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End the Town Manager Residency Requirement

The selectmen have decided that it is too limiting to require that Arlington's Town Manager live in town, and they called a Special Town Meeting to consider the change (see the story in the Arlington Advocate. I think this change is a good one. I voted in favor of this change the last time, and I will vote for it again.

Arlington needs a good town manager. What makes a good manager? It certainly isn't determined by where they sleep. I know there are people who think that some things about Arlington can only be learned by living here. But unless there is something in the air itself, a capable person can learn these things, yet still sleep in another town.

I agree that it would be preferable to have a local town manager. If you're local, it makes it easier to learn the ins and outs of the town, the things that make it tick that you can't always articulate. But, I ask this question: Would you rather have a good town manager who lives in Concord, or a bad one who lives on Jason Street?

There is one other key point. By making this change, we're not choosing an out-of-town manger. We're just making it possible. The selectmen have expressed a clear preference for a local town manager, and they will only choose someone from out of town if they are an exceptional candidate. It's foolish for us to limit the pool of candidates with unnecessary restrictions. We should hire the best candidate for the job, no matter where they live.

State Treasurer Using Public Funds to Advance Himself

If it's one thing that I really hate, it's government employees, elected or otherwise, who spend public money to advance themselves. An egregious example I noticed this week: State Treasurer Timothy Cahill (you might remember his insipid and fact-free "Tim for Treasurer" campaign last year). He took out a full-page ad in the Arlington Advocate looking for the owners of abandoned property. The thing was, the bulk of the page was his picture and "personal letter"! And, of course, his own name - repeated three times on one page. There was little space devoted to actually finding the owners of abandoned property. This was an ad for Cahill, and no one else.

For humor, check out his website and try to count how many times his picture appears. Then, check out the "news room." Press releases? No. Pictures of Cahill? Oh, yes!

No Spam for Arlington Town Employees

On July 28th the selectmen passed a new Information Technology Acceptable Use Policy. I was quite entertained to discover that this new policy has managed to forbid receiving spam. From "access or display sexually explict materials" to "any commercial purpose including the offering or purchasing of products or services," it's all against the rules! The poor employee who gets a message about lengthening his penis or, god forbid, the HOT HOT HOT TEENS, can be fired on the spot.

I know that the internet changes quickly, but spam isn't exactly news. I'm surprised there isn't a section that covers appropriate action regarding spam. It's particularly odd when you remember what prompted the review of the policy in the first place - the alleged inappropriate viewing of porn on a town laptop.

Personally, I think the policy is overwritten. I'd use far fewer words and leave more to judgement. But if the selectmen insist on this level of detail, they should acknowledge spam and the fact that the recipient of the spam doesn't have control over it. Perhaps require the recipient to forward the email to a "spam inbox" as a reporting method. It would be a way of acknowledging that it is inappropriate for the workplace and disclaiming responsibility. It would be the record of the employee taking the right action.

In any event, this new policy needs to be amended. It doesn't acknowledge the reality of email - you often get things in your inbox that you didn't ask for and you don't want.