Selectmen Abdicate Responsibility

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Selectmen Abdicate Responsibility

Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Thu Dec 05, 2002 8:54 pm

It is the most important decision to face this town in many years and at their meeting tonight, three selectmen announced they have no intention of placing any warrant article on the ballot that deals with the solution of getting rid of the town's solid waste once the landfill has been closed!

Instead, Selectmen Carr, Pellegrino, and Gagnon agreed by consensus that they would leave it up to the people to petition warrant articles, thus abdicating their responsibility as elected leaders to recommend, educate, and advocate for any option for disposing of our solid waste.

David McCray is the only selectman who has said he is for curbside pickup. The others have never advocated for curbside but have indicated they favor a transfer station.

What a clever strategy! The selectmen are betting on a repeat of the outcome of last year's voting where all warrant articles for a method of solid waste disposal failed. So, what happens when all options fail?


We've now come full cycle. We started off with a BOS sponsored warrant article for a transfer station and, unless the town gets together and votes for curbside pickup, we will end up with the BOS deciding to build a transfer station on Lawrence Road!
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Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Thu Dec 05, 2002 9:06 pm

One other thing. Keep in mind the repeated statements last year that petitioned warrant articles are ADVISORY ONLY!
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Postby Wayne » Thu Dec 05, 2002 9:37 pm

Okay, I don't get it. This is an issue that affects every citizen in town, and our leaders have just said they will leave it up to individual citizens to submit petitions for solutions. I speak in the plural because I believe now there is a chance we will end up with two, three, or even more warrant articles to vote on. Isn't it the job of our leaders to propose solutions? Didn't they charter a respected committee to study the issue and make a recommendation? Why is it so hard to just get behind that recommendation? If it didn't pass in the Spring, they could just blame it on the SWAC!

(Hope I'm not spreading too much negativity...)
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Postby Muriel Lortie » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:20 pm

Dave McCray is the "ONLY" Selectman willing to lead the people. Here we go again, throw the residents into the rink and see what comes out. PATHETIC LEADERSHIP! :oops:

Tony P will fight for a transfer station. As far as Nancy is concerned I am appalled. She told me at a Ad-hoc meeting that she remembers being told in 1971 that the landfill was temporary and that it was for 10 years the max. Seems she says one thing and does another. Norm Carr is leading the people to the rink.

What really amazed me was when Nancy said that she might register on OUR FORUM. She pulls the plug on the Town Forum because she said it was cancerous. Oh yes, she would like to have Sundays and Mondays off like the Lawrence Road people. What is that suppose to mean? She owns a garden center and people do shop on weekends. I hope she does register and explains her complete turn around. :?:

Why is it so difficult to move ahead and to look into the future needs of this Town. The BOS appointed these men to the Ad-hoc Committee for guidance. To throw all this knowledge away? :?

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Postby Norman Phillips » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:29 pm

1. Carolyn, I believe any warrant article approved by the voters that appropriates money is NOT advisory.

2. If there is an impass after the April election caused by the rejection of all SW warrant articles, the Selectmen can only operate with whatever money is available in the budget. As long as there is a line item for a curbside operation, as there seems to be now ( at least in the preliminary Manager's budget ) they can spend money in the budget for curbside.


Usually it is only the BC recommendation or failure to recommend that is important to the voters. But the way things are going, the actual money in the budget-----where the Budget Committee is the last actor before the Deliberative Session----becomes the deciding factor. (The BC cannot change warrant articles. )

3. The most important activity for people who prefer curbside is to explain to other people the way curbside is cheaper.

4.The lines are now drawn between an option of curbside or a transfer station on Lawrence Road. I will soon put out a simple presentation of the costs of these two options, based on the numbers developed by the Ad Hoc Committee. They will be presented in such a manner that every household can decide which is the cheaper method for them.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:35 pm

Wayne, you're not spreading negativity. You're spreading reality!
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Postby Carolyn G. Whitlock » Thu Dec 05, 2002 10:46 pm


Money that is in the budget but not from a warrant article can be spent on anything, right? So, conceivably, voters could pass the budget with a certain amount of money in it that is designated for curbside. But the BOS could use that amount of money to create a "makeshift" transfer station operation on Lawrence Road if they wanted to, right? And/or they could postpone the purchase of an expensive piece of equipment, for instance, and use that money to supplement the building of a transfer station.

I know I'm probably sounding paranoid by saying this aloud but I have seen too many deceptions in the last year from the powers that be.
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Postby Norman Phillips » Fri Dec 06, 2002 1:37 am

Carolyn----In addition to money, there must be some entry in the final overall budget form that is submitted to the DRA that allows a given type of expense. I am however not too clear on how the different individual line items get lumped together into the form we see on the Annual Report.
I will certainly study that in the coming month.

Secondly, a makeshift station must be designed well enough to get a transfer station permit from the State. I am not sure of the conditions for this, but I anticipate that someone will investigate the matter.

The selectmen do have considerable freedom and power, as you intimate.
Sincerely, Norm Phillips
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Dec 06, 2002 8:57 am

Carolyn, Norman, Muriel and Wayne,

I was not the least bit surprised by their actions/comments last evening. They actually did us all a favor in a sense.

Nancy has shown she still doesn't understand the issue. Her claim that she wants something that includes all residential, commercial and industrial waste is a clear indication she has not done her homework. As far back as October 2001 the Town was very much aware that industrial and commercial waste would not be delivered to any transfer station we may build. They even BUDGETED assuming NO commercial or industrial waste. Perhaps next time she will research the issue before making such pie in the sky claims or perhaps the facts no longer matter to her. She is bound and determined to allow self-hauling for free, no matter how many households financially suffer as a result.

Nancy's other comments relating to those living in the area speak for themselves, I could not possibly add anything to them. Apparently everyone on LR owns "half million dollar" houses and this bothers her for some reason. What could I possibly add to that?

As far as Mr. Carr's claims that nobody got behind the $6 million dollar mess they put together, what did they expect? (Nancy actually told me BEFORE the Budget Committee turned down their article that she didn't expect it to be approved by the residents.) In any case, it was not the lack of public support that caused them to pull the plug, it was a letter from AB. Its more than a little interesting how quickly they backed off (particularly Nancy) when AB complained about possible odor and water concerns, yet how unaffected they are about the same proposal in a residential zone. I guess that shows us very clearly who is important to them and who isn't.

I still can't figure out Tony P. The Ad-hoc figures show curbside less expensive than a transfer station by $559,000. As a member of the Ad-hoc committee he approved EVERY number in the report. As a member of the BOS, he approved the acceptance of these figures. Yet, he stated last night he still thinks curbside is more expensive than a transfer station. Huh?

As far as Mr. King, why bother. I'm sure between now and the election he will have assumed and supported every other position at least twice, maybe three times. It is a pattern we're all used to seeing. In any case I will provide a detailed description of why the Town fathers decided to put the landfill there 30 years ago at the next BOS meeting. I'm sure it will raise more than a few eyebrows, especially given the recent communications the Town has receieved relative to the Mast Road proposal.

It really was a study in psychology to watch them try and redirect all the blame for the mess we're in on the people living near the existing site. I was actually laughing as I listened to it. Last year's mess, this year's mess and whatever mess we're headed into in April is all somehow our fault. Heaven forbid they actually accept any responsibility themselves.

So, the battle lines have been drawn by our BOS. This coming April will be the most important election this Town has seen in many, many years.

One final note, kudos to David McCray. Not because of the position he took last night, but because his willingness to stand up and be counted literally forced the others to come out of the dark. There is no more guesswork, we are now very clear on where the other members stand.
Mark Fitzgerald

Postby Pam Fitzgerald » Fri Dec 06, 2002 9:33 am

In the land of royalty (which is where one can only assume many of the BOS must envision themselves as they do not act on principles of democracy) abdication means one is tired of all the responsibility and one sees oneself in need of private life. One is then ready to "step down" and allow another "to rule" the kindgom.

I guess it is up to the "common people" to decide, amongst other important questions, how we would like the land of Merrimack to look after these abdicators return to private life in April.
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Postby Debra Huffman » Fri Dec 06, 2002 9:41 am

I can't find words to describe how disturbed I am. How in the world could this town have gotten to a point where, after 10 years of research into a municipal issue, our elected officials can't examine the data, propose a logical solution, and enlist the help of staff to educate the voters about that solution? It seems like the most basic, fundamental function. I am speechless.

The BOS meeting replays at 2:00 and 10:00 p.m. today. Before I pass final judgement, I will watch the tape and try to understand what factors led to this decision. I hope hundreds of others voters in our town do the same. If what we see does not provide some evidence that this was a logical decision, I hope we all remember one thing:

After the April vote, the BOS will consist of Dave McCray, Tony Pellegrino, and three others. Mr. Carr, Ms L'Heureux, and Ms Gagnon may or may not retain their seats. Let's make sure we elect people we trust to make the most logical decision.
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Dec 06, 2002 10:34 am


This has been going on for over two years. Every time their position is shown to be flawed they go into denial mode, shut down all educational efforts and attack those with differing opinions. This is exactly what they did last year.

Just consider their recent actions.

1. They create the Ad-hoc SWAC so we can all have numbers to work from. They allow a recommendation to be part of the Ad-hoc Charge.

2. At the same time, they're secretly negotiating for land with a transfer station on it (Mast Road).

3. Two weeks before the Ad-hoc SWAC comes out with it's report, they go public with their Special Town Meeting plan for land and a TS on Mast Road.

4. The Ad-hoc comes out with figures that suggest curbside is the best solution and recommend it.

5. They appear before the court claiming, among other things, that last year's Article 25 is justification for the special meeting.

6. They receive the Court's approval.

7. The Budget Committee votes 12-1 against the article.

8. Budweiser say "scram".

9. The BOS pulls the plug on their proposal.

10. The Ad-hoc Committee offers to help the BOS.

11. The BOS disbands the Ad-hoc and rejects their recommendation.

12. The BOS washes their hands of the entire situation. while blaming the failure of their Mast Road proposal on everyone but themselves and ignoring Article 25 (see #5).

If there was ever a transparent situation, this is it.
Mark Fitzgerald

Postby joe179 » Fri Dec 06, 2002 10:39 am

I find this whole affair most disturbing. As our elected public officials, the BOS is charged with managing the peoples business. The solid waste matter (DEBACLE) is one of the most important issues at hand. To abdicate their repsonsibility in the face of the rational solution for curbside pickup, only reinforces doubts regarding their integrity. It appears we the people are being challenged to step in and fill the void. Otherwise their ploy to force a transfer station will become a reality!
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Postby Mark Fitzgerald » Fri Dec 06, 2002 11:00 am


You stated:

How in the world could this town have gotten to a point where, after 10 years of research into a municipal issue, our elected officials can't examine the data, propose a logical solution, and enlist the help of staff to educate the voters about that solution? It seems like the most basic, fundamental function. I am speechless.

There is only one answer Debra. This is the result of their wanting one thing, but not being able to support it with a logical argument. If they felt they could support their desire for a transfer station, they wouldn't be taking this hands-off position. They are smart enough to realize that every time a logical debate takes place on this issue they are left with no ammunition. They realize their only hope is to keep dragging the issue back into the mud of personality attacks. Listen very carefully to Nancy Gagnon's comments last night. When in a weak position, attack, stifle debate and refuse to educate. Thats their motto at this point. Very sad indeed.

You'll recall they rejected an offer to debate the issue last year. The reason was simple: They knew back then the economic and equity questions both pointed towards curbside. This lack of dialogue was also apparent in thier Mast Road proposal. The residents were not asking about the need for land, they were skeptical about the rational behind building a transfer station. Did you ever see any justification from them for the $2,000,000 for a transfer station? Me neither, and we never will.

The bottom line Debra is this: The initial plan was flawed. If it had been sound, it would have survived last year. They hate the fact they have been wrong all this time, hate those who have proven them wrong, and will stop at nothing to be "right". The unfortunate part is we all will pay for their arrogance if we don't rise up and, as Nancy Gagnon put it last night, "take control".

Hey Deb, look at the bright side. At least we have now narrowed Duff Man's true identity down to two people :) :) .
Mark Fitzgerald

Postby joe179 » Fri Dec 06, 2002 11:29 am


It appears to me that the BOS intends to inject mass confusion into the issue by hoping numerous warrant articles are petitioned--thus resulting in a complete and utter failure of any solution in the polls.

How can we work as a tem to help ensure a concise warrant article for curbside is put forward for balloting? How can we work to prevent the petitioning of numerous conflicting and confusing warrant articles from reaching the polls?

If the BOS intends to make the decision for a transfer station, they may have set those wheels in motion by their decision. We must rise above this and work together to ensure a sound and rational solution is chosen. To do this we have to find a way to ensure the ballots are free of confusion and conflict.

Simultaneously, we should begin canvassing prospective candidates to replace the BOS members who have acted with gross negligence, and apparent conflict of interest, in the managing of the peoples business!
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