A Mass. selectmen chair wanted the vice chair removed from a meeting. He called the police.

The vice chairwoman was speaking about divisions and other issues facing the board when the chairman interrupted.

The chairman of the Oxford Board of Selectmen called on police to remove the board’s vice chairwoman from a meeting this week, as she expressed concerns about transparency of local government and growing divisions among board members.

Chairman Dennis Lamarche took out his cell phone and called Oxford police as he sat in the Town Hall meeting room on Tuesday, soon after he interrupted Vice Chairwoman Meaghan Troiano, repeatedly banged his gavel, and told her she was “out of order.”

“You must leave,” Lamarche told her, pointing to the door, a video taken at the meeting shows.

Although the town charter calls for a five-member board, the group is currently operating with only four members after longtime Selectman John Saad, 77, passed away in July.


The absence of a fifth member has proven difficult, according to Troiano, who said stalemates are hindering the board’s ability to do important work.

Saad “believed in the system of checks and balances. Currently our town has a lot of checks, but not much balance,” Troiano said, as she expressed her opinions to her fellow officials. “The lack of a board has caused the town to be unable to act on important matters … If anything, we’re moving backwards.

“It seems to be an increasing attempt at overreach of government authority,” she continued. “Our charter is supposed to be a safeguard against a stalemate, yet it seems more and more that our important matters are ending that way.”

Troiano went on to say the result means rules must be used that “may or may not be inappropriate” and give Lamarche power. She said “board members are unable to reach out to legal counsel for clarity on issues.”

“Notwithstanding that, employees across the town in various departments are discouraged and even forbidden from speaking to us as board members,” she said.

Troiano didn’t reference specific incidents, but was cut off by Lamarche.

“I am going to stop you,” he said, as Troiano continued speaking over him. “You are out of order.”


As Lamarche spoke, someone in the crowd repeatedly called out: “Resign.”

Attempts to reach Troiano were unsuccessful on Friday morning.

A reporter’s review found the Oxford Town Charter does not offer specifics on how a board with only four members should operate in the event of a tied vote. A Special Election will be held on Nov. 16 to fill the board’s empty seat, according to the town website.

Less than 30 seconds after Lamarche interrupted Troiano, he reached for his phone and began dialing for the police. He rejected a suggestion from another board member that the meeting be adjourned.

Moments later, an officer arrived in the room.

“I would like this lady removed,” Lamarche told the officer. “She is out of order and refuses to listen to me. Please remove her.”

“You want me to remove a selectman?” the officer asked.

Troiano told NBC10 Boston she felt bad the police were put in a position between the two board members. She ultimately was not removed.

“I didn’t really think it should have gotten to that point,” she said.

Lamarche would not answer questions from the news station on Thursday. Instead, he read a statement that defended his actions after he consulted with the town counsel: “While I regret that extreme action was necessary to restore order to the meeting, this action was required so that the meeting could continue,” he said.


Tuesday’s meeting was not the first time tensions rose between the two officials.

According to NBC10 Boston, during a virtual meeting in February, Troiano was clarifying a point she made when the situation got heated.

“You’re clarifying that you are correct. OK, super,” Lamarche said.

“My point is clarified,” Troiano said. “I will make the motion.”

Lamarche interrupted her. “It’s a female thing that we’ve got to – we’ve got to make sure that we’re right,” he said.

The remark struck Troiano as out of line at that moment, she said.

“I think it was completely irrelevant to the conversation,” Troiano told the news outlet.

Lamarche later apologized for that behavior.

On Tuesday, after the confrontation deescalated, Lamarche asked other members if they had anything else to address.

Hearing none, Lamarche said he had a few items to raise.

“I have been contacted by a couple of residents, one has stated that the flowers on Main Street are just wonderful, and they think it looks fantastic,” he said.

The police officer quietly stepped back from the doorway. A minute later, the meeting adjourned.

Jump To Comments


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com