Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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Slightly less than 600 voters took the time to show up to the first evening of the 2011 Nantucket Town Meeting. Looking around the auditorium and seeing empty seats was a sad thing. There isn’t an excuse for this. Town Meeting is often slow and feels ponderous, but nobody said that running a government was going to be a day at the beach.

It would be easy to ask what’s going on with the Board of Selectmen and some of their crazy meetings. I don’t ask. I know one main problem they have and unfortunately this is an all-too-common affliction affecting state and federal government political bodies. Instead of doing their job as public servants and coming together to do what’s best for us, they spend time trying to score political points. Today I’m seeing little true public service and far too much micro-managing from all five members of the BOS.

When it comes to our Board of Selectmen, there are two primary camps opposing one another. Two members appear to be trying to achieve transparency and the other trio is far more concerned in grabbing more power for the BOS. As it is, members of appointed boards owe their tenure to vote in a manner that pleases a majority of the BOS.

Raise an issue or vote the wrong way and you will not be reappointed by the BOS. Permitting no dissent on these boards (or you’re not going to be reappointed) means board members are virtual puppets for the BOS. I believe we need boards with independence, otherwise let’s dispense with them and let the five selectmen run the entire island. Except for some BOS members, I’d like to think citizens of Nantucket never want to see that happen.

We have an election coming up on Tuesday. I’d like to say that your votes could turn this Selectmen around, but that’s highly unlikely. Regardless of my observations, we all need to show up at Nantucket High School and cast our ballots. I always vote, therefore I then have the right to complain about our elected officials; excuse me, public servants. Please take the time to vote.

One move the Selectmen weren’t able to totally screw up was signing Libby Gibson to another contract as town manager. Gibson does an amazing job for us and she has forsaken a raise for this three-year contract. Town manager is an enormous job and we should all thank her. How would you like to take the blame for the BOS when they’re wrong, and then have them take the credit when you perform your job well?

I’m pleased to see (or is it not see) as many political yard signs alongside our streets and roads. Between now and the election, they could sprout up as abundantly as daffodils. I prefer yellow and white blossoms to cheesy silk-screened ads on a stick.

Look at our infrastructure, much of it is falling into disrepair. We were fortunate to have had a mild winter, otherwise our paved roads would be a total wreck. As things go, the numerous potholes and divots are fairly minor annoyances. The DPW has filled small spots with asphalt, but these are temporary bandages where surgery is required.

Another area that’s breaking down is the fencing along the Polpis Road bike path. When Jack Gardner ordered the fencing, a huge outcry was raised as to why it wasn’t split-rail fencing. As things turned out, the new fences worked well. Time has passed, the wood is old and it’s rapidly beginning to crumble in spots.

Some of the worst places on the bike path are the parts with the flimsiest fences. Out west at Second Bridge, between the entrance to Long Pond and the bike path, the fencing is leaning precariously over the water’s edge. The bike path is suffering from erosion under the asphalt as well.

I was saddened to hear that the carnival that sets up each summer out by the old Navy base is going to bypass Nantucket this year. The expense of the Steamship Authority freight rates has made it tough to make a living on our expanse of sand. I’ll miss the greasy food.
– David Goodman’s “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly in this space and in The Inquirer and Mirror

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