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Tuesday was like any other day until word spread of activity at Ayer District Court. The story? Shirley Town Administrator Kyle Keady was hauled into court, wearing handcuffs and facing wiretapping charges and worse.

The story was shocking to even seasoned reporters, who swarmed the courthouse covering the case from every angle. The extent of Keady’s covert video- and audio- recordings in Shirley Town Hall is stunning in scope and sickening in impact for the targeted female town employees and innocent citizenry who dared to presume privacy while using the bathrooms or in their conversations .

As the initial shock and awe wears away and reality sets in, questions arise.

How does a young, intelligent public official stray so low to practice a compartmentalized and psychotic level of voyeurism and treacherous eavesdropping?

Video cameras were Keady’s tools to humiliate and dehumanize his powerless, voiceless, unwitting victims. But retribution and justice prevailed with the resulting videotaped counter humiliation of the powerless, shackled Keady broadcast far and wide. In this way, Keady is like his victims — they’ve all lost control of their images and identity — a situation that will haunt them and the town in a collective sorrow.

For Keady, it was a choice. For his victims, it was not.

Amid the despair, points of light have risen:

* Shirley Selectman Kendra Dumont had the guttural fortitude to question what appeared to be a gross and politically motivated infraction. She sought out town counsel’s opinion on how to handle the discovery of a 45-minute recording made without her consent as she talked with Keady.

* Shirley ‘s town counsel, to be commended for launching the ball so quickly into the correct venue — the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, instead of advising the selectmen to handle the matter in house, quietly.

* The Office of Middlesex County DA Gerard Leone who quickly mobilized with the Massachusetts State Police, to take Keady’s clandestine operation down.

* Dumont and fellow Selectman and former Keady supporter Andy Deveau, for so vocally speaking out against the monstrous acts with caring deference to impacted town employees and everyday citizens.

More charges have been promised. It seems only the surface has been scratched as to how much and how long Keady has performed these political perversions.

One key question is how did something so out of control go undetected for so long? Keady apparently had a lot of time on his hands, on town time and property, to conduct his maniacal taxidermy — “Photoshopping” the heads of his female prey onto the bodies depicted in pornography he stored on his town computer. Whose role is it to check on the work habits and computer practices of a town administrator?

This is where we need to state: Keady is innocent until proven otherwise, though it doesn’t look good for him. He’s fessing up to some of the crimes, and then there were those incriminating flash drives in his pocket…

But Keady pled not guilty. He can change his plea to guilty, sealing both his fate and the grisly details. Or he can plea bargain by trading off information as to cohorts, if any. It may be worth a deal with the devil, if any deal is to be made. In any case, he deserves serious jail time.

So the next time you use a public bathroom, look up: Someone you least expect may be watching.

Great buy

The Pepperell Fire Department is asking voters to approve a debt exclusion of $350,000 to purchase a fire truck to replace a front-line truck now 26 years old and in bad shape. The truck is sporting a rejection sticker and can’t even run in this year’s 4th of July parade because of all the smoke.

The truck has been refurbished by in-house staff more than once and there are now many smaller items that are causing problems. The rear springs need to be replaced. The engine won’t pass emissions. And there’s more.

There are several key points to consider here.

1. The Pepperell Fire Department has proven very adept at maintaining its aging fleet and very willing to do so. But at some point, townspeople must say enough. That piece of equipment is beyond reasonable, cost-effective repair.

2. The cost of this debt exclusion to the average property taxpayer is less than $10 A YEAR. The 10-year note will cost that taxpayer $100 over 10 years, and then the bill is paid.

3. This is a front-line truck, the first out of the Park Street station. It must be reliable, both to fight the fires in our homes and to protect the firefighters who respond to fight them.

Think of it: The change under the front seat in your car seat, or under the cushions in your sofa, could pay for this fire truck.

We urge you to go to Varnum Brook Middle School on Monday and cast a vote for the fire truck and the Pepperell Fire Department.