Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Burning Bird Blister

One possible side effect of the addition of chloramines to the Southbridge water supply warrants investigating. While I know of no research supporting the conclusion, casual observation of events in town inclines me to believe that they may lead to the long term loss of short term memory.

Case in point; it’s my understanding that when someone is given an interim appointment, it is pending the hiring of a permanent employee for the position in question. 

Back in the middle of February Walter Bird was hired as the interim Recreation Director. That was almost six months ago. It didn’t take us six months to hire a new fire chief.

In those six months I don’t recall seeing the position advertised for a permanent Recreation Director.

What brought this all to mind again was a Letter to The Editor in last Friday’s Southbridge Evening News.

Again, notice that the letter is signed as “Interim Southbridge Recreation Director. Just how long is this going to continue with the “Interim Southbridge Recreation Director” getting an annual stipend of about $8,000.

Another point I raised when I first wrote about this at the end of March was the bylaw relating to this position.

Mr. Bird was first relieved of this post because the enabling bylaw required that the Recreation Director had to be a town resident.  This was attested to in a letter from town manager Christopher Clark at the time.

However, when Mr. Bird, who still resides in another community, was re-hired for this post I found that the current town bylaws read as follows: 

Section 3-215 Recreation Committee

To date I have found no record that this bylaw was properly changed nor has anyone been able to provide me with such a record.

Frankly, I have gotten to the point where I don’t think anything will be done about this. The town Charter and bylaws as well as issues of proper procedure have come to be regarded as inconveniences to be ignored by the town manager and a majority of the town council. So, too, by a majority of the voters. Apparently the old adage about a government of laws and not of men has become passé. I can only continue to document these lapses in the hope that, in time, they will gain some measure of relevance.


  1. Mark Ashton is a veteran journalist; I'm disappointed that he didn't probe into this rec director situation. Instead, he glowingly wrote about Bird and his camera club. And then one could read Bird's own glowing words about himself on whatever is left of the Southbridge News' opinion page. Next to Agricultural Commissioner/"reporter" Gus Steeve's inappropriately leftist (and I'm a liberal!) diatribe. These people's egos have gone through the Town Hall roof! Out of control. Why aren't we hearing from town councilors about this? Where are the new town councilors on this? Is this post being advertised? There've gotta be Southbridge residents who are qualified for this job.

  2. When in the world is anyone going to recognize that five councilors do whatever and whenever they want. You can't stop them. Talking about them doesn't work. Pointing out the facts doesn't work. Running against them obvioiusly didn't work AGAIN. But yet you all keep chanting away about these people and what they do. The people you are constantly badgering don't give a r_ _ t's a _ _ about what you say or think. They are getting there way. They are having a good laugh on us! Yet you go on and on and on.

    Yes, this is the home of the brave and the land of the free and you have all the right in the world to speak your piece. But you just don't get it. You are spinning your wheels over and over again. Saying and complaining about the same told things.

    At some point people you need to give it up, sit back, relax and accept what's happening. You are not going to stop them. And they certainly aren't going to let you stop them.

    Maybe they will listen if you show up to every other meeting like Regis does. Now there's a dedicated councilor. There is someone that the Chair and Co-Chair can admire, as do the people of Southbridge apparently. No doubt you will be told that she's shows up at every subcommitte meeting. So what? She was elected to serve the people the entire year, not half the year.

    It amazes me as to who this community appears to look up to. What is it guys? The air or the clothing. Can't be the personality and definitely no dedication to the position.

    1. So what have YOU done, other than complain? Sound like a hypocrite. Throw your hands up in the air and accept it. Thank God you weren't in WWII; like the French, you would have surrendered before trying.

    2. I've done more for this community than you think. I'm not a hypocrite. Merely pointing out the fact that complaining has accomplished absolutely nothing. Don't talk to me about the war. I am very much French. My mother almost died in the war you speak of. My grandmother was in a concentration camp. Twenty plus of my life was spent trying to help the people of Southbridge. I'm proud of that accomplishment. Though bad health has slowed me down quite a bit, I do things for the people of Southbridge without ever talking about it. You may feel my ranting above was another complaint. I just wanted to express how I felt. I'm just not proud of the direction we appear to have been going over the last few years. We ignore the obvious and accept the stupid. If that's not the case, more people would have chosen other councilors other than the ones sitting. As I stated previously, this is the home of the brave and the land of the free. Everyone has a right to speak their piece. My parents believed in what this country stood for, that's why they brought us here many, many years ago. I'm proud of who I am. What I'm not proud of is how our voices fall on deaf ears. Good ideas have come before the council. They have always been squashed. So I say again...what good comes from complaining? Has it changed anything?

  3. No, but you can't complain about people running and losing again. At least they tried. I know Martinek and Fontaine won't run again because of fickle supporters.

  4. AS COPIED DIRECTLY FROM: Sturbridge Villager Archives
    ISSUE DATED: June 27, 2012

    Part Time
    The Town of Southbridge is
    seeking a part-time Recreation
    Director to assist in
    managing all Town recreation
    activities including overall
    policy development, program
    planning, fiscal management,
    administration and
    operation of recreation programs
    and facilities. Responsibilities
    include coordinating
    activities of the department
    elected and appointed officials
    and managing and accomplishing
    the complex and
    varied functions of the department.
    Part time Recreational
    Director is accountable
    for accomplishing departmental
    planning and operational
    goals and objectives
    and furthering Town goals
    and objectives within general
    policy guidelines.
    Assignments allow for a high
    degree of administrative
    discretion in their execution.
    Candidate should have equivalent
    to graduation from high
    school and knowledge of recreation
    administration, business
    or public administration
    or a field related to the work.
    Must possess a valid Massachusetts
    Driver’s License and
    a satisfactory driving record
    and must be willing to pass a
    background investigation,
    including fingerprinting.
    Work schedule is 10-hours
    per week at $15 per hour.
    Interested persons
    should forward
    employment application,
    resume and cover letter
    to the Office of the Town
    Manager, Town Hall
    41 Elm Street
    Southbridge, MA 01550
    Fax: 508-764-5425
    or via email:
    Position will be open until
    filled with a review of
    applicants to commence
    July 27, 2012
    The Town of Southbridge

    1. Again I ask, what happened to the bylaw requiring that this position be filled by a town resident?

    2. Aren’t our By-Laws in the Lower Kingdom which I like to refer to as the “Town’s Dungeon”? My guess is that they’re on the “Butcher Block Table”.

      I predict that when they do resurface they’ll be unrecognizable & perfectly choreographed.

      The whole matter can be described as "Complex", indeed!

    3. I agree. But I'd still like to know what happened to the bylaw mentioned in Clark's letter as the reason for relieving Bird of this position in the first place. How did it just "evaporate" and who would have had to have a hand in that?

    4. The magic word used was “Interim” ... was it enough to circumvent the Town’s Existing By-Law? When in doubt; seek “Legal Council". Apparently so!

    5. Interim or not is not the point. The point is, how did the bylaw that requires that the position be held by a town resident just vanish?

    6. Understood! So what’s your hunch as to the reason why?

    7. Oh, I don't know. But we have an intelligent audience out there. Let's ask them what you would have to do and who would have to be involved to just make it as if the bylaw never existed.

      Any thoughts folks?

    8. P.S. Maybe somebody should secure a set of town council minutes from June 4, 2010 to Oct. 3, 2011 before they "change".


    Town of Southbridge
    Local Cable
    The Town of Southbridge is
    reorganizing its Local Cable
    Station. We are seeking the
    following part-time, non-beneficial
    positions to staff the
    station. Each position is
    scheduled for 19 hours per
    week; hours flexible.
    Station Manager/
    Production Director

    Production Coordinator/
    Interested persons
    should submit a cover
    letter and resume to:
    Christopher Clark,
    Town Manager at
    41 Elm Street
    Southbridge, MA
    Station Manager/Production
    Director- Position will be
    open until filled with a review
    of applicants to commence
    on July 27, 2012.
    Production Coordinator/
    Editor- Position will be open
    until filled with review of
    applicants to commence on
    August 15,2012.
    The Town of Southbridge is
    an Equal Opportunity

  6. I wonder if McDonald, Vandal, Moriarty and Peloquin will have the guts to say something? Ten bucks says no.

  7. The seat on the Recreation Committee Walt Bird was no longer eligible for was a volunteer position. The Recreation Director was at one time a full-time paid position, eliminated, and is now being resurrected. I am pleased to see that someone with Walt's connections is filling the position. I guess my thought here is....will there EVER be someone that everyone is happy with? Of course not. It would be nice if once in a while there were fewer ney sayers and some support for those trying to do a respectable job. Gee....I wonder why local residents are hesitant to get involved with politics or seek employment thru the Town.

    1. What a load of crap. Who wrote this, Walt or Monique? The former editor of the local paper gets (officially) into bed with Clark. Ney-saying? It would be nice if idiots like you would understand that you advertise a position, not hand it out. Get involved? Please. How bad can a bonehead like Walt screw up the Recreation Director job? No wonder no one in town applies for jobs: it's easier to get one if you DON'T live here!!!!!!!! Next thing you'll be doing is supporting Durant and Brown. Ooooops, too late! Have they called yet begging you to un-endorse them? Get Involved in another town!!!!!!!


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