PROVINCETOWN — David Panagore, the former town manager, has been appointed as an alternate on the finance committee, raising the ire of part-time resident taxpayers once again.
Panagore, the town manager for four years until April 2019, was appointed following the expiration of a one-year waiting period, as mandated in the town charter for former employees with a supervisory role.
Moderator Mary-Jo Avellar, who appoints FinCom members, said, “He’s eminently qualified, having been the town manager. I’m obligated to appoint the most qualified person, and I think that is what I did.”
Members of the Provincetown Part-time Resident Taxpayers Association had criticized Avellar for attempting to appoint him earlier this year, before the waiting period was up. A charter change recently allowed nonresident taxpayers — home owners who are not registered to vote here — to serve as alternates on nonregulatory boards, of which the FinCom is one.
When the alternate position opened up months ago, Scott Van Hove, a certified public accountant who lives in Florida and Provincetown, put in his application. But Avellar said no thanks; she did not want to appoint a second-home owner.
The finance committee has submitted an article on the town meeting warrant to be considered on Sept. 21 that would block second-home owners from serving on the FinCom. Avellar supports the article.
“I think the finance committee is too important to have nonvoters on it,” she said. “It should be voters only.”
Laura Rood, who also applied to be on the FinCom, complained about being passed over for Panagore. She recently became a Provincetown voter, though she is also a member of the part-time resident taxpayers association.
But Rood’s complaints go beyond that. Like many others, she is calling on Avellar to remove FinCom chair Mark Hatch from his position because of his posting what many find offensive and divisive comments on Facebook.
Following a Black Lives Matter protest in Provincetown on May 31, Hatch wrote, “Oh I get it, white people driving through town instead of actually doing something for the disconnected and disenfranchised people of color in the town, who, mostly have overstayed visas and are basically living in the shadows in scummy places. But sure, I get it, it’s trending.”
Hatch said he posts on Facebook out of frustration and he doesn’t mind being provocative.
“The point of Facebook, I think, is to have discussions, and you cannot have discussions if all you’re going to do is only post what everyone agrees with,” Hatch said. “So having an opinion that is different is critical to the public discourse.”
Avellar said she doesn’t always agree with Hatch, but it’s his First Amendment right to speak on social media.
“Social media is a pain and I tell everyone not to be on it,” she said. “But I’m certainly not going to remove someone because of it.”