More Bad Behavior in Falmouth

Pols acting badly

I would like a hearing before the Board of Selectmen. A few years ago, I applied for a spot on the Finance Committee - three times - and was not selected. I believe that due process under the Constitution of the United States guarantees me the ability to once again bring my candidacy before the appointing authority. It is certainly possible that the founding fathers had me in mind when they crafted our founding document in Philadelphia those many years ago. In fact, my application was before a joint meeting of the Selectmen and Finance Committee, so bring them along too. All the other candidates who have unsuccessfully applied in the last couple of years can stay home. After all, I've been involved in local government for nearly 20 years - it's what I do. Therefore, I deserve to be the only candidate. I am the great I am.

Does that sound a bit silly? Self-serving perhaps? Indeed it does. Does it remind you of anything you might have heard lately? Indeed it does.

Want to hear something else a bit silly? The Town of Falmouth is smack-dab in the middle of a full-blown crisis of confidence and financial stability, but our elected leaders spent an hour and one-half Monday night listening to arguments just like the one above.

In case no one in the corner conference room is paying attention to our crumbling financial infrastructure, here's a breif update on what is plaguing us:

  • Town Hall was closed last week for a furlough day.
  • Our police detectives are back in uniform and are no longer solely dedicated to solving crimes.
  • Our School Department is contemplating significant layoffs.

If ever there was a time when we needed strong, positive, and thoughtful leadership, it is now.

Despite all of that, what we get from our Selectmen is bickering and blame. After being without water for a week, instead of taking responsibility for what happened, putting the issue to bed and strategizing about how to prevent it from happening again, the Board held a meeting to figure out who to blame. They couldn't even agree on that, and instead asked what is probably the most non-political and most highly respected board in town, the Board of Health, to figure out whom to blame. That sidestep put a new meaning to passing the buck -in this case it was passing the blame by passing the Board.

Then came Monday night madness. The revisitation of the Morse appointment that never was, the previously predicted attempt of some members of the board to settle a score from last year, was a low point in recent memory and a glaring example of what is wrong with a Board that clearly has no regard for the critical issues facing our community and instead is focused on pure politics. Andy Dufresne has been around this government for a long time and tells it like it is. He was right. What we saw this week was bad government, pure and simple.

Selectman Mustafa admonished his colleagues that they need to stop bickering. That's funny advice from an elected official who drove his pal to Boston to file a complaint against the Board on which he serves. If this stuff wasn't part of the direction and image of our community, it would be material suitable for a sitcom.

Truth be told, I probably didn't deserve to be on the FinCom back then. I was still smarting from losing my seat on the Board of Selectmen and likely would not have been a productive and constructive committee member. I know that now (somehow I think experience and humility are proportional, but I digress). Back then, I was convinced I was right, but today admit to my self-centered behavior. I was wrong. Wouldn't it be nice to hear that from someone else? Someone in Town Hall perhaps?

This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.

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