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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Perplexed Over the Town I Live In

Resident Bob Stein says the way some town and school officials act is questionable.

(Disclosure: Bob Stein is a member of the Finance Committee but is speaking as a resident and taxpayer only.)

I'm perplexed by Mark Kablack's letter. He says he supports goals but his buddy, Larry O'Brien, has developed zero town goals for the last two years.  He says he supports swimming pools but he shut down the Northwoods Pool so he could build and sell two 3-bedroom family townhouses on top of it.  

I'm perplexed why O'Brien and (John) Drobinski rejected (Bob) Haarde's goal to solve the 40B problem. I'm perplexed why Larry O'Brien said he was neutral on Johnson Farm. I'm perplexed why Jody Kablack was allowed to hire such a pro-40B attorney to represent the town versus Johnson Farm.  

I'm perplexed that Mark Kablack is allowed to wield so much unchecked power in the town where his wife serves as the Town Planner, like getting on the Selectmen's agenda whenever he wants while regular taxpayers have been waiting months. 

I'm perplexed how many things have gone wrong in Sudbury under current leadership. 

I'm perplexed how we passed all those overrides based on budgets being cut to the bone but then we find over $400,000 in postage meters and dormant funds. 

I'm perplexed that all of a sudden we have an education staff worthy of all these unexplained 51A reports. I'm perplexed why a school committee member votes against allowing Sudbury parents to ask questions for 15 minutes but eagerly agrees to answer a question from a blogger from Wellesley. 

I'm perplexed as to why Jody Kablack, our town planner, is allowed to use her office and town resources to create and distribute pro-40B campaign propaganda during business hours while being paid as our Town Planner.  I'm perplexed as to why, after 25 years as Town Planner, Jody Kablack files our Housing Production Plan one day after the Johnson Farm 40B permit application was filed. 

I'm perplexed how Larry O'Brien could negotiate sweetheart contracts for the town manager and town counsel in secret with no surviving records or minutes of the negotiations and sign it in secret just three days before Bob Haarde was elected. 

I'm perplexed how Haarde's suggestion for developing a long-term use plan for the Faibanks building was ignored by O'Brien and Drobinski. 

I'm perplexed as to how the Board of Selectmen could approve changing the town's healthcare coverage to include the 26-year-old adult children of town employees (such as Kablack and Town Manager Maureen Valente) without even mentioning that vote would be on the agenda.

Bob Stein

Thompson Drive

Christine Hogan November 08, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Wonderful points, Bob. Hopefully in moving forward with five selectmen we will be able to avoid these issues in the future. I was not aware that adult children of town employees receive health care under the new plan.
Edward Stark November 08, 2012 at 12:18 PM
Thank you Bob Stein. This letter is a real eye opener. Please allow me to add some perplexities if I may: I am perplexed as to why we let a 3 time OUI offender who lives next to one school and works next to another continue to do her job like nothing happened. Instead we hire her 2 chauffeurs to drive her around once she loses her license. One would hope she is rehabilitated yet with 3 offenses one has to think that sobriety isn't on her side. I am perplexed as to why for years Bill Braun as a member of the school committee proposed and was successful in raising taxes for all yet that same Bill Braun fell on hard times and began not paying his own property taxes. How did we reward Bill Braun? By giving him a nice 10 year tax and mortgage free residence up at Frost Farm to live in. Guess who's paying for that folks? The very people who he proposed raising taxes on for years while not paying his own. I am perplexed as to why every single time a committee is formed in town no notice is ever posted anywhere yet the same group of 5-10 "insiders" always end up being appointed to the committee. Are these people so "smart" that they are the only ones fit for the job? One would think if that were the case things would be running a little smoother around here. As you can see Mr. Stein I am also perplexed.
JEM November 08, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Great letter. The only point that's incorrect is healthcare. Adult children 19-26 can be on their patent's insurance. That's the law and not up for vote. Your writing style with this is pitch perfect. Get the ideas out there but don't overwhelm with the delivery. Thank you!! I know we won't receive any answers but it's incredibly important to keep asking the questions.
SkimThreePercent November 08, 2012 at 02:16 PM
You see Bob, being perplexed over just about everything that happens locally IS what Sudbury life is all about. Sudbury living is not meant to be dull or boring and most certainly not NORMAL. Sudbury is a special and very different kind of place. You are experiencing the excitement of Sudbury as it was meant to be. Enjoy!
Ralph Furley November 08, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I am perplexed why Anne Wilson received a 3% raise. Actually, I'm not perplexed. I'm livid.
Rick Johnson November 08, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I am perplexed as to why Larry O'Brien didn't recuse himself from the discussion at the BOS meeting last night that extended the operating hours for Lavender from 1-2 AM the night before Thanksgiving. As you may recall Larry recused himself from the Lavender discussion a few weeks back when they violated their liquor license and Larry was one of the last patron's to leave that evening well past closing time. So why is it OK for Larry to now rule on this alcohol license issue? Hmm. Must be "tradition". I am very perplexed as to the reason the BOS would approve this after what just happened at Lavender. This extra hour could lead to more missing persons reports being filed with the police. And it could also lead to more OUI incidents where the operator hands their social security card to police when they are asked for their license. And lastly I am perplexed as to why some would say Sudbury is "a well run town" when there seems to be much evidence to the contrary.
siobhan hullinger November 08, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I'm surprised that Chair O'Brien didn't recuse himself also. It's on tape that the owner felt intimidated by him to keep the establishment open. I don't see how he could preside over the extension.
kyle mccarthy November 08, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Simply put, I will be perplexed if ANYONE with a pulse,a driver's license and a voter's registration card chooses to vote for the following people in the next few years if things DO NOT CHANGE RADICALLY AND QUICKLY: 1. Lisa Gutch 2. Rick Robison 3. John Drobinski 4. Larry O'Brien 5. Tom Conroy 6. Susan Fargo 7. Myron Fox-yes Myron Fox 8. Nancy Marshall Please feel free to add to the list!
furious November 08, 2012 at 06:07 PM
9. Ellen Winer 10. Bob Armour 11. Lucie St George
JJoseph November 08, 2012 at 06:15 PM
You mean Myron (who is an attorney) that happens to recognize Stan Kaplan and Mike Fee ahead of most others at special town meeting. Both had amendments to the 3 to 5 Selectmen article. Myron must go. He is one of the entrenched and is a problem (and an attorney).
JJoseph November 08, 2012 at 06:30 PM
12. Gaga
Ralph Furley November 08, 2012 at 08:45 PM
IIRC, Myron Fox ran unopposed last election. I was going to give Bob Armour and Lucie St. George a pass because they are both new and were the only two to vote in favor of allowing \the taxpayers to speak longer back when the Mrs. J SPS meetings were going on. BUT, if they both voted in favor of Wilson's pay raise, then they need to be voted out.
Sudburytoo November 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Hold on, if Lavender now closes at 2am that means that MOBRINSKI gets to stay there until 4am? That does not seem appropriate. But then again, maybe the laws should apply to everyone and not exclude the ones that make the laws. I would move Tom Conroy to the top of the list of people to be fired. It looks like he is going to buddy up with his pal Larry O and try to stop the 3 to 5 Selectmen. Bad move Tom.
pmotw November 09, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Not too many years ago, Myron Fox got his 1 year term extended to 3 years after he was elected for just the1 year.
Tch_yr_kids November 11, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I'm perplexed how Mr. Stein, who was APPOINTED to the FinCom, can make all of these statements as a public official, can see this as appropriate. Saying this as "a private citizen" does not remove the conflict of interest even if you wish that were so. While I applaud you for using your real name, I do not think it at all appropriate that you make any public comments such as these, correct or not. Disclaimer or not. And some of your 'facts' are lumped together generalizations BTW. Are you representing the town or your group's agenda. Here's a thought, have the FinCom members elected too.
Ralph Furley November 12, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I'm not sure what your point is. Are you saying that because Mr. Stein is a public official that he can't express his opinions? Where exactly is the conflict of interest here? If anything, we need MORE public officials who will speak out when they are dissatisfied with how things are being handled in town. Otherwise you end up with what we have on SPS - a bunch of town officials who say nothing, completely ignore or disregard the taxpayers who elected them into office and go about their business in their secretive ways leaving everyone perplexed as to what they are doing. You may not like how Mr. Stein conveys his message and sometimes he goes over the top, but all he wants is transparency and accountability in our elected and appointed officials. Like him or not, he doesn't hide from anyone and has no problem speaking out against the town officials that he has to work with as a member of FinCom.
siobhan hullinger November 12, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Just because someone sits on a committee, either appointed or elected, doesn't negate their voice as a taxpayer or resident. I would prefer if more of our "officials" engaged. I would also like to see more post under their given names instead of their chosen moniker such as yourself.
Tch_yr_kids November 12, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Mr. Hullinger and Mr. Furley, you make some good points. Mr. Furley one of the points that I was trying to make is that Mr. Stein's list is not wholly accurate and it makes one wonder how impartial he is. Maybe that is good but in not being elected to FinCom, which has a lot of power, the voters have no recourse as they do with elected officials. So if enough people do not like how Mr. Stein operates, well then not much can be done about that can it? About monikers, I would say that using one's real name is not safe as I noted how Mr. Alwan and others have done so and then been beaten up badly, publicly shamed and humiliated, with family members also attacked. This went to the extent lately where someone was speculating a new moniker was the same person as someone who had used their real name once upon a time and naming and attacking them. Shameful. The attacks can go beyond refuting facts or opinions and can include attacks against family members, the way people look, or their ethnic background. This is not a safe place for many people who choose to use their real names. So yes I use a moniker to protect myself and family. Sad that I must do that, no? I find it interesting that back in the day before the internet, no paper would publish a reader's letter without their name and without verifying that. Now it's a free for all. Public discourse but often far from civil. Thank you for your comments.
siobhan hullinger November 12, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I can appreciate the reason why most use a moniker and the reason I do not is I feel I have to stand by my words and take the heat or not voice them at all. As for retribution? my family and especially my children have suffered ...significantly. My husband's business dealings were put at risk simply for running for Selectman. Selectman O'Brien, currently Chair, openly lied about my husband's positions on things to our civil servants yet you want to throw stones at a fellow resident for highlighting, in open, what he feels is wrong with the current state of Sudbury. I find that shameful. I think it more useful to read the words, do your own investigation - and not just speak with those involved but look for the cold hard facts and then come back and tell us what is shameful. I am not anonymous, I am a woman, I am a mother, wife, neighbor, taxpayer and volunteer. We shouldn't leave our thoughts and feelings about what is happening in the closet so we can move as soon as our kids graduate. That does not, in any shape or form, make a good community. We want to stay here but not if we can't speak openly and inclusively about improving the ills of our hamlet.
Pat Brown November 12, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Tch_yr_kids, what power does FinCom have? Its primary responsibility is to make recommendations to Town Meeting on all of Sudbury's financial matters. If enough voters do not like any member's action, then...what? Voters have no direct influence on the members or composition of any non-elected committee--the Council on Aging, the Permanent Building Committee, the Board of Appeals or the Sudbury Housing Trust, to name a few. Are you saying Mr. Stein has unfairly attacked Mr. Alwan online? Or are you saying someone else has attacked Mr. Alwan online and so you chose to post anonymously? A link to the problem post(s) would help clarify. There are a number of valid reasons for posting anonymously, including those you mention. However, as an anonymous poster you particularly benefit from supplying the supporting evidence to add credibility to your statements. State law requires Sudbury to have a Finance Committee http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleVII/Chapter39/Section16 Article IV of the Sudbury General Bylaws describes how Sudbury's Finance Committee is chosen and what its responsibilities are http://www.town.sudbury.ma.us/departments/Clerk/doc7971/GeneralBylaws2012Complete.pdf If you believe there is a better way of choosing Finance Committee members, then you should propose a bylaw change for the upcoming Annual Town meeting. But in any case Finance Committee members should be able to voice their personal opinions in public.
Tch_yr_kids November 12, 2012 at 09:32 PM
An apology to Ms. Hullinger, I was not aware when I called you "Mr.". Second, I did not mean to imply that Mr. Stein was the one to attack Mr. Alwan, he did not. I was speaking in generalities on what can happen when one uses their own names here. I will not mention handles, just look around on other threads. The most recent thread I speak of concerns the recent posting by the LS School committee on the contract negotiations. You can go there if the comments are still active to see precisely what I mean. As far as power, I do think it rather powerful that one committee can decide if an override question even gets put forth on a ballot or not. I understand that there are other vehicles for this, but if the FinCom says 'rightly' or 'wrongly' no override vote, then the town's voters are deprived of this opportunity. As to inaccurate references, the lumping of the postage meter money and 'found' money to equal $400K, could use some elucidation, Mr. Stein. I agree with you, I think you or anyone should have the right to state your opinion under the first amendment. My opinion is that as an appointed official, when letters are posted with one side of the story, that can have the appearance of a conflict. Saying it's your own letter doesn't cut it. You are stating an opinion and you are also using the newspapers to pontificate and push your agenda. If more elected or appointed officials in town did this they would be skewered for it. Simply disagree there, respectfully.
Tch_yr_kids November 12, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Also to Ms. Hullinger, my use of the word "shameful" was merely in the context of the poor behavior that some have engaged in here, I did not mean that Mr. Stein was acting shamefully, nor do I think it shameful of me to state my opinion as you said. An official of the town should exercise self restraint as opposed to fanning the flames with an audience he knows will help extend his list. That's my opinion. Others do not agree. Mr. Stein's letter is not "shameful" in any way, but it isn't positive or restrained leadership either, just in my opinion.
Pat Brown November 12, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Tch_yr_kids, FinCom does not determine what goes on the ballot. The Board of Selectmen does. The Board takes the recommendations of FinCom into account, but the Board makes the decision. "If, in any year, the Selectmen authorize an override budget, the Finance Committee will make a recommendation on that proposed budget. After deliberation, the Finance Committee makes its view public in the Finance Committee Report as part of the Official Town Warrant." The Board of Selectmen, not the FinCom, authorize an override budget. See http://www.town.sudbury.ma.us/departments/FinanceCommittee/
SkimThreePercent November 12, 2012 at 11:36 PM
You who choose to lead must follow But if you fall you fall alone, If you should stand then who's to guide you? If I knew the way I would take you home.
siobhan hullinger November 13, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Please read Pat Brown's post. Fincom does not have the ability to allow or deny the town's voters an opportunity to vote on an override. It rest solely on the BOS. As for Mr Stein - who is the audience that you refer to? And what "list" will be extended ... and extended from where and to what? Fincom has no power - they can only comment and advise on what is presented to them. They are not forensic accountants, they don't delve into the accuracy of what is presented and they don't make decisions on what we can and cannot vote on. Mr Stein's letter was actually in the Town Crier in response to Mr Kablack's opinion and, quite frankly, misrepresented "update" on Northwoods. We should all be upset about that interchange during the BOS meeting. He was allowed to speak under a pretense. Now THAT is shameful
Ralph Furley November 13, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Fincom isn't really powerful - they don't control anything. They are very influential though and their opinions hold a lot of weight. The real individual power positions in town (besides the BOS members) are the superintendents, the town manager and the director of planning and community development, and all of those positions are appointed. It is the opinion of many that Anne Wilson, Maureen Valente and Jody Kablack all need to be replaced. But the BOS appoints the town manager who appoints the town planner, so to replace Kablack we need to replace Valente which means replacing or expanding the BOS. Replacing Anne Wilson is harder because the current SPSC fully supports her. We would have to vote in new committee members, but since their terms are all staggered it will take years to turn over enough members who will send her packing when her contract comes up. Of course we can get that process started by voting Lisa Gutch out when she is up for re-election in March.
JJoseph November 13, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Are you referring to the incident where Rami as the teacher union rep declared in a public meeting that he received a $200 raise when in fact it was closer to $3,000 Sorry, the baloney has to stop and Rami should have been called out. The public is not that stupid.
sudburycitizentoo November 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Perplexed. What an original word. Sudbury Patch is nothing more than a playground for residents to bully and abuse freedom of speech.
Robert Fucci (Editor) November 15, 2012 at 03:02 AM
To say Patch is the only online publication where this happens is just not true. And if you are so against bullying and freedom of speech, why not be an example and use your real name?
sudburycitizentoo November 15, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Defending the defenseless. When a town leader uses another person's name to make waves an example is set.

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