Saturday, April 21, 2012

Board of Selectmen

With a town election and Annual Town Meeting imminent, it seems like a good time to re-start my blog after a hiatus of too long a time.

Today, an endorsement and a comment about the Milton Times.

Board of Selectmen

Twelve year incumbent John Shields is being challenged by School Committee member Denis Keohane. They differ in political experience, temperament and their views on certain issues facing the town.

Shields should be commended for his 12 years of service, and many no doubt consider this experience a benefit. But excessive longevity can suffer from a political version of the law of diminishing returns, and may even become detrimental to a vibrant, forward looking governance.

Too many years in the same role breeds complacency. Reliance on a small core of advisors and supporters while the community around you undergoes change tends to distance you from segments of the population. You become less open to change. You look backwards for possible solutions rather than looking at problems with a fresh perspective. Experience becomes a straightjacket.

Denis Keohane is a breath of fresh air. He’s only been involved in town politics for 2 years but he’s lived here for 20 years, during which time he’s met and become friends with an amazing number of residents. In my nearly 30 years in Milton I’ve never seen a candidate whose friendships and associations cut across so many geographic, racial, political and socioeconomic lines. He will bring their voices and concerns to the Board of Selectman.

Key to Denis’ success with people is his temperament. He has his views, but his easygoing nature, and unfailing politeness make it possible for him to listen to others, and for them to listen to him. This is important to an executive board that needs to be inclusive, to seek various opinions and build consensus.

Mr. Shields, on the other hand, has the reputation for sometimes being short tempered, and sometimes personalizing political issues. Two famous examples involve his treatment of the Milton “No Place for Hate” committee and of our state Senator over the disposition of Ulin Rink. The latest example is our Police Chief. Mr. Shields voted against the last contract for Chief Wells citing conduct issues. But it is hardly a secret that he did not support the selection of Chief Wells in 2007 and has not been a supporter ever since. With an increase in criminal activity town-wide, we should be supporting a very effective Chief with a longer term contract and resources he requests.

I hope you’ll join me in supporting Denis Keohane for Selectman on Tuesday, April 24th. I’ve gotten to know Denis over the last month or so. We do not agree on all political issues. But he’s open to discussion and persuasion. His intelligence, business experience, respectfulness and openness make him the clear choice for our next Selectman.

Milton Times

A few years ago the Milton Times adopted a policy of not accepting letters in support of candidates during campaigns. The Publisher cited the difficulty in balancing views, and no doubt hoped the campaigns would be more likely to place paid advertising instead.

The years preceding this decision saw a large volume of such letters. They heightened interest in the election. Collectively they covered a wide array of issues. Sometimes they even touched on news not reported in the Times. (Who can forget the scandal in 2007 involving two sitting Selectmen that was covered extensively in the Globe and the Ledger, without a peep from the local paper of record).

So imagine my surprise to see two letters to the editor this week in support of John Shields. As far as I can tell there was no announced change of policy. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised though. The Milton Times has always had a particular political bias, which is why I saw the letters to the editor in a friend’s copy of the paper.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one, of many, I'm sure have chosen to leave the town of Milton for just the reasons that you state. And never was it more blatant than the debacle that happened during the attempted sale of the Temple on Blue Hill Ave. Small town politics is a curse to many and a help to no one I hope Mr Shields achieves everything that he is looking to.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I have missed this blog. After much thought I will also be voting for Mr. Keohane. I find him to be refreshing. He has good energy and an enthusiasm for this town that will serve us well.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Glad to see you back at it, Phil. Always appreciate your thinking.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As to The Milton Times, the Publisher has assumed the position of Editor as well.
Of course, the paper has political bent but it would be pretty dull reading without it. Nonetheless, on a week to week basis its coverage has been fair and balanced unlike The Milton Transcript which is this towns answer to Fox News aka Faux News.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched the debate between Denis Keohane and John Michael Shields several times. First time I was really impressed with Keohane but at each successive viewing of the MyTownMatters debate or the Milton Speaks/Bernie Lynch forum the less impressed I became. It seems the more Denis Keohane became impressed by the sound of his mellifluous voice and the larger his ego became the I believed he was less of a fit for the Board of Selectmen. It reminded me of what Dick Cavett once said to author Norman Mailer, "....would you like another chair for your ego?...."
Sorry, but we don't need a Donald Trump wannabe as selectman. It cannot be his way or the highway.
We cannot afford congressional type deadlock on the Milton Board of Trustees. Thanks, Denis for making John Michael Shields look better and better, a statesman and more qualified than you to continue as selectman.

9:42 PM  
Blogger pmathews said...

You'll excuse me for not believing your gradual conversion to the candidate you clearly have supported all along. You'd be hard pressed to make an intelligent argument that anyone has more of an ego than John Michael Shields.

But perhaps if you had the courage to post under your real name, you'd feel more obligated to make a thoughtful comment.

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently met Mr. Keohane at my neighbor's home. I came away impressed by him. He was thoughtful and well spoken. He spoke of coming to this country and starting a business, meeting his wife and moving to Milton. He is a man who spoke about his blessings. I did not come away from this gathering thinking Mr. Keohane had an overblown ego. In fact he listened very thoughfully to all who asked questions. He wants to bring his business background to the Board and that is a valued skill set I believe,

6:46 AM  

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