More Evidence That Selectman Simolaris Hasn’t a Clue on How to Solve Problems Properly

Please watch the video fully. Then consider what is written below it.

Mr. Simolaris claims he got calls on this because no one seems to be doing anything to resolve this problem which has been ongoing for over four years old. In fact, if you go to the Beautifying Billerica website on Facebook, you will see where they mentioned this particular sign along with many other blighted areas in town that have gone into neglect.

So, why has this problem and others like it been allowed to linger so long. Let me see if I can explain what should be a relatively simple solution using very clearly written Billerica Town Zoning By-Laws (the governing document for these issues):

Zoning By-Law 9. C. 9. Definitions: Freestanding (signs). A sign directly or indirectly connected to the ground and not attached to any buildings or other structures. If a sign support holds more than one sign, each sign is considered a separate freestanding sign.

The above definition seems to perfectly describe the sign Selectman Simolaris is working with. Agreed?

Zoning By-Law 9. B. 5. Maintenance (of signs): Every sign shall be maintained in good condition. If a sign shows corrosion or deteriorated paint over 25% of the area of one side; or if damage to the sign causes a loss of 10% of its substance; or if the sign suffers damage or deterioration which creates a risk of harm to the person or property of another; or if the establishment is no longer in business, such sign shall be repaired or removed by the property owner.

My questions:

  1. Don’t you think a Selectman who views this sign as a problem (and I agree that it is) would know that sign construction, inspection and maintenance comes under the purview of the Town Building Inspector?
  2. Don’t you think a Selectman who view this sign as a problem and understands (as we all know George now knows) that he can’t get involved in the day to day operation of the town would know to go to the Town Manager and ask if he could put discussing an inspection and follow up action with the Town Building Inspector who works under the Town Manager on his “to do” list?
  3. Should sufficient time pass without proper action by the Town Manager or the Town Building Inspector, don’t you think a qualified and competent Selectman would know that he has a right to put this issue on the Board of Selectman agenda for a public discussion to force a proper resolution?
  4. With respect to the sign itself, I would imagine that the building or business owner would have to carry insurance to cover liability and damage to his property, including his signs, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.
  5. Don’t you think a Selectman who views this as a serious issue would ask the manager to determine if an insurance claim was filed and if so, why were any fund paid not used to repair the sign. If no or insufficient insurance was purchased, then, is that in conformance with what the town considers an appropriate business practice for licensing?
  6. If one reads the by-law on maintenance, it makes no mention of a business or property owner being insured or not; it clearly states that if more than 10% is damaged, it must be repaired – unambiguous. Don’t you think a competent Selectman would know this requirement after four years in office?

So, my question is this: with such clear solution prescribed by law, why is Selectman Simolaris out “doing a friend a favor” and complaining about the lack of care by others in government as he makes a video of his endeavor?

Does he truly care about the appearance of this sign? Or, is it more likely that he is once again grandstanding trying to create issues to make himself look like the hero and use it to belittle the State Representative he is trying to unseat?

Has Mr. Simolaris asked the Town Manager to contact our State Representative or contacted Representative Lombardo himself to request assistance in getting the Commonwealth to dispatch a crew or issue funds to clean up and repair the damaged State property?

Has the Commonwealth even been made aware of this damage by our local officials and if so, how did the ball get dropped?

So, what do you think? I think Mr. Simolaris has no clue as to how to govern, how to use process, policy and procedural by-laws for problem abatement and resolution. I think based on this clearly described missive that Mr. Simolaris is doing the town of Billerica a disservice by holding onto his seat as he is also clearly incompetent not only in getting things done, but in building relationships that are not just helpful, but essential to the forward progress and success of Billerica and her future – OUR future.

By the way…in fairness; how about asking our other four Selectman why they have allowed this problem to fester and if they’ve ever read the Beautiful Billerica Facebook page.

"More Evidence That Selectman Simolaris Hasn't a Clue on How to Solve Problems Properly", 5 out of 5 based on 5 ratings.

4 Comments

  1. Rick,

    Fair question to the BOS. My reply represents my personal opinion (eg not speaking for the board), but as a selectman.

    I have read the web site you referenced, but anyone driving around town can see the issues referenced. Billerica is a very large town, and we do have our share of blight, particularly with several commercial sites. The current challenge is the required staffing to enforce code and bylaw compliance. Today, the office of the building commission does this, but based on limited staffing, and the need to manage $254 Million dollars in current projects, as well as new growth, are effectively limited to responding to complaints only. This means they do not proactively seek out issues and remedies to them.

    In terms of overall staff levels, we have added selected positions, as new growth has allowed, while maintaining our “best in class” tax rate performance. Thus, we have effectively restored several positions within public safety, that had been cut during the last economic down turn. Today, I believe we have the correct staffing levels, with the possible exception of our DPW, which remains thin, especially considering the need to improve the overall condition of our recreational facilities (which is currently not managed by the DPW, but rather resides on the “school side”.)

    I continue to advocate for the creation of two positions I believe to be a critical part of our success moving forward………..one is a code enforcement leader and the other a point person for an improved approach to town wide social media. One key aspect of my recommendation is how these new positions would be funded. I do not support adding to overall head count, but rather seek ways to eliminate roles and redeploy the head count. I have talked at length with the town manager about this, and you will see some 2017 objectives that relate.
    Hope this helps.

    John

    1. Good afternoon, John,

      I want to first say that I appreciate your efforts in eliminating duplication in positions throughout the town government structure. I also appreciate that staffing limitation in turn limit the level of pro activity in enforcing by-law code. My point was to illustrate that while Mr. Simolaris claims that having a sign that is so damaged and an area that is so filled with trash that it is rated as blight is the product of government not doing or being able to do the job we citizens expect of them – and he is a key member of that government.

      As I said and highlighted, there is a mechanism for correcting such conditions without such drama and fanfare and he failed to use that mechanism for nearly four years on an area that he cites as long neglected. My question would be, by whom? Is he implying that the Town Manager is not doing his job in ensuring the Building Commissioner is inspecting and cleaning up these discrepancies as he is charged with doing? Simolaris has a long history of animus toward the Town Manager; so, this question is not inappropriate to ask.

      Is he implying that Mr. Lombardo, as our State Representative, is not doing his job by using his influence and power to get state workers on the site to either repair or remove the destroyed barrier that once protected the sign? Mr. Simolaris is running for Mr. Lombardo’s seat; so this is not an inappropriate question to ask. Further, I would like to know if Mr. Simolaris has ever requested state assistance to make the corrections need to repair the damage from Mr. Lombardo or anyone else either at the Town Manager or State level? Has he brought this issue up as an agenda item for the BOS to discuss and pass to the Town Manager to handle?

      As to the staffing issue, let me ask this question: Each food service business and bar is required to receive periodic inspections both for licensing and unannounced spot inspections to ensure compliance with regulations intended to avoid instanced such as those experience by Chipolte with the Norovirus contamination or E-Coli contamination by food handlers? The Board of Health as well annual Fire Department are required to perform inspections to assure sanitary conditions and fire safety equipment, including mandatory fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and alarms are in working order? Are these being done as required, or is a shortage of personnel sufficient to excuse these departments from their duties? What about health care facilities and the requirements for periodic inspections and re licensing?

      I ask because public safety is the one true reason for paying for a government to operate on behalf of citizens through lawful use of force to assure compliance with laws and protections of individual rights, including private property rights. While I realize that an increased number of projects have the Building Commissioners staff very busy, that should not be a sufficient reason to abdicate some of the responsibilities charged to that office by Town Charter, including not addressing areas of blight or mandating the replacement or repair of protective barriers to minimize the potential harm of a wayward driver.

      Has anyone considered a part-time employee to handle matters of this sort to issue citations, a time-line for corrective action to be completed, and a statement of fines per day to accumulate for non-compliance while we are working on staffing realignment? Is it safe and wise to keep DPW staffing as thin as it is considering the amount of projects ongoing? Can workers be hired from a temporary pool for limited terms to help meet needs without adding to retirement roll costs, or are we hamstrung by collective bargaining agreements? If so, are we looking at those collective bargaining contracts for ways to moderate them to allow such hires or converting elements that add to our OPEB costs for new hires?

      Can the Town Manager authorize a “hot line” similar to that promoted by large city Mayors, through which such problems can be reported, monitored and acted upon in a timely fashion? Can a complaint section be added to the town’s website so that people can see where and what complaints have been filed and whether or not they have been resolved by specific departments or where actions planned or taken can be reviewed to assure they are not lost in he sea of everyday events?

      There are a lot of questions that have arisen from Mr. Simolaris’ antics and our current staffing and budgeting limitations. Many of them, in my view, reflect the inefficiency of a Town Manager form of government vs a strong Mayoral form with a full time City Counsel or Board of Aldermen. But, that’s a story for another time.

      Thank you for all of your efforts. I appreciate that you all are doing as much as one can reasonably expect under the current circumstance. It is always preferable to keep public safety staffing (police, fire and emergency services) at optimal levels and place cuts elsewhere. I don’t expect any immediate actions to be taken on the issues I’ve raised here, but present them as food for thought and discussion among leadership to help attain best practices and a more perfect Billerica.

  2. I am not a “supporter” of George and I use to enjoy your blog. But why don’t you change your blog now from “Let’s Get Political” to “Let’s Get George”. Pathetic for a grown man to have such an obsessive vendetta. And don’t give me crap about your military experience with leadership.

    1. I am saddened to read that you no longer enjoy reading this blog.

      I take your word that you are not a “supporter” of Selectman Simolaris, but it certainly sounds as if you are even within this pithy, unsubstantiated assault on me, my character and my military experiences and leadership abilities.

      Let’s look at some of the words you chose to use in your terse assessment of me (as opposed to the factual content of my posts):

      Vendetta:

      1. A blood feud
      2. A very long and violent fight between two families or groups
      3. An often prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts or exchange of such acts
      4. A series of acts done by someone over a long period of time to cause harm to a disliked person or group.

      The fact is that George and I have never met. He has done nothing whatsoever to cause me to hold a vendetta as I have nothing to retaliate for; especially in the form of some “blood feud” as a means to retaliate against a personal harm, a vengeful or hostile act on his part or a series of such acts over time. Because I have never met Mr. Simolaris, it is impossible for me to dislike him as a person. Therefore, with respect to this charge, you need to do more explaining to make the accusation fit.

      As to being “obsessive”, I am obsessive about good government, about protecting my investment in Billerica as a homeowner paying property taxes on a recently assessed high value homestead, and about leaving behind a town better off than it was when I found it. My chosen way of doing this is through th use of this blog as a tool to help guide voters past their pre-conceived notions, established alliances, familial voting habits and party loyalties and get to a place where they can objectively evaluate the work performed and results attained by our political leadership team both collectively and individually. So, as to point two, I think you might better serve your own rational self-interests by opening your mind before opening your mouth. (Just an observation based on three meatless sentences you chose to leave above)

      Now, if you wish to be effective in your criticism and add to this discussion to the advantage of your friend who you do not “support”, you might want to read the post in full with pen and paper in hand. That way you can list my arguments against George one at a time and demonstrate where I am wrong in my assessments. Then you might want to try to explain, if you find my arguments to be valid, why it is a good thing to elect a person to a political team who over four years in service still has no clue as to the process, policies, procedures to be followed or an iota of interest in working with the full team to get things done as opposed to going “lone wolf”, creating more turmoil than solutions. There is a big difference between a vendetta and pointing out incompetence, inefficiency and a failure to lead in a way that brings about the best results while preserving the integrity of the town’s by-laws.

      I look forward to your reply. Hopefully, just as I put my name on my views, you will feel strong enough intellectually and honestly to do the same in your response. Otherwise, readers may want to consider your use of the term “pathetic” and to whom it truly applies.

      I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

      ~ Rick

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: