To the Editor:
If voters were to believe recent so-called news articles, editorials and letters to the editors, Chelmsford’s recall election is the sole result of a “Boogie Man;” a local resident hell-bent on toppling Chelmsford government as we know it and wreaking havoc upon its citizenry in the process. The four Selectmen sought to be recalled also lay all the blame (and cost) of the recall election on this “Boogie Man” and, amazingly, continue to claim they have done nothing wrong.
Recall provisions date back to the laws of the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of 1631, and are found again in the Massachusetts Charter of 1691; they pre-date the United States Constitution by almost 150 years! Their purpose is clear; to remove a public official from office for failure to perform his/her duties. The recall petitions signed and the pending recall election are in complete compliance with this 380 year old state recall law; the efforts by the Town Manager and the Selectmen to thwart and trivialize voters’ recall efforts, notwithstanding.
These Selectmen would have readers believe that the “Boogie Man” “bought” this pending recall election. These four simply refuse to believe that over 12,000 signatures were obtained from Chelmsford voters demanding the Selectmens’ recall. The Selectmen allege that the town’s elderly residents “did not understand” what they were signing and that other residents were “duped” into signing recall petitions; such arrogance is insulting.
Each of the four Selectmen are on the record as saying “we didn’t do anything wrong” and “we don’t understand why we are being recalled.” In addition to the “Boogie Man,” they seek to place blame on Selectmen in office over 30 years ago, a vaguely drafted “Preservation Restriction” and a Land Court judge. They refuse to acknowledge the following simple facts:
- a former Selectman represented his father in the purchase of a piece of property (9 North Road) in which the Town of Chelmsford had a direct and substantial interest at the same time;
- such a scenario is a violation of the State and local ethics laws;
- the current Town Manager, Paul Cohen, knew of said breach of state and local ethics laws by the former Selectman at the time of the violation and did not report it as required by said laws;
- at least one of the current selectmen sought to be recalled (Pat Wojtas) learned of the ethics violation while the violating Selectman was still in office and did not report it at the time or seek further investigation;
- all of the current selectmen (Kurland, Wojtas, Dixon, Hanson and Lane) have subsequently learned of the violation by the former Selectman and the violation by the Town Manager and NONE of them have reported it or otherwise sought an investigation.
Apparently, the Board of Selectmen and the Town Manager believe this breach of state and local ethics laws, the profiting by a former Selectman and/or his family, as well as the land lost as a result, is no big deal. As Selectman George Dixon has been quoted “…its only two acres…the town still has over 800.” Not surprisingly, our ever-vigil state representative, Cory Atkins, is recently quoted as saying "I really don't understand what all the brouhaha is about."
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Kurland continue to assert that Mr. Eliopoulos’ actions were “entirely above board.” The same Selectmen, yet again, displayed their contempt of the voters by recently rewarding Mr. Cohen with a raise and early contract extension and renewed the contract of town counsel, Kopelman & Paige. Such arrogance only rubs salt in an already open wound. They are in complete and utter denial!
Recall opponents’ primary opposition to such an election is that the cure is worse than the disease and allege that a “nuclear winter” will settle upon Chelmsford and town government, as we know it, will cease to exist if the Selectmen are recalled. Nothing could be further from the truth; by law, a new election to replace those recalled must be held within 90 days. This is in perfect timing with the fall state elections and will only cost the town the expense of printing a separate ballot. The cleansing and healing that will take place following the recall election is the “cure” this town badly needs.
While I agree that “Chelmsford Cannot Be Bought,” I further submit that the voters will prove on August 2nd that “Chelmsford Will Not Be Stolen.”
Vote YES on August 2nd.
Richard P. McClure