Stop! Thief! And pick me up at Pavilion Beach on your way

The so-called “revelation” of Police Chief Paul Nikas’s new contract was “shocking” and caused a great “hue and cry.”

That’s a lot of quotation marks, but quotation marks can be helpful, and this “breaking story” needs help.

Quotation marks may indicate that a term is being deployed sardonically, and I don’t want anyone reading this to think news of the Chief’s new contract was actually a revelation. It was on the website in May.

As I understand it, it’s entirely within the realm of the Ipswich Town Manager’s responsibilities to settle on a contract with the Police Chief, so “revelation” of the contract could only be “shocking” to those who weren’t “paying attention”. In this case, perhaps, the Ipswich Select Board — who, uh, have 24/7 access to the Town website.

Fortunately, quotation marks are free, because they have a lot more uses than just “discreetly” indicating sarcasm.

Quotation marks can also indicate a term not commonly used, or a term the writer wants to call particular attention to.

Like “hue and cry,” in paragraph 1.

“Hue and cry” is a 13th century English phrase, co-opted from Old French: huer meant “to shout” (more quotation marks); crier meant “to cry out.” When someone broke the law and made a run for it, the English sent up a “hue and cry” which legally required everyone within earshot to help chase down the perpetrator.

Ipswich was not the ideal place for Marino and Nikas to hatch their “nefarious plot” because “hue and cry” has been an Ipswich specialty from the beginning. Make one false step, baby, and you’re going to get “hued and cried” on.

Ipswich, as you may know, was the birthplace of American independence, with a tax revolt against Mother England 88 years before the Declaration of Independence. This historic hue and cry got them depicted in a metal sign on County Street, AND a huge painting in the Ipswich post office, PLUS a prime spot on Ipswich Town Historian Gordon Harris’s HistoricIpswich.org blog.

I have not lived in Ipswich long, but I have lived here long enough to have witnessed quite a number of hues and cries. There was the hue and cry over selling Little Neck. The hue and cry over one-elementary-school-or-two. The hue and cry about the budget override (it failed), then another hue and cry about the next year’s override (it passed). A drive-in at Lord’s Square? Hue and cry. A donated sculpture to honor Ipswich artists? Hue and cry. Washington Street bump-out. Bialek skate park. Pavilion Beach ticketing. THE END OF THE WORLD!

Remember the Chicken Lady? We had a hue and cry over the question of a new Ipswich chicken quotient: How much poultry per square foot can people reasonably be expected to tolerate?

These days, we have hues and cries over the Bruni project on Essex Road, and the Ora project on Waldingfield Road, and now, the Police Chief’s contract. I’m exhausted. It feels to me like we need a hue-and-cry limit: two at a time, max. One waxing, one waning; beyond that, it’s not feasible to expect people to care.

Or, if someone really cares about every hue and cry, it’s not healthy. So for the sake of town-wide quality of life — or “quality of life” — we should combine our hues and cries, to make the anxiety at least manageable.

Because the Outsidah is deeply committed to the Town of Ipswich — in spite of my flimsy standing as a newcomer — I want to address our current glut of hues and cries and offer my problem-solving expertise.

My proposed solution is deceptively simple: We have three major hues and cries of the moment? Merge them.

Move the Bruni project to Waldingfield Road, and put Chief Nikas in charge of it all. The guy can do it. Traffic tangles, water table depletion, economic devastation, whatever — Problem solved.

See how simple that was?


(Doug Brendel, who counts Chief Nikas as a “friend,” hopes to get some “special consideration” for renting a unit at the fabulous new Bruni-Waldingfield mega-complex. Until then, follow Doug at your own risk via DougBrendel.com.)

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