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Sullivan’s letter still makes for a good laugh

December 26, 2011

180 is taking a look back through the archives of some of the more memorable Walpole Times Letters to the Editor.

The below letter was published in the December 11, 2008 edition of the Times by a well-known and frequent letter-writer John L. Sullivan. I’ve never met Sullivan, but I still remember first reading this when it was published. It made me laugh then, and still makes me laugh reading it again.

I want to emphasize that I may or may not agree with anything or everything stated in the letter, but I think it is pretty funny and should be regarded as a candidate for the Times Letters Hall of Fame:

Tuesday night selectmen’s meetings are must-see TV

Now that the economy has forced me to spend more time watching television, may I suggest to your readers that they watch a very funny comedy show every Tuesday night? That show is called the Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

If you want to watch five individuals wander around aimlessly searching for some form of direction, this is your show. The show’s host is actually the town administrator, who is accompanied by his mute assistant, who apparently spends his time doodling on the meeting agenda. Both of them pretend to listen intently to the five vaudevillians who are considered show regulars.

The episode that appeared on Tuesday, Dec. 2 was especially hilarious. I watched a guest appearance by the Library Trustees, who are ignoring the outcome of the Nov. 4 override question. Apparently the word “no” is not in any dictionary maintained at the Common Street library.

I also watched a sketch that included fast talking by the Town Administrator. He dazzled the five selectmen with his explanation as to why a town-wide hiring freeze did not apply to him and his finance director. In essence, he told the Selectmen that the assistant treasurer/collector was leaving Walpole for employment with another town and that he needed to fill the vacant position quickly with another bureaucrat. The selectmen were so mesmerized, they unanimously agreed. They did not think that perhaps they should first inquire with the police chief and fire chief. Both had lost public safety positions during the Fall Annual Town Meeting because the same town administrator had to balance the town’s Fiscal 2009 budget with monies taken away from the police and fire departments.

Ah, the inside politics of the budgetary process: it was a classic example of NOT leading by example. What a shell game. I guess pushing paper at Town Hall is more valuable than someone who could give a taxpayer CPR.

At the end of the Dec. 2 show, one of the selectmen, who hasn’t said a word since he was elected, actually woke up from a deep sleep with the idea of closing Town Hall the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day. Another selectman questioned the cost of closing Town Hall for the holidays. The town administrator couldn’t answer the question right away because he needed to determine how to weed out DPW and fire department employees “off camera.” Too bad the idea didn’t emerge a couple of months ago for a more transparent discussion. It is not likely they didn’t know Christmas and New Year’s occurred on a Thursday.

Please remind your readers to watch this comedy show every other Tuesday on the Local Walpole Channel. It is the only comedy show that will actually make you cry. After all, it is sponsored by our local property taxes.

–John L. Sullivan
North Street

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