To the editor:

For a Select Board that cannot even effectively oversee the purchase of a $1 million ladder truck for the Fire Department — having gotten caught with their pants down with the delivery of a fire truck that can’t get underneath a town bridge needed to be driven under in order to reach half the town’s population — we now have four out of five members lobbying for a $150,000 per year “sustainability coordinator.”

Seems like we’re down to having just one member of the Select Board, Alex Vispoli, who has not had his common sense surgically removed by the Association of Professional Big-Spending Bureaucrats and the local Kumbaya Club.

Andover, for the almost four decades I’ve lived in town, has led the state and nation in implementing various energy conservation and environmental sustainability measures without needing to add to town overhead another paper-pushing bureaucrat who won’t contribute anything more useful than we get from volunteers with substantial expertise or from regional programs managed by the state.

When Select Board member Alex Vispoli asked other members what this new bureaucrat would contribute, all he got was a lot of bloviating hand waving.

And embarrassingly, the newest member of the board, Dan Koh, must have been reading from some of his national congressional campaign speech note cards, forgetting he’s merely a member of a small town Select Board. He got into his best stump speech mode, adding to the chants for another bureaucrat on the town payroll, when he said the implications of climate change could cost our small town “billions of dollars if not tackled now.”

Seriously, Dan? Billions of dollars for a town of just 12,000 households? Sounds like our newest member of the Select Board was testing sound bites for another run at a seat in Congress.

For those trying to find any payoff each time the Select Board rubber stamps a paper-pushing bureaucrat for the town payroll, ask yourself, has the recently added “director of culture,” at an all-in cost to taxpayers of around $150,000 per year, generated anything culturally valuable? Has our “director of culture” brought the Boston Pops, the Boston Symphony, the Boston Ballet or similar high-profile activities to town to help bring in business and make Andover a cultural destination?

Has School Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s “director of communications” mouthpiece improved the academics in our schools, raised MCAS and SAT scores, or helped get more of our kids into the country’s top colleges and universities?

I think most Andoverites know the answers to these questions.

So, until the superintendent's mouthpiece improves the quality of education in our schools, until the “director of çulture” does something remotely close to what Lowell does with its annual Folk Festival, which is a huge draw and of measurable benefit for that city, it’s time we residents of Andover put put our foot down at meetings of the Select Board and at Town Meeting and say enough to the empire building of adding bureaucrats to the town and school payrolls.

Bob Pokress


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