PVPC confirms Kimberly Robinson as executive director

  • Tim Brennan, who is retiring as the executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, stands on the platform at the Northampton Train Station, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. STAFF FILE PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer 
Published: 7/19/2019 8:50:38 AM

NORTHAMPTON — After complaints that the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission violated the state’s Open Meeting Law in their June vote for a new executive director, its board met again Thursday and confirmed its selection in a unanimous public vote.

Kimberly Robinson, the leader of a Nevada regional planning board, will be PVPC’s new executive director. She will replace Tim Brennan who is retiring. Northampton planning director Wayne Feiden was the other finalist considered for the position. 

“We ... cannot be happier with the candidate this selection process produced to take the helm here at the Commission,” PVPC Chairman Walter Gunn said in a statement.

On June 27, PVPC members voted for Robinson as executive director in a secret ballot. But Northampton lawyer Michael Pill told the Gazette in early July that because the vote was secret, it may have violated the state’s Open Meeting Law.

“In my opinion, any contract they sign with this person that they selected with that illegal secret ballot, I don’t see how that could be a legal contract,” Pill had said.

PVPC is a regional planning agency for the 43 cities and towns in Hampshire and Hampden County. It is not directly part of the state or federal governments, but it is a consortium of local governments. 

According to Massachusetts General Law chapter 30A section 22, “no vote taken at an open session shall be by secret ballot,” and “any vote taken at an executive session shall be recorded by roll call and entered into the minutes.”

PVPC leaders told the Gazette in early July that a contract with Robinson had not been signed and that the commission was talking to legal counsel about the issue.

The secret ballot was “intended to allow Commissioners to vote freely without fear of garnering potential prejudice upon their respective member communities,” a statement released Thursday from the PVPC said. 

Now that what PVPC Chairman Walter Gunn called a “technical speed bump” has been resolved, negotiations with Robinson will begin.

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com. 

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