Monday, April 26, 2010

Decision Time or Yard Signs Don't Vote

Three years ago Kathy Fagan threw her hat into the ring for a seat on the Board of Selectman. Although she had been involved in town affairs, she was unknown to many Milton residents. She ran on a legitimate platform for change, responding to a clear groundswell of feeling that the most important Board of Town Government simply didn’t represent a town much changed over the last 20 years. She vowed to focus on tackling problems the town faces rather than trying to turn the clock back to a time that is gone forever.

She took this message to the voters in her intelligent, energetic and respectful way. They responded, and she won, defeating incumbent James Mullen in a close race. In the three years since she has begun to deliver on issues she campaigned on. That’s why I endorsed her three weeks ago.

But much remains to be done. And those who see change and progress as a threat are poised to attempt to defeat her. If we look at the campaign of her opponent, it differs in style but not content from her opponent three years ago. His campaign themes are meaningless (Putting the taxpayer first), contradictory (smart growth/ commercial development only in commercial districts), or code for no overrides (Be fiscally accountable). Supporter and loser in the race three years ago James Mullen attended the COA debate and in his loud way asked a question about the last override to make sure opponents of overrides got the message.

Rather than addressing any of the challenges we face in a thoughtful way, the Sweeney campaign has spread false rumors about Fagan’s stance on dense residential housing on the Governor Stoughton land. They’re trolling for votes on private ways telling people they going to lose free plowing, clearly an issue of monumental importance to the future of the town. And then there is Mr. Sweeney’s response to a question about diversity at the first Selectman’s debate. I print his answer verbatim.

“I fully understand your question, and I do believe there’s a minority population out there that feels a bit isolated. In my case, after about the second night of town meeting, I deliberately made an attempt to meet with some African American people who shared the same view as I did on the Temple issue and I talked to them in the back and I was really trying to lead them, to get them involved and to let them know there was certainly one town meeting member that welcomed their input, and recently I’ve spoken to an African American gentleman from Precinct 1 who’s upset about the issue and he’s a candidate for town meeting. So I think in terms of the issue of minorities I think we need to reach our hand out to them a little bit better. They’re part of the community, and they’re welcome so long as they do what the rest of us do –work hard, contribute, etc., and I think we could improve our relations in that area.”

Do we really want to go thru this again. I have no reason to believe there is a hateful bone in Mr. Sweeney’s body. But the sheer insensitivity, and blindness to prejudice that statement represents is astounding. Diversity is reduced to reaching out on condition of agreeing with him politically, and on not exhibiting traits he apparently associates with certain non-white groups.

Let’s focus on the serious challenges we face as a community, a whole community. Get out and vote for Kathy Fagan for Selectman on Tuesday.


Anonymous Tom Palmer said...

Anyone who attended the recent Town Meeting knows that there were numerous African-american residents of the Tucker neighborhood who opposed the rezoning, and none who were in favor. When it came time to vote, Mr. Sweeney supported those residents and Ms. Fagan did not.

Similarly, 20 of 21 direct residential abutters of the lot to be converted to a shopping center opposed the rezoning. Mr. Sweeney supported these abutters and Ms. Fagan did not.

Tom Palmer
79 Blue Hill Terrace St

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Choice to endorse Kathy Fagan.
Let us not go back to the not so good old days of selectmen bringing their personal grudges to the selectmen's table.

Mr. Sweeney is strongly supported by those very same people who would rather have a grudge match at selectmen meetings than to resolve serious issues.

Kathy Fagan has proven that she is up to the job with her hard work, dedication and complete fairness to all sides of issues.

It would be a serious mistake to go back to the days where the town Mullened through the direction this town follows.

Atticus Finch

10:41 AM  
Blogger Philip Mathews said...

Mr. Palmer,

I think there's more at stake here than an issue that has been decided. Perhaps our fellow African American residents will consider whether there reception here is conditional on agreement on a single issue and their behavior a little differently than you do.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Judith Gundersen said...

I found the statement by Mr. Sweeney to be so incredibly lacking in common tact, sensitivity and bordering on a plantation mentality that I watched it 3 times and wrote it down to make sure I did not misunderstand it.

And today, a flyer appeared in my doorway with the sole message that "East Milton has not had representation on the Board of Selectman for TEN YEARS! It is time to Elect a Selectman (his caps) who grew up in East Milton and knows ALL of Milton."
The map therein shows only precinct 6,7,8 and 10.
If this isn't devisive at a ridiculous level, I don't know what is. This is like saying a congressperson cannot represent all the people of their district because they only live in one of the towns represented. There is no logic here, simply division.
I have not agreed with all of Kathy Fagan's decisions but she has most definitely raised the level of civility on the BOS and that can only be a good thing when good people try their best to make difficult decisions.

Judith Gundersen

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Suzette Standring said...

More positive progress has been made in Milton since Kathy joined the Board of Selectmen. She uses her legal training and intelligence to best advantage and she gives straight answers to the hard questions. We need a leader who is sensitive, articulate and hardworking. That's Kathy Fagan. Why mess with success? She represents all of us, and while there will always be opposing sides to every issue, she doesn't speak nor does she think in the language of "We" vs. "Them."

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, I agree with your comments of Sweeney's answer regarding diversity. In his well intended effort to recognize a social and racial inequity that many feel exists in our town, his comments prove his own ignorance and inexperience in dealing with issues of diversity. Although I disagreed with Fagan on her position with the temple property I can respect her thoughtful consideration of the issue and her recognition of how divisive and damaging the issue had become when she discouraged the temple vote to be reconsidered.
Thank you,
John Fichtman
91 Cheever St

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find his attitude to the Governor Stoughton property very NIBY. That trust has been in existence since the 1700 and trumps Indian Cliff's nouveau riche standing by oh several hundred years.

He is so typical of the lifeboat type. Sweeney's got his and he doesn't want any one else to get anything. The same Jummy Mullen mentality that this town dumped several years ago.

Let's not go back that regressive period.

Vote for Kathy Fagan.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A vote for Sweeney is a vote for more tribal politics and tribal pols in Milton.

We have moved on and Bob Sweeney and his tribal followers should move on as well at least into the 19th century.

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sigh. Milton took a huge step back yesterday by voting for Sweeney over Fagan. He won by lying and being divisive. It is such a shame.

9:52 AM  

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