defused as R. Charles Martinsen III, the acting director of the Department of Natural Resources, walked Mr. Finneran to the door leading out of town hall.
As Mr. Jack was still visibly upset, George R. Hampson of Old Main Road, North Falmouth, left his seat and tried to calm him down. “I’m fine,” Mr. Jack said through gritted teeth.
About a half-hour later, as Mr. Jack and his wife departed the building, he would only say of Mr. Finneran: “He’s got a big mouth.”
“He [Mr. Finneran] got right in his [Mr. Jack’s] face,” his wife added.
Though they would not comment further, the fires had been stoked earlier during Mr. Finneran’s interview for the capital advisory committee in which he took several jabs at the DPW and its leadership.
He was highly critical of Mr. Jack from the beginning as he referenced the water tower the town built on Sam Turner Road in 2004 to service residents in Ballymeade, arguing that it was built 35 feet too low. In February 2011 the Ballymeade Property Owners Association filed a lawsuit against the town claiming their poor water pressure was a direct result of that water tower, which replaced a booster pump station that had previously served the neighborhood.
Why would you give someone $40 million to build a [water] filtration plant if they can’t get a $6 million water tower right? We are going to lose that court case. It is $6 million wasted.
“I don’t think we have people who can maintain our infrastructure,” Mr. Finneran said. “I think we should turn the camera around and look at ourselves before we turn to the taxpayers.”
Incompetence In Town Government
He said there was “a lot of incompetence, a lot of poor performance and a lot of abuse of infrastructure” within town government. “Simply throwing money at it isn’t going to fix it,” he said. “Whatever money we throw at it will make it worse.”
He called the current system unsustainable and criticized town officials for ignoring the problem. “We have a lot of Pollyannas in this town who should open their eyes,” he said, adding that he knew where “the skeletons are buried” in this town.
Following his rant, Selectman Mary (Pat) Flynn wondered why he was even applying to this committee. “If you have such a negative view of town government, why would you want to be a part of it?” she asked.
“I’m not negative,” Mr. Finneran replied. “I’m just pointing out the facts. If we were all positive, we wouldn’t be here begging for money.”
Well-intentioned committee members and public officials alike have incurred his wrath in open displays of contempt and personal attacks.
When Selectman Douglas H. Jones asked what experience he had and how he could contribute to the committee in a positive manner, Mr. Finneran simply answered, “Accountability.”
Mr. Jones responded by saying that did not answer his question.
“Why would you give someone $40 million to build a [water] filtration plant if they can’t get a $6 million water tower right?” Mr. Finneran asked. “We are going to lose that court case. It is $6 million wasted.”
Selectman David Braga asked Mr. Finneran for one idea he would bring to the committee that could help fund the town’s capital plan.
“I’d fire some people,” Mr. Finneran said, arguing that the town is paying the salaries of incompetent individuals. “We pay too much for too little.”
He disparaged everything from the management of the town dump to the oversight of the town’s water system, again taking several shots at Mr. Jack’s handling of his department.
Chairman of the Falmouth Board of Selectmen Kevin E. Murphy agreed that no business or community always runs smoothly, but he argued against voting Mr. Finneran onto the committee. “I don’t think you will be helpful,” he said, adding that the board is doing its best to move the town forward.
“And I think you are doing a good job,” Mr. Finneran said as he left the podium.
“You aren’t,” he said, adding one last jab as he walked by Mr. Jack and to his seat.
Clearly upset with Mr. Finneran’s display, Mr. Jack acknowledged it prior to beginning his presentation on pay-as-you-throw a few minutes later, saying the next time that happened “there will be an attorney present.”
“Ooooohhhhhh,” Mr. Finneran uttered from the back of the room.
Fireworks Erupts At Meeting
All of this served as the precursor to the fireworks that erupted about an hour and a half later.
Those were ignited, Mr. Finneran said, when he asked Mr. Jack, “So you going to sue me?” as he left the room. “And then he came unhinged,” Mr. Finneran said. “He started screaming and he called me a scumbag... I didn’t react. I didn’t respond. He showed his professionalism as far as I’m concerned. He has absolutely no grounds to sue me but that doesn’t stop him from saying so and it doesn’t stop me from asking either.”
No Love Lost Between Marc Finneran And Raymond Jack
Marc Finneran Accuses Raymond Jack Of Incompetence (January 2012)
“I’ve never seen an outburst or altercation like that before,” Mr. Murphy said at the end of last night’s meeting, adding that in the future the board wants to ensure its sessions are run in a more civil manner.
While he said one of the great things about democracy is that Mr. Finneran can express the views he did during his interview, Mr. Murphy said, the board also has the right not to appoint him to the committee.
This morning Ms. Flynn was less kind in her assessment of Mr. Finneran’s behavior, calling it reprehensible.
“Last night went on far too long and it’s just so inappropriate,” she said. “He was really disrespectful... I just don’t think he should continue to be allowed to do that and I think we need to find a way to make that happen.”
To that end, Town Manager Julian M. Suso said he will be looking into the matter. “I do feel it is appropriate to confirm that bullying, harassing or uncivil behavior is not acceptable at any time or any place, and I don’t think I should comment further,” he said.
An outspoken critic of town government, Mr. Finneran has often made headlines for not only his viewpoints, but also the manner in which he expresses them. About five years ago he posted a sign on the front porch of his home that read, “Town Hall Needs An Enema!”
The DPW has long been a target of his as witnessed in several petitioners articles he has filed to Town Meeting in the past, one of which included an audit of the department that never passed.
He also has drawn the ire of town officials in May 2010 when he made accusations at a selectmen’s meeting that then-selectman Carey M. Murphy had improperly accepted gifts, leading to a shouting match in which Mr. Murphy called Mr. Finneran an idiot. The state ethics commission, after investigating Mr. Finneran’s complaints, later ruled that Mr. Murphy had not committed any violations.
His latest mark was not pleased with the tactics used by Mr. Finneran. In an e-mail this morning, Mr. Jack wrote that “well-intentioned committee members and public officials alike have incurred his wrath in open displays of contempt and personal attacks. He did not realize that the woman sitting next to me last night was my wife and his profane comments to me in her presence as he passed by were abhorrent and intolerable.”