In an Oxford Town "press release" written as a news story by a Star Democrat reporter, the town announced that they were looking for a new planning and zoning coordinator.
The position and the person who was hired for it has been controversial in Oxford since early in 2023. Maria Brophy, daughter of Oxford Town Manager Cheryl Lewis, was given the job in 2021 despite not having all the qualifications needed. Her relationship to Lewis as well as the fact that her starting salary was $85,000, more than that of the starting salary of a QUALIFIED police officer ($76,000) and was more than that of a 30 plus years administrative assistant who made $68,000 made the hiring suspicious. Here is Lewis at a March 13, 2023 town meeting sharing the salaries:
"Lewis commented that there had been a lot of discussion regarding town employee salaries and that, although it is not generally published information, she felt in the interest of transparency she would provide it: Town Mgr $164k, Waste/Water Supervisor $100k, Police Chief $100k, Planning Officer $85k, Water Supervisor $80k, Police Officer $76k, Admin Assistant $68k, and Maintenance Crew $50-$60k."
Brophy earned her qualification as a "Flood Plain Manager" in 2022.
Citizens questioned this hiring to such an extent that the town created an ad hoc committee to create a hiring practices document. This document was approved by the Commissioners later on October 24. Part of the new hiring practices included a section that prohibited the hiring of relatives.
What is interesting about the story in the Star Democrat is that Trovato didn't ask a single question about this controversy. In fact, she allowed Town Commission President Tom Costigan to spin the issue of nepotism saying it had no bearing on Brophy leaving. He then went on to compliment her as a "wonderful employee."
She also didn't ask if the recent problem with flooding in the town, despite the supposed improvements made to prevent it, caused Brophy to seek other employment. When asked where Brophy would be employed going forward, the town stated the generic "not commenting on personnel matters."
Again, the Star Democrat and the Oxford Town Administration and Commissioners failed to address the issues citizens brought to the forefront with recent hirings; issues of non-posting of jobs, limited or no interviews for positions, nepotism, and arbitrary and reckless salaries given to some people over others, regardless of experience or requirements of the job.
It's a never-ending series of deflection and non-transparency from the town.
The town has posted the job on their website. It's interesting that this job now has a salary range of $50,000 to $70,000 "depending on experience." That's a new twist.
We wish Ms. Brophy the best as she continues her career going forward. She appears to be one more person caught up in the web of careless, unethical governance in the Town of Oxford.
Side Note: Someone please tell the Star Democrat that if they are going to write press releases for town governments, they should label them as such.
Also, anyone applying for this job should not only send an email to the email address given in the newspaper article, but to the town commissioners as well to make sure all applications are actually taken.