CHATHAM — An unsigned pamphlet that was bulk mailed to Chatham residents this week blasts Harbormaster Stuart Smith for allowing his brother's boat mooring in Ryder's Cove to be used by Selectman Seth Taylor.
In the style of a parody, the mailing advertises the “Selectmen's Choice Access Mooring Plan,” or SCAM, and encourages people to call the harbormaster to “see if you qualify to jump the line and get a mooring for your boat this summer.”
The mooring issue was investigated by town counsel, who found that there was no wrongdoing. Town Counsel's investigation was carried out at the request of resident George Myers, who declined any involvement in the mailing.
Taylor called the mailing “a juvenile attempt to smear me, to attack me for clearly political reasons.” He likened the mailing to a high school stunt, saying its allegations are without basis in fact. He declined to speculate who was behind the mailing, but said it was part of an effort to remove him from office. Taylor said he believes he is being targeted by those who object to some of the political stances he has taken, like the belief that the town should investigate property tax exemptions for year-round residents.
“Think about why people don't want me in government, then think about why this stuff continues,” he said. He said he had people contact him about the mailing who were “beyond outraged by this.”
The return address on the mailing is a post office box in South Dennis; the postmaster said the name of the box-holder is not a matter of public record.
Calling the mailing “more of the same,” Harbormaster Smith simply said he “filed it appropriately.”
Smith's brother, attorney Gregory Smith, said he doesn't know who sent the mailing, which includes his telephone number in Maine.
“It's unfortunate that we live in such an uncivil world that cowardly people take this sort of nefarious action simply to injure others,” he said. He offered to meet with the author of the pamphlet to discuss the assignment of his mooring to Seth Taylor.
“But I don't believe this has anything to do with moorings,” he said. “The end game is next May's election.” Gregory Smith said the mailing is part of a “mounting and concerted effort to repopulate the board of selectmen with individuals who favor the monied interests in town.” He said he has always seen his brother as a “gatekeeper against monied interests.”
The full-color mailing appears to have been expensive to produce and to mail, attorney Smith said.
“Somebody with money paid for this,” he said.
Taylor said the mailing suppresses public discourse by discouraging people from participating in town government. “Who wants to serve in government in Chatham with this?” he said.
“It's bullying, threatening, it intimidates. Does it intimidate me? Not at all,” he said. “I can shrug it off, but the issue is what it does to damage the bigger discussion and shut down open public participation. For that, shame on them.”