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Edgartown, Massachusetts
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February 3, 2012     Vineyard Gazette
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February 3, 2012
 

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EIGHT VINEYARD GAZETTE, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MASS. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2012 Ivy Ashe JOE ALOSSO PLACED ON PAID LEAVE TUESDAY, PENDING FURTHER REVIEW• AU )rney Recommends Firing Manager From Page One state ethics commission for separate review. He also examined a forensic audit commissioned by the town that con- cluded at least $90,000 could not be ac- counted for due to poor record keeping. "Alosso's use of an honor system whereby the independent haulers who delivered septage to Edgartown's septage receiving facility, were billed solely for the gallons that they them- selves had written in the manual logs showed extremely poor judgment• His decision never to cross-check the figures the independent haulers had written on the manual logs with the figures from the electronic meter dem- onstrates poorer judgment still. But to use such an honor system when he knew that all the independent haul- ers were aware that their bills were based solely on the manual logs was to act with reckless disregard for the interests of Edgartown taxpayers," Mr. Sullivan concluded. The report provided a detailed exam- ination of billing methods and opera- tions at the plant from 2001 to present. In 2001, the plant received upgrades that would allow septage material de- livered to the facility to be metered so haulers would be charged for exactly what they brought, instead of being charged by the load. The facility installed an EleMech Electrical Control system metering machine, which haulers could use with a personal access code. The machine produced receipts that recorded how many gallons of material were depos- ited: a white receipt for the hauler, and a yellow receipt that remained in the meter, which was locked. But the meter system was never used, Mr. Sullivan found. Waste haulers con- tinued to log their drop-offs on manual paper logs, with different logs for each town where the hauler would record information including how many gal- lons were dropped off, the source of the septage, and the hauler's name. The manual logs were the "sole basis for billing," Mr. Sullivan found. Until January 2011, Edgartown septage was charged at a lower rate than septage from other towns, mak- ing the manual logs necessary for bill- ing. Mr. Sullivan said it was not clear whether haulers passed on the savings from the lower rate to Edgartown residents. "The gallons listed on the logs could have been cr0ss-checked against the yellow receipts from the meter," Mr. Sullivan wrote• "This was never done." He added that waste haulers would often make their deposits unsuper- vised, using automatic garage door openers to enter and exit the facilities. "Simply put, Alosso instituted a sys- tem of billing that relied solely on information that the parties who were being billed had provided," Mr. Sul- livan wrote• A January 2011 forensic audit con- ducted at the town's request examined the plant's billing and financial records from Jan. 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2010. The auditing company, Sullivan, Rogers & Company, could find only 15 days of receipts from that time period; 250 days' worth of receipts were miss- ing. State law requires town departments to keep records for seven years. One of the reasons for the law, Mr. Sullivan said, is so periodic audits can be con- ducted• The failure to keep the receipts also prevented a more thorough criminal in- vestigation by police, Mr. Sullivan said. The criminal investigation that con- cluded in December resulted in charges against Jason Araujo, the owner of Jay's Septic, for allegedly defrauding the town of about $26,000 by improperly recording deposits. Due to the missing records, the fo- rensic audit was expanded to include 68 days in 2009 where receipts were available. The report found that billing discrepancies during that time added up to a loss of $89,000. Mr. Alosso's Ousting May Not Stick, Says Oak Bluffs Selectm00 1 From Page One nel costs, you get rid of the most junior Barmakian said. She said research into other plants showed that some towns combine the roles of manager and chief operator, and that those functions could easily be handled in Oak Bluffs by plant operator Jim Montieth and other staff. Eliminatingthe position would save the town between $68,000 and $70,000 a year, Ms. Barmakian said. But in a telephone conversation early this week, Mr. Iadicicco bluntly criticized the actions of his fellow com- missioners and defended Mr. Alosso as a town employee. "They've done nothing but dog the guy.., he's been an outstanding plant manager," he said. Mr. Iadicicco praised Mr.Alosso's work at the plant, noting that he has served on several committees and overseen upgrades to plant services. He said there was little discussion at th6 meet- ing, and claimed he was not given a chance to cast a dissenting vote."I never even got to vote. Obviously I was against it-- but they never asked," he said. "The whole thing was bogus," Mr. Iadicicco continued, questioning why the commission decided to eliminate Mr. Alosso's position and not a more junior position. "If you just want to reduce person- person, you don't get rid of the top guy," he said. Mr. Iadicicco also said he had con- cerns about a private conversation between Mr. von Steiger and Ms. Bar- makian before the meeting, noting that any discussion about the matter outside the meeting would have vio- lated the Massachusetts Open Meet- ing Law. Mr. von Steiger said he and Ms. Bar- makian were not discussing the deci- sion to eliminate Mr.Alosso's position. "We thought it was appropriate to do what we did," Mr. von Steiger said. He said the plant had excess personnel, and "that in our reading, we do have the right [to eliminate personnel]." He added: "We carefully thought about it." The action by the two members of the Oak Bluffs wastewater commission came four days before the release of a report by an independent investigator into record keeping irregularities at the Edgartown wastewater treatment plant, where Mr. Alosso is also the longtime superintendent. On Tuesday this week Mr. Alosso was placed on paid administrative leave from that position. Meanwhile, in Oak Bluffs Ms. Burton said yesterday that he still has a job. "To be continued," she said. Mr. Sullivan found that Mr. Alosso was well aware of the problems with the logs and billing system at the plant and had expressed concerns about them as early as 2009. "Despite Alosso's ex- pressed concern that some of the haul- ers were entering false or inadequate information in the logs, the billing system did not change," Mr. Sullivan wrote• Mr. Sullivan also said just hours after he learned of the criminal investigation by police last year, Mr. Alosso con- tacted EleMech about installing a new system, saying that the plant's system was not used because of malfunctions. But Mr. Sullivan questioned sincerity of the plant manager, given the fact that company had no record of any maintenance or service calls from the Edgartown plant."If Alosso had found problems with the unit, one might rea- sonably expect at least one complaint in ten years," the report said. "There were none." The report continued: "I infer that [Mr. Alosso] realized, as the audit was being conducted... that his billing method, which he knew to be deficient, would become public • .. all these steps demonstrate that he well understood the deficiencies of the system he had put in place.., and, sadly, well knew hovg to cprrect them. .. his failure to meet standards.., and his failure to properly maintain records has cost the Edgartown taxpayers per- haps many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, because he did not retain the required records, we will never know for certain what the actual figure is." Mr. Sullivan also singled out the wastewater commission for its conduct which he described as passive and un- involved, in allowing the wastewater facility to become a "manager-domi- nated" institution. "The commissioners were insuffi- ciently attentive to their responsibilities ... [they] only knew what the facilities manager wanted them to know," Mr. Sullivan wrote. "It was their statutory responsibility to learn what was trans- piring and not simply accept what the manager told them." Mr. Sullivan raised the possibility of changing the wastewater board from elected to appointed, but stop short of recommending this, noting "that is a decision for the voters and town of- ficials." Reached on Wednesday this week, wastewater commission chairman Tim- othy Connelly had no comment about the report• The complete report is posted on the Gazette Web site at mvg0zette.com. Mark Lovewell DANIEL PARKER IN EDGARTOWN DISTRICT COURT THURSDAY. Tisbury Man Ordered To Stay Away from Schools After Arrest From Page One Police telephoned Mr. Parker on and Girls' Club, or during any club- sanctioned activity," Mr. Lambos said in the statement. "At this time, we have no reason to believe that the individual has committed any wrongdoing at the club." The statement said Mr. Parker was involved in basketball activities "which were supervised by the club's staff, and was at no time in the presence of club members without the club's staff pres- ent." He also had passed a background check, the club said. In an application for criminal com- plaints, Tisbury police said the boy com- plained to a neighbor late last month about Mr. Parker, who was identified as "an informal caretaker." Mr. Parker had occasional, unsupervised access to the boy "for mentoring sessions" since last September, said the application, which contained allegations that he had fondled .the boy on three occasions. Outside the courthouse yesterday, Mr. Parker declioed comment. His wife Jill added: "Only that Dan is absolutely innocent." The boy, accompanied by his guard- ian and a neighbor, came to Tisbury police on Jan. 26. Earlier that day, the boy had told one of the adults "that he is sick of Dan touching him and he doesn't want him to touch him any- more," according to a report byTisbury acting Sgt. Christopher Habekost. The boy's neighbor told police she had looked outside her window Jan. 22 and saw Mr. Parker in the front seat of his truck appearing to be "over" the boy, she said. As she walked outside, she said it looked as though his hands were inside the boy's pants, the report said. Monday to inform him of the investi- gation involving him and a child and invited him to the police station for an interview. He responded that "someone is trying to defame me!" police said. During that same call, police said Mr. Parker was advised to stay away from the Edgartown School and the Boys' and Girls' Club. At the police station, Mr. Parker was asked "if there was any child who would have any reason to accuse him of inappropriate contact with that child and he answered no," according to the report. Asked whether any adults had reason "to suspect that he had inap- propriate contact with any child and he again answered no." The next day, the boy was interviewed in Barnstable at Children's Cove of the Cape and Islands Child Advocacy Cen- ter, which assists law enforcement with sexual abuse investigations, said Tisbury police Det. Mark Santon. Reached by telephone yesterday, Mr. Stevens, the Edgartown principal, said Mr. Parker had worked for about seven years at the school in a part-time, paid position. He had coached the boys' junior varsity squad and had "generally good rapport with parents and players and other coaches," Mr. Stevens said. His letter to parents of junior high students was e-mailed on Wednesday afternoon and translated into Portu- guese for several families. It was also sent by regular mail. Mr. Stevens's letter and Mr. Lambos urged parents with any information or concerns to call Edgartown police Sgt. Craig Edwards at 508-627-4343, exten- sion 12. 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