Monday, April 05, 2010

Beware Complacency

It’s April, which means it’s election time in Milton. Ordinarily, any endorsement I might make for a candidate comes just before the election. Not this year.

Kathy Fagan is running for re-election to the Milton Board of Selectman. In contemplating this fact, I recalled the Spring of 2007 when Kathy won election against a Milton political institution. I reread posts I made during that campaign. As I did so, the emotions—concern, frustration, embarrassment, and sadness --came flooding back.

I also recalled what a breath of fresh air Kathy represented to the status quo. A status quo that just in the weeks leading up to the election recommended a cut in trash sticker fees in the midst of a major budget deficit; disparaged the work of a town employee publically; dismissed a racist letter to Milton No Place for Hate; and made irresponsible last minute changes in a $1 million plan for the Central Avenue business district funded by a state grant.

The choice was a stark one. We could continue to muddle along ignoring, or failing to recognize, important risks to Milton’s future. Or we could begin the difficult and lengthy process of identifying and facing these risks. We could find our vision for Milton in the present and near term future, or in the rapidly receding image in the rear view mirror.

How different is the Spring of 2010. Kathy’s impact on the Board of Selectmen and the town was immediate. Acrimony has been replaced with civility and respect. The Town’s agenda items are completely different. No longer do we spend time on a quixotic effort to preserve a 100 year old town structure, or roll back taxes at a time we desperately need revenues, or fight old grudges with actions that cost a major Milton institution hundreds of thousands of dollars. Instead we’re enjoying new restaurants that will also provide a small stream of revenue to the town. We’re embarking on a wind turbine project with town revenue measured in the millions of dollars. Construction is underway in the Central Avenue business district. We’ve opened a wonderful new library that is smashing all records for patronage. Bulk purchasing of things like energy is saving us thousands of dollars. And we can even pay bills on the town’s website.

All of this would be an enviable record in the best of times. But the last 3 years have not been the best of times. The country is just beginning to emerge from the worst economic crisis since the depression. Despite plummeting state aid, we were able to preserve most of our services while resisting any temptation to tap the rainy day fund. Thus our bond rating remains stellar and borrowing costs minimized. All of the things we continue to do to make Milton a great place to live rewarded homeowners with one of the lowest impacts on real estate prices in the state.

So why an early endorsement? Well, in part because of the excellent job Kathy has done. But also in part because I’m not getting the sense that people realize how far we’ve come from the Spring of 2007. There seems to be a high level of complacency for both the progress we’re starting to make, and for Kathy’s re-election campaign.

Kathy’s opponent is well financed and starts the campaign with some ready- made constituencies, some eager to turn back the clock. If you want to see continued progress on issues that matter to you, you need to get involved. Kathy is having a fundraiser this Friday night, April 9 at the View Restaurant and Tavern, Presidents Golf Course. Drop in and say hi. Relax, have a drink, talk with interesting people like yourself, and drop off a check to help the campaign. Can’t make the date? Then use the secure link at to donate or send a check to The Committee to Elect Kathy Fagan at 78 Capen Street, Milton, MA 02186.

Let's not take a step backwards.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy Fagan deserves a second term as selectman.

She is hard working, energetic and open minded.

Do not want to go back to the 'old grudges' mentality of a previous selectman; just look what bumper sticker is on his car and you will know where Kathy Fagan's opponent the past.

His presentation on the cable presented candidates night was lack luster to say the least. I am sure he is an upstanding individual and you have to give him credit for stepping forward and placing his name before the voters. In all honesty, he gave me no reason to consider voting for him. There has to be more to a candidate than 'I have lived in Milton all my life'.

We saw that mentality spew from the current chair of the board of selectmen when the discussion of Temple Shalom came up at the special town meeting. He bellowed that the zoning bylaws were promulgated in 1938 and he saw no need to change them. Everything is fine in Pleasantville.

I may have my disagreements with Kathy Fagan but I trust that her judgment is sound and intelligent
and I will caste my vote for her and her bid for a second term as selectman.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Cruikshank said...

I remember being hugely relieved when Kathy Fagan put herself forward to run against a "Milton political institution." Someone had to do it -- and I was really glad that I (for example) didn't have to do it. Against long odds, she won. We've had the benefit of her calm, wisdom, and foresight every since.

I did run against, and beat, her current challenger. That was long ago, especially in political terms. The town has changed enormously since then. It will continue to change. There is no doubt in my mind that Milton has to keep looking forward -- and Kathy is the right person to do that.

Jeff Cruikshank
Member, Milton School Committee, 1989-2004.

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need at least one more selectman like Kathy Fagan on the board.
The current chairman is not what this town needs today. He like Mr. Sweeney exhibit that old "Townie" mentality. It is not their town and in reality never was their town.


4:51 PM  
Blogger asap said...

gbh - do you understand that a life long love and pride in this town is something that people have worked towards for generations? Our heritage and growth are a source of pride. Don't go backwards with the Townie mentality garbage - it only serves those who want to be divisive.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man (you might think he is is a monster based on these posts)Kathy Fagan unseated in 2007 loves the town of Milton and has always tried to act in its best interests. While one mightn't always agree with him, he is a straight shooter and most residents respect him for that - his electoral record reflects their respect. I'm sure Ms. Fagan loves Milton too and she has certainly worked hard in her first term in office. She is ill-served, however, by the manifestly snobbish attitudes of some of her most ardent supporters who seem to believe that long-time Milton residents (by the way, most are not "townies," but moved to Milton from city neighborhoods to raise their families - many others are Irish immigrants) are of a lower mentality and oppose the changes "new Miltonians" favor out of ignorance. I agree that times have changed and Milton needs to change with them, but I resent the superiority complex some newer residents are clearly infected with.

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Previous poster said: "just look what bumper sticker is on his car and you will know where Kathy Fagan's opponent the past."

Can someone fill us in on what the bumper sticker says?

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Mary Truslow said...

Come on everyone, let's not go down this road of name calling, etc. Let's keep this debate focused on what is best for OUR town. We are all neighbors here!

Whether you are "new" to Milton or not, is not the issue. Neither is it about bumper stickers.

The issue of who to vote for is based upon who has the style of leadership and quality of judgement to lead this town.

I urge every voter in Milton to objectively view the cable presentation of the two candidates and from that decide who best represents your views of Milton - for both now and the future.

Mary Truslow

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a life long resident too in Milton. I guess you could call me a townie too. However, I want what is best for Milton, our citizens, our children and our town. Kathy Fagan wants best for our town too. She spearhead the library project. She worked on our new schools too. Our property values and our resale values are strong because of leaders like Kathy. I urge you to vote for Kathy Fagan. She has vision and she is a leader.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the Council on Aging de bate and Jim Mullen came in to ask Kathy Fagan a question. He was critical of her supporting last year's override and the raises given the town employees. He was rude to her and rude to everyone in attendence. I believe Mr. Mullen received a raise last year, didn't he?

8:18 PM  

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