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It’s Morning again in Watertown.

Winter is here and daylight is a preciously rare commodity. Even still, January is the dawn of a new year. It’s a time when many of us look to make changes and have new beginnings. I’ve made my usual resolutions that I’ll probably give up for Lent. Once again, I resolve to eat healthier, get more exercise, and stop smoking cigars (well maybe not that radical).

In many ways it’s a new beginning for Watertown. There is an apprehensive buzz amongst Watertown’s political junkies. It rivals the atmosphere at Red Sox spring training camp. Like the Red Sox front office, we the voting public, are fielding a new team.

The “franchise ace” has come out retirement. He will certainly help stabilize the rotation. Five promising rookies were added in the off-season. Their raw talent and energy should re-invigorate the team. And of course, there are three returning veterans. Together with the franchise ace, they should provide continuity, experience, and seasoned leadership.

What should we expect out of the gate from this line up? Well, I am pretty sure we have a committed bunch of players that want to leave it all on the field. The question is: Will it be a team or a collection of very talented stars?

I think at first we’re going to see a little of both. That’s to be expected. You don’t just put a bunch of new people together and expect everything to click right off the bat. Besides, while we want a team that works together for the same goal, effective democracy demands vigorous debate. The key to success will be finding the balance. We need both zealous advocacy and consensus-building compromise that gets the job done.

President Younger promised to emphasize teamwork. That’s the right place to start.
It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one is concerned about who gets the credit.

The team opens with a tough schedule. First on the agenda is re-structuring the Town Manager’s contract. Just as important will be implementing a system of oversight that ensures tax dollars are wisely spent.

However, if our new Council is to bring about real change, they need the tools. We voted to give the Council those tools in 2001. We overwhelmingly told the Council that we expected our elected officials to confirm Department Heads and outside consultants. Unfortunately, that Council shrugged off the responsibility. Hopefully, this new Council will not turn a deaf ear to voice of the people.

The Town Manager, like a CEO, should have the ability to pick his own team. No one denies him that prerogative. That said; the Town Manager should not have a blank check when hiring people who implement policy. Running a town is not simply like operating a business. It’s a democratic process that includes the advice and consent of the elected legislature.

Of course change doesn’t come fast or easy. Effective change requires thoughtful deliberation. It involves growth and often times growing pains.

Change will also encounter resistance. People will want to protect territory they perceive as “their turf”. For certain, we can expect controversy.

Nevertheless, change is possible, change is required, and change has been demanded!

Remaining focused will be paramount. The Council can ill-afford the personal bickering and trivial distractions that marked the last two years. We expect civility from our Officials. Conversely, dismissing a valid point because it’s ungraciously espoused is irresponsible and just as petty. All Councilors should listen to the substance of what is being said-- regardless of how it’s said (or who says it). We’ve all heard good ideas voiced very poorly. We’ve also heard plenty of tripe politely articulated with “highfalutin” eloquence.

I for one am hopeful that these Councilors will put Watertown above any personal disagreements or political agendas. I believe this of all our new Councilors; regardless of whether I supported their candidacies or agree with their politics. After all they are all Townies (native or adopted).

The time for politicking is over and the time to govern has begun. We elected these good people to establish oversight and to restore democratic checks and balances. They deserve an opportunity to fulfill that mandate. Therefore, I’ve added another resolution to my list. For while at least, I’m going to cut them some slack. I invite all of you to do so as well.

Now relax folks. DiMascio hasn’t hopped aboard the “Love Train”. Nor do I intend to permanently retire my infamous poison pen. Political disagreements and policy differences are as inevitable as death and taxes. There will be ample opportunity to employ strategic sarcasm and tactical rhetoric.

For now however, it’s time to turn our attention to what needs to be accomplished. The responsibility ultimately falls on all of us; not just the folks we’ve put in office. It’s Spring Training for us as well. We need to step up to the plate and take a swing. We all have good ideas and talents. If we keep them to ourselves, we contribute nothing to the team. It’s morning again in Watertown. Time to wake up and get to work. Thank God, we can still afford that recently endangered cup of coffee.

John DiMascio

Communications Director
Watertown Citizens for Common Sense Government


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