To the Editor:
I retired in 1999 with affection for the Island and my home town intact. I was interested in local politics. I was told, why bother, nothing changes, it’s Oak Bluffs politics, Ho hum. Oh no, I replied, if you don’t participate, you have no right to complain.
I attended selectman, town, and park commissioners meetings, not aware of the agenda until arrival. It seemed to me, if one did not agree with some town activity, the mantra was, it’s good for business, without explanation or discussion.
In the autumn of 2010, I was assured that the only parking allowed on Lakeside Park would be the antique autos and vendors for the Harbor Fest. The vendors’ cars would be the day of the festival and all be gone soon after activity ceased. Some sort of stickers would be provided for the these folks, and police barricades would be put up at entry points. The antique cars were there representing a not-for-profit group. The vendors are profit making folks. Guess what? The autos were there. Other cars parked the night before, the day of the event, and afterwards without stickers. There was an event, so labeled by the police, the night before. All cars were searched. Imagine. Ah well, It’s good for business. It’s Oak Bluffs politics, Ho hum.
During a previous administration, a selectman was chosen by a majority of board members to serve a consecutive term as chairman. It was pointed out that this was not acceptable, according to rules set out for selectmen. This was found to be correct, and a new chairman was chosen. The law was discontinued by a majority of the sitting board. Ah well, Oak Bluffs politics, Ho hum.
In 2010, the Open Meeting Law was being strictly enforced by the attorney general, statewide, the main tenet being that the agenda of every meeting must be made available 48 hours previous to each meeting, excluding holidays and weekends, for all to view. At a selectmen’s meeting, selectman Gail Barmakian said the selectmen could not participate in the meeting, as the agenda had not been posted or made available as determined by law. Four other selectmen disagreed. They could not possibly reschedule the meeting due to other commitments. Ms. Barmakian said in all good conscience she could not continue. She excused herself, departed, and the meeting continued. Oak Buffs politics. Ho Hum.
We thought a fresh wind of change came over the horizon with results of 2011 election. The board changed with two new folks on the board and two retired. Selectman Kathy Burton was elected chairman with Ms. Barmakian as vice-chairman. The electorate was pleased. Hooray, Oak Bluffs politics, change is in the air.
At the first meeting of 2012, after the election, Ms. Burton was again elected as chairman, and the unkindest cut of all, selectman Walter Vail was elected vice-chairman. Ms. Barmakian was vice-chairman last year.
Traditionally, she would be chosen as chairman or even vice-chairman this year, as she is due for re-election in 2013. It would have been a respectful act. Ah well, Oak Bluffs politics. Ho hum.
The continuing mantra persists in response to seasonal park activities. It’s good for business, no, is it good for our town? If one does not agree, one is considered a troublesome person. Ah well, change was nice for a while. Oak Bluffs politics. Ho hum. It’s déjà vu all over again.