Monday, June 3, 2013

Foxboro and Paicos Part - It Was Time

This column originally appeared in The Sun Chronicle on Monday, June 3, 2013
By Bill Gouveia


            Foxboro and its often controversial town manager Kevin Paicos are officially parting ways.  This comes as no great surprise to anyone, including Paicos and the Board of Selectmen.  Simply put – it was time.


            But over the last several years Paicos has guided Foxboro through a turbulent and important portion of its long and proud history.  His contributions to the community should not be completely overshadowed by the times he became the issue, as opposed to just working on them.


            Town Manager hirings often reflect the prevailing political mood of the town and the selectmen at the time.  Their selection is also seriously affected by the performance and personality of their immediate predecessor.  When making a change, selectmen tend to compare the potential new appointees to who they are replacing.  They look to expand on the traits they like and reverse the ones they don’t.


            Paicos was hired to replace Andrew Gala, a reserved and unpretentious leader who was at the helm for some thirty years.  At the time of Paicos’s appointment, it was generally assumed selectmen were looking for a more aggressive manager, someone with experience at helping towns grow.


            They certainly got that in Paicos, who was town administrator in Easton for 15 years before leaving after some particularly nasty political battles with selectmen and town activists.  He was about as far removed in style from Gala as you could get, while his management technique was much more “hands on” than the former chief executive.  It was believed by many at the time – your truly included – this was an excellent choice and would help give Foxboro’s town government more and better structure.


            And in many ways, it was and it did.  Paicos helped make some necessary changes in Foxboro.  He created some badly needed professional positions and brought some highly skilled (and highly paid by local standards) personnel to fill them.  He modernized many of the procedures in town hall.  He better centralized purchasing and made it more efficient.  He reorganized some of the duties and responsibilities of existing personnel.  He helped lower health insurance costs and pushed an unpopular meals tax the town needed to implement. 


            You can’t do all that without ruffling a few feathers, but Paicos seemed more intent on plucking the whole bird.  He often projected the attitude he was always right, and others needed to be helped to understand that inescapable fact.  Some of the very same attributes that make him a strong executive manager also make him difficult to deal with on a political basis.  And in local government, politics is no small thing.


Paicos tended to talk down occasionally to his selectmen.  He was known to do things he knew they did not favor, and deal with the consequences afterwards.  He was sometimes short with citizens who disagreed with him.  He injected his own personal opinions into situations where they were neither relevant nor necessary, such as the debate over the casino issue.  He used the media as a tool to achieve his personal and professional objectives.


He also seemed to enjoy antagonizing the town’s largest source of taxpayer revenue, as evidenced by his needless battles with the Kraft Group.  His comments to the Boston Globe saying “I’m standing up for a town called Foxboro, not Kraftsville” were unprofessional and designed to protect his job, not the community he was serving.  You won’t see any sign of it publicly, but you can bet there will be smiles around Gillette Stadium when Paicos vacates his office.


 Still, Paicos will be leaving a town in better shape than we he got there.  Some of the things he made happen in Foxboro were unpopular but necessary.  Whoever becomes the next town manager will have the benefit of a solid internal organization and a sound financial situation.


It really didn’t have to end this way, at least not this soon.  But Paicos demonstrated a lack of patience in Foxboro, and seemed to be simply tiring of the politics of his chosen profession.  Make no mistake about it – this was a decision manipulated by Paicos.  In the end, he got what he really wanted.


Now Foxboro must move forward.  The Paicos era is coming to an end.  It was time.


Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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