Mar 042015

Dear Editor,

In a recent Letter to the Editor, the writer (Selectman Stuart Schulman — Ed.) observes that: “…our Board’s tendency toward disharmony began exactly, almost to the day, when … stepped down nearly 3 years ago.” and asks: “What’s changed?”

To offer an appropriately concise response to an overly simplistic implication: What has changed is that someone stood up and said “no.”

  • “No we cannot disband the Personnel Board in violation of our own By-law and in spite of an overwhelming Town Meeting vote to retain it.”
  • “No we cannot ignore the Open Meeting law because we find it inconvenient.”
  • “No we cannot spend $13M for a sewer system when we don’t even know if it is septic systems that are causing the problem.” (By the way Non-Point Source Program Manager of the DEP has recently stated that they find it hard to believe that even half of the problem in Lost Lake is from septic systems.)
  • “No you cannot cut Fire / EMS staff, effectively crippling our EMS response time for overlapping medical calls, without telling the BOS about it.”
  • “No you cannot place a 20 page data dump in my mail box and say you met your obligation to present a quarterly financial review to the Board.”
  • “No we cannot give free building permits to local business men, nor intentionally hide debate on same from the public.”
  • “No you may not require me to copy you on emails in my reply to citizens who write to us complaining about your behavior. I will keep you appropriately informed of the substance of the communication, but I will not betray their expectation of privacy.”
  • “No we cannot continue to grow our municipal government spending at almost twice the rate that we grow our revenue.

Some people take “no” for an answer better than others, and change invariably causes dissonance in all but the most highly functioning organizations. Each of these responses was offered discretely at first (which rarely makes the paper) yet all were resisted. Tellingly, every one of them was ultimately resolved as you would expect, once they were forced to be discussed in the public eye.

So, in light of the above, I suggest that the more appropriate question is: “Did something need to change?”

It is my job to represent you. If you would rather have harmony at the expense of leaving issues such as these uncontested, please let me know. I would gladly not endure the unpleasantries that go along with challenging the status quo.


Jack Petropoulos