To the Editor:
A letter in your April 14 edition asks Ayer selectman candidates to do better, to do their homework or “heavy lifting,” rather than taking the simple or convenient way. The writer refers to a selectman (Selectman A) as conducting a “mean-spirited ambush” of our “town administrator” (the correct title, established by town meeting, is “Executive Secretary” but that’s a minor distinction) “with no prior attempt — to take his complaints through normal administrative channels.”
If the writer had done a little heavy lifting, say talking with our executive secretary or Selectman A, he would have learned that those two had been discussing the issue (”Sunshine Law” violations) for nearly a month, since the first week of E.S.’s tenure. He would have learned that Selectman A had kept his colleagues informed, orally and in writing, of his concerns and got no response. He would have learned that the morning before the meeting (as E.S. said at the meeting), Selectman A had told E.S. what he would do unless E.S. corrected his violations. In short, the writer would have learned there was no ambush.
The writer refers to “the same selectman” as “filing charges against the Ayer Police Chief.” If the writer had done a little heavy lifting, say paying attention at the meeting, he would have learned that Selectman A has never made nor filed any charges against the Ayer Police Chief. Responding to constituents’ concerns, Selectman A has been quietly and discretely asking one question in various ways: “How are our public servants serving us?” (Another minor distinction?)
There was nothing “secret” about the question; Selectman A kept his colleagues and the police informed of the question and responses. Nevertheless, it had not attracted public attention until Selectman Y made an issue of it in open meeting on TV. Selectman Y thus forced our Police Chief’s hand, leaving him no option but to respond in open meeting on TV.
This unfortunate choice by Selectman Y has given the public the mistaken impression that this is a matter of charges and countercharges. It is not. Selectman A continues asking the question discretely, and shares responses with his colleagues and our Chief. Still, the only times it comes to the public’s attention is when Selectman Y and/or Z chooses to make an issue of it at a public meeting on TV.
The writer may be excused for being confused about these and other issues he cites. His confusion emphasizes his point that it’s important to do the heavy lifting, not just jump at first appearances. We can thank the writer, not only for offering important advice but also for illustrating the consequences of not following that advice.
PERMISSION TO PUBLISH
FRANK FREDERICK MAXANT
(a.k.a. Selectman A)