To the Editor:
In any small town, there are cultural, political, social, and economic factions that converge to give each town its own special personality. Within each faction, there are personal issues, public interests, and many hidden agendas to deal with. These are the difficult and enormously complicated problems that make a small town so special. We all get to be involved. And, we all get to be affected. It is the curse and the blessing of small-town living.
Usually, when someone is in trouble and needs help, the town rallies. Comfort, financial aid, home cooked meals, basic sustainable needs are given by all. Fundraisers are common. Volunteers give time, care and their talents to help. Leaders lead with encouragement and praise.
So what has gone wrong here in Oak Bluffs?
Economic stress produces fear, suspicion and then there is always the danger of splitting. Yes, splitting — dividing the town with threats of wrongdoings and doers. Fear-based actions that can cause damage often beyond repair.
I am not privy to all or even most of the facts surrounding the possible dismissal of Michael Dutton, our town administrator. I only know that he is a smart, talented and capable person. I also know that he has labored long hours and spent a great deal of his time and energy addressing issues that far exceed his job description.
With the prolonged illness and unfortunate death of our financial director, Paul Manzi, the extra responsibilities for our town administrator must have increased substantially. Add to that the loss of employees in other departments and a general decline in morale throughout our town, plus decreases in many of the usual town revenues (building permits/excise taxes, etc.) and many of the services we have come to rely on. With all of these difficulties, the person who is our town administrator needs all the support and leadership he can get.
Where are the leaders of our town? Why aren’t they encouraging, building, repairing and shoring up a system that desperately needs their help? This is a really important question we all need to ask.