Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Real Thinker This One Is

Put on your thinking caps for this one, Sturbridge.  When does precedence, supersede an existing law, or does it?  Is precedence that powerful in the judicial world?

For 60 years, according to some, the Tantasqua School Committee and the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen have chosen, and appointed a replacement to the School Committee when one was needed.  They did this together.  60 years of using a system that worked well for both parties, until it was recently discovered that there there is a law that does not allow this to happen.

So, here are the questions of the day, do the past actions, over 60 years, establish enough of a precedent to supersede the newly discovered law?  If an agreement was made between the School Committee , and the Board of Selectmen back then, what were the circumstances around that decision?  Is this newly "discovered" law the sole reason behind the Board of Selectmen wanting to stop the current practice, or is there an agenda we don't see?  And, speaking of agendas, if this law only recently came to light, who brought it to the attention of the Selectmen?  How was it discovered?  Why now?  Was it always known, and just ignored?  What is wrong with the original law, and having the BOS choose the replacement?  Has the town been breaking the law for 60 years?

Ok, enough questions for this morning.  Pour another coffee, and discuss.


  1. I feel that the unseen agenda lies with the TRSC. The vacancy was legally posted. There was one (well qualified) applicant. The TRSC refused to appoint her. Why? 1.They said the process occurred too quickly. Isn't it prudent to fill a vacancy as soon as possible? 2.The tornado. Dr.Waters found time to apply even while she was coordinating the tornado relief effort here in town. 3.They wanted to have a choice of candidates. well, it's unfortunate for them that there was only one applicant. Even with the second posting there ended up being only two applicants to be interviewed. So what did the TRSC accomplish with their refusal to appoint? They caused the BOS to request a copy of the original regional agreement which defines how the appointment should be made. Oops. Can't blame this one on the BOS. The TRSC should seat Dr. Waters and try to change the appointment process later. I would be surprised if the five member towns would actually pass the reform at their respective town meetings. After all, as has already been said, what committee appoints its own members? I do get the feeling that there is something nefarious going on here on the part of the TRSC. Sad.

  2. 60 years of acting against a legal contract is not right and how many appointments were actually made with this procedure?

  3. They did it this way every year for 60 years? Maybe, maybe not.
    In Sturbridge the Tantasqua School Committee out numbers the selectmen - so this is already weighted in favor of the school committee, which seems more than unfair anyway. Now we find the law which reads that an empty "elected" school committee seat is to be filled by the selectmen in the first place - so past practice has been a big no-no. Add to that the fact that a qualified person who filed on time and met all the requirements was turned away by the school committee. 'Sounds wrong to me. Add also to that that school committee members have been in contact with selectmen to sully her reputation. Why? We don't know. The people who are bad mouthing her are doing so privately, while still making it appear that the only reason they have black listed her is that they wanted more choice. What? 'Sounds very wrong to me.

  4. Ashamed of the situationFriday, July 15, 2011

    (I previously posted a large part of this message on Mr. Creamer's blog)

    So, how does it go? A person or two, who want to be in complete control of a situation, start slinging mud in an effort to sully someone's name, therefore making this supposedly "sullied" person go away. When others respond by calling the controlling, bad-mouthing person(s) a trouble-maker(s) the people who have complained are equally "bad?"

    We all know this is a control issue. We do not all know or care to know what accusations have been made against Ms. Waters. If the (seemingly false) claims being made against her have nothing to do with one having a position on a school committee we aren't required to know.

    If certain people on the school committee are willing to deceive and or distract folks by low, underhanded methods, just to get their way, it's not only right that they be called to resign, but necessary for the public good.

    I think we should follow the old rule in which the selectmen appoint. In any case, the school committee has been failing badly in handling their recent non-appointment of the newly appointed member. The example this is setting for the kids is terrible, and I am sure that gossip is being passed on to them, too. Isn't that how hate is taught in the home?

  5. Getting and Keeping Control?Friday, July 15, 2011

    If a school committee becomes a clique and it gets to appoint its own members whenever there's an empty seat, isn't there a too great an opportunity for them to control the schools as they and their "friends" see fit, thus "teaching to their own to their own agendas?"

  6. Wally, I have been hoping to write a piece on this but coordinating recovery efforts is time consuming; thus, with your permission, I will provide a quick overview here. The agreement was discovered when I asked the Town Administrator to clarify something he stated at the original joint-meeting between the BOS and the TRSC pertaining to appointments. When he contacted Town Counsel to clarify such, he was also informed that this issue of appointments had previously come up and that an agreement on file with the Department of Education - pursuant to M.G.L. Chapter 71, S 14B - clearly identified that the BOS has sole appointing authority. Further, Town Counsel indicated that unless the agreement had been amended, the appointment - per the law - was the sole responsibility of the BOS to make until the next election.

    When this information and M.G.L. Chapter 71, S 14B were brought to the attention of the the Regional School District's Attorney, said Attorney agreed that the Sturbridge BOS had full authority to appoint and that if the District were to challenge the appointment by the BOS in court, the "District would not prevail". The Department of Education and the Massachusetts Association of School Committees equally agree that under the agreement and State Law, the Sturbridge BOS has the jurisdiction completely and solely. Thus, the BOS - per State Law, per an agreement ratified at Town Meeting by the voters of this community, and under its responsibility pursuant to the Charter to "cause the laws and the orders for the government of the town of Sturbridge to be enforced" have no other recourse than to stand by a signed agreement and State Law.

    That this was not previously discovered is irrelevant as the law always trumps past practice, quite simply because it is the LAW. There is no agenda by the BOS other than to do what we are legally obligated to do. And it really is just that simple.

  7. Selectmen didn't request a copy of the agreement. The town administrator initiated that action on his own, and I applaud him for doing so. Both Ehrhard and Galonek should hang their heads in shame for how they have acted and for the things they have said and done, publicly and privately.

    This town and that school committee are LUCKY to have someone like Susan Waters working on their behalf. The school committee members remind me of bullies in a school yard. Grow up, welcome Ms. Waters with open arms, take full advantage of her knowledge, and start working on being a school committee again.

  8. Has this happened before?Sunday, July 17, 2011

    I wonder when, before the recent event, they ever had a fully qualified person as the only applicant and refused to accept that person?

  9. It seems to me the issue is simple. Why would the people of Sturbridge want People from Brookfield, Brimfield, Holland and Wales selecting someone to represent them on a regional board?


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