What’s going on in Fairhaven?
Aside from the serious disruptions and drama of late — it turns out some very impressive initiatives are underway in Fairhaven. Flipping channels, I came upon a replay of the July 23, 2020 Economic Development Committee meeting. (FairhavenTV.com) Here was a group of dedicated citizens proposing positive initiatives for Fairhaven’s future and especially focused on the here-and-now to get us to that future in good shape. WOW —it was like a breath of fresh air and a great example of what good government looks like in action.
BUT and there is always a but…
Everybody knows that we are in for some exceptionally difficult times. After the 2008 financial meltdown it took many years to recoup. Likewise, this ongoing pandemic will have serious lasting repercussions for everyone including the town’s financial base. Costs are going up and revenues are going down. Services may need to be cut and revenues tapped.
Yet, there are initiatives that our BOS [Selectboard] can take that would help position Fairhaven to weather some of the uncertainties. For example, fully exploring grants could offset some of the financial hits. Likewise, requesting the Massachusetts Department of Revenue/ Division of Local Services to update their Fairhaven 2012 review which is now terribly out-of-date. They are the pros and have the necessary information at their fingertips to factor-in current and predictive conditions for our consideration. But, access to this review is not automatic — the BOS must ask for it.
So, WHY NOT do it?
There are only upsides and no downsides: It is FREE, objective, and would provide us with current best practices for planning and measuring progress. And, there is nothing to be afraid of because DOR recommendations are not mandatory — if the town does not wish to implement them, they don’t have to. Importantly, the town would benefit by being armed with the latest information to make informed decisions.
Selectman Bob Espindola has proposed that the board move forward with an updated DOR review. The BOS Chairman Daniel Freitas has said flatly “no.” He should explain his rationale in a coherent way for the benefit of the public. Calling it a “waste of time” is an arbitrary slap-down. It makes me think he is afraid of something that might be exposed to scrutiny.
One would think Mr. Freitas would welcome a review clearly designed to help Fairhaven as it has many MA communities. The more he disparages good, well-intended and open-minded proposals the more red flags are raised about his heavy-handed management style (see FNN August 20, 2020 “Selectboard Differences on Display”). His resistance, bordering on contempt, only serves to awaken the public that something is radically wrong on his watch and his insulting attitude may be the root cause of the chaos that has overtaken the town hall.
Now is the time for people of good conscience to make their voices heard. The BOS needs to hear from YOU!
PLEASE email the Fairhaven BOS at www.fairhaven-ma.gov and select “Board of Selectmen” under the tab labeled “boards and commissions.” When the correspondence form pops up you can ask “why not?” You could tell the selectmen that applying for grants and renewing the DOR report are just two of the low hanging fruit that the BOS could and should easily champion with their vote.
Goodness knows we could use some dispassionate objectivity — a “sanity check” for situations that have been encouraged to devolve into chaos. Enough of the drama and disrespect — let’s get back to good governance!
Cathy Delano, Fairhaven
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