Help Me, Obi-Wan Ke-Newbury

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Whew. I am so relieved. We’re safe now.

At the last minute (literally), Town Meeting voters shot down Joni Soffron’s proposal to ban non-residents from serving as voting members of Ipswich boards and committees.

Such a ban would have severely diminished our Town’s potential, by limiting control of our boards and committees to Ipswich residents only. No, the quorum declared. No indeed. Passage of that nefarious article would have cut off the possibility of our boards and committees being steered by leading thinkers of Rowley, and Saugus, even Byfield. We can thank our lucky stars we won’t have to depend on the thin experience, the spotty expertise, the bogus education, and the inferior intellectual capacity of our own people to guide our fair Town into the future.

Ipswich is a town of barely more than 13,000 people. It is not realistic to expect us to produce, for example, eight adequately educated residents to fill the positions currently open on our Government Study Committee. This would mean nearly 0.062% of our population tied down to Committee meetings. Who will farm the fields?

We have dodged a bullet.

Supporters of the ban postulated that some devil from Essex could pretend to be expending his time and effort on our Shellfish Advisory Sub-Committee out of the goodness of his heart, only to seize control of the which-are-better-Ipswich-clams-or-Essex-clams debate. Now, finally, we can be assured of full representation by the Essex clam industry in our Ipswich clam regulation process. No question it was touch-and-go before, trying to regulate those clammer-hooligans of ours, without any help from neighboring towns.

We urgently need out-of-town wisdom, as clearly evidenced by our Public Health Director, who prudently pulls the plug when our misguided churches attempt to offer dangerous home-cooked meals, then punches the clock and slips out of town at the end of the workday, returning to her happy home in New Hampshire. No greater model of discretion and wisdom need be offered.

In the Town Meeting debate on the residents-only article, some offered the seemingly plausible suggestion that non-residents could ably serve our interests as ex-officio members of, or non-voting members of, or simply advisers to, mere consultants to, our Town boards and committees. Outrageous. Just imagine members of the Ipswich Electric Light Sub-Committee grappling with a complicated question about, say, our streetlights, without Mr. Folger Peltergroin from Wabash, Indiana, at the table as a full voting member.

“You know, Wabash had the first electric streetlights in the nation,” the eminent Mr. Peltergroin will rumble, drumming his fingers on the lapels of his vest. “We’ve had electric streetlights since 1880, and we’re willing to share the wealth of knowledge we’ve acquired during this time.”

The Ipswich-resident members of the Sub-Committee will look at each other and nod somberly, silently grateful not only that this expert outsider is a member of their group, but also that he can — thank heaven — cast a vote. Thank God the article was voted down, and Mr. Peltergroin wasn’t demoted to mere ex-officio non-voting adviser-consultant status, they will murmur. Mr. Peltergroin’s vote will show us the way!

Now that Ipswich has avoided the residents-only disaster, we can get down to the business of filling the open seats on our boards and committees — made infinitely simpler by the fact that we can now call on virtually any of the 322,069,731 people in the USA, minus illegal aliens.

  • It will be no problem whatsoever to find people to fill the seven open seats on our Commuter Rail Committee — anyone who rides the train to and from work, even a New Yorker, will be able to offer insights aplenty.
  • No worries about those five Ipswich Library Trustees we need. To find people who can read, and know how to use a library, and can be trusted, you need go no further than Swampscott.
  • For those eight spots on the Government Study Committee, we can tap members of the United States Congress who are clearly available because they rarely if ever show up for votes.
  • For our Agricultural Commission, there’s my Uncle Johnny, who raises sheep in Wumber Corners, Ohio, plus my Aunt Carol and their kid, my cousin Wendell, who is of age, I assure you, in spite of how he looks. Bingo! Three vacant seats filled. Plus cousin Priscilla Jane for the empty alternate spot, assuming she comes out of her surgery okay.

Bottom line: We can all exhale now. Ipswich is set. The tragic consequences of that pernicious ban on out-of-towners have been averted.

It is a shame, however, that our Selectmen have chosen to limit boards and committees to American citizens. Scientists have discovered water on Mars, a very stormy place, yet there’s no evidence of a storm water problem on that planet. Filling the six openings on our Storm Water Advisory Committee would have taken just three two-headed Martians.

But aliens are still banned.

Doug Brendel lives on Planet Outer Linebrook. Follow this blog by clicking “Follow.”

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