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By the time you read this, the Super Bowl will be history and the Monday- morning armchair quarterbacks will still be offering theiropinions on why the Patriots did or did not win. That's how I'm looking at the letter six former

selectmen sent to the current board on January 28, weighing in on the non-renewal of Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin's contract: It's nothing more than arm-chair quarterbacking by folks not in the game.

Oh, I understand their reasons for the letter. The problem is, their comments are too late. For one thing, the chief has four legal actions pending against the town that would have to go away before selectmen could even think of reconsidering their vote. For another, the town won the initial courtroom battle: the judge who will decide the main law suit has already ruled that O'Loughlin's three main legal arguments in requesting a temporary injunction were not valid.

But, let's look a little deeper into the letter from John Pyne, Marie Parente, Salvatore Cimino, Dino DeBartolomeis, Reno DeLuzio and John Seaver. "Our intention is not to interfere in the current board's executive decisions, but rather to share our experience and understanding of the weight you bear concerning Chief O'Loughlin's contract renewal. At some point, each of us has been in your position, where town matters may have created a difficult or unpopular decision at the time."

My parsing of the letter yields the following: the six former selectmen are doing just what they said they are not – interfering with the current board's decision. And, the advice they offer is as follows: it will take time and money to defend your actions and you will be criticized for your actions, so reconsider.

That's the sage advice being offered? If you make a decision you think is right, back off from it when you have to defend it? Wow! Just run from every tough decision you have to make? Really?

One of the "best" lines in the letter states that "Through independent discussions and review of

the facts at hand, it appears that the non-renewal of the police chief 's contract has caused a considerable distraction to the board, our citizens and the Police Department." Well, what are "the facts at hand" that these six folks are using? The rumors, gossip and innuendo on Facebook and other social media? Or, are they privy to confidential legal information the general public has no access to? And, if so, how and where did they get it?

My problem is – that after 42 years as a journalist – I cannot take anything at face value any more. I need to look at things deeper, to look for hidden meanings or "gotchas" before writing about them.

There are just too many "gotchas" in the letter

– including the basic message of "don't make hard decisions." I'm sorry, but isn't that what we elect our representatives in government to do – make hard decisions?


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