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Still no answers about Pini exit

Board member:  ‘A difficult situation’

Rindge town officials made their first public comments Wednesday regarding the sudden departure of Town Administrator Carlotta Pini, but as of press time Wednesday, little new information had come out about her exit.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Select Board member Roberta Oeser declined to comment on why Pini was no longer Town Administrator. “There really isn’t anything else to say at this time,” Oeser said. She added, “It’s a difficult situation.”

Pini and Selectmen Samuel Seppala and Daniel Aho did not return any calls.

No public documents have appeared that were submitted to the town by Pini, and when asked if Pini turned in a letter of resignation, Oeser said, “There is nothing.” The Oct. 16 Board of Selectmen meeting minutes were not available by Wednesday afternoon, and nothing on that meeting’s agenda indicated that Pini would be leaving her position.

The only sign of change from the town is a Facebook post containing the statement, “To Rindge Residents: The Town Administrator, Carlotta Pini no longer works for the Town of Rindge,” which appeared on the town’s page Tuesday afternoon. The post also noted that the Select Board decided to make the town page an information/read only site for the time being, since Pini had been the person dedicated to monitoring the page for appropriateness. “One of our biggest concerns is protecting Carlotta,” said Oeser in regards to the decision about the Facebook page. “We were just hoping to get through the next week without anything inappropriate.”

Some town residents have expressed their concerns about the town officials’ lack of transparency through comments on the Facebook page, to which Oeser said on Wednesday, “Everything is transparent. Everything always is.” When asked about the lack of explanation for the departure of Pini, an employee paid with town tax dollars, Oeser responded: “We can’t give information that we don’t have.”

The rehiring process for the Town Administrator position could not be clarified by Oeser, who said she didn’t know how the Select Board planned to move forward. “Daniel Aho is out of town, out of state, right now, and we really didn’t want to make a decision without him,” she said. Though Selectman Aho was not present for the non-public Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, Oeser confirmed that Aho was at the Board of Selectmen meeting last Wednesday.

As for how the Town Administrator duties will be handled for the time being, Oeser said, “We hope everything is covered in the interim.” In response to questions about a busy season coming up, Oeser said that town accountant Ellen Smith is very competent and could take care of budget concerns. For other work that would need to be completed, Oeser said that she and the other Selectmen would call meetings “as often as they’re needed” to stay on top of everything.

Many questions surrounding Pini’s departure remain, and while some residents have expressed their wish for information on the town’s Facebook page, others are willing to wait for the Select Board to say more. Rindge resident and “Save our Town” founder Larry Cleveland made a statement on Wednesday on behalf of his organization, which aims to stop the town from accepting U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It reads:

“Although we are unaware of the Selectmen’s formal reasoning to relieve Pini of her position, we do applaud the action. We believe the exposure of the development in West Rindge has impacted this decision. As Save Our Town works to block the HUD development in Rindge, we view her absence as a benefit to our cause.” Cleveland then added that Save Our Town would abstain from any further statements until the Select Board had put out a press release.

Though no timetable has been established, Oeser said on Wednesday that she hopes a formal press release will be put out soon.

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