EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 24, 2013

Ex-Atkinson chief considering selectman bid

By Alex Lippa
alippa@eagletribune.com

---- — ATKINSON — Former police Chief Philip Consentino is considering putting his name back into Atkinson’s political circle. Consentino said he is seriously considering another run for selectman.

“This is something that’s on the top burner for me,” he said. “I’ve done it all in this town and now, in my retirement, I’ve got a lot of time to do this.”

Consentino, 73, retired as police chief after 45 years on Feb. 26. Just one day later, selectmen announced they had dismissed him “for cause.”

“Some of the things I see going on in the selectmen’s office, I just don’t know how they are getting away with,” Consentino said.

There will be two open selectmen’s seats at Town Meeting in March. Selectmen’s Chairman William Friel’s three-year term will be up for grabs. The final year of Todd Barbera’s three-year term will be open as well. Barbera died in October and Fred Thompson is serving in his place until Town Meeting.

Consentino previously served three terms as selectman.

He said his primary reason for running is because the town is trying to make the police chief’s position full time in next year’s budget.

“People have tried to put in petitions to make it a full-time position,” he said. “They were overwhelmingly told to leave it part time and now they want to make it full time. They should follow the process they’ve done before and should put in a warrant article. Just including it in the operating budget is a sneaky way to get it across.”

Voters turned down petitions to change the position to full time in 2000 and 2001.

Atkinson is currently looking for a new full-time police chief after acting Chief Patrick Caggiano announced he would be retiring at the end of the month. Consentino said he would be willing to assist in the search. Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Al Brackett was sworn in Thursday as interim chief.

“The acting chief is gone, another one of my full-time officers are leaving,” Consentino said. “The department is going to be bringing in a whole new kettle of fish. I’d be willing to serve as a consultant, but I would never take the chief’s job in town again.”

Consentino would not comment on the effect the end of his tenure as police chief would have on potential voters.

“I’m not going to get into that,” he said. “I never got a chance to say what was going on.”

Town Administrator Bill Innes said Consentino is allowed to run for selectman.

“He cannot be appointed to any town boards or volunteer with the town,” he said. “But that does not include any elected positions.”

He would not give his reaction to Consentino considering a selectman bid.

Consentino said many residents have already supported his bid.

“It seems that everywhere I go, people are asking me to run for selectman,” he said.

In addition to holding the police chief’s position, Consentino was also the town’s elderly affairs director. Consentino ran the Atkinson Police Charitable Fund, which assisted seniors with transportation, household repairs and various other needs. Since leaving the department, he has changed the name of the fund to the Atkinson Senior Fund.

“We have changed our name so that it is not in conflict with the town’s police department or any part of town government,” Consentino said.

The town budgeted $43,000 for similar services this year. They also hired David Paquette to be the town’s new elderly affairs director.