"Cowboy Ahmed" Needs to Read the Charter
The Falmouth Home Rule Charter is our local road map for governing. It is a document that was created by Falmouthites for Falmouthites. This blueprint for running our local democratic republic sets forth in great detail how our local leaders should govern and behave - including our top elected leaders on the Board of Selectmen.
Section C3-7 (A) of our charter states, in part, "The Board shall act only as a collective body and members shall possess no individual authority." This clearly means that a Selectman's sole power, indeed a Selectman's value to the community, rests in his or her ability to work as a member of a board, to contribute to a team dynamic.
Our Board's Chairman, Selectman Ahmed Mustafa, has become legendary locally for citing laws in making his arguments for and against local issues. Somewhere along the line, I think he forgot to read the most important citation - the one above - that reminds him and us that they call it the Board of Selectmen for a reason. We've seen many examples of this head-scratching behavior, but the latest and most troubling example was Monday evening, when he was a one-man force of singular negativity, opposing a liquor license for the Police Athletic League of Cape Cod. To be sure, Ahmed, or any other Selectman for that matter, has a right to support or oppose any issue before the Board, but what was troubling was the island that Selectman Mustafa has built around himself, plainly using phrases like "I need you to provide me with documents," and "I requested information from you." There is no "I" in team, goes the old saying. Well, there is no "I" in Board either.
While his colleagues were searching for balance and ways to, as Selectman Pat Flynn aptly put it, "protect the communities' interest," Ahmed was doing summersaults to protect no interest but his own. What began a few months ago as his quirky but amusing practice of not voting on issues of importance has morphed into an enigmatic and potentially dangerous misconception of his own importance. What's next - single-handed dispatching of department heads and unilateral investigation of Town employees?
Selectman Mustafa came into office in 2002 pledging to return integrity to Town Hall, a building already brimming with it. His time in the building has been an equal study in paradoxes. He promised to be a voice for the average working Falmouthite yet he has consistently voted to raise fees for our tradesmen. During last May's campaign for the Town's highest office, Mustafa identified "unifying," and "building consensus" as his signature issue in response to a question from the League of Women Voters. Monday's all out assault against the Police Athletic League and its dedicated volunteers is just the latest example of how this cowboy has become a divider and not a unifier.
The good news is that his colleagues on the Board of Selectmen still get the team concept. On this specific issue, they engaged in a sincere debate, and despite the pleadings and tactics of Cowboy Ahmed, voted to grant the license to help support PAL's free activities for our local youth.
The overall concern remains, though. Until Selectman Mustafa realizes that Section C3-7(A) of the Falmouth Home Rule Charter applies to all Selectmen, we'll keep hearing quotes like this one from Monday night: "My vote has to be no, otherwise I'll be talking out of both sides of my mouth." Sorry, Ahmed, I think you already have.