Heckles and Shprekels

We all know what heckles are—jeers, taunts, boos, hisses. The British Parliament is good at delivering heckles—we've all seen the way they holler and hiss at PM Tony Blair when he stands at that podium and defends his decision to involve the Brits in the war against Iraq.

But few of us are as familiar with shprekels. Shprekels is not be confused with sheckels, or shtetls or shackles (or for that matter, sha'akels). And in fact, the etymological origins of the word shprekel are obscure; apparently the word began as the diminutive form of the Medieval Yiddish shprak [meaning blessing], but later took on a sort of collective sense (meaning something like tinker bell's dust), perhaps influenced by sprinkle.

From time to time, the CCC will be bestowing Shprekels (or Heckles) on various people in our town. So you may want to set in a supply of Shprekel Dust.

[Shprekel jar]
Container of Shprekels

Heckles and Shprekels

SPECIAL SHPREKELS:  To those voters of Farmington who turned out to vote for the Interim Growth Ordinance.

Heckles and Shprekels


HECKLES!  To Don MacVane. And here's why:

On July 15, 2003, a large crowd of citizens attended the Planning Board's public hearing to learn about and vent about the IGMR (Interim Growth Management Regulation), the ordinance the gathered citizens (among them were some of the signees of the 250-signature petition) overwhelmingly urged the Planning Board to put before the voters—by a ballot vote—at a special town meeting.

That night, the PB wimped out, and set the date for a second public hearing on July 30. That meeting was also packed, and the PB, except for Barry Elliott (and Chairman Jim Horgan, who spoke against the IGMR and then, as he typically does, abstained), voted to let the IGMR go before the people.

Those two public meetings were widely publicized. At the first, on July 15, there was a clutch of developers lobbying against the IGMR. At the second, only one developer showed up to argue against the IMGR (and in favor of his own pocketbook).

So, the matter was, for the time, closed. The hearings have been held; the people shall have their say.

But wait! It wasn't—as we thought—over. Because just when the good folk who turned out in favor of the IGMR were feeling good about the outcome of their involvement in their town's affairs . . . [DRUM ROLL . . . ] On August 19, RSA developer Wayne (Packy) Campbell, without being on the agenda, appeared at the Planning Board meeting, with a videographer in tow, demanding that the PB hear his "rebuttal" to the IGMR.

Charlie King protested (more than once), saying (to paraphrase him) public hearings on the matter have been held, the IGMR is on the way to the voters, and public input on the IGMR is, for the time, closed.

Undaunted, Campbell insisted he deliver his "rebuttal" to the IGMR. He said he was told there was a public hearing that night, though did not say who told him, nor was he asked by the PB who told him. Nor was he asked how come he didn't hear about the two posted-and-well-advertised public hearings on July 15 and July 30. But even if he hadn't seen the postings, and the hype about the two meetings, and even if by some fluke his colleagues in the Brotherhood of Developers hadn't given him a Heads Up! about the hearings, wouldn't you think his own sister, then still a member of the Planning Board, would have clued him in?

And now we return to Don MacVane. Don said the PB ought to listen to what Campbell had to say because Campbell was our elected representative.

Well now, ain't that an interesting argument for giving Campbell his own special time before the PB—now that the citizens who packed the hall for the actual properly-posted meetings have all gone home, getting a break from all the shenanigans, assuming they could trust the PB to do right by the town by simply bringing the IGMR before the people without further ado.

So, MacVane said the PB ought to give Packy Campbell his say, even though already the Planning Board was supposed to not be hearing a word from big developers till after the all-day ballot vote on the IGMR (now set for September 30, at the old Town Hall).

And Campbell did have his say, all right. He is on tape, "rebutting" full tilt, for 20 whole minutes of the PB's time.

And he got to speak because Chairman Horgan agreed with Don MacVane's saying the PB should listen to Campbell, because he was our elected representative to the state legistlature in Concord.

But was Campbell speaking on behalf of the rest of us? In what way was he representing the people of our town? Was he representing the 250 people who signed a petition in favor of a ballot vote on the IGMR, or, perchance, was he representing himself? More important, why was he given the floor for a full twenty minutes, when not one of his constituents (except perhaps his developer/constituents) was given that much time at either of the two legitimate public hearings?

For shame, MacVane, for giving Developer Packy Campbell his own special hearing. And for you, HECKLES!


HECKLES!  To PB chairman Jim Horgan, for allowing Packy Campbell to rave on.

Heckles and Shprekels

Signing in
The Voters of Farmington, for voting in 2000, with 458 votes to 81, and again in 2002 (the second vote necessary because of a legislative oversight), with 285 votes to 54 (both votes being landslides by better than a 5:1 ratio), to enact a sludge ordinance that forbids the importation and landspreading of sludge and papermill wastes from beyond our town's borders.

People in Farmington are used to being the butt of jokes. Joking about Farmington has been going on for decades. Hey, the wiseacres sneer, "Remember the bow-and-arrow murder?" But we fix those wiseacres. We just tell them "People got stuff to say about Farmington?! Good! That keeps 'em all outa here."

Secret Ballot
And when it came to enacting their sludge ordinance, the voters of Farmington were out there on the edge of progressive thinking. Just read about these two nightmares, Toronto Star story "Rural residents fight Toronto sludge", and a Detroit News story about nitrates polluting water in Michigan. Imagine Farmington voters having no say to having municipal sludge being trucked in, for the next four years, by a big hauler, and having it dumped—well, on farmlands, on ballfields, on gravel pits requiring reclamation, on any scrap of land available. The poor Ontarians. They are being dumped on and may pay a terrible price.

Ballot Box
But the voters of Farmington, shrewd Yanks indeed, understood what is in sludge, figured we had enough on our hands dealing with our own wastes, and didn't want any one else's dumped on us. So, for that wise and perspicacious vote in 2000, and again in 2002, let us sprinkle shprekels on the Voters of Farmington.

Heckles and Shprekels

SHPREKELS! To the Planning Board of Farmington, for finally "getting it" that the people of Farmington want a special referendum on the IMGR (Interim Growth Management Ordinance). At the second public meeting on the matter, held on July 30, the hall was packed, as it was on July 15, and this time, only one developer was there to argue against letting the voters have their say. The upshot of the meeting was that despite efforts from the predictable PB members to kill the thing, the board, with the exception of Barry Elliott (BS's rep to the PB), voted to place the IGMO before the voters, with their recommendation. So let's sprinkle some shprekels on the Farmington Planning Board—but make that just a pinch of shprekels, because the PB took some time "getting it", and might not have gotten it at all, had there not been a fine show of citizens at both public hearings, and had there not been 250 signatures on a petition urging the PB to put it before the voters. Time will tell if the Farmington Planning Board accrues more shprekels, or heckles.

Heckles and Shprekels

SHPREKELS: To Garold ("Gary") White, Planning Board member. When Gary White was supposed to be on his two-week vacation in late July and early August, there were two PB meetings, and rather than running off to Storyland with the wife and kiddies, our Gary stuck around to be at both. He gave up precious vacation time with his family because he believed his pledge to the town, especially with all that is going on now, was serious and worthy of honoring. How many of us would do that? Here are some pictures of Gary. A big pinch of shprekels on his nice-guy noggin.

Another pinch of shprekels for "He who Reveres the First Amendment"

Heckles and Shprekels


HECKLES: Yet again, another big dose of heckles for Farmington Planning Board member, Don ("The Obstructionist") MacVane, for a few things he said at the PB meeting on November 18, 2003.

At that meeting, Brad Anderson gave an update on the progress of the Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee (ZAMPS), summing up for the PB the results of the first survey (mailed to all households in town), and showing the PB the second mailing/survey, which is now in the hands of residents.

Don MacVane mentioned last summer's petition with 254 signatures urging the PB to put the Interim Growth Ordinance (IGO) before the voters. He said not all those who signed the petition were registered voters. That is true. But the petition was not meant to be a formal petition, with the requisite twenty-five signatures of registered voters, as if would have to be if it were going on the town ballot. He then went on to say that about as many votes were cast in favor of the IGO (actually, 208 pro-IGO votes were cast, and all by registered voters), implying that the fact that there were 254 petition signatures, and 208 pro-IGO votes suggested more than "just a coincidence"--that the similar numbers suggested something plotted, or rigged, or perhaps even crooked, in the process of signature-gathering and the subsequent vote. (Ya gotta wonder how the squeaky-clean people who run the polls in our town would like that insinuation.)

When pressed to explain exactly what he was driving at--what he was implying--MacVane said, "I can't explain it." Unfortunately, no one on the PB insisted that he do explain such a charge.

Later in the meeting, he delivered a rant in which he said, in effect, that the ZAMPS was running on its own, not answerable to the Planning Board, and that before they sent out their surveys/mailings, they should clear every move they make with the Planning Board. In fact, whenever ZAMPS chairman Brad Anderson reports to the Planning Board, he gives a full account of the impressive work ZAMPS has been doing since the last report to the PB.

If ever there was an attempt to kill the worthy work of the ZAMPS, if ever there was an insult to what is perhaps the best, most dedicated, hardworking, deliberative, all-volunteer committee many of us have ever seen in this town, MacVane delivered that insult. (It should be noted that Chairman Horgan delivered his mandate as well, sputtering vague things about "specific questions needing specific answers" before the next survey went out--though he himself wasn't at all specific about what he meant.) If those two were to prevail in shoving around the ZAMPS, in impeding their progress, the ZAMPS's work would never get done.

Neither MacVane, nor Horgan, nor, at times, Bill Tsiros and Barry Elliott--all PB members--have recognized the will of the people, who gave a landslide mandate when they voted on September 30 for the IGO. Of the four, only Elliott bothered to show up at the first Gathering.

MacVane and Horgan (and sometimes Elliott and Tsiros) don't even seem to "get" what this whole process is about, or how important it is to the future of this town. They obstruct, criticize, try in every way they can think of to prevent ZAMPS from keeping to its well-planned but tight schedule.

And it is MacVane especially, who blathers and carps and hinders at every step of the way. And when he is not blathering, criticizing and carping, MacVane keeps up a running patter of buffoonery which often interferes with the serious work facing the PB.

At the start of the PB meeting, when Kevin Russell (the first highschooler to eagerly sign up for Ed Mullen's Cable 26 video crew) said he gave up his evening to live-broadcast the PB meeting, MacVane said, "Who are you?" and then proceeded to point out the fact that the fixed camera in the chambers ought to have a light on it to "warn" people when they are actually on the air. And then he complained that he never hears when the broadcasts will be, and griped that Channel 23 doesn't announce the airings. (Here he was talking about the channel that runs program listings, apparently mixing it up with Farmington's own Channel 26.)

None of what MacVane squawked about falls within high-schooler Kevin's responsibilities. And the question arises: why doesn't MacVane lend a hand, do what he can do, put in a word wherever it might do good, to help iron out the kinks in the operation of our nascent cable 26?

There is another reason why MacVane has earned a huge dose of heckles.

Largely in an attempt to look busy, look "in charge", look "authoritative" and "in command" but actually to order up distracting, time-consuming, irrelevant makework for the ZAMPS committee, who have clear goals and are focused on what must be done, PB chairman Horgan, shortly after the IGO vote, came up with the bright idea of establishing yet another committee (just what we need, eh?).

This committee would be the "Research Committee" (RC), formed to "help" the ZAMPS, even though the ZAMPS never asked for that kind of help. The RC would need all the volunteers it could get, Horgan said, and it would require some money from the Planning Board budget--money siphoned away from the money the ZAMPS might need for help from our professional planner as ZAMPS moves ahead with its work. And this newly drummed-up RC would be chaired by none other than Horgan's buddy, Don MacVane.

John Wingate, Margaret Russell, and Chris Purdum (and later, Donna Gorney) volunteered for that research committee, and twice Wingate called MacVane to ask when they would meet to "do research." There was a joint meeting of the ZAMPS and RC, and instead of asking the ZAMPS what "research" might be helpful, MacVane stormed out of the meeting, saying the RC didn't have a "quorum" and therefore couldn't hold a meeting. Now, ain't that just something, folks? Why do you need a quorum to do research?

At the November 28 PB meetings, MacVane delivered the latest of several "progress reports" of the RC--i.e., there was nothing to report. He did say that he'd been in touch with Strafford Regional Planning who could provide (likely at some cost) all the zoning regulations of all our Strafford County neighbors. It is not clear, at this point, how that will help the ZAMPS, since requiring that they plough through every other town's zoning regs would surely distract them from all the work they have to do. MacVane is not, as a far as we know, a researcher, though Wingate is, and Russell is, and Chris Purdum is a statistician, and all stand ready to provide assistance to the ZAMPS, if asked for help.

MacVane has been against the Interim Growth Ordinance (IGO) from the start. Now and then he tosses the ZAMPS committee a crumb of praise for doing "a good job", but for the most part, his praise rings hollow. In fact, he has been absent from the process, and doesn't really know what is going on, yet he would slow things up by making demands on the ZAMPS's time and energy by insisting they seek approval from the Planning Board for every move they make.

The CCC is hard-pressed to come up with a town "official" more deserving of heckles and jeers and hisses and boos than Don MacVane.

Heckles and Shprekels


SHPREKELS! to Ed Mullen who, assisted by others in the community, got our television channel up and running, so that now we can watch our town boards--Selectmen, Planning Board, and Budget Committee, plus assorted other meetings and happenings around town--on our own Cable 26 TV. This was a Big Deal to put together, and nothing beats it for keeping us up to date on what our elected and appointed town papas and mamas are doing (or not doing) on our behalf.

Read Ed Mullen's informative piece about Farmington's cable channel 26 which ran in a recent Rochester Times.

Heckles and Shprekels


SHPREKELS! Time for a liberal, long-overdue sprinkle of shprekels for Brad Anderson, volunteer extraodinaire who, in all manner of ways, freely gives his time and considerable skills and talents--all fueled by seemingly endless energies and brainpower--to our town.

Until he got kicked off the Planning Board last spring by the newly-elected selectmen, who were inspired to can Brad based on a scandalous, outrageous, substanceless letter from Planning Board's acting chairman Jim Horgan, Brad was--as was obvious to anyone who REALLY knew what goes on in the seats of power in this town--a valuable, knowledgeable, dedicated, thoughtful member of the PB.

While he was on the PB, time and again he was silenced by that board's loutish faction, who lack his depth of thinking and knowledge, and tilt in favor of the poor, long-suffering (ho ho), greedy and rapacious developers, who would line their pockets while fleecing ours. Over and over, the loutish faction slid right over all Brad's thoughtful questions, critizing and squelching his able sparring with the developers' coterie of hired guns, including some pretty slick lawyers. Instead of looking upon Brad as the asset that he was to the PB and to the town, they shut him down, and eventually succeeded in getting him canned.

Anyone made of lesser stuff than Brad might have quit long ago, turning to his own life and livelihood. But Brad soldiers on, diligently working on behalf of Farmington's Conservation Commission, which he was responsible for revitalizing after it lay inactive for years. He was for a time Executive Director of the Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG), and in that capacity acquired mapmaking and other skills that reinforced his advocacy of connected greenbelts, walking trails, etc. throughout Farmington and the larger area.

Brad and the Conservation Commission, working with Fish and Game, saved from development 70 acres along the Mad River, at virtually no cost to the town. Then, in cooperation with MMRG, the National Park Service, and the 500 Boys & Girls Club, he was instrumental in saving a parcel of 43 acres on the Paulson Road, creating ballparks for the 500 Boys and Girls Club and more greenbelt space that connects to the beautiful land in back of the Sarah Greenfield Park.

And that's not all. He founded the Farmington Community Preservation Guild, securing the Old Fire House, despite the cynicism of the naysayers who said the Guild would never pull it off. The Old Firehouse is looking pretty spiffy, thanks to Brad's efforts and the efforts of all the volunteers who are bringing it back to new life as a museum.

Were it not for Brad, it is unlikely that we would now have our forward-looking Interim Growth Ordinance in place--our ordinance that gives the Planning Board's excellent Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee (ZAMPS) a one-year period during which it can update our Master Plan and Zoning Ordinance.

Towns around are watching our efforts during this grace period free from developers' land grabs; read this about our IGO in Strafford Regional Planning Commission's November 2003 "Regional Planning News." (PDF file; see bottom of the first column on the first page.) The dedicated members of the ZAMPS committee are making great progress, already holding two of the three promised public-input Gatherings (the third and final Gathering is on January 15, at the Old Town Hall, at 7:00 P.M.), which themselves require tremendous time, effort, coordination and determination on the part of all the ZAMPS members.

There are many people in this town who truly have the town's best interests at heart, who see the challenges and problems we and our children face, as greed and the pressures of growth continue to erode what is left of our precious small town life, our incredibly beautiful landscape, our decent and honest values as citizens of a community. Among them is Brad Anderson, and as a citizen who has given much to this town, without seeking any gain for himself other than the satisfaction of making our town a better place to live, he is among our best and brightest, and deserves our respect, admiration, and encouragement. And SHPREKELS GALORE!

Heckles and Shprekels


SHPREKELS! to Brandon LaRoche, student rep to the Board of Selectmen, for his passionate defense of open space. At a selectmen's meeting, and again at Town Meeting on March 10, Brandon—lifelong resident of Farmington with a keen interest in politics—spoke earnestly in favor of putting all fines levied when people take their land out of current use into the Conservation Commission's fund. Brandon, unlike most of the "grownup" selectmen, understood that developers gobble up our land, and it just makes sense when land is taken out of current use and ends up in the hands of developers, that any fines from that land use change be used to purchase other lands, so that we may have some chance of keeping some land out of the hands of developers.

Heckles and Shprekels

NOTE: The heckles and shprekels below should be read in the context of the June 23, 2004 Selectmen's meeting. Read a summary of part of that meeting here.

SHPREKELS! to Paul Parker, for his strong opposition to striking any Faustian bargain with Waste Management or their ilk. Yay Paul!
SHPREKELS! to Jerry McCarthy (whose built-in shit detector is always up and whirring on behalf of the welfare of this town he so steadfastly guards) for wasting no time in saying that for him, for this town, letting Waste Management in the door is not even an option! Yay Jerry!
HECKLES! to Matt Scruton, for his continuing to harp on letting Waste Management make a dump of Farmington, sticking us with a gazillion tons of trash generated outside our town. Has Matt not bothered to have a look at the mountains of trash Waste Management has heaped up at the Turnkey Landfill in Rochester? Perhaps he ought to take a little paddle along the Isinglass river, putting in at the rickety wharf Turnkey has provided. And if he can get his boat onto the river from that cheesy, buckling raft without mishap, maybe he will revel in the stench of the river, and enjoy the incessant "beep beep beeping" of the giant Tonka Toys hauling in all that trash from god knows where.
HECKLES! to Dale Sprague, for his stubborn insistence on getting what he wants, and for feeding off any suggestion (like Matt's about Waste Management) from any selectman he perceives as agreeing with what he wants.

Heckles and Shprekels

[The Selectmen]
The Four who Did the Right Thing

A front page piece, "Dover residents fight for Back Road," in the August 24, 2004 Foster's Daily Democrat tells how the City of Dover is running roughshod over residents along Back Road who, after protesting the city's plan to widen and straighten their neighborhood road, were told that the work would stop and be scaled back to the width of the current road. (It would still get its nice shiny new coat of black asphalt.)

But then, yesterday, the city of Dover pulled a fast one on the Back Road residents, starting, likely, with the dawn chorus, to widen and straighten the way they intended to in the first place, because—well, you can read it and see how it all ends.

Here in Farmington our own Save-Our-Road Saga had a happier ending. At the start of the August 23, 2004 selectmen's meeting, John Wingate read a letter to the selectmen which analyzed the traffic count held along the Meaderboro on August 6, and Paul Sprague read a letter to them in which he makes an impassioned plea for saving the Meaderboro from further rape. Later in the meeting, the selectmen voted to leave a stretch of the Meaderboro Road alone, except to address obvious drainage or clearly-defined safety issues. Paul Parker made the motion, and only Matt Scruton (who's got that devilish bee in his bonnet buzzing, "Straighten! Widen!! Pave From End to End!!!") voted against it.

In making this vote, the selectmen of Farmington are honoring and upholding their pledge to listen to the townspeople and be responsive to their worries and concerns. The way our selectmen have conducted themselves under the able hand of chairman and (lest we forget) home-boy, Jerry McCarthy, has given this town reason to be glad we have such good people minding the store.

For the selectmen's decision about the Meaderboro Road, and for other good decisions they are making, and the ungodly amount of time they give to this town, a huge dollop of SHPREKELS. Now, if only the Dover's Back Road residents could be so fortunate.

Heckles and Shprekels

George Meyer, February 26, 2005

HECKLES! to George Meyer.

At the March 8 Farmington Town Meeting, newly-elected selectman George Meyer was the only one at the selectmen's table to vote against the "Resolution Governing Conduct of Town Officials" (Article 17 of the Town Warrant).

Before the vote, Meyer (to paraphrase him) asked who wrote the Resolution, did a lawyer read it, and did it conform to RSA 31:39-a.

His question prompts questions of our own: Why is the authorship of the Resolution relevant? You'd think Meyer would be more interested in the content.

The resolution passed, soundly, and what it means for Meyer is that, as selectman, he cannot use the office of selectman to promote his housing scheme on Route 11.

Heckles to Meyer for voting against The Code of Conduct!

And more Heckles to Meyer for voting against protecting our water against corporate ripoffs (Article 19).

SHPREKELS! to the people of Farmington for voting for the Code of Conduct for Town Officials.

And more shprekels to the voters for joining 200 other towns across the nation in supporting the Bill of Rights—particularly the First Amendment —and for protesting the erosion of our constitutional rights (Article 20). Also, more shprekels for voting to protect our water from corporate ripoffs.

And a big up to Manny Krasner for organizing the petition drives for these two issues.

Larry and Leslie Kelly, November 3, 2004

SHPREKELS! A big sprinkle of shprekels for Larry Kelly who, never having missed voting in an election in 49 years, kept his record unbroken on March 8, despite the weather, and despite his multiple medical woes. Imagine what our town would be like if all citizens made half the effort Larry made to get to the polls!

Jerry McCarthy


And a heap of shprekels to Jerry McCarthy, who lost the election to Meyer by a mere six votes. All the WHs are most appreciative for all he has done for this town, and we can be sure that, while he enjoys some much-deserved time off, he will not retreat from the affairs of the town altogether, but will be keeping a watchful eye on the BHs, wherever they rear their mean, greedy, shifty, self-interested heads. So, keep those Jerry for Selectman signs, because he'll be baaaack!

Heckles and Shprekels


To George Meyer and Matt Scruton, for their petulant, naughty-boy antics at the selectmen's meeting on March 14.


When Paul Parker opened his pitch for a selectmen's appeal of the ZBA's March 3 bumbled, fumbled, illegal granting of a special exception to EquiVise to proceed with the Meyer/EquiVise housing scheme on the highway, Meyer should have not only recused himself but also removed himself from the table—perhaps he should have been asked to leave the room. But he didn't budge. And all during Paul Parker's complicated but thorough pitch for an appeal of the ZBA's decision, Matty Scruton and George Meyer, like two boys at the back of the classroom, kept up a private conversation, some of which was audible over the microphones.

Earlier in the meeting, Matt was quick to nominate Meyer for the chair of the board, and then, that attempt having failed, he next failed at installing him as vice-chair.

But did Matt give up in his slathering devotion to the new selectman? Nope. Usually our Matty is pretty sluggish at the selectmen's meetings, yawning away and fiddling with something you'd almost think was a Gameboy. But while Paul Parker was delivering his reasons for an appeal, our Matty, when he wasn't rudely talking with Meyer, distracting the rest of the board, or whispering in his ear, was interrupting Paul, protesting the appeal, saying he trusted the ZBA, even though they might have made some errors in their deliberations.


Now the interesting thing is, our Matty hasn't a clue what goes on in a ZBA meeting. Hasn't apparently any sense of the importance of the ZBA's quasi-judiciary role in town government. And the most appalling thing is, Matty admitted he hadn't watched the ZBA meeting under discussion. And yet, despite all the evidence Paul Parker (who sat on the ZBA for ten years and was chair for a time) was presenting to the selectmen the evidence that illustrated how thoroughly the ZBA screwed up, procedurally and technically, from start to finish), Matty, hellbent on defending his new pal, George, interrupted over and over, attempting to kill the appeal. As far as Matt was concerned, no matter if a board screws up, does things illegally, makes a mockery of their responsibilities and our zoning—hell, we should just trust 'em and should let their decision stand.

It's interesting that our Matty is such a strong defender of Meyer's proposed housing scheme, because Matt claims to be so responsible about keeping the tax rate down for his fellow citizens. Matty becomes most animated when any issue affecting his pocketbook pops up (except for when it comes to his pet spending project, the paving of the Meaderboro Road end to end), so it is a mystery why he would push for a huge housing project that would put additional strain on our police and fire departments, our highway departments, and our schools.

Another sprinkle of heckles to George Meyer who, when Paula Proulx seconded the motion for an appeal of the ZBA's decision, looked at (it appeared ) town administrator Ernie Creveling, and, chuckling, made a thumbs-down gesture, for all the viewers to see. Is that the way a selectmen recuses himself? Is our new selectman adhering to our new Code of Ethics when he does stuff like that?



And a heap of them, to that ole debbil Bill Tsiros, who has come out of hiding to support Meyer's housing scheme. And the way he did that at the selectmen's meeting was by interrupting the selectmen's deliberations (Was that interruption of the selectmen's work proper? Ought it to have been allowed? Was the floor open to public comment?), and in typical Billy Babble, launched an insinuating argumentum ad hominem attack on Paul Parker (yet another attempt to de-rail Paul's complicated and difficult presentation), attempting to discredit him.

What Billy Babble and Matty are forgetting is this: a year ago the people of Farmington voted 554-324 AGAINST Ballot Article 2, which would have changed the Industrial-Business zone on the highway to allow for Meyer/EquiVise's then-planned 200 houses. So now the pair are in favor of an end-run special exception, even illegally given, to permit the project to proceed. Matty doesn't seem to be much concerned about the people he took an oath to represent.

The result of the matter, as it now stands: the four voting selectmen voted 2 to 2 for the appeal to the ZBA: Parker and Proulx for, Funk and Matty against. Then they voted (Parker, Proulx and Funk for, Matty against) to consult town counsel to see if counsel would find reason for an appeal.

They had better hustle: they have a very brief window in which to file that appeal. Keep your ears and eyes open. Let's see if justice prevails, or if our zoning ordinance—the laws which govern our town—are tossed out the window.



To Paul Parker, for bringing before the selectmen his meticulously-researched, knowledgeable body of evidence in support of the selectmen's appeal to the ZBA for their botched meeting of March 3. It is to his credit that he did not waver, despite the attempts from the Naughty Boys, Matt and George, and Billy Babble Tsiros to confuse and distract Paul, and to kill the case for the appeal.

Heckles and Shprekels


A Narrative of Part of the April 19, 2005 Planning Board Meeting

But first, a quote, preceded by its context: Jim Horgan, who, when asked by the Selectmen on March 28 why he wanted to be on the PB again (after a year's absence), said:

"Some things never change."

He was appointed forthwith, and with enthusiasm, as an alternate.

And when he uttered those cryptic words, he might have been talking about his own performance, and that of his two sidekicks, Hiram (One-Note) Watson and Don MacVane, at the April 19, 2005 Planning Board meeting. Here, then, is what happened that earned this Trio of Black Hats—WATSON, MACVANE, and HORGAN—a huge dose of heckles.

Horgan MacVane Watson

Just when you think the good ole boys couldn't do any further damage to the town, they surprise you with another round of shenanigans. At that meeting, a trio of Black Hats (Horgan, newly reappointed to the PB as an alternate, MacVane, bumped up from alternate to fulltime member, and PB member Watson) were up to their old tricks, making an astounding—but not surprising—effort —even at this late date—to kill the ZAMPS and to get them to cough up any unfinished work for the Superior Minds on the PB (i.e., MacVane, Horgan, Watson) to wrap up.

Background and comments are inserted [CCC NOTES], at appropriate places, into the following narrative of the April 19, 2005 PB meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting, Horgan interrupted the proceedings underway by asking, out of the blue and not apropos to the matter under discussion, "[Is] . . . the ZAMPS [Zoning and Master Plan Subcommittee] . . . the only standing committee we have at the moment?"

CHARLIE KING: ". . . Only standing committee is the ZAMPS, the one you set up, and with the two of the three sections that were set up . . . these being the Zoning and Master Plan portions, absent the Research Committee."

Horgan then prods for the status of the ZAMPS's work, and Charlie gives a detailed reply about the current status of the ZAMPS's progress.

HORGAN (interrupting King again): "Based on what you're saying, I'd like to motion that the chair issue a memorandum . . . that effective [may 17] . . . all standing committees be disestablished and that any unfinished business be presented to the chairman prior to that date at which time final reports can be made and that unfinished business can be turned over to the Planning Board to be placed on our priority list here, to be taken care of by [pregnant pause] the Planning Board."

[CCC NOTE: Son of a gun. Horgan never wanted the IGO, never wanted the ZAMPS, and all along when he was on the PB before, did all he could to make their lives miserable, and to heap mountains of work on them. And now, his first night back on the PB, he tries to put the ZAMPS out of business.]

KING: "We have a motion, basically, to dissolve those two subcommittees."

Here Paul Parker interjects: "I disagree with that."

HORGAN: ". . . to dissolve, disestablish—whatever the appropriate term is—all standing committees."

KING (indicating he got Horgan's drift): ". . . and to remand all the unfinished work back to the Planning Board."

Charlie then asks for a second. Watson (the Paveman) seconds.

Parker says that would be a "bad move" because the ZAMPS Master Plan group are still hard at work, are nearing the end of their work, and are all done except for the implementation plan. He says they need time to complete their work, and that they have been working diligently. (Here Paul mentions that he was going to bring up the implementation plan; King tells him to stick to a discussion of the motion.)

MacVane, sensing a shift in the wind, says "let [Paul] go on" and as Parker goes on, MacVane appears to be looking at him, seated three seats away, and listening intently, nodding a bit to indicate his thoughtful consideration of what Parker is saying.

[CCC NOTE: Ah, that cagey MacVane, sucking up to Parker. Likely he is keeping in mind that Parker was the only selectman to vote against MacVane's reappointment to the PB.]

GARY WHITE (agreeing with Parker): it's not a good idea to "cut their legs out from under them."

(One-Note) WATSON (saying why he seconded Horgan's motion to kill the ZAMPS): "I've asked numerous times to see those surveys . . . I've yet to see them, I don't know where they are. . . . I've been trying for months and months to see those questionnaires. I don't feel I can go to the ZAMPS and get the information, and that's just the way I feel."

[CCC NOTE: Oy. Hiram Watson was on the ZAMPS committee, but quit in a huff early on, storming out of a meeting, saying, in effect, that at the first Gathering in the town hall, they didn't get down verbatim his input about road paving. He wanted the results of the surveys changed, and the ZAMPS refused to tamper with them. (In his determination to get the Meaderboro Road paved from end to end, Hiram will not cease his howling about the surveys being biased, crooked, etc., implying a conspiracy against him.)]

KING (wise to Hiram's monomania): "Stick to the motion, Hiram . . ."

MACVANE: "You [Hiram] shouldn't have to go to the ZAMPS committee . . ."

[CCC NOTE: Ah, there is no end to MacVane's deviousness, as here he slyly slams those mean ZAMPS-sters, implying they are withholding information from Hiram. In fact, Hiram can look at the surveys any time he wants, though he ought not to be allowed to take them away from town offices, since they are an important part of the public record and form the basis for the Master Plan. The truth is that, even if Hiram were to sit down with all the surveys, it's unlikely he would even know how to ferret out any information he seeks that will prove his assertion that the ZAMPS has skewed the results. It was no easy job to analyze and tally up those survey results, and likely Hiram wouldn't be willing or able to go through that tedious process. He'd prefer to bitch and moan and demonize the ZAMPS as conspiring against him and his attempts to pave the Meaderboro.]

Working another angle, MacVane presses on, asking town planner Paul Esswein: ". . . when's the last time we got an update from the ZAMPS?"

ESSWEIN: "We've got copies of [the] different chapters [that are completed] . . ."

MACVANE: "Where are they?"

ESSWEIN: ". . . we've got eight . . ."

MAC VANE (persistent): "Where are [those updates]?"

[CCC NOTE: As alternate on the PB for the past year, Don MacVane was absent from meetings for long stretches, so how would he know what was in his folder? On March 28, when the Black Hat selectmen, Funk, Scruton and Meyer were so eager to appoint him to the PB as a fulltime member, and were making a fuss about others' attendance records, MacVane justified his own abysmal attendance record by saying that he always called to ask if he were needed at meetings, and when he wasn't needed, he dutifully watched the PB meetings on TV. (Ho ho ho—if you believe that latter claim, we got a big bridge over the Mad River we can sell you. If he had glued himself to the TV to watch all the Planning Board meetings, wouldn't he be aware that the ZAMPS drafts flowed into the PB's folders?) MacVane wrapped up his "Why I want to be on the Planning Board" spiel to the selectmen with a modest shuffle-shuffle, "I'm here to serve the town, Madame Chair [Joan Funk]." An added note: When Horgan delivered his weighty "reason" ("Some things never change") for wanting to be on the PB again, his wit inspired Funk to say he should be on the PB as an alternate and considered for a fulltime slot as soon as one opened up. Yippeeeeee!]

Returning to MacVane's attempt to malign the ZAMPS, both King and Parker tell him, ". . . they [the ZAMPS updates] were all distributed . . . [to the members of the Planning Board]."

ESSWEIN: ". . . the only thing left [to get from ZAMPS] is the implementation chapter . . ."

MACVANE (still pushing): ". . . I've never had any updates from the ZAMPS. . . in months and months and months. Now [he asks Esswein], have we got copies in the Planning Department, Paul, of these drafts?"

[CCC NOTE: Ah, that MacVane—what a stickler for detail, what a guardian of proper procedure.]

ESSWEIN: "Oh yeah . . . I think you got copies . . ."

Esswein here turns to PB secretary Doreen Hayden for verification. (And here even Horgan interjects, "I have a bunch of drafts.")

Hayden tactfully chides MacVane, saying perhaps since he hadn't been at many of the meetings he mightn't have seen the updates, but that he would also have gotten them in the mailings the planning office sent out.

ESSWEIN: "If you need 'em, I got 'em . . ."

MACVANE (lamely): "Yeah, that's what I'd like to see . . ."

Hayden offers to give him still more copies, after the meeting.

Now, here you'd think MacVane would give it up, but does our stubborn Donnie know when to quit? Apparently not:

MACVANE: "The other point is . . . how stale is that [the updates]?"

HAYDEN: ". . . not stale at all."

ESSWEIN: ". . . they haven't made any changes . . ."

MACVANE (finally seeing his ploy is dead in the water): "OK, that's fair, that's fair . . ."

ESSWEIN: "It [the completed work of the ZAMPS] is awaiting comment by the Planning Board."

Finally, MacVane pipes down, and the discussion of the motion continues.

KING: "I'm not in favor of this motion. I'm strongly not in favor of this motion. First of all, the previous chair [Horgan] established these committees to be tasked with their work plans. The Master Plan committee has done a good job going through their work plan; they need to see it through. . . . As far as disbanding those subcommittees [this will be] an inappropriate time because we haven't even determined what we want to work on and who we want to do it. And these . . . subcommittees are currently in process with their work, so I'm not in favor of the motion. Any final discussion?"

PARKER: ". . . it would be a disservice both to the committees and to the town to cut [their work] off."

Charlie calls for the vote. Watson and Horgan vote in favor of Horgan's motion to abolish the ZAMPS.

MACVANE (doing an about face): "I'm gonna go against it . . ."

He then sticks his hand up against the motion, along with Parker, King, White, and new member David Kestner.

MACVANE (piping up now, asks Esswein): "So now are we gonna get an update of all this work?"

King makes a motion for the ZAMPS to report—in writing or in person—to the PB at the next work session on the status of their work. MacVane chimes in, adding to the motion, "And that we get updates of anything in draft form."

One-Note WATSON: "How about throwing in a copy of those surveys?"

KING: "That's a separate issue, Hiram."

The PB votes unanimously for King's motion.

Next, there is PB/Esswein chatter about going over the parts of the Master Plan that the ZAMPS has finished working on. Esswein says he wants to move the process on, and suggests the PB consider a chapter at every meeting. And then he can take the PB's corrections, etc. and fix up what the ZAMPS came up with.

HORGAN (jumping in): "Could we pursue this more aggressively? . . . I would schedule more than one so that we can move . . . We need to get our act together and we need to do it quickly. This is just the beginning . . . several more documents need to fall into place, and if we stretch this out too long . . . if we do our homework between meetings, we should be able to knock this out . . . we spent the last two years sleeping with it . . . and it's time to make a decision."

(Here MacVane, highly amused by his pal's "sleeping with it" witticism, emits a robust chuckle.)

[CCC NOTE: Horgan is all over the map, almost rivaling Billy Babble Tsiros in his ramblings. Note Horgan says "we need to get our act together and we need to do it quickly." Then he says, "This is just the beginning." (?) And later on, below, he demands more and yet more research. Duh . . . ?]

ESSWEIN: "So, the process would be review [what the ZAMPS gives you]. I would take comments [from the PB] and I would do the redrafting . . . making editorial corrections if necessary, based on your comments. All [through this process], ZAMPS will be fine-tuning the implementation plan which [in the end] will come to you for discussion and adoption."

[CCC NOTE: Uh oh—RED FLAG!—ZAMPS had better keep an eye on Esswein's "redrafting" and "editorial corrections." Does he intend to bypass further or final input by the ZAMPS?—or perhaps even alter their work? After all, Esswein did a whale of a job "redrafting" the ZBA's decision on March 3 when it stumbled and bungled its way through granting a special exception to the Meyer/EquiVise gig out on Route 11, virtually making up from their incoherent utterances (you have to watch the DVD in the library to see just how incoherent they were) something that sounded half intelligible that he attributed as "their" Decision. See Meyer/EquiVise Timeline, March 3, 2005]

And then, as Esswein is repeating again that he really would like to get the Master Plan adopted by June, Horgan stirs, and blasts his way into the proceedings again, perhaps thinking he is still the chair of the PB:

HORGAN (waving a thick wad of paper—perhaps ZAMPS drafts of the new Master Plan): ". . . How about the reference materials? All the blanks that are in here? Maps, . . . [then names two other things he wants, but those words are unintelligible because someone coughs just then] . . . I'm tellin' ya, I want reference materials . . . the blanks are in here."

[CCC NOTE: Now, this gets really interesting. When Horgan was chairman of the PB, he drummed up a "Research Committee," appointing MacVane to head that committee, and asking for committee volunteers. John Wingate and Margaret Russell immediately volunteered, and then sometime later, Chris Purdum and Donna Gorney signed on (the CCC is not sure exactly when that was). In any case, Wingate called MacVane several times, asking when they would be meeting. MacVane said he was waiting for more volunteers. Eventually MacVane set a date (September 23, 2003) for a first meeting—joint with the ZAMPS—and Wingate and Russell showed up. But MacVane called the meeting off, saying they didn't have a quorum, though three out of five members should qualify as a quorum. Now, more than a year later, here comes Horgan, demanding "reference materials." Well, did he ever ride herd on his pal MacVane (whom he appointed as chair of his Bright Idea, the Research Committee) for not doing his job? Nope. And Horgan himself, such a devoted servant to the town—did he ever do a lick of research himself in his year's hiatus from the Planning Board? Or for that matter, attend more than—at most—a very few of the many long meetings of the ZAMPS? Nope. At that same joint meeting of the ZAMPS and its third leg, the Research Committee, MacVane also said that ZAMPS didn't need input from the public because the public didn't know what they wanted.]

Soldiering on, PB chair King continues with the matter at hand, expressing concern that the PB not take on too much work for any one meeting, as MacVane interjects (contrary to Esswein's suggestion they go over just one section of the Master Plan at a meeting) that surely they can schedule three chapters of the Master Plan and if they have time to rip through three sections at a whack, fine; if not, they can table what they don't get to.

Then there is a little exchange between MacVane and Horgan, after MacVane has said they ought not to have any problem at their next meeting cranking through the drafts of three sections of the Master Plan, and a couple of site reviews, (and a couple of conceptual plans to boot), Horgan puts his hand on MacVane's shoulder and says, "Look at the bright side; no more excuses—" It's not quite clear what Horgan means here, but our guess is he means that with those two pals aboard now, they can crank through this work speedily, without the usual shillyshallying of the board in their absence.

MACVANE (muttering): "I'm just saying . . . can you imagine?"

It's not altogether clear what MacVane means here, but it prompts this sneering response:

HORGAN: "Well, can — you — imagine? . . . Jesus, not complicated . . ."

[CCC NOTE: What the heck is Horgan's problem, anyway? We know he is disgruntled because he isn't the chair of the board. He used to love being the chair, when he could bark orders, move things along in right smaht fashion, inventing committees, ordering up makework for the ZAMPS, delivering his windy opinions while pretending to be analytical and fair, and voting only when he needed to break a tie, as he did on January 20, 2004, when he joined pals Billy Babble Tsiros, Barry Elliott, and One-Note Watson in recommending that Article 2 (which would have changed the IB zone to allow the Meyer/EquiVise scheme to go through) go on the March 2004 ballot (see M/E Timeline, January 20, 2004.) Also, as chair of the PB, he got to call for breaks whenever he needed his nicotine fix.]

So, on with the big dose of well-deserved heckles for MacVane, Horgan, and Watson.

And a final NOTE: the CCC has limited resources, and we are seeing only the first ripples of the tsunami of shenanigans to come in the days and months ahead from this Trio of Black Hats and others who have come out of their hidey holes. We fear we will run out of Heckles before we see them melt back into the mire again. So we solicit and gladly accept any donations of Heckles. Currently we have an adequate supply of shprekels, though we are about to use up a fair measure of those.

Heckles and Shprekels

In light of the resurgence of Black Hats since Jerry McCarthy's loss of his selectman's seat by a mere six votes, it is important we remember that we have a small but determined group of Farmington citizens willing to fight the new tide of shenanigans, corruption, and flagrant disrespect for our own laws and ordinances running amok and threatening the town since the balance on the selectmen's board has now tipped three to two in favor of the Black Hats.

A few strong beacons for truth, decency, and genuine love for our town are still working on our behalf. So, we sprinkle liberal doses of shprekels on them, and thank them for their continuing advocacy of adherence to our town laws.

SHPREKELS!  To Paul Parker and Paula Proulx, our two stalwart, principled selectmen, for their words and actions resulting from the ZBA's bumbled, stumbled, inept, ill-informed March 3 decision to grant selectman George Meyer and Equi/Vise a special exception to put their housing scheme in the Industrial Business Zone.


No Farmington selectmen have ever been more decent and dedicated to the public good than Paul and Paula, who believe so strongly that justice was not served and that our laws were flagrantly cast aside, that when selectmen Funk and Scruton (not so principled) were so very eager to shove the whole outrageous matter under the rug when they voted not to appeal the ZBA's decision, they added their names to Margaret and Norman Russell's motion to appeal the ZBA's decision. Paul and Paula joined that motion to appeal because they felt that the one avenue of relief for the citizens of Farmington from wrongful decisions was their own Board of Selectmen, who failed to do right by the town. Parker and Proulx joined the Russells' appeal, and did so without hesitation, as "persons of standing."

SHPREKELS!  To Charlie King, able and honest Chairman of the Planning Board


Charlie King, who knows what our ordinances say and aims to uphold our laws, has not, as have some other board members, rolled over and slathered at the feet of Meyer and EquiVise.

On November 17, 2003 the Meyer/EquiVise gang, in their first attempted end-run around the Interim Growth Ordinance, went before the selectmen to ask them to sponsor a zoning change that would allow their gig to go through. Charlie, perhaps getting the first whiff of a rat, asked if the proposed houses would be connected to the town sewer.

On December 16, 2003 when the M/E gang went to the Planning Board with their scheme, the following PB members slatheringly said:

Tsiros: This is the best opportunity Farmington has for something positive. . . . I'm delighted.
Watson: I'm excited about this and have good feelingsabout it.
Horgan: The concept is great.

But King said this: I see a lot of issues here on what is presented.

On January 6, 2004, at another public hearing before the PB, Meyer said that his proposed scheme would have very little need for town services. Charlie King worried about lack of coordination with the Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan and said, "To just allow this as written would allow other developers to come in and abuse. Going forward is not in the best interest of the town."

On year later, on January 5, 2005, a month before Meyer/EquiVise hit up the ZBA for a special exception, Charlie King wrote a letter to Town Administrator Ernest Creveling (with copies to Planning Director Paul Esswein, the ZBA, and the Board of Selectmen), pointing out that EquiVise's application for a Special Exception should not have been reviewed by the Technical Review Committee (TRC), since that committee was created by the Planning Board to aid that board regarding subdivision and site review. The TRC's review of the SE application is inconsistent with the purpose of the TRC defined by the Planning Board and State RSAs.

It is not easy to keep up with all the underhanded tricks self-interested people who flout our laws try to pull. The marriage of money and cronyism is a strong one, and a determined force, and at times it is tempting to toss in the towel and let the buggers have the town—let anarchy and greed and lawlessness reign. Shprekels to Charlie King for keeping an eye on things, and his nose in the air for rats.

SHPREKELS!  To Jack Dever (read his bio), our Code Enforcement Officer, for his letter of March 18, 2005, in which he says Meyer/Equivise's project bypassed his office and thereby subverted our ordinance. We don't have a photo of Jack. He's not one to seek the limelight or poke his nose into every Planning Board meeting (as did our two previous inept code-enforcement officers, who eagerly bent over backwards to aid and assist developers large and small). But Jack's decency and honesty shine through, and it is unfortunate that he will soon be leaving Farmington.

Heckles and Shprekels

HECKLES!  To Ernie Creveling

At the March 14 selectmen's meeting (see Meyer/EquiVise Timeline), Paul Parker made a motion that the selectmen appeal to the ZBA, asking them to reconsider their decision of March 3, in which they gave Meyer/EquiVise a special exception to put their housing scheme in the Industrial Business Zone on Route 11. Meyer recused himself. Paul Parker and Paula Proulx voted for the motion; Funk and Scruton against it. They then voted to have town counsel, Tim Bates, see if the town were "liable" for the ZBA's decision. Never mind whether that the ZBA royally screwed up in its deliberations and that our zoning ordinance was trampled on; all Joan Funk cared about was if the town could get in financial trouble if they let the ZBA's decision stand. The selectmen set a meeting date of March 21 to consider whether or not to appeal the decision, based on what Tim Bates told them.

On March 21, Town Administrator Ernie Creveling reported that attorney Tim Bates said that there would be no damages to the town as a result of the decision, but that there might be legal expenses if someone with standing asked for a rehearing, and the matter eventually was pursued to Superior Court.

Once again, Paul Parker made a motion for the Board of Selectmen to appeal the ZBA's decision; no second. Paula Proulx moved to retain outside counsel to examine the procedures in the decision; Parker seconded it. It failed on a tie vote (Parker and Proulx in favor, Funk and Scruton against).

At the end of the March 28 Selectmen's meeting, Paul Parker asked Town Administrator Ernie Creveling if he knew of any memos from Code Enforcement Officer Jack Dever to the selectmen that had not been presented to the selectmen. Creveling (the Cagey One) asked what memo was Parker referring to. Parker produced a March 18 memo from Dever, addressed to the selectmen, but that had not been given to the selectmen in time for their March 21 meeting, when they were debating whether or not to appeal the ZBA's March 3 decision to grant Meyer/EquiVise a special exception. What happened was this: Creveling didn't like the word "subversion" in Dever's memo, so he demanded a "softer" version be written, and it was the softer version that the selectmen were given, before the March 28 meeting.

Just before Parker brought up the letter, Scruton and Meyer were hastening to adjourn, but Parker said there was another matter he wanted to discuss before they adjourned—a matter that qualified as "other business to come before the board". He insisted the letter be presented to the selectmen and discussed. (You can be sure if one of Funk's Black Hats buddies had brought something up under "other business to come before the board," Funk would have allowed that business to proceed.) Proulx passed Funk the March 18 memo, which she read, but when Matty Scruton got the gist of the thing, he launched a pious speech about not having facts, and not wanting to discuss things not on the agenda. Referring to the memo, Parker said he had facts, but the move to adjourn was underway, and Dever's March 18 memo was not aired for the viewing public to hear. So what we had was further suppression (by the selectmen) of Dever's March 18 memo.

You can see by reading the March 18 memo that Dever complained that the Code Enforcement Officer had been bypassed, a "subversion of the [zoning] ordinance", when EquiVise applied directly to the ZBA for the Special Exception. When pressed about the suppression of the memo, Creveling said that Dever and his employer did not know all the facts, and that once they were aware of the facts they came up with the new March 23 memo in place of the March 18 one.

In other words, Jack Dever wrote the selectmen a memo, dated March 18, 2005. Town Administrator Ernie Creveling, objecting to the word "subversion", suppressed that letter, keeping it from the selectmen so that they didn't have it in time for their March 21 meeting. Instead, Creveling asked for a watered-down, "softer" version. A second letter (March 22) was written by Municipal Resources, Inc. and a third—also soft, and the "official letter" which the selectmen got—was written on March 23.

Has Ernie Creveling been held accountable for the suppression of the CEO's March 18 letter? And will he be? Fat chance; since he's leaving his job here at the end of May.

When Ernie Creveling first came to town, there were some of us who noticed his dubious dealings. We said he was "slippery-er 'n goose shit." But still, ever optimistic, we kept hoping he would actually look after the good of the town. While it would take some dogged detective work to nail down just what other tricks he has pulled, it's a pretty sure bet that he has pulled stuff; enough reliable sources over the years have pointed out how he has worked all sides. By his own admission, he is the "master of the fake."

After the March 14 meeting, when Paul Parker's attempt to persuade Funk and Scruton to appeal the ZBA's March 3 decision failed, Jane Wingate wrote a furious email to Creveling. There were several exchanges between Wingate and Creveling. Well, what did the master of the fake do? After he got Wingate's third email, Creveling immediately sent that email to selectmen Parker, Proulx and Scruton, and in nothing flat, selectman Meyer had clapped mitts on the exchange, made and distributed copies.

By at least one account, Creveling was just so terribly upset and shaken by Wingate's vile diatribe that it seems the only way he could feel better was by making sure her emails got into the "right" hands. Joan Funk, apparently expecting a gunfight at the OK Corral, even asked the chief of police if he oughtn't post an officer at the board's meeting room in case Wingate—well, who knows?—got out of hand, or went bonkers, or came in armed for a shoot 'em up. Chief Roberge (coolheaded) told Funk there was nothing threatening in the letter. Billy Babble Tsiros dropped various hints about suing Wingate. "We have good lawyers, you know."

And apparently the emails got seen by various members of the Thought Police who disapproved of Wingate's choice of words, though ignored the content of the exchange. Wingate makes no apologies for her word choice, because she believes that the content of the letter was true, and content rather than word choice should be what matters.

So, a huge dose of long-overdue Heckles to Slippery Ern, Master of the Fake.
MF Ernie Creveling

Heckles and Shprekels

SHPREKELS! To Planning Board chairman, Charlie King, and to former Planning Board chair, Norman Russell (who both know Farmington's zoning ordinances inside and out), for insisting that the Planning Board follow the zoning ordinance of our town, which the voters put in place.

Our zoning ordinance states plainly that the Code Enforcement Officer is the sole interpreter of the provisions of the zoning ordinance. At the October 18, 2005 Planning Board meeting, when three PB members and a number of Meyer's Minions were advocating that we ignore the zoning ordinance, King stood firm, patiently insisting that the PB had no authority to interpret the ordinance. Norman Russell reinforced what King said.

HECKLES! To PB members Charles Wibel, Hiram Watson, and Jim Horgan who, caving in to EquiVise, voted to ignore the zoning ordinance and permit 140 houses on George and Lorraine Meyer's land in the industrial zone. At the outset of the meeting, chairman King asked Wibel if he wanted to recuse himself from the discussion, since he had previously written two published letters slathering all over Meyer and his proposed housing scheme. Wibel, apparently not getting the concept of "conflict of interest", refused to recuse himself. Nor did Hiram Watson (who had written a fawning letter about the project and Meyer, whom he calls "the smartest man I know") recuse himself from the discussion. And Horgan—well, Horgan just loves every opportunity to fork over our town to developers.

Those three, and Meyer's Minions who spoke in favor of the project, ignored the one question before the board, which was whether or not the PB had the authority to determine density. Instead, they set up a caterwauling of praise for the project, saying how they all liked it, that it was "good" for Farmington, and (in effect) to hell with the laws of our town. In the process, Billy Babble Tsiros (who all by himself would run through barrels of Heckles) made the outlandish claim that numbers of elderly in a project out on the highway would (in effect) revitalize the downtown. (Oh sure, they would shop downtown rather than at the coming Walmart Superstore just down the highway.) Then Billy Babble, never the most ethical in his tactics, tried to demonize Charlie King by saying King has been against the Meyer/EquiVise project from the start. In fact, all Charlie (as even-handed, knowledgeable, conscientious, honest and fair as any other Planning Board member this town has ever seen) wants to do as chair of the PB is to uphold the existing land use laws of our town.

The logic of the PB's Fawning Three, and of the Mob present in the hall that night, seems to be "If we like a project, if we think it is 'good for the town,' to hell with the laws of the town. Let our pal George Meyer and EquiVise do what they want."

Anyone watching, year after year, the shenanigans of the good ole boys, and the perceived powerful of Farmington, and anyone who follows the money trail in this town, might easily despair, wondering if decency, and honesty, and fairness, and the upholding of our own laws, and the common good of the people—of the body politic—will ever prevail.

HECKLES! To the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Joan Funk, for joining the caterwauling mob clamoring to allow Meyer/EquiVise to get their way, even if it means violating our own zoning ordinance. But then, what do we expect from Funk who, along with her selectmen-cohorts Meyer and Scruton, was hellbent on ignoring the wishes of the voters who, at the last town meeting, voted to raise and appropriate money for a new ambulance. (It was all part of Funk's larger, transparent scheme to discredit fire chief Rich Fowler, and to privatize our volunteer ambulance corps). It was only when our one good ambulance broke down in the parking lot of Frisbie Hospital and for a period of time we had no ambulance and the safety and wellbeing of our citizens might be in danger, that Funk, Meyer and Scruton backpedaled furiously and decided to authorize the purchase of the new ambulance. (Voters would be wise to remember this serious violation of the voters' clear wishes come next election time.)

So, at the October 18, 2005 Planning Board meeting, Joan Funk, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen of our town, stood at the mike, encouraging the Planning Board break the very laws she took an oath to uphold. How corrupt can things get?

Heckles and Shprekels

Handling of The Town Hall Project inspired this bunch of Heckles and Shprekels.

SHPREKELS! to selectman Matt Scruton, for his insisting, in meeting after meeting, that the selectmen, who represent the interests of the citizens of the town, not rush the town's part of the Town Hall project. Articulately, eloquently, repeatedly, Matt has asked the right questions, has pointed out that we do not yet know what the town's part of the project will cost, and where the money will come from. For taking this reasonable stand, Matt has been reviled at the meetings, in a variety of ways, by his fellow selectmen, George Meyer and Joan Funk, who are also, remember, members of The Committee. (Their membership on The Committee begs the question: in whose interests are our elected representatives working?) Despite the pressure from those two, and from clerk of the works Marty Gilman and others, Matt has stood on principle, and has taken the high road on behalf of the taxpayers he represents. If we had in Farmington more people like Matt to set the ethical tone, we would all be better for it.

SHPREKELS! to Paula Proulx who, along with Matt, has stood (as she always does) on principle, not wanting to commit taxpayers' money before knowing how much they will have to commit. For that honorable and reasonable stand, Paula has been reviled not only by Funk and Meyer, but attacked by—well, see the Heckles for Betty Mros for her slam of Paula at the December 14 selectmen's meeting.

HECKLES! to George Meyer, around whom already swirls more than enough controversy. At the December 14, 2005 BS meeting, we witnessed Meyer at his bossiest and most sarcastic. Time is of the essence, says George, and the reason things never get done in this town is because [some people] are always "nitpicking, nitpicking, nitpicking." He was clearly referring to Matt and Paula, who insist that before the project progresses beyond a certain agreed-upon point, we have a clear accounting of what the entire project will cost the town. When Matt and Paula said they don't want to commit the taxpayers' money before knowing how much that money might be, and where it will come from, George said that big companies take risks (quite the statement, George) all the time, and so (he implied, if he didn't directly say), What's the big deal about going ahead with the private side of the project before knowing all Paula and Matt insist they must know before committing public money to the public side of the project? To her vast credit, Paula said the townspeople's money was not hers to take risks with. And more heckles to George, for characterizing the legitimate questions raised by Paula and Matt and Paul as a "kicking contest." In other words, George wants what he wants, and those who disagree with him by having the gall to ask questions on behalf of the public are obstructionists and nitpickers. And still more heckles for his sarcastic statement [a paraphrase here] to Marty Gilman "You're right. When we get to the infamous #18 on the list, you will get the same obstructionism and nitpicking, and it will be this way throughout the project."

HECKLES! to Joan Funk. Ah, where to begin? For just a kickoff, at the start of the December 14 BS meeting, Funk announced that after the previous night's meeting (December 13, 2005), there was "another meeting"—slyly implying an illegal meeting of two of her selectmen-colleagues, Matt and Paula. Immediately Matt, catching her drift, said, "I beg your pardon?" and then explained that he had a conversation with Paula, asking for her understanding of the "17 items" list for the town hall project. Paula concurred with Matt's account, saying she recalled no mention in the "17 items" motion about removing bleachers from the town hall. The other thing Matt was concerned about was that there was a buyer already lined up for the bleachers, without any mention of them going out for bid on behalf of the owner, the town.

But back to Funk (also a member of The Committee, and in lock-step with Boss George): at every turn she put Matt down for asking polite and well-formulated questions, for still having concerns about the project. As Matt said, Funk was turning the discussion into a hostile one, when all he insisted on was adequate discussion and clarification. Yet more heckles for Funk who, when Matt was protesting the apparently foregone conclusion of the bleachers being ripped out, sarcastically said that some people wonder where they will sit if the bleachers are gone. She said [this is a paraphrase], Well, [you dummy, Matt,] they'll sit on the brand new chairs Mrs. Thayer will be buying for the town. Funk misses the point, of course, and that is that the bleachers are town property and any unilateral decision to remove them isn't cricket.

HECKLES aplenty for Funk and Meyer who, seeing not a shred of either perceived or actual conflict of interest, are happy to be on The Committee, and who therefore are pushing relentlessly for an as-yet-unknown commitment of taxpayers' money.

HECKLES! to Marty Gilman, approved as Clerk of the Works of both the public and private side of the town hall project. At the December 5, 2005 meeting, when Paula Proulx was saying that while she, along with the rest of the town, deemed Beulah Thayer's gift to be a fine and generous one, she was still uncomfortable proceeding beyond a certain point till it was clear just what the town was committing to doing, and how much it would have to lay out to do it. Marty interrrupted Paula, with what amounted to veiled blackmail, by hinting that Mrs. Thayer, though a patient woman, might want to "withdraw" her gift if all this shilly-shallying continues. (This has also been one of Boss George's recurring themes.) And Heckles to Marty, who, as clerk of the works, apparently sees certain situations in which jobs and town property (the bleachers) do not have to be put out to bid. One of Mrs. Thayer's "conditions" for the gift is that the bleachers must go. And at the December 14 BS meeting Marty, moving things right along, announced that he had the phone number (but shucks, forgot the name of the company) of someone who is willing to take away those bleachers for a hockey rink. Anyway, the bleachers don't work well, they're just pieces of junk, and (he implied) this guy'll do us a favor by taking them off our hands. Now, as clerk of the works, Marty is supposed to be getting bids on all operations and transactions for the town hall project. So, how did some guy find out about the bleachers, and why does it seem a done deal that the bleachers are going to be ripped out?

HECKLES! to Busybody Betty Mros who, at selectmen's meetings, caterwauls at certain people who have the floor, earning her the coveted title of Town Heckler. At one meeting, when Jane Wingate was addressing the selectmen, Betty's mellifluous voice rung out from the back of the hall, issuing the mandate to Wingate, "You be polite!" The Town Heckler's buddy, Funk, as chair of the board and responsible for keeping order, didn't admonish her out-of-order caterwauling, however. And, even better, at the December 14 BS meeting, when Paula Proulx was voicing, yet again, her concern about the way the town hall project was being rushed through without a full plan for the town side of the project, Town Heckler Betty bellowed out that she was sick and tired and so was half the town ["Bring 'em on!" said Paula] at Paula's blocking the project with her silly questions. And most preposterous of all, Betty the Town Heckler said that the reason Paula is asking all these questions, being so difficult, is because she just wants to be on The Committee, and isn't, and that's the real reason why she's so against the project. Sheesh!

And mild HECKLES to Larry Parent. [But first, a disclaimer: this writer is a great lover of the town hall, having, in 1968, directed a high school play in that building. In fact, so in love was she with the venue, that she got permission to use the balcony, and opened up and spruced up the unused ticket booth inside the entry, and even cleaned the grubby toilets herself to get them spanking-clean for the theater-goers. She also worked in close concert with Beulah Thayer, who generously loaned the actors old period clothes she had carefully preserved that were perfect for the turn-of-the century setting of the play]. Unfortunately, in his understandable zeal to get the town hall project done, Larry waxed perhaps a tad over-dramatic when he said the old town hall is an incomparable jewel, with acoustics every bit as wonderful as those in the Rochester opera house [hmmm . . . hasn't Marty Gilman been saying that there is a confounded echo in that hall?], and that the cosmetizing of the building will make the whole state go gaga over the final project. Well, first of all, yes, the building is kickass, though it isn't that superfragilisticfreakinfantastic. There are many equally lovely buildings all over the state. In fact, there are many other interesting historical gems all over Farmington, including lots of fine residences dating back no small number of years. There is the Thayer mansion and other grand old houses, and there are even a few remaining store fronts that add to the town's overall architectural appeal and aesthetic value. Mild Heckles to Larry, for waxing eloquent about a fixup of the old town hall while, unfortunately, not recognizing the essential point Paula and Matt are making: before we proceed past a certain step in the town hall project, we have to have a clear plan in place on the public side, or else the project, no matter how worthy, will have a rotten foundation.

And a final HECKLES! to the gaggle of silly geese who are circulating a petition calling for the resignation of Paula Proulx and Paul Parker. Heckles, too, to Mros's Variety Store, for aiding and abetting the ill-conceived attempt to oust two of the most principled selectmen Farmington has ever had. On the counter in Mros's Variety Store, next to the register, lies a copy of the crudely-typed, rumpled, spotted (Do people set their dribbling coffee cups on it while paying up?) petition, with a scant few signatures.

Heckles and Shprekels

Spawned by


There were some interesting turns of events at the April 10, 2006 Board of Selectmen's meeting. They had to do with the applications for the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and the propriety of George Meyer voting on those applications. The talk centered around the appointments of Charlie King and Charles Wibel to the PB, and John Law to either the PB or the ZBA.

Charlie King, current chair of the PB, and up for reappointment, went through the customary drill of telling the BS why he wanted to be reappointed to the PB. Immediately after that, Meyer made a motion to reappoint Charlie.

Now for some background: What appeared to be Meyer's recognition of Charlie King's worth on the Planning Board was actually a kind of suckup move on Meyer's part, since Charlie King had, at the PB meeting of April 4, been the only member of the PB to vote against overriding Code Enforcement Officer Paul Esswein's determination that only 39 houses be put on the Meyer property in the industrial zone on Route 11. At that PB meeting, Jim Horgan made the motion to allow EquiVise to slap 140 houses on the property. Charles Wibel, big fan of Meyer's and Meyer's Boy on the Planning Board (he had written two slathering letters to the "Rochester Times" (Feb 24, 2005 and June 2, 2005), praising Meyer and the wonderfulness of the Meyer/EquiVise scheme), seconded the motion. (Paul Parker had recused himself, as he always does, from any discussion of the M/E scheme.) All other members except chair Charlie King voted to allow the 140 units. Among those voting for 140 houses was Hiram Watson, also a Meyer fan who, at least on one occasion, said that Meyer was the smartest man in town.

Anyway, at the April 10 BS meeting, after Charlie King told the BS why he wanted to be reappointed to the PB, Meyer enthusiastically said King should be reappointed. Our guess is the Meyer was figuring his generous move would pave the way for the reappointment of his boy, Charles Wibel, to the Planning Board.

Then Charlie King returned to the mike to ask if Meyer ought to recuse himself from appointing anyone to the PB and the ZBA, since those land-use boards would be making decisions about the Meyer/EquiVise housing gig.


HECKLES! to George Meyer, for throwing a hissy-fit because Planning Board Chairman Charlie King had the audacity to suggest George might have a conflict of interest if he were to take part in the appointments to the Planning Board. Meyer said [to paraphrase]: There are three applicants for the Planning Board: Charlie King, Charles Wibel, and John Law. Put Charles Wibel on the Planning Board, and John Law on the ZBA.

So incensed was Meyer at Charlie's suggestion that he might have a conflict of interest in pushing Wibel, who loves his housing scheme, that he veritably wigged out, muttering over and over, "Outrageous!" and "Totally incorrect!" And if that tantrum weren't enough, George announced at the break that he wasn't going to participate in the outrageous proceedings, and he announced he was outa there, even though the meeting had not adjourned. Chair Paula Proulx urged Meyer to stay for the rest of the meeting, since the remaining items on the agenda had nothing to do with Meyer's business. But his seat at the table went empty for the rest of the meeting.


HECKLES! to newly-elected Marty Gilman, who asked, If Meyer had to recuse himself, then shouldn't "the two who are doing the suing" recuse themselves as well? When Paul Parker said he didn't think so, since "the key words [were] 'monetary issues'" and [unlike "the two suing [selectmen]]", "George has something to gain monetarily." When Paul pointed out that the suit was about procedures, Marty said, "I'm not here to argue the case. I don't wanna know the court case. I don't know it, I've never read it." (To which Paul replied, "You should read it."). Wouldn't you think that as a new selectman, Marty maybe oughta bone up on what the suit is about, before he says the "two suing" should step down from appointing members to the land use boards, and before he comes—in knee-jerk fashion—to the defense of George Meyer? After all, the town has been in turmoil ever since Meyer announced his housing scheme two years ago. Marty has three years on the BS; he might want to think carefully how blatantly he wants to align himself with Meyer, who has a clear "pecuniary" interest in how votes on the PB and the ZBA go in relation to his housing scheme. In fact, if the M/E scheme passes all hurdles, Meyer stands to gain $800,000 from EquiVise.

But Paula and Paul, selectmen-appellants in the suit against the zone, stand to gain nothing PECUNIARY from any decisions made by any of Farmington's land use boards.

At the 2005 Town Meeting, the voters in attendance voted overwhelmingly to adopt a code of ethics for town officials. Sections 1 and 2 one and two of that Resolution Governing the Conduct of Town Officials make it plain that our officials, and their families, should not gain in a PECUNIARY way from their participation on town business. Most sentient people understand that "conflict of interest" usually involves filthy lucre—the root of much, if not all, Evil. Honest to Pete, sometimes ya gotta wonder if there isn't something in the air, or in the drinking water, that makes people—that made Marty—wig out like that!

Then Charlie King asked for a legal opinion on the matter of Meyer's recusing himself from making appointments to the land use boards, saying he was led to believe the matter had been addressed.

HECKLES! to Charles Wibel, who, in a minor fit of pique, said he couldn't understand why anyone on this board (of selectmen) needed to disqualify himself from appointing members [especially him, Charles Wibel] to the boards. Couldn't imagine that anyone on the BS would appoint people in an effort to stack opinions in his favor. [Ho ho ho—if you believe that one, you probably believe in Intelligent Design, too.]

Then, at last, Town Administrator Paul Weston held forth, addressing Charlie King's statement that he was "led to believe the matter [of Meyer's conflict of interest] had been addressed." After letting Charlie King flounder, and not stopping Marty when he said the "two suing [selectmen]" ought to recuse themselves along with Meyer, Weston announced that Charlie had asked him two weeks ago to ask town counsel whether or not Meyer had a conflict of interest in appointing people to the Planning Board. Weston then said he talked with town attorney Mitchell, who said there is nothing in the RSA that says Meyer is in conflict (Weston doesn't cite any RSA number), "but we should read the 'Resolution Governing the Conduct of Town Officials' adopted in 2005 [at Farmington Town Meeting]." Weston then read Sections 1 and 2 from the Resolution. (Read the entire Resolution in the back of the 2005 Town Report, p. 88, or in the 2005 Town Warrant (PDF, 536 KB), Article 17), and it's pretty clear from all the talk about pecuniary gain for town officials and their families that Meyer has a definite conflict. The Resolution was adopted, by overwhelming vote, at Farmington's 2005 Town Meeting. Interestingly, George Meyer, just elected to the BS, was the only one of the selectman to vote against the Resolution. At any rate, most of us know that when we talk about "conflict of interest", we are talking about MONEY.

Wibel, shy Meyer Wimminfolk

HECKLES! to Town Administrator Paul Weston, for not getting back to Charlie King with the town counsel's reply before the April 10 BS meeting, and for letting Charlie hang out there to twist in the wind with his question about Meyer's conflict of interest. He had an answer to Charlie's question from town counsel before the BS meeting started; why did he delay in coming forth with it?

While we are in the biz of handing out liberal doses of Heckles, it's time to toss some HECKLES! to George's faithful-retainer Wimminfolk, (seated as usual in the "audience"), who clapped and muttered away, voicing their approval when things went George's way, and their disapproval when they didn't.

And while we're at it, special HECKLES! to JoAnn Doke who, at the first meeting of the new Board of Selectmen on March 27, 2006, said, loud enough to be heard by others in attendance when Jerry McCarthy was late getting to the meeting, "Maybe he isn't coming. Maybe he changed his mind about being selectman." Ah, JoAnn, JoAnn, have a heart; lighten up. Turns out Jerry was late because he was on jury duty.

HECKLES! to all the members of the Planning Board (except for Charlie King, and Paul Parker, who knows when to recuse himself, and always does so by physically removing himself from the table) who, on April 4, voted, like sheep, to override the CEO Paul Esswein's determination that only 39 houses should go out on the highway on Meyer's 140 acres. Jim Horgan made the motion, and it was seconded by Wibel. Should we discuss whether or not slathering Meyer fans have a conflict of interest when they are so eager to give M/E exactly what they want?

And what about Barry Elliott, who is renewing his bid to be on the ZBA (unless he's changed his mind)? Does he have a conflict of interest when it comes to the M/E project? Because in 2004, shortly before he was knocked out of his seat on the BS in the 2004 election, he read a long, glowing letter at the BS meeting about the wonderful M/E housing scheme, (which EquiVise picked up and used—in slightly altered form, and without attributing authorship to Elliott—in its pre-election mailing to citizens in Farmington). If he should be reappointed to the ZBA, ought he to recuse himself from any discussion of the M/E gig?

SHPREKELS! to BS chair Paula Proulx, for keeping an steady, impartial hand on the bizarre proceedings of April 10. Can't be easy for her, juggling all those nutcakes.
SHPREKELS! to BS vice-chair Paul Parker, man of high integrity. When Marty Gilman said Parker and Proulx, the "two suing," ought to recuse themselves along with Meyer, Paul said he didn't agree with that suggestion, since the "two suing" had—unlike Meyer—nothing FINANCIAL to gain from appointing members to the land use boards. Ah, there it is, rearing its obvious, ugly head again: pecuniary gain. And Paul got it right: Follow the Money.
SHPREKELS! to Planning Board Chair, Charlie King, for being the only dissenter in the PB's April 4 2006 ill-informed decision to override the CEO's density determination of 39 houses for the Meyer/EquiVise project, voting to allow Meyer/EquiVise to put in 140 houses instead, in (yet another) violation of our town's zoning laws.

Heckles and Shprekels


HECKLES! to Marty Gilman.

Before we get to dumping a mess of Heckles on Marty Gilman's noggin, let's review a little background.

At the January 22, 2007 selectmen's meeting, after JoAnn Doke questioned the token $5,000 stipend the selectmen unanimously voted to give chair Paula Proulx for keeping the town running from mid-August to mid-December in the absence of an official new town administrator, Jane Wingate read a prepared statement in defense of Paula, recounting how she has managed to get the town's business back on course in the wake of the Unctuous Paul Weston, whose screwups—thanks largely to Paula, and with help from the town staff and department heads—are now, for the most part, straightened out.

After detailing how Paula has set the town back on a right course, Wingate asked the selectmen (except Bill Tsiros, who was absent) if any of them had "any complaints about how Paula has managed the affairs of the town" in the five months since Weston was not offered a contract.

Jerry McCarthy answered with a firm, "No." Paul Parker followed with a firm "No," and went on to say Paula has done an exceptional job. We can be pretty sure, had Bill Tsiros been there, he would also have answered with a "no complaints," since he makes no secret that he thinks Paula Proulx is a whiz at whatever she sets her hand to.

But now we come to Marty Gilman.

MARTY [all in a huff]: Anything we've discussed we've done in non-public, and I'm not gonna comment on it.

WINGATE [persisting]: You're not unhappy with Paula as town administrator?

MARTY: I answered you.

WINGATE: What was your answer again, Marty?

MARTY: I'm not going to say it again.

So, no simple Yes or No from Marty.


[From the Gallery, up pipes the DOKESTER: "The selectmen aren't here to be polled."]

And yet, Marty Gilman voted along with the other selectmen to give Paula the stipend of $5,000 by way of recognition and appreciation for working 5-6 hours a day (as Jerry McCarthy pointed out to the Dokester when she asked if it was usual to give such a stipend to a selectmen acting as interim between town administrators.)

What was not mentioned—and this will come up again—is that this town was paying Paul Weston $63,000 a year, plus approximately $14,000 in benefits, to flounder on behalf of the town. Let's do the math here:

Paula was given a stipend of $5,000 for 5-6 hours a day, for four months. No benefits. That's a little more than a grand a month. Paul Weston was paid around $15,700 for four months, plus about $3,500 in benefits. That's a total of $19,200—or four times as much. Now, which is the better deal?

And I am willing to bet my grandmother's rosary beads that Paula has done it better, bringing to bear more skills, more brains, more integrity, more respect for department heads and town staff (and the respect is mutual) than Weston, or Creveling, or likely any of the other of our previous town administrators has done. On top of all that, she is a homegirl, with deep roots in our town, and is known and respected by huge numbers of her fellow citizens. What more could we possibly want in a town administrator?

But now back to Gilman who, alone of the selectmen, would not, could not, say whether he thought Paula Proulx has kept the town on a steady course since August.

And before the Heckling of Marty continues, more background:

When Ernie Creveling was town administrator, he managed ( in what looks, in retrospect, to have been an attempt to secure his own job), to persuade the selectmen to vote to make it necessary for four selectmen to vote in the affirmative to hire or fire a town administrator, even though in all other personnel cases, in accordance with state laws (RSA 41:8 and RSA 37:3), only a simple majority of selectmen decide whom to hire or fire. Here are those two RSAs:

Section 41:8

41:8 Election and Duties.—Every town, at the annual meeting, shall choose, by ballot, one selectman to hold office for 3 years. The selectmen shall manage the prudential affairs of the town and perform the duties by law prescribed. A majority of the selectmen shall be competent in all cases.

Source. RS 34:2. CS 36:2. GS 37:2. GL 40:2. PS 43:5. 1921, 9:1; 17:1. PL 47:12. RL 59:11.

Section 37:3

37:3 Qualifications of Manager and Authority of Selectmen.—The town manager shall be selected with special reference to his education, training, and experience to perform the duties of his office, and without reference to his political belief; and shall in all matters be subject to the direction and supervision, and hold office at the will, of the selectmen who may by a majority vote remove him at any time for cause.

Source. 1929, 69:3. RL 55:3.

It is no secret that Paula Proulx has applied for the job of full-time Town Administrator. But she is being vetoed just one selectman, Marty Gilman.

And it is this quirky, possibly illegal, special-for-town-administrators-only rule, that Marty Gilman was banking on when, on January 29, he was the only one of four selectmen who voted against hiring Paula Proulx as the Town Administrator for the town of Farmington.

Here is the first bit of pertinent minutes from that meeting of January 29:

Bill Tsiros moved to consider the application of Paula Proulx for the Town Administrator position, Gerry McCarthy seconded. Motion passed with all in favor. Bill Tsiros moved to hire Paula Proulx as Town Administrator, Gerry McCarthy seconded for discussion. Discussion held that Paula has been doing a great job filling the role of administrator but that she does not have the education to back her up. Motion failed with 3 in favor and Marty Gilman opposed.

Now, this gets very interesting. Someone said that Paula didn't "have the education to back her up." Musta been the lone dissenter, our Marty, who made that remark.

Now, exactly what the hell does that mean? Paula has now been "filling the role of town administrator" since Unctuous Paul left the hamlet, and by all accounts, including Marty's, she has been "doing a great job." And she has been "doing a great job" since August. That's five months—almost six—of "doing a great job." We'd be hard-pressed to find someone among department heads and town staff who would not attest to that statement agreed upon by all the selectmen, including Marty.

Now, exactly what fancy-ass education does Marty think Paula lacks? Some degree in municipal something-or-other?

Paula may not have a degree in municipal something-or-other, but she is no slouch academically. She graduated valedictorian of FHS's class of 1978. She graduated Cum Laude from Keene State in 1982. During her thirteen years at Davidson Rubber, she started as a worker bee; within six months she got a posted job. She continued her rapid ascent, becoming a coordinator on the third shift, on a brand-new line with brand-new technology, with twenty-plus all-new employees under her. By the end of her tenure at Davidson, she was the supervisor of five lines employing about 75 people. Then she started her own business, The Marketplace, from the ground floor, and, now ten years running, it continues to be successful today.

All that is impressive enough. Even more impressive is what she has managed to do since she was elected selectman three years ago. She has rapidly "grown" into that job, while keeping her business running. And perhaps the most impressive proof of her intelligence, abilities, and sheer stamina lies in what she has done on behalf of the town in the last almost-six months while she has been "filling the role of town administrator." Can there be any better "education," any better qualifications?

Well, of course we do have some inkling of the real reason Marty is determined to keep Paula out of the job. Not so long ago he said, smugly, that he had not read the lawsuit, and didn't care to. He talks about Paula's lack of (we presume) some official establishment-bestowed degree as reason to disqualify her. But he also doesn't have a clue about what the lawsuit was all about. We'd suggest that Marty's ignorance of the lawsuit, and his pride of ignorance of it, and his acting on that ignorance in refusing to hire Paula, indicates a lack of crucial education on his part that would make you wonder if he is qualified for the job of selectmen.

But wait, it gets even more interesting. The four selectmen then voted, unanimously, to have Paula continue working as "acting Town Administrator" till March 30, 2007. Even Marty agreed to this. Read this bit of the minutes:

Bill Tsiros moved to ask the Chair, Paula Proulx to continue her work as acting Town Administrator until March 30, 2007, Gerry McCarthy seconded. Motion passed with all in favor.

Now, ain't that interesting? Marty (we presume) squawked about her lack of education for the job, but acknowledges not only that she has done a good job since mid-August, but that she is apparently good enough to continue to do that good job till the end of March. How can he possibly suggest that, if he thinks she ain't got the right education for the job?

So what is our Marty's problem? Why is he so adamant, so alone, in his determination to deny Paula Proulx a job for which—by all accounts from everyone who knows how the town is actually running—she is clearly qualified? Does he not think the town would get its money's worth with her in that job?

At whose behest, at whose conniving, is Marty the lone dissenter? This is a fair question, and Marty should be held accountable to the citizens of this town for preventing Paula from continuing to do what is right for our town. By all accounts, she has passed her probationary period with flying colors—proving she can do in half the time what Weston did, and do it better than he did.

Heckles and Shprekels

Here, in one fell swoop, are SHPREKELS! for Bill Tsiros and
HECKLES! for Arthur Capello.

SHPREKELS! to Bill Tsiros, for his steadfast, impassioned support of his fellow selectman, Paula Proulx, for town administrator.

Recognizing that state RSAs say clearly that a simple majority of selectmen is needed to make decisions, and that the special supermajority of four necessary to hire and fire just the town administrator that Slippery Ern Creveling managed to hoodwink the selectmen into adopting is unconstitutional, Bill made a firm case at the February 5, 2007 selectmen's meeting for overturning that special rule, arguing, reasonably, that in all cases, the town's hiring policy ought to be consistent, and they should put the town policy to rights, forthwith.

Another dose of SHPREKELS! to Bill Tsiros, for taking a lot of guff from Budget Committee chair Arthur Capello, at the January 31, 2007 meeting of that committee.

And a big dose of HECKLES! to Arthur Capello, who badgered Bill at that Budget Committee meeting, demanding to know why the selectmen were foot-dragging on hiring a town administrator.

Capello kept hectoring Bill about advertising again for the position, and Bill kept replying that the selectmen were more concerned just now with getting the budget ready on time, and that in the meanwhile, the town was in good hands with Paula willing to continue to act as town adminstrator. Capello asked if all the applicants had been interviewed, and said he happened to know of one that wasn't. Well, ain't that interesting? Who might that applicant have been? We don't know, but perhaps the selectmen didn't think that all applicants' resumes were strong enough to warrant interviews.

Again, Capello kept hammering at Bill. When Bill said the town was running smoothly, Capello said well, he heard stuff around town to the contrary.

Oh yeah, Arthur? Who around town who matters, who is in the know, has dissed Paula Proulx's performance as interim town administrator? The department heads? The staff at town offices?

It's one thing for Capello to be all sneery about someone he knows who didn't get interviewed; it's another for him to—right there on TV for all the town to hear—say that well, he heard the hamlet wasn't doing very well under Paula's stewardship.

Shame on you, Arthur, spreading reckless rumors and innuendos like that. Next time, how about citing your sources?

Heckles and Shprekels

[Jerry with black cap] [Doubledecker outhouse]

SHPREKELS! to that sly ole debbil, Jerry McCarthy (looking right smart here his debonair black hat), for decorating his front yard with his with doubledecker crapper, which stands in sharp contrast to the unimaginative slew of puppet-candidate signs that were slapped up along the Meyers' black picket fence along Main Street.

Another dose of SHPREKELS! to Jerry, for not taking any guff from a humorless Lorraine Meyer, who read a letter at the March 12, 2007 selectmen's meeting protesting Jerry's hilarious lawn ornament. (Surprising that Lorraine would protest such a non-partisan bit of fun, given the fact that her next-door neighbor,daughter JoAnn Doke, after George Meyer resigned as selectman of his own accord, posted a mess of crudely-fabricated signs in front of her house—one saying "The wrong selectman resigned,", a second saying "Axe the Twins!" and a third, a regular Chicken-Little warning, proclaiming "Crisis in Farmington!") When Lorraine said everybody she talked to didn't like the crapper, Jerry said that the people in his crowd liked his creation, and that Lorraine and her pals maybe oughta "Get a life!"


So let's have a little fun, eh? Jerry's going to be keeping his elegant doubledecker on display for a while, and he's going to be changing the signs on the two levels. He undoubtedly has his own ideas, but to offer him more options, the CCC is running a contest. The challenge is to label the upper and lower chambers of Jerry's crapper. For instance, in the spirit of trickle-down economics, you might have "Rich" on the top, and "Poor" on the bottom. Of course, you will undoubtedly come up with more imaginative ideas. We will aim to post all the suggestions, and pass the winning entry on to Jerry. If we have lots of entries, Jerry might be persuaded to keep his crapper out front right through black fly, tick, and mosquito seasons. If he needs help maintaining his architectural wonder, perhaps we can establish a CIP (Capital Improvement Plan). We can use all the yuks we can get, right?

The prize for the winning entry is a Sparky the Chipmunk Mouse Pad. Please send your entries to johnw@worldpath.net, and please include the word "contest" somewhere in the subject line.