Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Civility Needed for Chelsea Crisis

A standing room only crowd is expected to pack Chelsea Elementary School's small gymnasium tonight in the first town meeting since the arrest of Chelsea Board of Selectmen Chair Carole Swan.

Chelsea residents and property owners are angry. They have a right to be...and I am among them.

The ongoing revelations that have appeared in the Kennebec Journal on nearly a daily basis are enough to make anyone livid.

Beyond Swan's reported initial confession and the subsequent accusations of wrongdoing against her and her husband Marshall, there is an overwhelming feeling by the populace that an individual elected to represent them and their town's interests - over and over again during her 19-year municipal career - has betrayed them on so many levels.

And her unwillingness thus far to resign from the Board of Selectmen is another collective slap in the face with each day that passes.

People want justice - a swift and comprehensive accounting in a court of law that addresses all of Swan's alleged misdeeds. And they want all others with active connections to the alleged crimes to be prosecuted as well.

As they should.

In circumstances like this, however, there is the threat of a vigilante approach to justice or action.

Not physical violence, per se, but a mob mentality - fueled by emotions instead of logical thinking and discourse - that can derail efforts to "right a wrong."

Tonight's meeting is sure to be high drama. What we need to do as a community, however, is use this forum as the first of many meetings to refocus and redirect our town.

Let the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office's investigators and others do their work to bring appropriate and substantial charges based on collected evidence. Chelsea residents have other important - and more long lasting - work to do.

A belligerent mob approach tonight will serve no constructive purpose. Those who can recall the disastrous town meetings of 2002 know what I'm talking about.

A similiar approach tonight will bring the same results as those meetings.

Yes, we are angry. Yes, we want answers and accountability for years of alleged misdeeds and misappropriation of taxpayer money.

But there's both a right and wrong way to handle a situation as difficult as this.

For Chelsea's collective good, I hope my fellow residents choose the former.


  1. Sounds as if your fellow residents restrained themselves and acted well at the meeting. To their great credit.

  2. I find it hard to believe that the remaining selectman did not know what was going on. Doesn't he have to sign warrents to pay bills? Is he blind? Is'nt it his duty to know where your money goes?