I know...immediately, 99% of you said, "oxymoron".
The other 1%, me included, have served, or are serving, in the office.
If anyone has served in the office less than honorably, I would be very sad to hear it. Regardless of their politics, whether I agree with them or not, they certainly have considered their service as honorable. If not, they are criminals, and had no business ever serving. I refuse to believe it. I would have to be proven wrong, so let's just assume that I am right and people who have served in the office have done so with honorable intentions and acted honorably, at least in their opinion.
If not...they are insane.
I want to share history with you. History of the Town of Wareham, as I lived my life in it, and history of changes in government.
The reason Wareham faces the problems they do today, the reason that the Town is essentially out of control, the reason that people are in office that have no business being there, is because of the change of government 40 years ago.
YES...40 YEARS AGO!
When I read the changes recommended by the CRC to this coming Town Meeting, I was flabbergasted. Not because it happened, and they have submitted totally unacceptable articles, but that they never took the time to learn about HISTORY. The history of Wareham and it's government and when government worked and when it stopped working.
They were the same people who proposed a change of government to a City form. They are subtly trying to work it into that form of government with articles that ask to INCREASE the amount of Selectmen, instead of doing their homework, speaking to people who have the knowledge of the history of Wareham and could have lead them in the right direction.
Instead, they relied on academicians who think that history is what is read in books, and if it isn't black and white and there haven't been any "Papers" written about it, nothing matters. Sorry, Professor, Dr., whatever, history not only matters, it is the ONLY thing that matters.
I am going to tell you about what being a Selectman was all about many years ago. There are many of you on this site that have served in the office, are serving now, or know many people who did...you will fill in the history of the Town of Wareham that is needed by everyone after the late 70's, into the early 80's, when history tells us there was a mass recall of the BOS.
Unheard of during my time. I think that it was the first and last time, but you know more than me, and I am anxious to be educated about what took place since I left in 1979.
I have noticed such a radical, emasculated change in the office that I don't recognize it any longer. I am confused, as many are, of the powers of the BOS and the TA. I am looking at the form of government, according to the Charter, as a strong Town Administrator, weak Selectmen form of government, with an open Town Meeting.
I have observed, in the last year plus, through this site, actions that are unacceptable, unlawful, stupid, ignorant, incompetent and what ever other negative thing you can say about the actions of the Selectmens' Office.
Very disturbing to me.
I am not surprised. We predicted this 40 years ago. We meaning the "populists" at the time. Those who wanted to protect and preserve the history of Wareham, not become something we weren't: a bedroom community that people were going to commute to Boston from...we believed that Onset/Wareham was a sanctuary. A sanctuary for retirees, summer home owners and visitors, young families with businesses, jobs, public service workers, etc., all living in a protected environment that would serve them and their children and grandchildren and theirs and on and on forever. We believed that if zoning required 10 acres to build a house out east, that's what it was. We weren't interested in becoming a city or a Town so large you almost had to become a city.
Then...there were the "pro-growth" people. The people who wanted to develop. The people who wanted an increase in density requirements to allow them to build large housing developments. Those who wanted to encourage growth along Cranberry Highway, roadside restaurants and fast food joints, cheap motels and other wonderful attractions that people would stop at on their way to the Cape. In other words, those who wanted to take advantage of a bunch of hicks, make a bunch of money, and get out of Town.
So, let's refer to the populists as the "pops" and the pro-growth group as the "pros".
When I first went on the WPD in 1969, I had served in banking and finance, and had even risen to the position of Vice President of a bank. I had no business doing the job I was assigned. I was getting ulcers at the ripe old age of 24, so I knew I had to go to school. I joined the WPD to work midnight to 8 a.m., so I could attend Bridgewater at night.
Cops talk. They talk a lot. Maybe not so much today because of electronics, etc., the camaraderie is not what it used to be. I know this because a lot of my friends that are cops on this site tell me.
Going back to 1969, cops talked. We talked about cases that we had, "pinches", funny stories, etc. Mostly we talked about money, how to get a decent wage, and how to be able to negotiate with the Board of Selectmen.
We didn't have any power. When I went on the job in 1969 we were making $400.00 per month. I had left my previous job making twice that and it wasn't a high paying industry. In fact, in those days, it was very LOW paying business.
So...we decided to unionize. We had attempted to approach the Selectmen, but they refused to meet with us. The Chief was pissed that we even asked. So, more than half of the cops voted to unionize, to the chagrin of a lot of cops, including us. We didn't want to do it, we HAD to do it.
The Board of Selectmen at the time were composed of three full time Selectmen/Assessors.
One of the Selectmen, a man named "Buddy" Cleveland, was the Chairman. I recall Bob Tassinari, but I don't recall the other member.
Buddy was a very tough negotiator. Very firm, very steadfast, somewhat arrogant. I liked him. I liked him because he had a set of nuts, and everyone else seemed to be subservient to him. I liked him because I thought he really was trying to be fair to us. We worked hard, came to a compromise that resulted in the cops getting more money, no sanctions for working second jobs(wink, wink), some benefits, promise for a small increase, etc.
Then...when we were presented the contract, it was totally different from what we had negotiated. I was pissed, so was Ralph Forni, Norman Sylvester and another person I don't recall. We were the union officers, and negotiators, we had told our membership to vote for this contact, and now we were deceived.
Buddy'r response was, "Oh well...shit happens."
My response was, if I recall correctly,"See you in arbitration, asshole."
Bottom line...we eventually won.
Someone mentioned that I should run for Selectman. Since I had been in business, I was an experienced manager, I knew what was going on with the various departments of the Town, because as cops we spoke to Town employees all of the time. How else can you find out what anyone made, or what benefits they had? So, why shouldn't I run? If I got elected, I immediately become Police Commissioner and I would know how much the cops need help, the fire fighters, the municipal maintenance people, etc.
Oh yeah...I was ready. I was going to be elected Selectman.
I'll pick this up later.
I hope many of you can comment on those days.
Some people find my comments a tad excessive, a bit over-the-top, a mite too much.
Try this one:
Bud Cleveland is a no-good, M.....F.... lowlife scumbag. On a par with the Harlot of Halifax.
I helped the miserable sonofabitch once, and got it stuck up my ass for my trouble.
If anyone needs the tenor of my remarks clarified, I will be more than happy to do so.
Have you had recent contact with Buddy, nota? Is he still around?
If I had 'contact' with him, it would be with a hammer, or a machete, or an an ax borrowed from Lizzie Borden (or her sister), or using Merriwether from the NE Patriots - helmet to head.
There was a close call about 5-6 years ago; but I declined the "opportunity" to even be in the same room.
Is he still around? One hopes he has found his proper level in Dante's Inferno.
Have I moved past it?.....well, let's review, shall we?
Keep going, Dan. I love true confessions. And did you do it with yourself or with another?
One startling fact you mentioned months ago bears repeating here because I checked and you were right.
Wareham doubled in population between 1970 and 1980 - roughly your time in office - and has since seen almost NO net growth.
So, let's refer to the populists as the "pops" and the pro-growth group as the "pros".
Happen to recall where trailer park boosters fit into this scheme of things? My memory of that period is hazy.
Bill: I believe that the trailer parks, more appropriately, the mobile home parks, were designed to occupy at least the east side of Cranberry Highway, close to shopping at that time. (Remember Angelo's?).
Eventually, they hoped to spread in all directions.
Bill brings out an interesting statistic.
When I left in 1979, the population of Wareham is roughly the same as it is today.
So much for growth!!
Ah, mobile home parks....much better as a topic, now that the old Nota has calmed down.
Even though my opinion has been challenged on this point before (which, by the way, I think is a wonderful aspect of this web site - that reasonable people can disagree without being disagreable), I find that it is absolutely ludicrous that the in excess of 1,000 (yes, over one thousand) mobile homes can NOT be counted toward the 10% threshold for Chapter 40B. To me, this is an area where the BoS should have joined with other communities to pressure the State on allowing the inclusion of mobile home parks in that calculation. Instead of tilting at windmills as Cervantes described (i.e. Wesfield), they should have been pressing the State to review & revise its thinking.
Other communities? How about Plymouth, carver, Middleborough, Attleboro, North Attleborough to name a few. And there are more in the central & western parts of the State.
These are manufactured homes. They are rarely moved; just ask any mobile home park operator. Who has ever seen on Cranberry Hiway or other roads, the older units being moved/ And, if you did, wasn't there a NEW unit taking its place? In other words, these dwellings are there, in your Town, but are being ignored by the State for Chapter 40B purposes.
And, if the idea is to have housing for low/moderate income groups, then how do these dwelling units not qualify? Recently, there was an ad on the internet for a 2-bedroom unit at $29,000 & change, call it 30K. Low? Moderate? The photos did not look too bad. Sure, there is a monthly rental fee to the owner, as well as the excise to the Town; but come on! This type on housing is prevalent from New England to Florida; and to the far west, as well. Driving from Albuquerque, NM up to southern Colorado recently, I was struck by the large number of manufactured homes there were. Do these states pretend that this type of housing doesn't exist? for purposes similar to our Chap. 40B?
The mobile home parks are there. Why not use the data they provide to prove that the Town has more than met its Chap. 40 B threshold. You have got to be aggresive about this, in terms of the Town's management. And that is where citizen/voters/taxpayers can play a role. If you don't like chap 40B, there are over a thousand reasons in Wareham to fight it.
Buddy Cleveland is alive and well and living in (I believe) Virginia.
Don't give Nota his address, beach :)
I would if I knew it.................
Nota, are you saying that Plymouth and Carver ARE allowed to count mobile homes as low income units?
marny, my apology if I mislead on that point. Poor wording & transition.
My point was that there are many cities & towns which have large numbers of mobile homes. If these communities worked together as a coalition and brought pressure at the State level, then perhaps the Chap. 40B law could be amended to count these units in the calculation of "affordable" units. That type of change would benefit Wareham, which has perhaps a thousand or so mobile home units, and seems to me to be reasonable. After all, if a new single-family dwelling on Swifts Beach Road can sell for $150,000 and be considered "affordable", then why not this type of dwelling unit, which typically sells for far less?
Plymouth & Carver certainly have a fair number of these units, but I do not believe that those communities get to count them in 40B calculations. In some cases, unit owners have purchased the mobile home parks and turned them into cooperative ownership (similar to condominium ownership). I believe there is one in Plymouth along the old Route 44, and one in Norton.
It seems that the State only wants to count as "affordable" that which it can control. The units sold or rented in 40B complexes come with myriad of restrictions, designed to circumvent market forces. Pages & pages. Perhaps it is time to look at the goals of 40B in new ways.
I realized I am running out of time before your Town Meeting. I will go into great detail in the next few days, but bottom line...the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a long time (40 years) is to change the form of government to include 7 Selectmen. Two elected at large at 5 by precinct/district.
Do you realize that you will only be able to vote for three out of the seven, and therefor you will have NO say in who sits as the MAJORITY of the BOS.
Half-assed idea. Been done in Florida for years on the County level. Makes no sense, never did. Thank goodness the cities (most) have realized it is more important to elect a representative city wide to represent a particular district.
I believe, and have since about 1972, that the Town should go back to a three member elected Board of Selectmen, full time, restore all of the authority that had been taken away from them for years, and put
Wareham back on the right track.
Unless the BOS hire a Town Administrator that was born and raised in Wareham and has as much political clout as them, the system in place can never work. Why?
TAs' will always feel subservient to the BOS regardless of what the Charter says. The reason: the Charter says the BOS hires and fires the TA. You had a TA a few years ago that I have read about that was what the system called for...a strong man in a strong position. What happened to him? He got pushed out, fired, made some money, and then made more money because of the stupidity of the BOS.
A TA is not directly responsible to the people of Wareham, only to the BOS. Why do you think it is so difficult to get an appointment with the TA? Or, if you do get one, why do you think he tells you he can't answer your questions because he has to check with the BOS, or the Chairman, or whatever.
A TA could have a Ph.D in government, and still not be able to make it in Wareham.
Three full time Selectmen would be responsible DIRECTLY to the people, just like they were in the past. They will work their asses off to ensure that the Town survives and follows the wishes of the voters, because if they don't, the voters will fire them.
Three full time Selectmen are from the community. They share a passion for the future of Wareham. Hopefully they are compatible, and accessible, and transparent, and empathetic to the needs of the citizens of Wareham and they share the vision of the future to make Wareham the sanctuary it always was.. and was always intended to be...forever.
How to pay them?
If you decide to reject the CRC articles, ask to perhaps change the Charter to reflect that the review of the Charter should take place in the years ending in 3, 5, 7, and 0 (There is no such thing as reviewing the Charter too often. REVIEWING...not revising), ask that the appointing authority appoint a new Charter Review Committee, AFTER the elections of April of 2011, and require them to report back to Town Meeting in 2003, and hold public hearings. You will be able to determine if this form of government will pass. If it does, you establish a fair salary and benefits for the three full time Selectmen, and further order that no department head may make more money per year than a member of the BOS, who will be their directors. It may take time, but through attrition, it will work.
The money you save from what you are paying a TA, Ass't TA, and now a request for another Ass't TA, the savings of hiring a full time Chief of Police at a reasonable salary, will more than pay for the Selectmen.
You'll have the next few years to think about it, perfect it, and put it in place.
Just my opinion.
I will continue to write about history in the next few days, but I wanted to throw my ideas out to you. I want to read the discussions it generates, and have a feeling for what you believe the future should be.
A very dear friend of mine asked what I thought about him running for Selectman a few weeks ago. I will tell you what I told him: "You would be a wonderful Selectman. You have the temperament, the personality, the business acumen, the experience in management, the knowledge of the history of the Town, a commitment to a lifetime in the Town because of your family, the foresight and the love of the Town that can't be exceeded by anyone who runs for the office. I have no doubt that you will be elected. I know the people of Wareham would get behind you and would be thrilled that you are running. That is the good news.....here is the bad news....I think you will be elected Selectman."
I hope he runs, by the way :)
Last edited by danoconnell (2010-10-23 15:04:41)
I was just told that the WTF people say I am paid by the word.
I am paid 124% of several millions of dollars (interest has accrued).
Thank you to the President and Board of Directors of Take Back Wareham, and of course my other 123 partners for their confidence.
Last edited by danoconnell (2010-10-23 15:37:22)
By the way.. my opinion... I just read the entire Warrant. I personally would not vote for ANY articles submitted by the CRC. They are either too extreme, or just plain insignificant.
It was the middle to late 1960's that discussions began about changing the form of government in Wareham.
The "Pros" (pro-growth), knew that they could not penetrate the "Pops" (Populists) because they were directly responsible to the voters. The Board of Selectmen/Assessors/Directors of Public Welfare, etc., etc, etc. would NEVER violate the needs of the people as they perceived them.
After getting screwed as a Police Officer/Union Rep., I understood where the Pros were coming from. I thought that we should run the Town like a business. I thought that it made sense to structure Town Government like a business entity. A President, Board of Directors, and the people of the Town would be the stock-holders. I had just come from banking...made sense to me.
I was very naive.
I just didn't know it.
I ran for Selectman the first time in 1971 (I believe. I think I am correct..but not exactly. Some historians among you please let me know if my mind is still OK).
I announced my intentions to the local papers. The Chief was thrilled!
Let me give you an idea of the meeting between me and Fred Besse (Chief of Police).
I will paraphrase and clean it up somewhat.
"What the heck do you think you are doing, young man?" The Chief asked.
"I am going to run for Selectman, Chief."
"Let me tell you something, young fellow," The Chief said. "if you think you are going to embarrass me by running for Selectman so you can be my boss, I am sure you are sadly mistaken, gosh-darn it."
"I never thought of it that way Chief. I am trying to help the little people...you know, the cops, the Municipal Maintenance Workers, the little guy. Plus, I think if I get elected I can help to build the Police Station we need."
"You are a very ignorant person, and I remember watching as your mother changed your dirty diapers. You can't win. I don't even think it is legal."
"I checked. It's legal, Chief. I just can't be a cop and a Selectman because I would be a Police Commissioner."
"Please get out of my office, you little cherub, and do not speak to me again unless I speak to you first. I will not vote for you, young fellow."
Kind of the way it went.
So...I jumped in the fray. Twelve candidates (YES 12!).
11 men and 1 woman.
Of course the woman couldn't win...she was a WOMAN. Women don't run for Selectman and they sure don't get elected.
I had a small but enthusiastic group of cops to help me run. Half of the cops wouldn't support me, because they were above the rank of patrolman or they hated the union activities. I knew that, and it was OK.
I worked the Midnight to 8 A.M. shift. If I didn't have Court, I would be picked up at my house by a group of young cops and I was driven EVERYWHERE!! I was going to go to EVERY house in the Town. That was my mission.
I know I will miss some names, and I apologize. But, I remember the following guys that drove me every day, and would place hideous home-made green wooden signs on their cars to advertise my candidacy. Crudely made, they were strapped to the roofs of many cars. "Elect Daniel P. "Biff" O'Connell, Jr. as Selectman".
Ralph Forni, Jimmy Frost, Lewie Tripp, Chippy Hammond, Norman Sylvester, Nappy Jesus, Bobby Camadona,
Gordon Lopes, Farmer Florindo, Dave "Sam" Smarowski, Bob Johnson, and many others I am sure I have overlooked.
I busted my ass! I knocked on doors, left personal notes if I missed seeing the residents, and knew that I was going to win.
I came in LAST!! LAST!!
12 out of 12!
I think I got one hundred votes.
The winner was the best Selectman ever to occupy the office from that day to this.... Claire McWilliams.
I will continue over the weekend.
Get ready for the good fight next week, friends. You are close to winning what you have for a mission.
It was the middle to late 1960's that discussions began about changing the form of government in Wareham.
"Pros" and "Pops" describes the combatants well enough but the dispute may well predate the Onset Bay Grove Association. Say, 1875. It's resurfaced at regular intervals since, and usually resolved by locals telling more recent implants to go shit in their hats. I'm paraphrasing.