DPW plowing incident: The incriminating video, public statement from town, and reports of DPW head’s involvement (Updated)

by Beth Melo on February 28, 2014

Yesterday morning, I shared The Metrowest Daily News story on Southborough’s Department of Public Works plowing in a state vehicle.

Since then, more information has become public on what I’m calling Plowgate. (How can you not?)

There have been allegations that DPW’s chief Karen Galligan actually drove one of the trucks involved.  And the Town Administrator and Southborough Police Department have released a statement, report and the videos of the incident.

Below is one of the surveillance videos showing the intentional plowing in of the state vehicle parked in the municipal lot.

In yesterday’s statement from Town Administrator Mark Purple, it appears that the DPW initially rationalized their actions as justified based on the vehicle being left in the middle of the lot:

During the plowing of the lot, some Public Works employees plowed in the MassDOT vehicle, rather than plow around it, as it was an obstruction to their snow removal activities that afternoon.

That sentiment appears to be echoed in the police report and incident log. The police report explains

During snow storms we try to park our vehicles on the perimeter of the parking lot, which allows the DPW to plow the parking lot with minimal interference.

The initial police response to the incident was to instruct the driver to park elsewhere in future storms. The incident was only escalated after the driver pointed out damage and asked to file an accident report. At that point the officer told him to file a formal complaint with the DPW.

Purple’s statement says that the investigation identified employees who confessed and apologized:

The employees admitted their involvement and apologized for their actions, were contrite, and ashamed of their behavior.

While Purple said the unnamed employees were disciplined, he also defended them as “good employees who made bad decisions”.

Adding to the drama, MWDN reports that DPW Director Karen Galligan is alleged to be one of the plow drivers involved:

Multiple sources have confirmed to the MetroWest Daily News that DPW Director Karen Galligan drove one of the trucks involved in the incident. The town, citing personnel privacy laws, has declined to identify the DPW employees.

MWDN also points out that the police report doesn’t mention that police officers witnessed the incident without interfering as it took place:

[Lt. Sean] James’report does not mention multiple police officers appeared to have witnessed the plowing. James told the Daily News Wednesday he was not asked to determine whether there were any witnesses, only told to review the tape.

The town reached out to MassDOT to apologize. Damage claim will be processed by the town’s insurance company.

You can read the full statement from Mark Purple here.

You can read the redacted police report here (page 1, page 2)

For the full MWDN story, click here.

[Sorry, it took me so long to post this. I’ve been having tech struggles this afternoon!]

Updated (3/1/14 10:26 am): I deeply apologize to the MassDOT employee for initially posting police reports including his name and address. I should have respected his privacy. Now, I ask those of you who read the unredacted reports before I took them down to also respect his privacy.

1 Southboro Resident February 28, 2014 at 5:46 PM

I wonder if the DPW Director was driving the plow that did a number on our mailbox.

2 Betsy Rosenbloom February 28, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Beth, thank you so much for keeping up this blog. I know it cannot be easy to raise your children, fulfill your personal obligations and get these stories out day after day (while trying to keep the facts straight). During these cold winter months, I wouldn’t know anything that is going on in town if weren’t for you! I don’t remember which Selectman it was who was quoted as saying he wished there were a more “official” source for news in town but right now, you are the only timely source I know. I am sure there are many others who feel the same way. Please keep up the great reporting!

3 Rob March 3, 2014 at 9:28 AM

I agree 100%

4 Alan February 28, 2014 at 6:44 PM

The head of the town of southborough’s DPW continues to make bad decisions. This is a clear case of vandalism and I have to wonder why the police allowed this to happen and why no charges have been filed on the head of the DPW. I think as residents we have to ask ourselves if we want to continue to allow these kind of decisions to be made in such a high position. I would think we would want someone in charge of millions of dollars in budget money, equipment and many employees to be a mature reasonable adult.

5 Dave February 28, 2014 at 6:53 PM

If the actions were done on purpose then the insurance should come off of the driver’s personal insurance not the town’s.

6 Stu Evans February 28, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Look at the video carefully. The video clearly shows the parking lot with masses of empty space ALL AROUND THE CAR, ON ALL SIDES. The snow could have been pushed far away from the car, with no problem.

So there can be NO excuse, whatever, to plow that vehicle in, and to smash it.

And there in the video are the police walking by, calmly, watching!

Then, when it becomes an issue, there are NO questions asked by the Police. NOT A SINGLE ONE. Well, of course not !.

But isn’t it Police Procedure 101 to ask questions of the people who did the deed?

Isn’t it Police Procedure 102 to ask MORE questions, ESOECIALLY if they admit they did it DELIBERATELY?

Isn’t it a criminal act to deliberately SMASH someone else’s vehicle ?

Obviously our DPW commissioner herself was one of the drivers, if not THE main culprit, because — if she was NOT —- there would have been a CLEAR AND DEFINITIVE DENIAL. We can be certain of that. And it would be the DPW Commissioner reprimanding one of her employees !

Instead, it is the Board of Selectmen reprimanding the DPW commissioner.!



2. HOW BULL-HEADED OUR DPW COMMISSIONER IS,. AND WHAT A ROYAL TEMPER SHE HAS. ..THAT IS ONE HELL OF AN EXAMPLE TO SET. And this is not the first time. You cross her, and you pay. That is the message she sends, loud and clear.

The person who drove the State vehicle must be outraged. Obviously he cannot speak out because he has every reason to feel intimidated by our Police and DPW. He was doing the RIGHT thing, parking his vehicle in a public parking space, with permission, because he was technically not allowed to drive the car home, according to State procedures. And his car was NOT parked in the middle of the lot, in the way of snow trucks. There was masses of room around it for the snowplows to work.

What are we NOT being told, and why?
Do other “games” of intimidation go on at DPW ?
I expect some insider, who is furious at the whole incident, will eventually leak the inside information. But they have do it ANONYMOUSLY, BECAUSE THEY PROBABLY FEAR FOR THEIR JOB.
“PLOWGATE” is certainly the right word..


7 Jeff February 28, 2014 at 9:40 PM

I left Southboro when neighbors knew neighbors. We had Firemen’s Field Day and Heritage Day. In case of a mishap, not a lawyer to be found unless it was actually serious and if someone’s dad was a lawyer, it WAS respected. I do not respect the greater of the profession today. Just look at the the mess a simple a plowing incident is in the video. In 1978, real selectmen would have resolved this in 30 seconds—an accident.

8 Just Curious March 1, 2014 at 1:10 AM

Since this appears to be a prank that got out of control rather than an accident incurred during normal plowing, I believe the town should not file an insurance claim and the town should require the employees responsible for this damage to pay for the cost of the repair.

If my child had a tantrum and drove my car into my neighbor’s car, I would require my child to pay for the damage.

Kudos to the town manager and BOS for quickly addressing this issue. Glad to see that no special counsel was needed nor demands to the Metrowest that they or the blog identify their sources. We’ve come a long way since Pizzagate.

9 dave March 1, 2014 at 6:48 AM

I own a company and Karen Galligan would have been fired on the spot after that idiotic incident if she worked for me. The only reason it was brought to light was the video. How many other immature stunts has she pulled prior to this? Southboro can do better than her. Why is the town’s insurance paying for the damage to the auto anyway? She should pay for this herself and then resign. How embarrassing to the Town’s reputation to allow to to keep her position.

10 Al Hamilton March 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

A number of years ago, I spent a winter plowing a large shopping center parking lot. It is not easy work and pretty boring. There certainly were cars that were plowed in but never on purpose. Plows are not as easy to control as you might think. If the user of the vehicle in question had been asked repeatedly not to park in that area in order to facilitate snow removal then a certain rough justice might be called for but this seems to have gotten out of hand.

I have had a number of experiences with Ms Galligan in my roles on Advisory. She has never been well attuned to the politics of a situation. I mean this as a complement. Unlike some other department heads I dealt with if you ask her a question you get a straight answer, you may not like it but you can count on her telling you what she thinks without any games. Her budgets were always carefully prepared and well thought out.

Ms Galligan can be a bit salty and determined. If she had a lapse in judgement, then I leave it to the TA to take appropriate action but in my experience to date she has been one of the better managers in town.

11 Emperor's New Clothes March 1, 2014 at 11:32 AM

This is so typical of Lt. James, hiding and not pursuing the evidence aggressively. He did exactly the same thing to us, and if you’ve read this blog, you are familiar with that. He ignores key pieces of evidence in order to protect his cronies. He does just enough to get by, and it’s what he doesn’t say that hides the real story. The new chief should examine James’ investigative techniques.

12 Just Curious March 1, 2014 at 2:26 PM


I do not know specifically what disagreement(s) you have with the police department or Lt. James, but the manner in which you continually rant against Lt. James on so many issues on this blog diminishes your credibility. Lt. James did not drive the plow, he did not decide what to do with this issue (the TA and BOS did), and he is not responsible for global warming either.

All Lt. James has done recently is act very professionally and honorably after he was not selected for the Chief’s position. To me, that says a lot about his character. Now if he could just help me out with that little speeding ticket……. Just kidding.

13 Mark Ford March 1, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Al, are you praising by faint damn? ;-)

I agree with some of what you said…the endpoint, really. If Mr. Purple is satisfied with whatever disciplinary next steps are taken, that’s good enough for me.

There are a number of questions that remain, and maybe it’s best to move on…but I do wonder how that tape came to light so quickly. It’s kind of amazing, and at the very least reflects “rough justice.” This plow was well controlled, and well directed–at the State vehicle’s expense. I wonder if the DPW or Police helped dig out the vehicle, since “Just Curious” above calls it a “prank.” I personally think not, and it appears that the Police condoned the action. Ugh.

14 Andrew Zaterka March 1, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Could someone forward the name of the man/woman doing the plowing? They seem quite thorough and I am curious if they do residential. Thanks.

15 Mark Ford March 1, 2014 at 12:43 PM

Funny Andrew! (If you do hire them, be sure to move your car.)

16 Patriot March 1, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Pizzagate,Swap Shopgate,and now Plowgate ! Just like in baseball,three strikes and you are OUT!…P.S. Oh yea..and “there is no crying in baseball !”

17 Diane R. March 1, 2014 at 2:59 PM

I don’t know but I don’t see someone’s vehicle getting plowed in. I see snow being pushed to the side of the vehicle, but not in front of it. Am I missing something? It’s not like I have a lot of time to scrutinize the video, but slamming the driver(s) doesn’t seem appropriate. Clearly the person operating the snowplow is trying to plow the parking lot and there is a vehicle right smack in the way.

18 beth March 1, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Sorry, but I have to say you must not be looking carefully if you see only see it being pushed to the side. At the beginning, it is clearly pushed right up to the vehicle. Then later some is shown pushed to the side.

This was one of many surveillance videos. The end result was the vehicle entirely heaped in snow on all sides. The employees admitted to doing it purposely. No one from the town or police is claiming that it could have been the accidental result of carelessly plowing around it.

19 Sty Evans March 1, 2014 at 10:59 PM


Thank you for making that abundantly clear. This was IN FACT a deliberate act of vandalism..




Whoever made this suggestion was right ….Let the DPW director pay the entire cost of repair. You cannot claim insurance against a deliberate act you committted.. That is ILLEGAL !. This should NOT go against the town insurance. That is an INSULT to the town, it costs us money, and it is breaking the law.

This needs to be taken up by a lawyer before the Selectmen.

20 beth March 2, 2014 at 9:54 AM

I would like to clarify. It was clearly intended to be heaped with snow. I have no indications that it was intentionally “crushed”. Call me naive, but I doubt anyone intended to cause actual damage to the vehicle.

21 Diane R. March 3, 2014 at 1:48 PM

Hi Beth,
Are you Beth, as in Beth Melo? As I said, I did not scrutinize the video and, based on what I did see and did read, it appears that many people are taking this situation as an opportunity to slam Karen and others. A little more objectivity is warranted. Yes, folks did apologize, but that’s not necessarily because they did anything wrong. How many individuals plead guilty to a crime they did not commit. The situation obviously became politicized….. The headline about “incriminating video” added fuel to the fire. Why not let others decide whether it is indeed “incriminating.”

And, perhaps most importantly, let’s not act like judges and juries but instead remain open-minded until all the facts are known.

22 beth March 3, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Yes, I am Beth Melo.

As for the headline, I’m sorry it upsets you, but I stand by it. It is one of the videos that was used as evidence to determine that the act was intentional.

23 Diane R. March 5, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Hi Beth,
Please understand that it’s not a matter of upsetting me. My opinion will not be swayed by alarming, attention-getting headlines. I will withhold judgment until I know most of the facts. Again, I am not arguing or standing by anything; I am simply remaining neutral until I have more facts. (When I see pictures of the incident, I see fresh snow that has fallen on top of the vehicle so that it looks plowed in…. But even if it were, and even if this is an embarrassing local scandal, I would prefer that we didn’t engage in a public-lynching of sorts….

It may be that one of the reasons why the Town would like the news reported from another source is because of reporting like this…. Inflamed, judgmental, etc.


24 Alan March 2, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Sorry Beth but I disagree and you have probable never plowed snow so you may not understand what people who have are seeing in the video. As a snow plower myself, I like to call it snow hydraulics, when you start moving snow in that manner it has to go somewhere, and I might add it needs to be pushed hard. I would wonder about the abuse and damage to the town truck that did the plowing as well. After watching the tape I would have to say if they didn’t realize damage was occurring they shouldn’t be plowing. I plow large lots all the time and there is always a car in the way no matter how much you ask there not to be. Its just something you deal with. If I acted like the plowers in the video I wouldn’t be working anymore. It is just poor judgment and unfortunately will result in people loosing there jobs and careers. As a business owner if jobs and careers are not lost I would suggest the taxpayers start questioning the choices they have made for selectman.

25 resy March 2, 2014 at 1:30 PM

i think this is blown way out of proportion. i know most of the dpw workers, most grew up and many still live in southboro or nearby. they are all good people and good workers. plowing and salting through the night, getting little or no sleep during snowstorms. i am sure the driver of the plowed in vehicle was asked to move it more than once and did not. case closed move on..

26 Emperor's New Clothes March 2, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Just Curious-
It’s one thing to write your opinion about Lt. James, and it’s quite another for me to relate a specific first hand example about him involving a theft case of an amount which makes it a felony. Unlike bloggers who may chime in with their opinion on most everything, I comment when I have personal experience and facts, as I had with James on his incompetence in a serious case we were pursuing. The last time I commented was important, because James was a candidate for one of the most important positions in town, and I felt that he was not qualified for it. Our case was public knowledge, if you’d like to pursue it further… You have every right to defend James and the police dept., but I am here to point out when they are not always consistent with how the rules are applied–and that’s called cronyism.
MWDN says,
” James’ report does not mention multiple police officers appeared to have witnessed the plowing. James told the Daily News Wednesday he was not asked to determine whether there were any witnesses, only told to review the tape.”
This is a good indication of the culture of the police who witnessed the plowing –that an incident is going on in front of them and they don’t even question it. James’ excuse that he was only asked to review the tape and he was not asked whether there were any witnesses is a cop-out and typical. If it’s to the point where the police are oblivious to a possible crime, because they recognize a vehicle or person, then a new chief is just what we need to change that thinking and culture.

27 jim foley March 2, 2014 at 7:49 PM

I am not going to say the DPW wasn’t wrong. They were but the state vehicle was parked there because its not supposed to be used for transportation back and forth from home. It certainly seems driving it almost home and back every day isn’t the proper thing to do. It also seems like it should be common sense when parking your car during a snow storm it should be off to the sides. the plows do need to be able to clear the lots. otherwise what would have happened? would the person who parked the car there have picked up all the snow to clear around his car and carried it to the sides of the lot or just expect the town plows to return after he leaves to clean the center of the lot again. This can also be very costly to the town. It is a shame the car was damaged . if it had just been plowed in that state employee would have learnt to be more consider we he parks during a storm. It is not cheap for the town to have to send town plows to clean up after someone who probably shouldn’t have been using the car for personal transportation or parking in that area in the first place.

28 Matthew March 2, 2014 at 9:39 PM

None of the children thought to call a tow truck?

Deliberate, reckless, stupid because they should have known they were on camera. How many people walked by and witnessed it? Any town employee who was involved or saw it happen is to blame.
Karen put useless cameras up at the dump, she didn’t know they might be useful someplace else? Her employees didn’t know?
Those held responsible better pay for the fuel for the backhoe too.

29 RB March 3, 2014 at 8:21 AM

My comment relates to why the state truck was there in the first place. Apparently the state allows employees to use vehicles to travel back and forth to work, well, ALMOST – they have to leave the vehicles in a municipal or state lot!

Does the state have a memorandum of agreement to not only park the state vehicle on the property, but the state employee’s personal vehicle there too (obviously, most have to drive their own vehicle to the municipal lot to get to their state vehicle, in this case, the police station lot)?? If one exists, does the MOA release the town from liability in the event there is accidental damage or vandalism to the state vehicle or the state employee’s personal vehicle while parked in said lot ?? Say for example the town’s plow truck accidently backed into the vehicle. Is there a limit as to how many state employees are allowed to park in our lots? The police and fire station lot can become quite crowded at times – add a few or more state vehicles and municipal employees and visitors start to lost parking for town business!

I think it is unreasonable for the state to assume that their employees can park a “take home” vehicle in every municipal lot in the state. I find it hard to believe that this is the first state vehicle that was damaged while parked in a municipal lot.

I also find it to be a serious lack of judgment on both sides in this particular case. This blog has already discussed the DPW involvement in great detail. The driver of the state truck bears some responsibility too and should have parked the truck out of the way. If he/she brought the truck home, would they have parked it as to impede their driveway clean-up after the storm? Like Mark Ford said…”be sure to move your car”.

30 Alan March 3, 2014 at 12:24 PM


I know other people have commented on the Mass dot workers use of the state truck and knowing a state worker personally I can say that the lines for use of a state vehicle can be gray. I would like to say I agree with Beth on this one and respect his privacy. If he did use the truck incorrectly I am sure he is hearing about it now. That being said he was probably told to park there at night by his supervisor. I also have to say as I have stated above, as a plow driver, there is always a car in the way.

31 mike fuce March 3, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Wow, great story. Few things to say. I have met with and worked with Karen on numerous occasions both professionally and privately and she has always been top notch to me (never seen her outright aggressive or angry). It sounds like to me from the posts there are a few of you with axes to grind. A little bitter almost. Second, maybe the guy from the state was being arrogant (oh not a state worker right) and would not park where asked to? Did anyone bother to ask? I’m pretty happy to move my car when someone else is shoveling for me. That would have ticked off many people. And if that’s the case, he deserves to be plowed in – I would have plowed him in as well – but being the town/state that just costs us more tax dollars to fix it. And last, why the heck are state workers parked on our sovereign land? That ticks me off. Lastly, Karen and team should not have done this – I guess. They now need to fall on the sword and apologize, loose a few days pay, and pay for the damages to the vehicle out of their own pockets. It would have cost we private citizens a lot more in time, court and money. Its stupid but funny other than it will cost us all a bunch of dollars out of our private wallets to pay for it all. That is the problem with government.

32 Laura March 3, 2014 at 9:39 AM

This is not the first incident in Southborough where friends are protected and retaliation of any sort has occurred.

I believe, a few years ago, a police officer faced his own retaliation when he reported a friend among the Chief at the time and the Chairman of the Board, and an individual rumored to have been part of Pizzagate as well (though redacted) that broke policy, procedure and law… When he released 1, then 2, 3 AND FOUR prisoners (Please note: Two Boston Police Officers are on leave after releasing just ONE in this manner!!)

It seems, if you sat around that table at Pizzagate, then you have friends in the right places and have immunity.

This town was warned back then and the town has continued to face one embarrassing moment after another.

When will the taxpayers in this town of ours WAKE UP and make those involved in even covering up and protecting friends accountable?!?!

33 Buzz March 3, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Enough with Galligan If my memory serves me correct she was the one who started Pizzagate and now this Of course Selectmsn Boland was at Pizzagate so no wonder Galligan is still around Is Mr Purple aware of this

34 Even more March 3, 2014 at 10:44 AM

To add some fuel to this fire… I saw this story on the news Friday night and couldn’t believe it. While I can’t be sure it was the same night, it feels about right so I’m fairly confident it was. I was out snowblowing my driveway with my wife and kids playing and saw the plows out plowing my road. There was the big one with the salt and an orange pickup with yellow lights like in the video. Normally a plow comes by one direction and goes the other, but this time they made several passes together and at higher rates of speed than normal and seemed to be replowing bare road. It was odd enough that my wife made a comment like “what’s with the plow’s tonight”. Then the yellow one with yellow lights (just like the one in the video) drove up onto the sidewalk with one set of tires and tried plowing the sidewalk with the plow. At which point may wife even commented “should we do something?” It really was that reckless that I specifically took notice of the vehicle and walked over to look at the sidewalk (it didn’t even work very well because of the angle.) It might have been a bit extreme, but we wouldn’t have been wrong to call the police (although it appears that wouldn’t have done much good.) Ultimately, for me it does make it worse to find out that what I saw was most likely the DPW Director behind the wheel.

35 Alan March 3, 2014 at 12:42 PM

Contrary to popular belief, Plowing is a vey difficult job and is one that needs to be learned. I like to call it being in a controlled accident as you spend the whole time behind the wheel driving into white stuff. The line between being in a controlled accident and being in a real one is a thin one, as everyone who comments on this subject can now see. It is not a job for a immature irresponsible person.

36 I was there too March 4, 2014 at 6:00 PM

To be clear, this plow intentionally plowed a sidewalk with a truck. It was not a matter of inexperience, simply irresponsibility. I considered calling the police at the time as it seemed dangerous.

37 Just Curious March 3, 2014 at 5:19 PM

RB brings up a very good point. Why was the DOT worker parking the truck in town anyway? The only justification I can think of was to allow him to use the pickup truck for emergency response. Since there was another DOT pickup truck at the same parking lot over the weekend and there is an MWRA truck parked at Fire Station #2, maybe Brad from the Metrowest paper can look into this issue. Are these state workers abusing regulations by driving these trucks to town property near their homes? It seems like they are skirting the regulations.

38 SouthSider March 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

Looking at the video, I was struck by the large number of cars parked on the left-side border of the parking lot.
Everyone seems to be assuming that the state worker simply parked where he or she did out of spite or arrogance. Is it possible that the lot was crowded with cars and this person simply parked where there was an available space?
I don’t recall reading about any timeline describing how long the state vehicle had been in the lot. Is it possible that the choices were somewhat limited? Clearly much snow had fallen since the vehicle was parked.
Regardless of circumstances, I would resent using taxpayer money to cover the damage and that includes using any insurance policy we have as well because we all know that the more times insurance claims are filed, the higher the premiums become.

39 Bob Ackley March 4, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Karen has done a great job plowing my street. I wish their was a video of the extra time that Karen has taken to clear the end of the cul de sac that we live on instead of the video we see of a careless person who parked their vehicle in the way in our town emergency services lot. Thanks to all of our town dpw employees for all of their work.

40 Laura March 4, 2014 at 11:07 AM

We never seem to learn in this town, that’s why we always seem to be paying thousands and thousands of dollars for legal fees because we don’t demand accountability. Now it’s okay for us to pay for willful damage done to a state owned vehicle which by the way… we also paid for with state taxes. Remember several town employees that were present in “pizzagate” demanded and received reimbursement from our town’s insurance for legal fees they incurred so I would hope and we would demand that every town employee involved in this intentional incident are forced to reimbursed the town’s insurance for the cost of the repair to the damaged state vehicle. I wonder if the Massachusetts State Police were contacted due to a state vehicle being involved and asked to investigate this incident… just to make sure that no conflict of interest exist?

41 Just Curious March 6, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Actually Laura, you are incorrect re Pizzagate and legal fees. The town employees were partially reimbursed for their legal fees due to a warrant article approved by the majority of the voters at the town meeting. I believe that warrant article was submitted by town citizens.

Like Pizzagate/Marty, etc, it is time to move on.

42 Tom Marcoulier March 4, 2014 at 8:11 PM

So much excitement in this long winter……

After reading all this, and skipping some rants, one thing just irks me and one thing I learned.

Irk: Why is the town insurance paying for the damage? I understand everyone makes mistakes once in a while, we are human, but why should the town pay for it.

Learned: If I feel like being stupid and damage a car in town, I can feel good that any damage will be payed for by the town and no police action will be taken. Let the snow fly.

43 John Kendall March 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM

I think it’s time to put this subject to rest and move on.

44 just wondering March 5, 2014 at 1:56 PM

I’d like to agree that this is no big deal and we should move on… But, this is the head of one of the three or four largest departments in town. And the example that is set at the top of that department not only impacts that department but all the others. At best, the department head was careless and thought it was a practical joke. At worst, she maliciously damaged a state vehicle. Either way, I expect more from someone in her position of responsibility.

Regardless, I’m appalled that an insurance claim would be filed to cover the damage. Is there no sense of responsibility for one’s actions? I don’t see why intentionally playing a practical joke that results in damage should cost the town or its insurance company a nickel. And that’s the best case scenario re intent from what I can see based on the reporting and video.

Good people make bad choices, but that should not excuse them from bearing the cost of that bad choice in my view.

45 Southville March 6, 2014 at 9:09 AM

I agree that people should probably just chalk this up to a bad decision and move on.

I do think it would be wrong to put all responsibility financially on the individual. Generally even when someone makes a mistake or bad choice, the financial responsibility lies with the company, not the individual. The company of course is free to reprimand the employee in whatever way they see fit. But imagine in your scenario, if every employee was financially liable for any mistake made at work? The capability to cause large financial damages at a job is huge, individuals should not and cannot deal with that level of potential impact. That’s why companies have insurance in the first place.

And even outside of that, imagine how careless companies could be if they could shuffle off responsibility for any error to an individual employee? “Oh, we dumped toxic waste in the river? That was Jim, not us, sue him!”

46 Mom of 2 March 6, 2014 at 12:38 PM

How do you just chalk this up to a bad decision and move on when the person responsible is the head of the DPW. I 100% agree with you that mistakes can and do happen at work and the insurance companies can then come into play. I however disagree with you that towns insurance should pay for this “mistake” when the truck with intentionally plowed in. That to me is not a mistake

47 Matthew March 5, 2014 at 2:38 PM

We can and should put this to bed but only once we get the full story.
Who was at fault, what is the punishment, are the tax payers paying for someone’s bad choice?
How can an average citizen find out what the DPW did and who is paying for it. Karen was supposedly the only one interviewed so what was said? When can we find out? Will there be any reprimands or will the insurance company go after the employee(s)? Does the insurance company even know what we know? How can we make sure that they do?
We are such a small government and if we can’t get transparency at this level then give up complaining about anything further up the chain. Time to hold our neighbors, town employees, and elected officials to the highest standard and demand as much info as is theirs to legally convey!

If not now than when and if not on this subject then on what matters are we entitled to the truth?

48 John Kendall March 6, 2014 at 9:33 AM

We pay Mark Purple a nice salary to handle these matters. He has. Let the man do his job, and let’s all get on to more important matters.

49 Al Hamilton March 6, 2014 at 9:55 AM


Some of what you ask for is clearly in the public domain and you, or anyone, can receive the information by making a simple public records request to the Town Admin. For example, a copy of the insurance claim should be available, or copies of any communications with the insurance company. This information belongs to you and you can do with it what you wish including posting it to a web site.

Personal information and some personnel information including personnel files and disciplinary actions are exempted. You can ask for them but I suspect that that request will be denied.

You may be asked to pay a small fee for the costs of copying or assembling the information.

50 Rob March 6, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Please file your papers for the BOS seat so the town can start getting some changes on how it does things. I’m afraid that is the only solution to the ongoing town embarrassments. I look forward to when this town operates smoothly and effectively. Times are a changin… and so should we.

51 John Kendall March 6, 2014 at 6:59 PM

I feel the same way Rob. This year we have several good candidates stepping up and running for selectman. Perhaps with a board of five, things WILL change for the better!

52 Resident March 6, 2014 at 5:36 PM

To all of you interested in this story, especially those who think that this was “no big deal,” I suggest you use the links in Beth’s post to click through to the Metrowest Daily News article and THEIR video. It is not the same as the video Beth posted above and includes more information. I found it quite an eye-opener.

53 Diane R. March 7, 2014 at 7:19 AM

Can someone provide me with pictures of the FRONT of the VEHICLE, the BACK of the vehicle, and ALL SIDES of it? I would very much appreciate it. If the pictures show the truck completely plowed in, then perhaps a public investigation is warranted. If the snow was merely being plowed into a pile, next to the truck, well, clearly I differ with most of your opinions…..

54 beth March 7, 2014 at 8:37 AM

I don’t have the rights to MWDN photos. Check out the first story they published, with two photos: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20140227/NEWS/140226967

55 RB March 7, 2014 at 12:18 PM

As John Kendall said in an earlier post, it’s time to move on!!!

There are SO MANY other IMPORTANT issues, both financial and other management decisions that are facing the town (difficult decisions about funding various aspects of town government, etc.), yet we still focus on making a (snow) mountain out of a mole hill!

People were punished, and apologized for their actions, and I am sure learned a valuable lesson. A small amount of money (compared to the millions of $$ for the entire town budget), will have to be expended to repair a vehicle.

Let the people that we elect and their appointed manager deal with the issue. This isn’t Salem and the angry mob shouldn’t expect to see the DPW director hung on the “historic” (read: old) town common (Concord & Lexington have true historic grounds). I still have yet to hear what the true “historic” nature of Southborough’s Town Common is, but that is the subject of another post).

It is time to MOVE ON and focus on so much more important issues!!!!

56 Christina Lamb March 7, 2014 at 2:52 PM

This reminds me of the good old days when a prank was just a prank and everyone had a good laugh about it. I love our DPW department and think they have done a heroic job this winter. Let’s just view this as a skill-building exercise!

57 Deleted March 26, 2014 at 5:58 PM

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58 Christina Lamb March 26, 2014 at 10:23 PM

Oh give it a rest. It has been an awful winter. Somebody played a prank. It’s not important. Focus your energy on something that actually matters. This is truly a tempest in a teapot. All you complainers need to get a life. If the repairs cost each of us a dollar (and it is certainly far less than that), we are all well-compensated by getting to watch that hilarious video. If that’s the only way our tax dollars get wasted, then we are truly in Nirvana. Give up the witch hunt and go help the elderly or the disabled or do something that is a credit to you. Whining and complaining about a hilarious prank is totally absurd and makes you look silly.

59 Mark Ford March 27, 2014 at 9:01 AM


I’m not sure what makes you think this was a prank. During the video, I didn’t see anyone out on the lot, laughing and helping with the merriment–burying a State vehicle under tons of snow. I haven’t heard anything by the “pranked” State Employee laughing off the event. How did the “prank” get resolved–did the Town Employees involved with this gather ’round the vehicle when the driver came to pick up his or her car to good-naturedly tease them? Did the DPW cheerfully help unbury the vehicle? How did this get reported in the first place, if it was a “prank?” If it were a prank, why the closed-door Selectmen’s session?

As someone said above, it seems like rough justice might’ve gotten out of hand.

And btw, I had moved on, until you yourself called it a prank in two posts this month.

60 just wondering March 27, 2014 at 11:46 AM

If it wasn’t a prank, what do we conclude? That it was malicious? An accidental burying of a state vehicle that required a backhoe to uncover? Maybe I’m misunderstanding your point, but my sense is that the most favorable characterization of this is a prank that was not well though out.

61 Mark Ford March 27, 2014 at 12:51 PM

I agree with you–the most favorable characterization of this is a prank. That is not, however, how I think it should be characterized. But again, I’m willing to let it go.

62 Matthew March 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM

The town and everyone connected want this to go away because they have handled it internally. Get it? It’s a government secret and we are not supposed to ask questions.

Forget that it was a deliberate act of vengeance. The offender parked where the “town employees” had possibly told him not to “several times” and now under the watchful eye of the police and the head of the DPW the offender was dealt with. This “prank” did not take 5 minutes and involve a bag of poop lit on fire on your doorstep. It took a long time and MANY people witnessed it. Too bad no one had the guts to speak up. Perhaps the next time someone complains that blog posters want to be anonymous they should consider all the town employees including police who saw it happening failed to speak up to stop what was obviously a case of destruction of state property. If it was really in the way it could have been towed and then the offender would have had to pay to get it out, far easier, less expensive for the town in time and money, and much much smarter. But then they wouldn’t have had such a laugh looking out the window.

So be a good citizen and stop questioning the overlords who protect us. Freaking lizard people from the earth’s core…

63 Deleted March 29, 2014 at 12:16 AM

Comment removed for apparent violation of comment policies:
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– Be real. When you submit a comment, you must enter a working email address. Your email address will not be published on the site, but for administrative purposes, it must be valid.

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