Letters to the Editor: July 9, 2020
Chatham Selectmen Fail Voters
If you have ever thought about serving as a volunteer on a Chatham board, think twice. Your efforts will not be appreciated unless you cede your right to speak freely and express an honest opinion. Don’t ever criticize the board of selectmen or you’ll not be re-appointed.
Despite entreaties from friends, colleagues, and concerned citizens, I was not re-appointed to the zoning board of appeals by the board of selectmen at its June 30 meeting.
Prior to my June 15 re-appointment interview, Jeff Dykens told me that I would never be re-appointed to ZBA as I am not a team player for having criticized the board of selectmen in a Cape Cod Chronicle Letter to the Editor. In his re-appointment interview on June 10, a ZBA alternate member was asked by Dean Nicastro if he had any interest in being appointed to a regular seat as a position (presumably mine) would be available shortly.
Both conversations occurred before my re-appointment interview with the selectmen on June 17. If they aren’t examples of a pre-determined rush to judgment, I don’t know what are. I have been appointed unanimously by many of the sitting selectmen for four consecutive terms. I think it is a shame that their vindictive response to criticism has clouded their judgment.
Selectmen have elevated an alternate ZBA member to my position and think they are clever by appointing an unqualified candidate to the ZBA board as an alternate. They are both being appointed by a malevolent board of selectmen in retribution for my criticism of them.
By my count I have listened to about 1,000 ZBA petitions. Incredibly, I think we lost only one or two lawsuits related to those petitions, thus achieving the respect of the Massachusetts courts to whom the ZBA is accountable, not Chatham’s board of selectmen. We even resolved all of our differences with Chatham Bars Inn. We have endured new FEMA regulations, accessory dwelling units, several 40B applications, 81L subdivision controversies, and ever-changing demands from property owners. That is experience not easily recreated by a vengeful board of selectmen vote.
I can assure you that the ZBA is not the focus of my life. I will not want for interests to fulfill my time. I have served on nonprofit and community boards for over 50 years, and I will continue to do so as I work for the good of whatever organizations I may serve by fulfilling my fiduciary responsibility to them.
I am not cowed by politics, nor intimidated by threats of dismissal. In that regard, the selectmen’s vote was not about me or what is good for Chatham. It was about them because they cannot admit, recognize, or be responsible for the mistakes that they have made in office. Their solution is reprisal, not critical thinking. They have failed in their fiduciary obligations to Chatham voters by putting themselves first.
Thank you and farewell.
Commission Thanks Health Officials
Thank you to our local boards of health and health agents. You have worked tirelessly during these last several months in an unprecedented public health crisis. Your role is a primary and important one: providing a broad array of routine services day after day and monitoring, reporting, educating, counseling, and protecting our residents’ health through this critical time. We acknowledge each one of you across Cape Cod and the Islands for your unwavering commitment and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We want to remind our residents that we are not out of the woods yet and that everyone has a role to play to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19. At the height of the summer season, please maintain vigilance, continue practicing social distancing, and wearing masks.
The writer is chairman of the Barnstable County Commission.
Selectmen Core Of Problem
The lack of insight displayed by our board of selectmen is astounding. Repeatedly, they lament the difficulty in finding citizens to serve on town boards and committees. At the same time, they turn away highly-qualified applicants for personal reasons and nothing else. Such was the case with Bob Hessler, long-standing zoning board of appeals member and chair. Bob was not reappointed because he, as a private citizen, dared suggest an alternative to 1610 Main St. — the BOS’s choice — for a new senior center, as well as use of this very medium, a letter to the editor, to criticize the BOS on that and other issues. The denial of his reappointment had nothing to do with his qualifications or obvious dedication to the town and was not only retributive, but, also, yet another example of our board acting out of self-indulgence and self-interest, not what is best for Chatham.
So why is it so difficult to get people to volunteer to serve? It is because of the BOS itself. BOS members should stop asking the question of others and start asking it of themselves. Why would anyone subject themself to the criticism and mistreatment that the selectmen dole on those who disagree with them? Far inferior applicants are shooed in for no reason other than their willingness to do the bidding of the appointing members. There is clearly no desire for independence of thought, not to mention knowledge of the law, rules, and regulations.
We have until elections in May 2021 before having the opportunity for a change in BOS leadership, and the fact is that it will continue to be difficult to get anyone who is not a BOS flunky to volunteer until that important change happens.
Appreciate Editor's Note
Thank you to the editor who provided the note to Anne Broderick's misinformed letter in the July 2 edition.
Standing Up For Community
I want to take this opportunity to thank the people who supported me in my quest for a seat on the airport commission. I appreciate and am honored by your confidence in me. Though I was not selected to serve on the airport commission, I will continue to stand up and support our Chatham community as we endeavor to work collaboratively with the airport.
Appreciate Handling Of Letter
Thank you to The Cape Cod Chronicle for how you handled the letter to the editor in last week’s issue which was filled with misleading statements about Black Lives Matter protesters’ association with Marxism and their terrorism of cities. Its author does not even appear to recognize that Antifa signs are expressing opposition to fascism.
Your publishing this letter, with a corrective statement immediately following, along with an explanation in your editorial that these demonstrations and signs are an expression of a resolve to improve our democracy, was exactly what was needed.
I am proud that our local newspaper so wisely handled this individual’s expression of opinions, unlike the national newspaper who fired an editor for allowing a parallel essay to be published.
Facts Are Not Opinions
As a proud member of the Trump designated "left wing mob," I have to respond to Anne Broderick whose letter to the editor appears in July 2 Cape Cod Chronicle.
It is my opinion that you and other "well-meaning people" are supporting the demise of America. I also recognize the fight for the values held dear by our country since the Declaration Of Independence and then our Constitution were penned two and a half centuries ago.
I am not a member or friend of Antifa; I don't think it has members. I am, however, a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
I suggest you read the two documents referenced above. I too believe we are fighting for the soul of America.
The Black Lives Matter movement is not a Marxist or terrorist group. Please consider the following statement: If Black Lives Matter then all lives matter. If not, we are all diminished in value.
Ms. Broderick has a perfect right to her opinion, as do I. That is the meaning of July 4. However, facts and opinion are not the same thing.
Thank you to the Editor for your note.
Looking Forward To November
Two letters in this paper contained misinformation. When Anne Broderick wrote, “BLM and Antifa, both Marxists group” wish to overthrow our government, I wondered where she received such outrageous propaganda. Does she really believe the millions of citizens who support BLM, and the approximately 1,000 demonstrators who marched in Harwich, led by the Harwich Police Chief, wish to support “the demise of our country?” Or that the millions of protestors and BLM supporters all over the country are determined overthrow the government?
John Hausner wrote about various political groups protesting having a “commitment to mob chaos and violence.” In the many marches worldwide to protest the killing of George Floyd, most were non-violent. The recent destruction of statues dedicated to traitors are a reflection of centuries of built-up anger and resentment by people who have paid attention to history, not ignored it. I do not condone vandalism, but I understand the motivation of those who want monuments to heroes, not men who advocated slavery. While Hauser writes that history reflects democratic principles including “rule of law, and bottom-up, rather than top-down government, dictated by kings,” it is ironic that we have a president who does not seem to believe in equal justice under the law, that no one is above the law. He lives his life as though the laws do not apply to him or his enablers.
It was during a Trump interview on Fox in 2014 when he said, “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be, when we were great.” And it was advisor and campaign strategist Steve Bannon who said, “Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down and destroy all of today’s establishment.” Trump and Bannon, two peas in a pod, have gotten their wishes. I look forward to November, when people who do believe in democracy will exercise their right to vote and hopefully save us from destruction.
Judith S. Winters
Next Stop, Cannes!
Chatham's virtual Fourth of July parade was superb!
Are any videos for sale?
Honors Chatham's Resiliency
On behalf of Chatham’s Independence Day Parade committee, thank you to the participants who submitted videos and pictures for this year’s July Fourth virtual parade. The creativity, spirit, and enthusiasm expressed in each of the submissions clearly demonstrated Chatham’s resiliency and ability to make “lemonade out of lemons.” This year’s virtual parade was history in the making, and we look forward to continuing this cherished tradition in 2021!
Justin Bohannon, chair
Chatham Independence Day Parade Committee
Get Chemicals Off Lawns
It was refreshing to read Kristen Andre’s article on the practice and impacts of maintaining the uniform green lawns that have flourished on Cape Cod in recent decades. I hope many readers got a chance to see this account and to rethink their approach to lawns. Cape Cod lawns with native grasses were the norm until recently. When it was dry, the lawns turned brown and no one worried about maintenance. With decent rain, they turned as green as any highly manicured lawn. Ms. Andre’s message was excellent: give up some existing lawn for more visually and ecologically diverse native plantings. If you want some lawn, go with the simple Cape Cod lawn.
I would like to take this message a step further. Let’s get our lawns off chemicals completely. Our groundwater is precious on Cape Cod. It still tastes good coming out of the tap, but it used to be the best I’ve ever drank. Our ponds and estuaries used to have clear water. One piece in the puzzle to protect our ground and surface water is to stop using fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides to maintain lawns. Clearly, managing septic waste is the primary solution. But we can all chip in by reducing lawn contributions now. This is not a new message. I found a bag of fertilizer in my garage over 20 years ago. Back then we knew that marketing was driving the surge in lawn chemicals use and this was not healthy for the environment. I dumped it on my lawn anyway. That was the last time. Not a dime on lawn chemicals since and I haven’t missed a thing. And consider planting clover. It will pull nitrogen out of the atmosphere and provide pollen for the bees. Do your part to protect our essential water resources on Cape Cod: add some native diversity to your plants and say no to lawns on steroids.
The writer is chair of the Harwich Conservation Commission.