Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reclaiming Chelsea from Scandal

Photo by Andy Molloy, Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine
With today's arrest of Chelsea Selectwoman Carole Swan on charges of "aggravated forgery, attempted theft and improper compensation for services," my town is mired in scandal.

It is not the first time Chelsea has been the focal point of notoriety.

It certainly won't be the last.

Swan's arrest is sure to mark the end of her 19 years of service on the town's Board of Selectmen.

During her tenure, I'm sure some of Swan's efforts have served to better the town of Chelsea and its residents.

Far too often during the 13 years I've lived in the town, however, I've heard accusations of her alleged misdeeds with regard to the handling of town business and road maintenance contracts that benefitted her husband's contracting business and, in turn, her family's financial situation.

In recent years, the Chelsea Town Office has seemingly been equipped with a revolving door that ushered town managers and employees out the door almost as quickly as they entered.

There has been instability in town leadership and valid questions about Swan's "control" of the town through the vantage point of her longstanding position on and influence with the elected board.

And Chelsea, at times, has been the punchline to jokes about municipal dysfunction. My town is not unique in this regard. As a newspaper reporter, I once covered and wrote about similar stories in other small Maine towns.

When your own town is the butt of the jokes, however, the punchline isn't so funny.

It's both embarrassing and a disservice to the many fine people who live in it and have served it in a dedicated and ethical manner.

Swan's confession to police earlier today of the "attempted theft and of previous similar thefts" appears to validate some of the rumors that have swirled around for years.

I have full faith and confidence the Kennebec County Sheriff's Department will use due diligence in investigating the scope and severity of the alleged thefts and help bring justice to bear for the betterment of our town.

It's true that the continuing investigation will bring more negative attention to Chelsea.

It's also true that it offers hope for a positive change in town leadership.

Achieving this change will be neither easy nor quick. And its success will depend on the willingness of Chelsea residents to step forward and offer their time, talents, energy and ideas as public servants.

Honest, committed leaders are needed - on the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Budget and Road committees and in many other facets of town government.

Step forward, Chelsea residents, and lend your time and skills to reclaiming our town for present and future generations.

This your chance to make a difference.

Make the most of it!


  1. Fantastic article, and not getting down on the people of your wonderful town. Save the disappointment for those who have made poor decisions.

  2. Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in writing like this additionally - taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and by no means seem to get something done.