White quits as Hawley selectman

HAWLEY — Saying he would “rather pound my thumbs with a hammer than attend another crooked, rigged Selectmen’s meeting,” Selectman Tedd White resigned Thursday afternoon.

White, who was elected to the position last May, is the fourth town official to resign since the March 12 special election for a third selectman.

In his resignation letter, White said he “can no longer endure (selectmen’s Chairman) Phil Keenan’s rudeness, disrespect, bias and disregard for procedure.” Although he did not explain this statement, he has complained at board meetings about the accuracy of meeting minutes and that residents with opposing views to Keenan’s don’t get the chance to fully express their views during selectmen’s meetings.

At Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting, White tried to appoint newly elected Selectman John Sears to the chairman’s position. But Sears proposed holding off appointing a chairman until after the April 30 annual town election. Sears’ suggestion was approved 2-1, with Keenan and Sears voting in favor of it.

“Now, I don’t trust the people I work with,” said White. “I dread going to the town office. I’ve never seen people who are so afraid to follow procedure.”

White alleged that “secret meetings have been held, records have been altered and votes of the selectboard have been disregarded.”

“I can see that what is wrong with our town government will not be corrected anytime soon,” he wrote.

“There is one shining pearl at the bottom of the hog’s trough of the experience of being selectman and that is I appreciate the rest of my life, even more,” he said. “I have had a wonderful life with wonderful experiences, and I have had the privilege of working with great people. The experience of being selectman in Hawley, in contrast, has been so bad that I would rather pound my thumbs with a hammer than attend another crooked, rigged selectmen’s meeting,” he concluded.

White and the late Selectman Richard Desmarais had voted in favor of re-appointing the board’s chairman in January, but Desmarais died in December, and the two remaining selectmen were at an impasse over whether to share the chairmanship (White’s idea), or whether Keenan had the right to remain chairman at least until a third board member was elected for Desmarais’ seat.

After Sears was sworn in as a new selectman on March 13, Town Clerk Lisa Turner resigned immediately, followed by Hawlemont School Committee member Housain Hamdan. On Tuesday night, Town Moderator Cynthia Stetson resigned.

The volatile selectmen’s meetings have been drawing several residents in this town of roughly 330 people.

In January, White’s criticisms of Keenan prompted a group of residents to give Keenan a letter of support, signed by 105 residents. The letter recognized him as the board’s chairman and said they supported him as he continued to do his job. Keenan has been on the Board of Selectmen for 18 years and is running for re-election on the April 30 annual town meeting ballot.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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