Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why Did the Selectman Paint the Crosswalks?

To get to the other side?

"Unauthorized crosswalk painting in Billerica leads to charges" by Astead W. Herndon and Steve Annear Globe Correspondent | Globe Staff  July 20, 2015

BILLERICA — Selectman George Simolaris thought of it as the most instantaneous constituent service he could provide. A man had asked why fading crosswalks downtown hadn’t been repainted, so Simolaris headed home, got a bucket of green paint, and took to brightening them up himself.

But what began as an admittedly unauthorized crusade to improve pedestrian safety has now turned into criminal charges. Simolaris will be charged by police with defacing public property Tuesday morning after painting seven crosswalks in the town center, it was announced at a spirited meeting of the Board of Selectmen Monday night.

In addition to the misdemeanor charges, selectmen called on their colleague to resign his seat, but the town bylaws provide no means for selectmen to force him out. The selectmen complained that Simolaris’s weekend efforts only resulted in a costly mess.

Simolaris said he is willing to pay for the cleanup, but he has no plans to quit.

Selectmen opened the meeting Monday night, which was attended by about 30 people, to public comment after announcing the charges, and several residents expressed displeasure.

Richard Massey, a 35-year town resident, said he was proud of Simolaris.

“It goes without saying that those intersections are dangerous. Something had to be done,” Massey said. Simolaris “should be commended.”

The meeting at Town Hall exposed a visible rift between Simolaris and Town Manager John Curran.

Simolaris accused Curran of not doing his job, and failing to improve crosswalks as promised.

Yeah, I was waiting to get around to asking how long the town had neglected this item. Thought I would give government a chance.

Curran said Simolaris acted inappropriately.

The two traded jabs throughout the meeting, and audience members supported both sides.

One person was removed for continuously voicing displeasure at Curran.

Uh-huh. Can't voice displeasure at authority. That's unAmeriKan!

“The crosswalks would’ve been painted in the coming weeks,” Curran said, and he added that the green color Simolaris chose made it worse for walkers at night.


He said the town has already spent nearly $4,000 fixing the paint.

What took so long?

Other residents pushed back.

“We should be paying [Simolaris],” Jerry Williams said. “I’m embarrassed the media is here for this stupid” dispute.


A painter by trade, Simolaris said he never expected such a harsh response. He said he was only making up for work he believed the town should have completed by now.

Yeah, when was it supposed to be done anyway?

“I tried to be beneficial to residents,” he said in a phone interview prior to the meeting. “We said we would have these crosswalks painted by May. I promised that to the people who lived near me, and who asked me when it’s going to be done. I used a good paint, and did it as a temporary measure. But mainly I did it for safety.”

Yeah, one can only imagine the reaction had a child been killed and the painting had not been done yet. The same town cretins would be out there with the photo ops and waxing what a tragedy it all is, blah, blah, blah. Instead they are crucifying this guy.

Curran said the crosswalks in question — along Andover Road — were due to be restored by the end of August as part of an ongoing project that involves a new thermal plastic paint.

Yeah, okay, sigh.

Now, the town will have to repaint it twice. Crews washed away Simolaris’s handiwork and are replacing it with temporary striping. In addition, the green paint was against Billerica bylaws, Curran said.

What I would like you to notice here is HOW FAST the TOWN REACTED to GETTING THE PAINT REMOVED and DEPLOYING PERSONNEL to take care of it! If they had been so prompt regarding the painting none of this would have happened!

And I didn't realize Billerica was against the color green. Probably not a rainbow flag in sight over there.

“He’s added on an additional cost and he has created a tremendous amount of extra work,” Curran said. “Why he jumped the gun and painted them, I don’t know.”

Because his constituents kept asking what's up with the crosswalks. 

The town manager said charges against Simolaris were pursued because “we want to make sure he is not treated differently than anyone else,” and that the town may also seek restitution.

Going to make an example of the man, great! That's community spirit! 

Selectman Daniel Burns gave a short statement near the end of the meeting Monday.

“The ends do not justify the means,” he said, acknowledging Simolaris’s good intentions. “We can’t have citizens painting whatever they want.”

I agree that citizens can't go painting all over the place (as if that is a threat), but there sure is enough graffiti around on all the boarded up business and homes. 

As for the ends and means justifying each other, that only applies to wars of conquest and regime changes. Then it's okay.

John Piscatelli, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, added that Simolaris was good friend, but he had made a mistake.

“It isn’t OK to circumvent the laws, especially when you’re sworn to uphold them,” Piscatelli said. “But this requires our town to act.”

Unless you are a member of the state or federal government. Think about it.

Piscatelli said the town would seek financial restitution against Simolaris.

Any jail time?


"Billerica police want to charge crosswalk painter" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  July 21, 2015

Billerica police applied for criminal charges Tuesday against a selectman who swabbed several fading crosswalks with household paint.

Deputy Chief Roy Frost said the department filed its application with the Lowell District Court clerk magistrate’s office after Selectman George Simolaris’ impromptu public service escapade over the weekend caused roughly $4,200 of damage to municipal streets.

According to Frost, police filed for two counts of wanton destruction of property, which are misdemeanor charges.

Folks, never, ever, do anything to improve your community in Massachusetts. You'll be sorry.

Wanton destruction? Really? He was trying to prevent pedestrians being hit by cars after town negligence in repainting the sidewalks. Wanton destruction?

The complaint will spur a hearing at which a clerk magistrate will determine whether there’s probable cause to move forward with formal charges, Frost said. The hearings take place behind closed doors.


If the clerk magistrate issues criminal charges, Simolaris would appear before a judge for arraignment.

Officials also called on Selectman George Simolaris, who said he wanted to help pedestrians, to step down from the board.

I'm sensing this is about more than painting some crosswalks.

“Based on the evidence, I believe that there’s more than enough probable cause to go forward, but that will be determined by the clerk,” Frost said.

Simolaris said he is willing to pay for the cleanup. “I’m disheartened a bit,” he said. “I was hoping that I wouldn’t be charged, and I will have to ask for the mercy of the court that if I pay the restitution, that they dismiss the case.” 

I don't blame him, and your honor, I'll never do it again.

Simolaris has said he decided to repaint portions of the crosswalks on Billerica’s busy Andover Road because the originals had nearly vanished, creating a public safety hazard.

Simolaris grabbed a bucket of paint from his garage — and later more from a hardware store — and spruced up the deteriorated crosswalks himself.

At a selectmen’s meeting Monday, town officials announced that police would pursue charges against Simolaris. Fellow board members also called for Simolaris’ job, but the selectman said he has no plans to resign.

News of the misdemeanor charges was met by mixed reactions from a fiery crowd of residents at Monday’s meeting.

Some constituents stood behind Simolaris, hailing him as a hero for stepping up and taking on a job they felt went long ignored by the town. Others said it was only right that he pay the price for acting out of order and without authorization.

Nice strain of authoritarianism in Massachusetts. Need permission from authority for anything nowadays -- and they called it freedom.

That last sentence really stuck with me, folks. It's only right you pay the price for acting out of order and without authorization. It brings to mind the mindset of some of the most odious regimes in history, and it's right here in my backyard!


UPDATECharges dropped against Billerica official who painted crosswalks