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The end of 2010 is at hand. For many of us, the demise of a year is a time to look back and try to come to terms with what and how our life has changed, or not. Having had a couple of life-threatening medical issues, every morning when I wake up is a good one. I find it unfortunate that almost cashing in my chips (twice) was what it took to wake up, feeling that no matter what happened that day, at least I was there to experience it.
Now for my second annual report card for our esteemed Board of Selectmen. The grades have changed from the 2009 report. This year has seen some BOS behavior that is both fascinating and repellent. From my point of view and dozens of folks I’ve spoken to, the BOS isn’t listening to the voters who elected them. It’s reminiscent of the feelings many people have about our U.S. Congress.
First up is chairperson Patty Roggeveen. I’ve been a fan of hers until lately. I believe she’s incredibly bright and always prepared. It worries me that too many apparent conflicts of interest could sway her decisions. Say what you will, these conflicts may be legal, or ethical in the eyes of the state, but that’s not good enough. The fact is that the “P” word enters into the conversation. Perception is everything if you’re in the public eye. Then there was the town counsel firing. Here’s my 2010 grade for Ms. Roggeveen, and it isn’t pretty. She dropped to a C+.
Next up is the former chair, Michael Kopko. I’ve known Mike for decades and his first couple of years on the BOS were great. Then I noticed he was becoming too proactive and seemed out of touch with the average person. For the past year, he’s been anything but that. Recently, Mr. Kopko has been a champion for common-sense decisions on the board. He led the fight to look at the town counsel situation in a sensible way and he was shot down by three votes that refused to look at reality and focused on politics. Mike, you get a solid A.
Then there’s Whitey Willauer, another former chair of the BOS. I like Whitey as a person, but as a selectman, not so much. Actually, when he first served on the board, I thought he was average. Whitey is the king of micromanagers, then and now. This new term is worse than the first go-round. Sorry Whitey, you get a C-.
Brian Chadwick appears to be contemplating retirement, though as far as I’m aware he hasn’t said so publicly. Brian, along with Patty, was the force behind edging out Paul DeRensis as town counsel. And, it was done badly. Brian, I am disappointed at the way this was handled. A little more transparency would have made me accept your vote, but I still have doubts about why and how this happened. Brian, you receive a C.
Rick Atherton is what I like to call the “invisible” selectman. He’s more than doing his job, but we rarely see his name in the headlines, unlike the other four BOS members. Rick is the kid in school who kept his head down, was an above-average student and never spent time in the principal’s office. Rick, you get an A.
One of my favorite elected officials is our town clerk, Catherine Flanagan Stover. As always she’s on top of everything and Queen Catherine is user-friendly. Many people in town government are hard to find, but not her. She is available at her office and even at home. Her recent filing of an open-meeting complaint against the BOS is an example of her protecting our rights, versus the usual vote quickly, don’t reveal the facts and go off on our merry way.
The fact is that that Nantucket could face what’s become the norm when it comes to town government: lawsuits because there was no due diligence practiced. How many times does this have to take place before someone wises up? My guess is never. Anyway, Catherine isn’t about to let the BOS walk away from this unscathed. Catherine gets what being a public servant is about. She is elected by the citizens of Nantucket, and her first duty is to look out for us. Thank you, Catherine.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are about to embark on a happy new year.
– Goodman’s Gam appears weekly in this space and periodically in The Inquirer and Mirror