Annual Town Meeting is over but November’s Regular Town Meeting will be here before you know it. Since there are always new people moving into Wakefield and new people reaching voting age, a few observations and helpful tips may be in order. You’ll of course want to bookmark this column for future reference.

First, a bit of history. Like “Board of Selectmen,” Town Meeting dates back to colonial times and is uniquely and deeply rooted in New England history. So obviously, we have to get rid of it.

In the meantime, to fully participate in Town Meeting, you need to be registered to vote. This used to be an onerous task that involved leaving your house. Now you can register to vote online or by mail. We even automatically pre-register high school students age 16 and older. The idea is to get them to vote as many times as possible before they get jobs and start paying taxes.
Continue reading ‘Town Meeting Manual’

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Just rewards

03May18

I’m a big believer in giving back. So, I would like to repay a debt that is long overdue.

Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) have been giving me advice for longer than I can remember (and that’s a long time, as they often kindly remind me). Whether it comes in the form of writing tips or sharing their vast expertise on the business of newspaper publishing, I have learned so much from the feedback of SJWs.

But like all good teachers, SJWs teach more by example than exegesis.
Continue reading ‘Just rewards’


WAKEFIELD – The Board of Selectmen passed away with little fanfare this week after a bout with a virulent strain of political correctness. It was 371 years old.

Born in 1647, the Board of Selectmen was the child of Lynn Village and Redding. It was later adopted by Reading, South Reading and Wakefield.

The Board of Selectmen spent its entire career working for the town, overseeing the Police and Fire Departments, setting the tax rate and granting licenses to liquor establishments and used car dealers. It controlled approximately one quarter of the town’s budget. In its younger days, the Board of Selectmen presided over Town Meeting until the first Moderator was elected in 1682.

In its youth one of the Board of Selectmen’s proudest accomplishments was negotiating the purchase of the land now known as Wakefield from the Indians in 1687 for the price of 16 pounds sterling silver currency.

In its spare time, the Board of Selectmen enjoyed marching in parades, speaking at Veterans and Memorial Day ceremonies, issuing proclamations, dedicating monuments and cutting ribbons.

It was pure New England, and until its recent illness, the Board of Selectmen took pride in its roots and its unique regional moniker.

The Board of Selectmen was predeceased by the Brookline Board of Selectmen, the Amherst Board of Selectmen and a handful of others. It is survived by Boards of Selectmen in hundreds of communities around Massachusetts and the other New England states.

There are no visiting hours, but time will be set aside for public participation. There will be a three-minute limit per person.

In lieu of flowers, mourners are asked to donate to the
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Toxic Masculinity.

Services will be held at the First Church of Words That Matter.

Internment will be in the trash heap of history.

[This column originally appeared in the April 26, 2018 Wakefield Daily Item.]


Terms that perfectly capture their intended meaning sometimes end up as clichés. They get overused because no other words serve the purpose quite so well.

The term “politically correct” is a perfect example. It’s status as a cliche is used as cover by those accused of politically correctness. They dismiss the charge on the grounds that the term itself is hackneyed or trite.

This week I received a personal email from a Daily Item reader who will remain nameless. He told a story that exposed the dark side of political correctness – and there was nothing cliched about it.

“The recent foolishness about renaming the Board of Selectmen so they would be ‘politically correct’ made me remember something I would like to share with you,” he wrote, “as it may shed a different perspective on the term, ‘politically correct.’


Continue reading ‘The civics lesson’


There was a time, not so very long ago, when Wakefield residents of sound mind would hear about towns like Concord banning plastic water bottles, roll their eyes and think, “There but for the grace of God…”

Then Wakefield Town Meeting banned plastic bags. And as long as they had the troops mustered, the forces of inclusion decided that the Board of Selectmen had been too male for too long and needed to be renamed “Town Council.”

“Well,” levelheaded local residents could still tell themselves, “at least we’re not like Amherst – passing local resolutions on national issues.”

Well, think again.

Wakefield’s march toward Peoples’ Republic territory continued this week, as the Board of Selectmen’s agenda featured a resolution calling on the federal government to enact greater gun control.

Have we run out of local issues to deal with?

Not quite.
Continue reading ‘Slouching towards Amherst’


Being a panelist on two local candidates’ debates last week got me thinking about the role that local media plays in town.

Televised debates for political office in Wakefield go back to the days before WCAT, to what I call the Dark Ages of public access TV. That was my first brush with local media – hanging around the Wakefield cable TV studio at 37 Water St.
Continue reading ‘Local media matters’


He, him, his

22Mar18

A fleeting moment of sanity gripped our state lawmakers last week.

One state rep wanted to remove or change the “General Hooker Entrance” sign at the State House. The entrance is named for a Civil War hero, General Joseph Hooker. A statue of General Hooker astride a horse also stands near the doorway.

Apparently, during high school tours of the State House, the sign for the “General Hooker Entrance” has prompted many adolescent boys to make jokes at the expense of their female classmates. (As we’ve learned recently, high school students are very profound thinkers.)

To the shock of many, even ultra-PC Beacon Hill leaders rejected Rep. Michelle Dubois’ move to alter or get rid of the triggering sign.

Such rational thinking is a rarity under the Golden Dome, however, and was nowhere in evidence last month when some high school students went to the State House to lobby for comprehensive sex education. (And you thought their only area of expertise was Constitutional law and the Second Amendment.)
Continue reading ‘He, him, his’




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