Don’t It Always Seem To Go

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone
They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.

It may seem disrespectful to apply those iconic melancholy lines from Big Yellow Taxi to the future Bedford Fire Department Headquarters, but the real disrespect was in using the pressing need of Bedford’s guardians and rescuers as the pretext for vandalizing the town.

Some of those who cannot or will not see that an intrinsic piece of the historic district will be gone forever when the new facility replaces it may realize too late what so many residents have always instinctively known — it will be out of place.

The Building Committee and designers have done a superb job of rising to the occasion. But the only reason they were put in that uncomfortable position is the mismanagement of Sarah Stanton. That is my opinion — but I think the facts bear it out. And that is why I referred the matter to the Office of the Inspector General yesterday after Bedford’s State Senator and Representative did not respond to Thursday’s appeal to do so.  

The OIG website explains: “The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is an independent agency that prevents and detects fraud, waste and abuse of public funds and public property and promotes transparency and efficiency in government.”  If the facts I provide bear out that abuse, they don’t care if I live in Bedford or outer space.

The first definition of “vandalize” in the Cambridge Dictionary is “to intentionally damage property belonging to other people.” I am not saying that the former Town Manager set out to intentionally damage the town, but that when it served her purposes, no holds were barred.

Since I wrote my first letter to the Select Board in the summer of 2022, I never had any question that the Historic District Commission would disapprove the project — because, as I explained in that letter, “the words are the words.”  On January 3, 2024, that faith was justified by the 3-2 vote against approval. What followed does not alter that.

The words of the Legislature’s enabling Act of 1964 would only allow an exception for “substantial hardship”  under very specific conditions and sinking so much time and money into the project to twist the Commission’s arm was not one of them. Town Counsel must have read the Act and advised Ms. Stanton of that at the outset — but she appears to have made a calculated bet that she could manipulate the town into doing it her way and it paid off.

It paid off for her.  As her customary four-year stint before rising to the next rung in her ladder was coming to a close, she stuck a couple of new feathers in her cap by supposedly accomplishing what had eluded officials in the past. But it didn’t pay off for residents and it certainly didn’t pay off for the firefighters.

So, what is the point of pursuing this now that the funding has been approved by Town Meeting? In the next blog post I will look into the tangled web that was woven. It cries out for accountability. And it calls into question the character and ethics of a current Undersecretary of State. Those questions need to be answered. Because corruption does not just function in the past. It is an ongoing process. Another word for corruption is decay.

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Please Note: The purpose of this blog is to spotlight information the Town has diligently tried to discredit and squelch. Officials have plenty of outlets and social media surrogates to deliver its official line. While comments, objections, and constructive criticism are welcomed — but not expected, given the predictable repercussions — Facebook-style tirades will not be posted.

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