BOS refuses to reappoint Michael Weishan to Historical Commission (Updated-again)

by beth on June 8, 2018

Post image for BOS refuses to reappoint Michael Weishan to Historical Commission (Updated-again)

Above: Historical Commission member Michael Weishan was unsuccessful at convincing the BOS to reappoint him for another term. (image cropped from SAM video)

[Editor’s Note: For full disclosure, I should note that I am an abutter to St. Anne’s Church.]

For years, Michael Weishan has been one of Southborough’s most ardent public advocates for historical preservation. That passion, combined with his determination to “call a spade a spade”, put him at odds with the Board of Selectmen.

Last night, selectmen voted not renew his term on the Historical Commission despite the Commission’s request they do so. The 7 seat board already had two vacancies unfilled.

The issue last night boiled down to “correspondence” that Weishan sent to St. Anne’s Church in 2016. Selectmen repeatedly referred to the “tone” of the letter as inappropriate and unacceptable.

While it was cited as the reason for some votes, he was also called out for a public criticism of three selectmen on his blog for the private, non-profit Southborough Historical Society. And that appeared to be a big part of the reason for at least one selectman’s vote against the Commission member.

Complicating the discussions last night was the partial veil over the controversial communication and its background.

In May, Selectman Brian Shea told fellow board members that he did not want to reappoint Weishan to the Commission. He cited Weishan’s communications with the owner of 28 Boston Road and an abutter (revealed last night as St. Anne’s).

Shea said the communications he saw were wholly inappropriate. Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf asked that they invite Weishan in to defend himself before taking a vote.

Last night, Shea reiterated that his concern was about the tone. He said that all residents coming before committee must be treated with fairness and respect. He followed that given the anger of some residents, it’s not always easy to do but must be a standard. He told the room that he was quoting his own remarks from past complaints about former Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Leo Bartolini.

Chair Dan Kolenda reiterated that the discussion was not to “relitigate” any decisions or actions of the board. The focus was on respect for residents.

Selectwoman Lisa Braccio said that she needed to abide by a promise made to her by Selectmen in 2010, after she was disrespected, that she “fought” for them to uphold:

Courtesy, respect and open dialogue are prequisites for continued membership on any board and that there is no room for compromise

She explained to Weishan:

if I veer away from that belief that I fought for, just because of someone who I know and respect, then I’m no better than the concern I had.

The “communication” in question was one that Weishan had refused to apologize for in the past. Last night he made a well-qualified apology:

While some of you. . . may object to my tone, my word choice, or phraseology, no one can question the veracity of the content or the legitimacy of the questions that the Historical Commission raised . . .

However, to the degree that my phrasing or word choice detracted from what is really important, the destruction of this valuable piece of historical property, I humbly apologize, because that means I have failed. If my wording obfuscated the issues or, worse, has become the issue, then we as a commission have failed and this is entirely my fault.

Pushed by Phaneuf, he agreed to send a letter of apology to the church. At one point, he also agreed to send a letter to the owner of 28 Boston Road.*  In both instances, he said the apology would be for the tone of his letter.

In the discussions, both selectmen and the Historical Commission danced around the details of the Commission’s dealings with 28 Boston Rd’s owner Willam Poutre over the Demolition Delay Bylaw and the role St. Anne’s played. 

One detail was referred to but not clarified last night. After, Poutre bought the property, the church sold a sliver of its Boston Road frontage to him. [Editor’s Note: That allowed the property to be split into two lots. Weishan had indicated that was what allowed the parcel to be developed as a subdivision. Poutre has since pointed out to me that his final development plan didn’t require that much frontage. (You can read more about that in a more recent post.)]

At times, Weishan and Historical Chair Joseph Hubley said that they didn’t want to delve into “long, complicated” details of what went on between the Commission, Poutre and the Church. And, at times, selectmen indicated the background details were irrelevant. Yet some of Weishan’s defense seemed to be rooted in that background.

Selectmen argued that it was inappropriate for Weishan to contact or question St. Anne’s, since they were an abutter. They objected to his apparent attempt to interfere in the transaction. Braccio said that property owners have a right to choose do what they want with their property.

But when Weishan tried to defend that the contact was prompted by “misrepresentations made”, Braccio cut him off, saying, “I don’t want to go down that road”. Weishan followed that while the language of the letter was his, the decision for him to pose those questions to St. Anne’s was made by the board.

Some of officials’ hesitancy to “delve” into details and decision not to read the communication aloud may relate to worries of potential liability for a law suit.

Last night, Poutre urged the board not to reappoint Weishan. Recapping his version of events, Poutre said that Weishan’s email to “leaders of his church” was objectionable in more than tone. According to Poutre, the email accused him of lying on more than one occasion. He stated:

After he accused me of lying, he then accused Deacon Paul of lying and threatened the church that he was going to take a response from them and put it in for the public record and invite the press. . .

He went on to point out that Weishan stated he was writing the email personally, but the signature line was from the Town of Southborough. He said that :

this slander, attempted intimidation and tortuous interference led me to be solicited by two separate attorneys stating that I had a significant case against him and the Town. Despite my frustration and anger, I was certainly not going to sue the Town that I love.

Poutre went on to refer to Weishan mocking him after he unsuccessfully tried to get him removed from the Commission by retorting at their next meeting “Ha! Ha! I’m still here.” He summed up by stating that he no longer had “a horse in the race”, and was making the request as a “concerned citizen” who didn’t want someone else to go through what he did.

Later in the meeting, Hubley vaguely disputed Poutre’s version of “certain things that transpired, especially at our first meeting.”

In the midst of the discussion, Selectman Brian Shifrin referred to a criticism of three other selectmen on his “blog”. Following up on the point, Kolenda questioned Weishan’s post on the Southborough Historical Society website about three selectmen rejecting taking the option to buy 135 Deerfoot Road to Town Meeting voters. Kolenda referred to this section:

Shame on Misters Kolenda, Shea and Ms Phaneuf!

Not only have these three decided of their own volition to doom one of the last remaining historic farm properties in town, but in a single vote they have raised our taxes, crowded our classrooms, and increased infrastructure congestion.

Weishan defended that he was wearing his other hat as the President of the SHS. In that role, his job is to advocate for preservation, and, when necessary “call a spade a spade”. That unapologetic, “combative” behavior was objected to by Shifrin. He raised it again later as the main reason he couldn’t vote for a compromise proposed by Phaneuf.

Phaneuf supported a suggestion made by Hubley to appoint Weishan for a shorter, trial term. She moved to reappoint him for 6 months, contingent on written letters of apology to St. Anne’s and Poutre (first seen by the BOS), and to readdress the issue at that time.

The selectwoman referred to some of the changed circumstances since Weishan’s email. Weishan and Hubley explained that the Commission had since received a full day of training with Town Counsel about how to handle the Demolition Delay Bylaw. They also changed practice of having individual members send follow up communications. They are in talks with Town Administration about secretarial help.

(The lack of past admin support was also referred to as the reason minutes didn’t reflect that Weishan had been designated by the board to communicate with St. Anne’s.)

No other members supported Phaneuf’s proposal.

Shifrin said that it was too complicated. Instead, Weishan should “take a break”. They could appoint a replacement. Then maybe he could come back in the future. (It’s worth noting that the Commission already had two vacancies.)

In the end, the decision to “not reappoint” was unanimous.

For the full discussion, you can watch the video courtesy of Southborough Access Media.

*Weishan agreed to send an apology letter to William Poutre, owner of 28 Boston Road. But that was a reluctant agreement as a condition of temporary reappointment to the Historical Commission.

Updated (6/9/18 11:25 pm): clarifying that Weishan offered to apologize for the tone only.

Updated (6/14/18 11:36 pm): Clarified an issue about what the impact of the church’s sale of the land to Poutre meant. But more detail on that is in my subsequent post, updated today.

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Louise Barron June 8, 2018 at 10:12 PM

Mr. Weishan apologized to the BOS, will do so as well, to the home owner of 28 Boston Post Rd. and St, Annes, but to no avail. Mr Weishan was still not reappointed. How forgiving is the BOS. Certainly this board have made many mistakes. Where are our apologies. To err is human. To forgive is divine. This decision is another characteristically one sided by this board.

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2 DONNA McDaniel June 8, 2018 at 10:24 PM

Just catching up on news when I found this most distressing news about the board’s vote not to reappoint Michael Weishans. I have been a member off the SHS for just about all my years in town—abouf 25 and so have seen many ups and downs in many of those years. As is true for many/most organizations and as a former history teacher I aa, well aware that too patten people tend to shutter at THE WORD “history.’ Thus Michel’s enthusiasm and knowledge are the proverbial shot in the arm for SHS.
I do hope the Selectmen have visited the newly organized museum!!
(’REJUVENATED’ is a better word).
Yet a visit would not reveal all the changes…there are shelves and file drawers and boxes created by hours of work with photos from our schools and town sports plus other civic activities over the years — plus mementos from town businesses. Thes are being cared for and made accessible to people coming to the museum PLUS available in computerized files. MANY hundreds, say I, one of the recorders, well, likely there will be thousands! A HERITAGE DAY VISIT WOULD BE PERFECT⬆️
There is more to be said but I’ll do only the most important—ask you to plan to visit
and see for yourself what has been done under Michael’s guidance— my wish would be that given a future opportunity to return him to the Commission, you would find that Michael’s good qualitiess, represented in the rebirth of the SHS, would allow a welcome reconsideration of your vote when possible.

CONTACT ME—E-mail above.

-M ABOVE)IF YOU WANT TO VISIT AND I’LL PUT YOU IN TOUCH WITH AN SHS MEMBER.

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3 David Parry June 8, 2018 at 11:09 PM

Who on earth will volunteer for the Historical Commission, when the key member who has achieved so much by advocating strongly for preservation, being a true leader, is pilloried in a public lynching by the BOS. The HC Chairman, Mr Hubley, stated: “The punishment does not fit the crime”. That is not only true, but an under-statement.

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4 Rebecca Deans- Rowe June 9, 2018 at 10:16 AM

I would like to express my gratitude to Michael Weishan for his service to the Southborough Historical Commission. Michael brought energy, commitment, and expertise to his work. Through his efforts, future generations will have a sense of our past, and Southborough has hope of retaining some of its New England charm.

Without historic preservation, stone fences, white steepled churches, and classic colonial cottages would not exist. Many of us drive by such elements every day without notice, but the experience of living in small town Massachusetts would be diminished without them.

I spent ten happy years living in the Bay Area and another five in Portland, OR. Both regions had great appeal and much to offer, but every so often, I felt the need to seek out one of the California Missions or the rare historic homes and wander through the past. What do we search for when visit these places? We seek a new perspective, a sense of our place in history, a humility, and a realization that no matter how different our experiences might seem, the struggles and joys of human existence persist. Strip malls and modern housing developments have their place, but they can never enrich our lives in this way.

I mention this because I urge my fellow residents to fully appreciate their daily access to history. Michael Weishan supports historical preservation, and so do I. Why? Because an old barn matters, not because the wood is old, but because the lives it represents and the link it provides to our understanding of them is priceless and essential.

Speaking as a private citizen and member of the Historical Commission (but not on behalf of the Commission), I am deeply discouraged by the loss of my colleague, but Michael’s infectious enthusiasm and knowledge will continue to inspire my work. Many thanks, Michael.

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5 Louise Barron June 9, 2018 at 3:06 PM

Mr. Shea should have absolutely recused himself at the BOS hearing for Mr. Weishan, whether the A.G. agreed to let him sit on this issue or not. The appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest, (as Mr. Shea is a member of St. Anne’s church), is a frequent occurrence on too many boards in Sobo. Too many decisions made by too many board members who should not be included in the decision making process, because they are in direct conflict. As it isn’t a matter of legality. It’s a matter of doing the correct and right thing. Talk about a witch hunt.

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6 Michael Weishan June 9, 2018 at 11:49 PM

Dear Louise,

I am touched by your remarks. Thank you, as you and I have traditionally been on the opposite side of the political fence, but I have always respected your ability “to call a spade a spade.”

Welcome to the club. Or vice-versa.

I will tell you that spending an hour in front of that inquisition simply to renew a volunteer position is nothing anyone EVER wants to do, and throws cold water on anyone seeking to volunteer for the town. It was cruel, it was intentional, and it was nightmare. I got through it reasonably well because of 6 years of training on television. I cannot imagine what that type of kangaroo court would do the unaccustomed.

I was even pinioned by Shifrin and Kolenda for expressing my first amendment rights to criticize the BOS as president of the Southborough Historical Society!

(The only one who took it well was Bonnie Phaneuf: “Glad to hear my name mentioned,” she quipped. Still, she urged me to make a false private apologies when I had been acting solely at the direction of the Commission, which I resisted.)

Regarding Brian Shea: Yes, there are major conflict of interest questions here, which I intend to purse in my remaining days as a member of the Southborough Historical Commission.

As Mr. Poutre was the only member of the public that Kolenda allowed to speak, and who gave documents to the BOS, (without sharing them with the SHC, which was there, in official session) these documents are now in the public realm, and have been released to the press. Over the next weeks, I will be talking to the press about this affair and historic preservation in Southborough in general; exploring exactly what occurred, and what must not occur again, especially in terms of what I see as dramatic Selectmen overreach; where we need to correct our bylaws in terns of appointments, and conflict of interest questions.

Regardless, my term will be ending June 30, but I think there will be one more SHS meeting while I am still commissioned. Come raise a N/A glass for A new deal for Southborough!

All best, Michael

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7 David Parry June 9, 2018 at 8:49 PM

Louise Barron is absolutely correct in her comments (above).

“Appearance” of a conflict of interest matters, both ethically and legally. Persons who have an appearance of conflict, (in this case shining bright and clear), should recuse themselves from official business, regarding the matter. There is no question about this. It is blatantly obvious. It is peculiar that Town Counsel would not have advised him to step aside.

What was not made clear, in the article, was that Mr Shea himself had been deeply and personally involved in this development, from early on. Mr Shea is not only a member of the church, but holds an official position in the church hierarchy, and he was asked to get involved by the church hierarchy and by the applicant, to use his influence as a member of the BOS, to “lobby” in this case before other town boards. And he agreed to lobby. And he did.

Not only that, but long after the entire development had been fully approved, we now witness Mr Shea taking vengeance on Mr Weishan. He doesn’t forget. He gets even . He deliberately took the lead at the recent BOS meeting to remove Mr Weishan from the Historical Commission. He forcefully argued that Mr Weishan should not be reappointed. This is a serious violation of ethics by Mr Shea, and it is he who should resign.

I urge residents to watch the video, and note how Mr Shea and Mr Kolenda together orchestrated the outcome of this meeting.

It is an embarrassing performance. Embarrassing not just for Mr Weishan, as was clearly intended, but ironically it backfired on Mr Shea and Mr Kolenda. This is a shameful episode for our town.

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8 YY June 10, 2018 at 11:13 PM

Yeah, is hard to figure what the whole story is. Going by what BOS has said publicly, it does sound like main concern was tone and based on that, I would had preferred if Mr Weishan was given a slap on the wrist but reappointed (assuming this was his first such offense).

I am especially unhappy about Mr Kolenda’s criticism of Mr Weishan’s blog post when Mr Kolenda asserted his first amendment right in another controversy not long ago. Can’t he (and other BOS member(s?) taking issue with Mr Weishan’s blog post) see this has a chilling effect on people wanting to serve in town government but don’t want to give up their right as citizens of this town?!

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9 Allan Bezanson June 11, 2018 at 10:19 AM

“the Town that I love”

Indeed!

Michael never had a financial stake in this drama

But passion must not be allowed to flourish

So do not allow his good deeds in the service of our town to go unpunished!

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10 Concerned Voter June 11, 2018 at 12:36 PM

Can someone help with more facts . . .hard to follow this one. What are the dates on the application(s) with the town? When did the property transfer(s) take place? What are some of the more basic facts? Can public documents be posted? Is there a link to more information?

BTW, obviously personal and financial conflicts of interest are not ok. Also, opposing public commentary by Mr. W. is allowed in the United States of America (including this town).

Thanks

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11 beth June 11, 2018 at 1:50 PM

I will be doing some more follow up on this. But, the story did have a link to a past story. But I didn’t specifically state that it was to the past story on 28 Boston Rd. You can find some of the details you are looking for there:
http://www.mysouthborough.com/2018/01/10/approved-multi-family-development-to-convey-more-land-to-st-annes/

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12 Dick Tibert June 11, 2018 at 5:55 PM

Welcome to bucolic Southboro-gate.
Does our new public safety building contain pillory stocks, an ample supply of nooses, or perhaps a large vat for the old tar and feather trick.
Some segments of this town operation have become too damn pompous, and are turning into a poor excuse for a sit-com.
Perhaps it is time for the BOS to wear powdered wigs.
Hear ye! Hear ye!

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13 Louise Barron June 11, 2018 at 6:54 PM

Beth, not word one has been posted by you regarding our new BOS chairwoman. I think people need to know that Lisa Braccio is our wonderful new chair. Hopefully the landscape will change, opposing opinions will be shared,and fairness will cut through the murky clouds, and let the sunshine in.

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14 beth June 12, 2018 at 8:27 AM

Thank you for sharing the news.

But, I’m not sure what you mean by “not word one”. I don’t know if I’m reading something that isn’t there, but in case you’re insinuating that I’m holding back for some reason . . .

I have a huge backlog of news to share plus meetings to watch. Unfortunately, I can’t share the news everyone would like me to share as soon as people would like me to.

In fact, I don’t recall writing a dedicated post to the election of the new Chair on the BOS in the past. I believe I have shared the news as part of a more general story covering the meeting that the vote takes place in. (And it’s possible that once or twice I even neglected to do that.)

This particular vote was scheduled for the untelevised Friday morning meeting that I was unable to attend. And it was the only agenda item. Meanwhile, I’m still catching up on covering the Thursday meeting. On Friday, I was busy working on the post about the Weishan decision. Over the weekend, I wasn’t working. And yesterday, I had too many timely items to share to get back into politics. I haven’t even had a chance to watch the remainder of the BOS meeting from Thursday.

So, again, thank you for sharing. The BOS website page still shows Dan Kolenda as Chair and Brian Shea as Vice Chair. Do you know who the Vice Chair is? If so, you can share that with readers, too. Otherwise, I’ll reach out to the Town.

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15 Al Hamilton June 12, 2018 at 9:36 AM

At the risk of being a bit contrarian (big surprise) I am going to defend the BOS.

1. The appointment of members of a committee is the responsibility of our elected Officials. The recommendations of an unelected committees have no more standing than the recommendations of other citizens.

2. The BOS, in this case, is also ultimately responsible for the performance and behavior of the committees and their members while they perform official acts. They are responsible because they appointed the members and are the only ones that can be held accountable by the electorate. Currently there is no procedure for the electorate to remove a member or censure a committee for its actions.

3. When you accept an appointment from the BOS you become a formal part of the Town Government (the formal term is “Special Employee”) led by the BOS. You implicitly accept the leadership of the BOS.

4. The intent of expanding the BOS from 3 to 5 and expanding the managerial responsibilities of the TA was to have the BOS expend more of its efforts on policy matters and less on the day to day administration of our municipal government. I think this has been a bit of a disappointment. The choice of who to appoint is one of the most important aspects of policy. The BOS, as elected policy makers, should only appoint people to committees that have views in concert with the BOS policy objectives. A committee appointment is not a pulpit for the “loyal opposition”. It is a place to help develop and implement the policy objectives of that are set out by our elected leaders. If a committee member feels it necessary to criticize the BOS for its policy objectives then resignation is the honorable course of action. When you accept an appointment by an elected official or board you implicitly agree to support the policy directives of that elected official or board.

5. Today, we have committees that operate as independent agents un-managed or un-directed by the BOS. The result is unelected and unaccountable committees that, in some cases have substantial power, using that power without the guiding hand of the electorate. This condition is the responsibility of the BOS. I would humbly submit that the BOS should meet on a regular basis (2-4 time per year) with each committee it appoints to discuss policy objectives and to vote on policy direction that it gives to each committee.

Full disclosure: Mr Weishan once compared me unfavorably to Joseph Gobbles on these pages. I have served on committees appointed by the BOS and when it was clear that I did not support the policy direction of the BOS I felt the only honorable course was to resign.

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16 Concerned Voter June 12, 2018 at 2:56 PM

Yikes. Only appoint persons with policy objectives the same as the BOS? That might be ok in an ideal world, but it is not an ideal world.

Hypothetically speaking: What if some members of the BOS are not qualified (got in as a result of some popularity contest or alleged dirty email tricks) or are overly political or use their influence improperly or break Massachusetts General Laws (such as Open Meeting Law or conflicts of interest laws) on a regular basis? The residents would WANT someone new or different succeeding characters like that. The policy objectives may well differ — and need to differ for improvement to happen.

Also, there have been multiple instances of experts in various capacities (and the town is lucky to have them) not agreeing AT ALL with the less than transparent objectives of BOS in the past. Case in point: the golf course conservation restriction. In my humble opinion, this only turned out barely OK after a tug of war with less qualified individuals who really either had no idea what they were doing, or really were not looking to preserve the parcel in perpetuity (trying to retain control and possible sale). The fact of the matter is, those individuals went against the recommendations of most of the boards and committees whose very task it was to examine the situation and put forward their professional and carefully considered recommendations.

It’s a democracy. There should be as much objective and professional input as possible with those at the top listening carefully to all input, including those they have been elected to represent.

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17 Al Hamilton June 13, 2018 at 7:57 AM

Concerned

To be clear, I am not defending the behavior of any specific member of the BOS, I too have been disappointed by some of their actions. But, my disappointment is irrelevant, they got elected and others did not, they earned the right, just like Dimwitted Donald, to govern.

There are many cases where committee members will have expertise that the BOS or other appointing officials do not. The BOS in that case would reasonably charge the committee to come up with policy options for further refinement and approval by the BOS.

If you are unhappy with how the current occupants of the office are performing their duties (and it appears you are) then you and others need to get together others of a like mind and out organize them, get your voters to the polls, and vote in new members with views more in concert with your own. I may well join you.

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18 voter June 13, 2018 at 7:35 AM

If people are not happy with the behavior of members of the BOS try to REMEMBER that the next time there’s an election!

You have the power TO VOTE.

Vote people OUT of office by voting new people INTO office at election time.

…too many appointed roles. Let’s make them all elected positions, then the town voters have direct control of the committee memberships.

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19 Louise Barron June 25, 2018 at 6:57 PM

Voter You are right. Vote them in . Impeach them out. That was rejected before. Let’s revisit this issue by putting the ability to impeach into town law. . The citizens are going to have to fight for their rights. Baseless threats of taking petition rights away will be met with great opposition BOS

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20 Louise Barron June 13, 2018 at 10:43 AM

Al, you’re obviously missing all the points. It’s all about conflicts of interest. There is an unhealthy and obvious nepotism, favoritism toward certain groups, and bias, overt dislike, against citizens in the town, and threats made to them, if they disagree with particular individuals. They are shut down. It’s blatant, ugly and we can’t tolerate the dictatorial attitude any longer. BTW, Trump is not dimwitted. How did he get into this conversation. Gee. Stay on track Al.

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21 Al Hamilton June 13, 2018 at 4:33 PM

Louise

I am not missing the point, I understand that there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the current BOS. I supported an alternative at the last 2 elections. But he lost, as did I when I ran. Someone else got more votes and as a result they get to govern the way they want to as opposed to the way you or I might prefer. Those that are elected get to make policy and determine to a substantial degree how our government runs. Those that lose do not.

So, once again, unless you can prove real violations of law and are willing to make a formal complaint, your recourse is at the ballot box which will require substantial organization and effort to elect those who’s values and outlook mirrors yours.

As for Donald – I used it as an example of someone who won even though I am not much of a fan. We can agree to disagree re Dimwitted.

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22 JOJAMA June 13, 2018 at 5:54 PM

Louise, Just to keep things honest. I have noticed in the past you referencing Trumpisms like “draining the swamp” or “ fake news”. Just saying you like to insert some inkling of your political leanings. Not that I am faulting you; you just shouldn’t be calling out others for the same.

And surprisingly I mostly agree with you on this latest BOS blunder.

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23 Louise Barron June 14, 2018 at 10:34 AM

Jojama Pajama. Just fooling. The crux of my objections is obviously the misuse of power in this town. Some candidates while running for office don’t state their intentions to make decisions based on nepotism, bias towards certain groups or a sense that they are
almighty. That comes out when they’ve taken their seat on a board. So, we’ve all been had.

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24 marcel proust June 17, 2018 at 10:24 PM

Bring back Michael Weishan!

He’s honest, dedicated to Southborough, and knowledgeable, and he’s worked hard to keep this town from being a mess of bad development and poor planning. I worry about the future without his input.

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25 Concerned Voter June 21, 2018 at 5:03 AM

Hmmm. . .WWJD? What would Jesus do?

1) Jesus would not have personal and/or financial links, conflicts of interest, or appearance of conflict of interest.
2) Jesus would double check the state ethics laws on the “forever ban” of involvement of any former town official (elected or appointed) in a matter of town business after leaving office.
3) Jesus would double check all the facts, including the date of transfer.
4) Jesus probably would not throw the baby out with the bath water.
5) Jesus certainly would not secretly tape (isn’t this illegal?? — and does it get any weirder?) a conversation. However, thank God (and Jesus) that it was openly admitted at a BOS meeting.
6) Jesus might consider writing a new policy (perhaps changes to language in the applications themselves) that prevents as best possible, any misunderstandings and/or misleading applications.
7) Jesus likely would not co-mingle involvement with any private club, religious organization, etc. with official duties as a public official. Generally speaking, using one’s influence improperly is a violation of state law.

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26 beth June 21, 2018 at 8:07 AM

I don’t know if the communication was secretly taped. He said it was taped – and your comment is the first indication I’ve seen that may have been done secretly. Do you know that it was done secretly? Or was that your assumption?

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27 Bill Poutre June 21, 2018 at 9:04 AM

Read the minutes for the meeting where the Historical Commission was told in advance that the public meeting would be taped. Please understand the facts before you create negative comments which are not true.

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28 beth June 21, 2018 at 11:50 AM

Thank you for clarifying. My assumption was that it wasn’t secret – but I couldn’t argue that as a fact.

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29 Proud_Cordaville_Resident June 23, 2018 at 8:36 PM

Hello Southboroughers,

I am writing today to raise awareness of a pernicious loss of a historical landmark in our town, and the centerpiece of the Cordaville section of town, namely the venerable Fitzy’s General Store (and much earlier known as Cordaville General Store).

In 2010 Susan, the brilliant past editor of MySouthborough, posted an illuminating series of articles about key historic sections/buildings that define the heritage of Southborough. In one of these articles she hightlighted Fitzgerald’s General Store. http://www.mysouthborough.com/2010/01/08/southboroughs-historic-places-fitzgeralds-general-store/

To look at this landmark today, one can only feel a true sense of failure on our citizenry to permit the current owner (non-resident) to allow this building to fall into disrepair and worse, cheapen the historical value by treating the exterior so shabbily.

I will continue to speak out about this deplorable condition. I vigorously noted this eyesore to the Historic Commission two years ago, but my concerns fell on deaf ears. So clearly, i agree that Mr. Weisham should move on. Can we rally together to use all of our resources and incentives to coax the owner to at least enhance the facade and curtilage (land surrounding the building) a little. Southborough’s pride is on the line

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30 Beth Dambacher June 25, 2018 at 7:55 AM

This morning, in less than a half hour and by 7:30 a.m., the garage at 28 Boston Rd was razed. Very soon, the house will be gone as well. Years ago one resident told me that after the hectic drive home at the end of day, after finally getting through the lights at Framingham and Boston Rds and then rounding the bend in the road, he would see that old house on the hill and relax because he knew he was home. I didn’t know him, he had no ties to the house, he just lived in Southborough and 28 Boston Rd. was his landmark for being home.

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31 Proud_Cordaville_Resident June 25, 2018 at 10:57 AM

Beautify Cordaville Village of Town: Or does it really matter to folks who live in the area?

When the Southville Rd, Coradaville Rd intersection was renovated some years back (with memorial sitting park area), I was encouraged, thinking, well some folks, with the drive and aesthetic skills, are stepping up to beautify the area and importantly give this section of town some identity (more correctly, uncover the lost proud identity this village had at one time). And when the old restaurant on the corner was razed, and replaced with a mixed use commerical building, I was thrilled to see the old eyesore gone and hope an ice cream shop would be one of the new tenants. Then it all stopped (2008-2011 recession).

Today, nothing has changed, except that the Fitzgerald General Store is looking seedier and seedier every time you go by or in. Can’t we work together and siphon off some of the historic sentimentality we have for “28 Boston Post Road” house (just a house, albeit old) and apply it to the venerable First Meeting House for this section of town. Cant understand why the Town permits such decay to persist. If i can see it, can’t you? I am ready to help!
Fitzgerald’s General Store. http://www.mysouthborough.com/2010/01/08/southboroughs-historic-places-fitzgeralds-general-store/

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32 Beth Dambacher June 25, 2018 at 11:37 AM

Just a house that was moved (how did they do that back then?) from it’s original location to make way for the reservoir. That’s part of our history, now gone.

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33 Frank Crowell June 25, 2018 at 12:03 PM

In answer to your question does it really matter to folks: I use to care but then my tax bill started going through the roof. Not sure if Fitzgerald’s or 28 Boston Road are historic. What I do know is that my tax bill is historically high and the historic levels will not be fixed anytime soon.

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34 Concerned Voter June 25, 2018 at 3:01 PM

Suggested remedies:

1) Time for a split tax rate. In Massachusetts, MOST MUNICIPALITIES have split tax rates. This town is in the absolute small minority of towns and cities that do not have a split rate. The residential base is effectively subsidizing the commercial base. It’s called a “saddle” — the saddle was put on the horse, the residential taxpayer. Pay close attention to who will be the noisiest when “split tax rate” is proposed. Split tax rate is as close as the next special town meeting or town meeting, and taxpayers should urge the BOS to be leading that charge.

2. Demand that the BOS (Board of Spending) stop excessive spending and big ticket items, as well as exposing taxpayers to major potential overages. The latter is rarely if ever discussed.
Make sure “off budget” items are only approved if absolutely necessary and those who irresponsibly avoid and attempt to bypass the budget process are halted by BOS. Circumventing the budget is outright unprofessional and irresponsible.

3. Remember #1 and 2 — and vote those who oppose out of office. The average taxpayer is due some kind of break with the retiring of town debt. Retiring of debt is NOT a signal to go spend more. It is an opportunity to give taxpayers who have been carrying this debt a break.

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35 Proud_Cordaville_Resident June 30, 2018 at 4:49 PM

After two posts about Cordaville pride, what do i hear from the community?

The deafening silence speaks volumes. Apparently NO support in my effort to raise awareness of the blight that is taking over a large segment of Cordaville Village, the Fitzgerald General Store property. see this dilapidated structure http://www.mysouthborough.com/2010/01/08/southboroughs-historic-places-fitzgeralds-general-store/ and compare with historic past http://www.mysouthborough.com/2009/11/10/a-map-of-cordaville-and-southville-past/

No, the solution doesnt involve town funds or budget overrides to have impact. How about creative ‘quid pro quo’ from town administrators/BOS the next time the property owner asks for variance to park more cars on the dirt, undeveloped parcel and squeeze more cash from the community. This isnt complicated! How about a petition of sorts that says residents will patronize businesses that maintain a minimum decorum, especially in an historic building. (and please stop talking about that 28 Boston Post Road matter…. its irrelevant compared with historic intersection that defines one of our villages in town.

Whatever happened to civic pride and gentle, but concerted pressure to have commercial property owners maintain local property that reflects on us residents in the community? Disgusted, discourage, saddened ….

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36 Beth Dambacher July 2, 2018 at 8:45 AM

1. Bringing attention to your cause will require more than two posts on a private blog.
2. You are introducing you concerns in a thread that is about another issue.
3. Your anonymity might be working against your desired outcome.

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37 Frank Crowell July 2, 2018 at 11:45 AM

“How about a petition of sorts……”

No one is stopping you from getting that petition started – in fact on another thread a lot of people support the continued use of the Transfer Station for just that. Your First Amendment rights are there for you to use.

I might start a petition for better beer selection at Fitzgerald’s.

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38 Proud_Cordaville_Resident July 2, 2018 at 12:33 PM

Hi Beth and Frank,

Thanks for your comments and constructive critique. I apologize for wagging my finger at everyone else for inaction, but that’s bourne from frustration.

i understand that the reach of this site is somewhat limited (sometimes seems like its just an echo chamber among 20 people) but it is a targeted site at least. Also i already sent a detailed request for action to the Town Manager two years ago and to the SB Historic Committee chair, but received little response. I am trying to build consensus and stimulate some action in numbers (N > 10 people) so I can play a role. I frequently use Fitzy’s Store and like the management and staff so i am trying to effect some positive change through gentle pressure. I don’t wish to ‘blackball’ myself from the establishment if no other support can be generated from local residents. So i guess i am a single-issue activist who is also wary of falling on the sword… alone. I admit that.

I might resurrect my 2016 petition to SB committee and Mr. Purple and see if it gains traction this time around.

thanks Beth!

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