IT’S NICE TO BE NICE… OR IS IT?
THE NICE GUY CANDIDATE
Salisbury Selectman Chuck Takesian is a nice guy, isn’t he?
Everybody loves Chuck.
It’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about him. When he dies people will give the old cliché that “everybody loved him, nobody had a bad word to say” but with Chuck it will probably be true.
Chuck is so nice that even a guy like me finds it hard to criticize his performance as a member of the Salisbury Board of Selectmen. But, I’m going to give it the old college try anyway.
You see, nice guy Chuck Takesian was asked while he was a candidate for selectmen what he would do if he found out if a town official had outright lied in court and would he have them removed. The question came at a candidate forum earlier this year where Takesian said… nicely of course … that he would certainly do something about it and act to remove anyone involved in such things.
After all, what’s a nice guy to do when faced with such scurrilous facts?
THE ELECTED NICE GUY
After Takesian was elected however, nice guy Chuck was asked at a Board of Selectmen meeting if he had received, and read the legal documents given to him by the Tomaselli sisters (who have been claiming fraud by the town for 20 years).
But, Chuck was too busy being nice (this time to his colleagues, not the voters) to read up on the allegations of fraud against his now colleagues, and admitted he hadn’t looked into it at all.
Chuck had given his word as a man of honor to look into something (regardless of what it was) and then didn’t do it. What do honorable people do when they find themselves in a position where they cannot keep their word? Well, an honorable person who is good for their word does something to make it right.
To not do so, would be … not nice.
During this same meeting where Takesian admits he had not looked into the matter as he had promised, he also admitted a few things that were stunning. He said that he was involved in the 1989 sewer project and had voted on it despite the fact that “I was involved in later part of it, as you know we had a sewer commission. It was handed to the selectmen with very little documentation.”
I mean, what’s a “nice guy” to do? They handed him what he called a “mess” of documentation with no backup on a multi-million dollar sewer construction project and hey…. it wouldn’t be nice to vote ‘no’ even though there’s no documentation on the MILLIONS being spent, or where all that money was going.
I’d say that was really “nice” for the construction contractors, engineers and workers on the project, but not too nice for the Salisbury ratepayers who had to foot the $7.8M bill he voted for in 1992.
Takesian also admitted during that meeting, “I know the true cost of the project.”
Really now? How is that possible if you have already admitted that you didn’t have the documentation and that you never read the documents the Tomaselli sisters gave you from the EPA, USDA, court documents, and the state?
IS THIS VERY NICE?
The issue here is that the Tomaselli sisters have long maintained that the cost of that project was $18M and they have documentation to back it up from the EPA, the USDA, and the state that it was 100% funded by grants. All the sisters want is for an elected official to look at the documents … all of them … and hold people accountable if there was any wrongdoing.
They want this because not only did they lose their business and their home over the issue, but when they try to speak at public participation on the matter, the bullies on the board shout them down, talk over them, and violate their first amendment right of free speech.
Surely a “nice guy” like Chuck Takesian has to admit that, like them or not, the Tomaselli sisters deserve to be treated … nicely … with respect … regardless of what message they are trying to convey.
Yet, at Takesian’s second meeting he allowed the Tomasellis to be insulted, humiliated, and shouted down right before his eyes and said nothing at all to object.
That’s not very nice.
He didn’t even say anything when Freeman Condon threatened to have Gracemarie Tomaselli removed from a public meeting for exercising her first amendment right of free speech.
CHUCK TO THE RESCUE?
At the August meeting of Salisbury Citizens for Change, nice guy Chuck Takesian stood before hundreds of Salisbury Beach residents and made yet another claim. At that meeting he declared for the first time that the 1989 constructed project was $30M, with $7.8M being the local share, or the amount to be paid by the rate payers of Salisbury.
He continued to deny that the project was $80M and continued to express bewilderment that anyone could come up with such a number.
Yet, Chuck, even on the night of that meeting, still had not bothered to read the documents given to him by the Tomaselli sisters.
He did say, however that he agreed with Salisbury Citizens for Change and the Tomaselli sisters, that the way Salisbury charges for Sewer user fees must be changed to be based on actual water usage. He also reiterated his commitment to fighting for fairness for all Salisbury residents.
I have faith in nice guys. I’ve been friends with former Lawrence Mayor Mike Sullivan for years. He’s a nice guy too. And the one thing I know for sure about “nice guys” in politics is that at the end of the day, no matter how much they don’t WANT to see the truth for fear of having to do something “NOT NICE”, once they see it, their conscience won’t let them look away anymore.
I have faith in you Chuck… show the people of Salisbury what you are made of, you have nothing to lose. If the Tomaselli sisters are wrong you will be the one to prove it and will be applauded by your colleagues on the board, they may even make you chairman.
If, however, the Tomaselli sisters are right, you will be the only Selectman in the last 30 years to have done the research, advocated for the voters (instead of the insiders) and let the chips fall where they may. Even if that means those chips fall on the heads of Neil Harrington, Freeman Condon and town counsel.
Whatever the truth is, isn’t it nicer to have the public see it in the light of day, instead of having everything swept under the rug, and members of the public shouted down at public meetings?