Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Culture Club

So here’s what I get in the mail:

“Town of Stoneham
“Board of Selectmen

“Dear Mr. O’Hara:

“We are pleased to inform you that the Board of Selectmen, at our meeting on June 30, 2009, appointed you a member of the Cultural Council for a three-year term, effective through April 30, 2012. Please contact the Town Clerk’s office for an appointment to be sworn in. You will be contacted by a member of the Cultural Council with information relative to meetings.

“Thank you for volunteering to serve the Town.

“Very truly yours,
“Board of Selectmen
“John F. DePinto

When I first moved to Stoneham and started working for the Boston Philharmonic, I looked around for various volunteer opportunities. On the Stoneham web site I saw that they were looking for people to serve on a variety of committees, so I filled out the form and selected the Cultural Council. I had no idea what it does, but I figured it would be right up my alley. I was a bit surprised when I heard nothing back from anybody, no email thanking me for my interest, no phone call asking when I might be available, no nothing. So I just forgot all about it.

Four years later, this letter comes in the mail. That was it. I had no idea I was even being considered to join the Council. You would think that they would let someone know that they are going to be the subject of a vote at the Selectmen’s meeting, but I guess that’s just how the town works.

The day after I got the letter I called the Town Clerk to schedule my appointment to be sworn in. I was expecting a long, involved conversation regarding when we should hold the event to permit maximum attendance by town officials and members of the public, what the proper dress should be, how to get the public safety officials involved in order to ensure minimum disruption to the town during the parade, what type of cake and punch I prefer to have served at the reception following the ceremony, and who from the media should be invited to cover the event.

Instead, what he told me was, “I’m here til 6:30 on Tuesdays.”

Turns out what the Cultural Council does is, it allocates funds provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council to Stoneham to support cultural endeavors. In the past it has provided support to schools for ballet performances, to the Stoneham Theatre for special projects, to various community groups for things like puppet shows, etc. So it seems like a worthwhile endeavor. We’ll see what happens.

So after all my expectations, the “swearing in” was a bit anticlimactic. I walked up to the Town Clerk’s window at Town Hall, the Clerk brought out this huge binder thingy with pre-printed oaths. I had to read the oath, which was something like “I swear to carry out my duties as [a member of the Cultural Council] in accordance with the Constitution and all applicable laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” The part in [] brackets he had to write in, because they also use this same book to swear in members of the Finance Advisory Committee, the Recreation and Open Spaces Committee, the Conservation Commission, the Board of Appeals, and the There But For The Grace Of God Go I Committee (um, I mean the Water and Sewer Review Board). Anyhow, after I read the oath, I signed and dated it, then the Clerk signed and dated it, we shook hands, and on my way I went. I guess the parade will be scheduled for a later date.

So, if you have any ideas for good cultural events in Stoneham….well, don’t ask me, because I have no idea how any of this works just yet.

In other news, the dead tree in the front yard finally got cut down today! This was completely unexpected. Since the tree was on the little patch of ground between the sidewalk and the street, it technically belonged to the town. Bill has tried unsuccessfully to get the tree taken down, even going so far as to offer to pay the town to cut it down. Every time he was told by the Tree Nazi Warden (yes, Stoneham has a guy whose job it is to be in charge of the trees) that since it had green leaves on it, it was still alive. Yeah, right. This was the sickest looking tree I have ever seen and I’m so glad it has been put out of its misery. Anyhow, I’m not sure if they just have a long list of trees to remove and just got to us today, or if others have been reporting the tree as well, but today they showed up.

Apparently notification is not big in Stoneham, neither by the Selectmen nor by the Public Works Department, because they never sent anything to let us know that they would be by today to remove the tree. I was in my little office in the basement working with the air conditioner on when they showed up, and I couldn’t hear them knocking on the door. Then all of a sudden the doorbell chimes and at the exact same moment, my cell phone started ringing. It was my neighbor Xavier across the street telling me that some men in a big truck were gathered around my car while one of them was knocking on the door. It looked to him as though they were about to start cutting down the tree with my car still sitting right under it!

So, luckily I was able to move the car and let them remove the tree. The Tree Nazi Warden didn’t remember ever telling Bill it couldn’t be removed. Mmhmm. But whatever. No more bird shit on my car. Woohooooooooo!


Anonymous said...

Whohoooo for clean cars!!!!

Love, Ka

Anonymous said...

Love that story Dennis. Stoneham is ridiculous! Congrats on your official title!
Your loyal neighbor, LOL!