Hi, folks – perhaps you'll remember that I had the temerity to ask some questions of Philip Stanway last Thursday, as a member of the Oak Hill Study Committee. And you'll also remember that he refused to answer any of those questions citing a "protocol" of going through the committee chair.
Only Phil Stanway could knowledgeably respond to the questions I posed, and was given the opportunity to do so in a personal, non-public message. Instead he claimed that it was not "proper protocol" for him to respond, which is of course nonsense. The proof is in the pudding; the "protocol" went out the window as soon as Phil wanted to publicly attack me regarding the discussion which he previously claimed was supposed to be handled exclusively through the committee chair.
You see, Phil Stanway decided to break the protocol that he cited on the very next day in order to publish an "open letter." It’s basically a flame throwing exercise followed by a statement that he is “referring them to [his wife] the publicity steward for the Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship...”
In other words, Phil made a bit of a mess of it and has passed it over to his wife to clean it up. She is not on the Oak Hill Study Committee, nor does she have any particular knowledge of her husband’s activities, according to her own subsequent messages. But she is an excellent flame thrower.
So much for that “protocol.”
In the public discourse Phil Stanway cleverly refers to the allegations that he avoided clarifying as “accusations,” which of course would be a direct charge of wrongdoing. This allows him to affect an air of high dudgeon that he is being “falsely accused” of something, which is simply not the case.
But we all know by now that Chelmsford’s public officials have no problem putting words in my mouth, as they are terrified that I might be elected to serve on the BOS and have an opportunity to provide real oversight. The pinnacle of that art was Sam Chase’s editorial last election cycle in which he spent an entire op-ed piece berating me for a statement that existed only in his imagination.
Selectman Jon Kurland wasted no time jumping in as a proxy for Phil Stanway this weekend, publicly stating that “he finds a conspiracy around every turn, he doesn’t check his facts and he thinks nothing of attacking people who spend countless hours volunteering to make this town a better place.”
Mr. Kurland purports to be quite a mind reader. The fallacy and irony that Kurland misses in his own statement, of course, is that fact checking is precisely what I was trying to do with my message that has so enraged Mr. Stanway and created such a hubbub with his proxies. A resident with the nerve to ask questions and demand answers? My goodness, what next – good and honest government?!
It turns out Mr. Stanway was enraged at me well before I ever asked him any questions, in fact before I ever knew that he existed. He wrote an editorial some time ago attacking me for not volunteering or contributing to his pet project, the Open Space Stewards. He later angrily accosted me on the street, claiming I had written to a newspaper editor that he was “on the take” (his words) and demanded to see all my e-mails that I had ever sent to that editor. Ever. Now that’s not just a “false accusation,” that’s a zany false accusation. I told him his “anonymous source” was unreliable. In other words, I simply addressed his concern, zany as it was. When I asked him why he had attacked me in the editorial, he replied that “the editorial is cleverly worded so that you can’t call it an attack.”
One would think that the “lead steward,” as he calls himself, would be interested in protecting open space. But instead he has been one of the loudest deniers that Center Park even existed or that Philip Eliopoulos had done anything wrong in helping to arrange for his family to obliterate it. For presenting evidence to the contrary, he has selected me for a noisy personal vendetta.
If one finds out about a problem after the fact, our officials claim it was “a mistake,” and often no documentation is available. If one asks about a potential problem before it occurs, one is flamed for “making false accusations” and met with a strategy of denial and ridicule.
So Phil Stanway and his wife Joanne, acting as his proxy, have turned this into a political parlor game designed to withhold information, provide disinformation, and thoroughly waste my time. She characterizes it as "playing" and ties it directly to campaigning against me as a candidate for office. She writes, "keep it up for all I care because I can play all through election day."
It is worth mentioning that Phil Stanway, appointed by Paul Cohen, was the deciding vote in the 5-4 decision to place the Oak Hill property under the control of the Board of Selectmen for the next three years, rather than the Conservation Commission as requested by hundreds of residents who signed a petition requesting protection under control of the CC. All of the residents who addressed the issue at the November "public input session" urged the committee to place the land under control of the Conservation Commission immediately, rather than the BOS.
That's not an accusation (of wrongdoing), but it is an affirmation of arrogance and dismissiveness toward residents that is par for the course with Phil Stanway, Jon Kurland, Paul Cohen, Sue Carter, and too many other top officials in Chelmsford. Help change the culture of arrogance and entitlement in Town Hall; mark your calendar to vote on Tuesday, April 2.
Roland Van Liew