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Monahan explains why he is running

May 8, 2014

This post contributed by Selectman candidate Joseph Monahan. Any town-wide or RTM candidate in this year’s election is allowed to contribute no more than one article to 180 at any point during the campaign, on a topic of their choosing, if they would like.

My name is Joseph Monahan and I am running for Selectman for the three-year seat currently held by Selectman Chairman Mark Gallivan. The election is Saturday, June 7.

I am running because I want to put an end to the rampant scandals and mismanagement in our town.

Last winter, a Finance Department employee resigned after allegedly stealing tax payments as they came in to her department. For more than two months, the Town Administrator, who reports to the Selectmen, kept the incident secret, until a whistle-blower went public.

Another incident brought upon by mismanagement involves a part-time secretary for the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), who was removed from her job because she made a mistake in scheduling a public hearing on a 40B application. This may now result in a huge apartment complex being erected in a neighborhood of single family homes on Moose Hill Road, and significant cost to taxpayers. Two ZBA members have also resigned, charging that the Town Administrator exerted too much control over their board – yet Selectmen have done nothing.

Several incidents of theft have also occurred in the Recreation Department during the past two years, which all remain unsolved as of today.

Also, late last year, the Animal Control Officer was asked to resign after he allegedly fell short in his obligations to the animals under his care at the town’s animal shelter. Selectmen have refused to comment on his departure, even as questions about animal neglect were raised. The entire scandal has been kept secret from the public.

There continue to be plenty of examples of a laissez-faire attitude at Town Hall.

One recent example is Selectmen allowing a developer to back out of a 1997 agreement he made with the town to construct a ballfield on a lot in North Walpole. For 17 years, nobody at Town Hall pressured the developer to follow through. Finally, this year, the developer, in lieu of constructing the field, instead paid $200,000 to the town. But lots in North Walpole do not sell for $200,000 — they sell for much more. Who represented the town in these negotiations? Why did Selectmen approve this sale for that amount? Where was the Finance Committee in its watchdog oversight role when this deal was taking place?

Additionally, where were our leaders when Town Hall found $80,000 of our tax dollars to construct our very own “Bridge to Nowhere” foot-bridge next to Town Hall, but could not find any money to pay down our $84 million OPEB liability – Walpole’s equivalent to the national debt? Town Hall does not care how money is spent and is incapable of developing priorities.

The School Department is not immune to these examples of mismanagement.

Recently, a parent was barred from school property and told she would be charged with trespassing when she only tried to advocate for her special needs child. The School Department, knowing they made a mistake, and that it was the subject of an intense lawsuit, quickly spent more tax dollars to build a stair lift for special needs students who could not access the second floor of Plimpton School. What are special needs students doing on the second floor of a school without an elevator?

It is unfortunate that after each and every scandal, Selectmen have been deafeningly silent. You have to ask why, and the only reason I can offer is because the Town Administrator and the School Superintendent have been given too much control without checks and balances. Just watch a Selectmen or School Committee meeting on cable TV and see for yourself who does all the talking and who is in control. The “power elite” in town has enabled the town bureaucracy to take our taxes to new heights when the bureaucracy should be focused on improving our water supply and quality, improving our roads and fields, improving our current town buildings and improving our children’s MCAS scores.

This “power elite” wants Walpole to go the way of Washington and Beacon Hill, where scandals and big spending have become the norm. I think Walpole can do better than that. We need new leadership that will stop running up the credit card for future generations, and will bring accountability and oversight back to Town Hall.

Just like many of you, I have a working class background. I have two kids in the school system. I struggle every day to pay my bills and property taxes, and I am disheartened to see my tax money be mismanaged.

I plan to visit as many Walpole voters as I can during this campaign. If you see me on your street, please feel free to share new ideas and other issues that are on your mind. I want to serve all the citizens of Walpole, and not the few who often get involved in politics for their own self-interest.

Joseph Monahan
Candidate for Selectman
Main Street

One Comment leave one →
  1. Matthew Fearnley permalink
    May 8, 2014 10:02 AM

    Nicely done, the intro validates you as a journalist.

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