Foxborough’s town manager got the message Tuesday that his bosses and the community, expect to hear a whole lot less from him over the coming year.
“I hear it,’’ said the outspoken Kevin Paicos, as his annual performance review ended. “I understand.”
The man at the center of a $1 billion casino debate over the past eight months, who went head to head with the town’s largest taxpayer, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was lauded for saving money and handling emergencies like power outages.
But he was also strongly criticized for overstepping his authority, speaking inappropriately to the media, and bullying employees at Town Hall.
With one year to go on his three-year contract, Paicos — who earns $144,000 annually — scored a 2.8 out of 5 possible points, with 1 being unacceptable and 5 outstanding. Selectmen rounded the score up to a 3, considered “satisfactory,” and then outlined areas where improvement is needed.
Communication and management topped that list. “It is always difficult to hear yourself criticized in public, but this is the living I chose,’’ Paicos said.
Particularly harsh criticism of Paicos’s efforts, abilities, and motivations was submitted by his nemesis, former selectmen chairman Larry Harrington.
Harrington did not pull punches: “It seems like you enjoy picking fights with residents, taxpayers, or the board. You continue to be incapable of answering questions crisply or concisely and just ramble on and on.’’
Not all selectmen were as blunt. Each offered pluses and minuses and urged Paicos to stop repeating mistakes. Roles need to be redefined, they said.
The casino proposal was an example, said chairman Jim DeVellis. “Kevin was in the forefront of this issue early by taking a strong position against it. Was it Kevin’s position as town manager to lead the town by publicly opposing it, rather than assisting the [Board of Selectmen] as they gathered information and made our own recommendation first?”
Selectwoman Lynda Walsh gave Paicos low scores for negotiating zero increases with unions because of bad finances and then, she said, announcing later that the town had additional cash to spend.
Lorraine Brue, a selectwoman, praised Paicos’s financial management.
Selectman Mark Sullivan said residents have not embraced Paicos. “Kevin needs most of all to stop the daily bullyng at Town Hall,’’ he said.
Paicos told selectmen he wants to please them, but knows it is not always possible.
“That’s not the nature of this job,’’ he said. “But I will try my level best.’’
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