Provincetown Association of Concerned Citizens


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March 13.2011 

 What Are We Doing to Our Bay.....Our Future? 

The March 10, 2011 Banner article "What's Going on here?" by reporter Mr. Kevin Mullaney did a good job reporting  What, Why and Time Frame details concerning pumping of groundwater at two sites into the bay.

Given the stated amount of water being pumped (2,160,000 gallons per day), questions still remain concerning water quality effects on the shoreline ecosystem considering  the high rate  of effluent discharge.

(Each site discharges 750gal/min X 60 min X 24hrs = 1,080,000 gallons per day X 2 sites =2.16 Million Gallons Per Day)

In answer to questions raised by the public concerning the permitting of the subject project:

A Permit was granted on 10/12/2010: Permit Number  MAR10DO33

An NOI (Notice of Intent) was submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) NOI Processing Center.

However, EPA although granting a permit does not attest to the validity of the information provided by the applicant. EPA further states that "Your eligibility for coverage under the Permit is based on the validity of certification you provided".

The permit further states "As you know, the Construction General Permit requires you to have developed and begun implementing a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) and outlines important inspection and record keeping requirements. You must also comply with any additional location-specific requirements applicable to your state or tribal area. A copy of the Construction General Permit must be kept with your SWPPP".

In light of the above, it is important to know what the initial Certification stated as fact, and what test were made to establish such assessments, as well as what on-going tests and inspections are scheduled.

We should be greatly concerned with the potential long term effects this operation will have on the usability of our beach for our citizens, visitors and wild life.

Accordingly, the State should be requested to test the effluent to provide assurance to all stakeholders.

It is therefore requested that the above documents be made public by the DPW and publicized in the Banner.

Clarence L. Walker, Jr. 

March 13, 2011

February 16, 2011 

Democracy vs. Autocracy

(Couture vs The Democractic Process) 

On Monday February 14, 2011 I attended a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the Provincetown Harbor Committee.  This meeting was called primarily to discuss the Harbor Committee’s unanimous vote to support Cabral Enterprise’s application to the Department of Environmental Protection for permission to allow 187 car parking spaces on Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Harbor Committee came before the Board of Selectmen to seek support for their decision to support Cabral Enterprises’ application.  The Harbor Committee members agreed that the number of cars requested was critical to both the financial well being of Cabral Enterprises and Provincetown’s economy.

The Board of Selectmen Chairman, Michel Couture, however, disagreed.  She wanted to support a lesser number of 150 cars; which Cabral Enterprises noted was not economically viable.

Following the Chairman’s presentation of her position, Selectman Elaine Anderson also voiced concurrence with the Chairman’s reasoning. Selectman Anderson detailed the reasoning behind her decision.

Mr. Robert Cabral, of Cabral Enterprises, attempted to speak from the floor in disagreement with the facts as presented by Selectmen Anderson, but was denied by Chairman Couture, on the grounds that public comments were not allowed.

Attorney, Christopher Snow, counsel for Cabral Enterprises speaking from the public microphone requested from the Chairman permission to speak; citing as the matter before the board of selectmen was so critical to the financial well being of the business as well as the town’s best interest, that his client should be heard.

Attorney, Snow’s request was summarily denied by the Chairman. Attorney, Snow noted that the meeting was not purely a Board of Selectman (BoS) venue but was a joint meeting of the Harbor Committee and the BoS, whereupon he appealed to the Chairman of the Harbor Committee.

The Chairman of the Harbor Committee, Jerry Irmer agreed to allow Attorney Snow to present his client’s argument.  Chairman Couture immediately ordered Attorney Snow to desist from speaking, causing a great uproar from the audience.

I, along with many others, noted that the meeting was advertised as a “joint meeting” and therefore did not operate under the sole purview of the BoS Chair, and that indeed the Chairman of the Harbor Committee was in good standing in granting Attorney Snow permission to speak. Chairman Couture was visibly shaken by the robust response of the audience and very reluctantly acquiesced to the public’s insistence.   

Chairman Couture’s attempt to stifle legitimate redress was a reprehensible act of autocratic rule, which has no place in the democratic process of direct government.

She should be sanctioned for her actions. I for one will be relieved when she departs the BoS. Her actions fly in the very face of the meaning of participatory government. Many have asked why more of our citizens don’t join committees? Why should they, when they have to face the wrath and obstructionist tactics of present leadership.  

I don’t fault Ms Couture for her opinion. I fault her for her actions to obstruct the free flow of opposing arguments.  Though I disagree with Selectman’s Anderson’s position, I applaud her presentation. It is hard for me to find the logic in allowing the free discourse of ideas for some and not for all. The Chairman should be required to take a course in Civics before her departure.

The remaining three Selectmen, John Santos, Austin Knight and David Bedard spoke in favor of the Harbor Committee’s request and gave full support of the application.

Kudos to the Chairman, Jerry Irmer of the Harbor Committee for his understanding and implementation of his rights and authority.

Attorney Christopher Snow’s presentation was moving, eloquent, and passionate.  

All, save one, merit a hardy “thank you”!

‘So foul a sky cannot clear without a storm’…..King John Act 4 Scene II by William Shakespeare


Clarence L. Walker, Jr.

February 16, 2011  


January 19, 2009

“So Foul a Sky Clears Not Without a Storm”

(Open Letter to President Obama)


These words from an ancient Buddhist text describe most vividly the circumstances in which America and the World at large finds itself today. The storm has not passed but there is indicated on the horizon a faint gleaming, a mare hint of the prospect of a new dawn.


Anguish and pain, fear and trepidation confront our world, hanging as a sword of Damocles over our civilization. Ruminations and inklings, whispers and accusations crisscross our World-State, tearing asunder the very fabric of commerce, law and faith that bind each State to the other.


The very systems of progress constructed by our forefathers have, under free reign, brought us to near chaos and ruin; leaving men of learning stupefied for want of solution. The world has proven to be nonlinear and deceiving, compelling us to chart a course less defined by old paradigms than by new realities affecting all: rich; poor; high; low; faithful and faithless. Now the prudent path is sought without the viscous of ideology and tradition; based only on its capacity to overcome our pell-mell plunge into the abyss.


 Absent our presence, the world has set adrift, widening the gap between us and them; aggravated by our abandonment of core values, our imperious machinations, profligate consumption and consummate greed. Now at the eleventh hour we are confronted with our past, confounded by the present and fearful for our future.


In the midst of consternation and turmoil, the mass-mind of the people has spoken and chosen an individual to assume the mantle of leadership, to right the listing ship. The election of this new leader represents an abandonment of the “old truths” and the taking of the path less followed.


One player exits stage-left another enters stage-right. We can only hope now in this winter of our discontent that the pervading societal sense of doom and failure can be overcome by the hope and possibility exuding from the new player.


The world is with you Mr. President. It is now for you to take the torch and rekindle our faith in our capacity to do the work-needed-to-be-done. Send the message to the world that this is not our twilight's last gleaming. Warm us with both your words and your deeds, President Obama.


Peace be with you always.


- Clarence L. Walker, Jr. January 20, 2009


河流宽阔, 山脉高, 和皇帝遥远
Héliú  Kuān Kuò, Shān Mài Gāo, hé Huángdì YáoYuǎn
The River is Wide; Mountain Range High; & the Emperor is Far Away!
The above title is and old Chinese expression which has been used, since time immemorial, to describe the of local government's contravening of central authority mandates. It is a problem which plagues present day china and apparently, the state of Massachusetts, at least in the case of Provincetown.
Like the ancient provincial cities of China, located great distances from the capital Beijing, Provincetown, far from the central seat of power, Boston, has established its own set of rules and procedures; which from time to time, only tangentially correspond to established law.
Representative examples of this condition are : Town Government’s failure to timely file State-Government required financial documents; hiring of uncertified personnel in critical positions; awarding of no-bid contracts in excess of state mandated maximum dollar limits; failure to provide timely state mandated training of personnel regarding sexual harassment; unauthorized reallocation of Town Meeting approved specific funds for non mandated positions without seeking voter approval; ignoring obvious conflicts of interest regarding individuals and institutions that come before or sit on its various boards and committees; misuse of town resources and properties; adverse manipulation of the Town-Meeting  process; obstruction of the manifest will of the voters to have a state audit of town finances; reallocation of public resources to the benefit of private institutions; manipulation of financial reporting records; refusal to provide as public records the resumes of key town personnel; failure to comply with adverse state labor law findings against the town; disproportionate assessment of real estate values etc. The list is interminable!

In China, absent a well-defined rule of law and the means for expedient legal local redress, the people had to make their appeal directly to their central government in the face of strong local government opposition with very little hope of gaining an audience.

This government versus the people milieu was, and is today, suffused with contempt by local officials for its citizenry. It would appear that a similar environment has become insinuated in Provincetown.

The previous administration, under Keith Bergman, was well versed in the use of Qing dynasty (Machiavellian) techniques for the maintenance of government; pitting organizations and people against one another, it sometimes seemed the BOS was subordinate to the Town Manager and, robbing Peter to pay Paul, was a well established policy-witness our current fiscal crisis.

We built palaces, while the coffers were being drained, relying solely on the imagined resource of perpetually rising property taxes and government grants. Enter stage-left the Sub Prime Mortgage fiasco, declining town population, the downward spiraling of the general economy, and reduced government grants, exit Bergman stage-right.

Now it seems that there are a few holdovers from the previous administration, which have not rid themselves of old habits. They choose to cling to the vestiges of failed policies (never met a new development or tax increase I didn’t like) rather than rise to meet the on-coming crisis. They treat those citizens that dare raise the issues of due-process and concern with contempt.

Specifically, when citizens participate in the process of governance it is expected that they will be received with respect and given all due consideration by the government.

When Mrs. Rachel White spoke at the Board of Selectmen meeting on January 14, 2008, questioning the legality of the unauthorized reallocation of Town Meeting approved specific funds (Community Development) for non mandated position (Assistant Town Clerk) without seeking prior voter approval; she was operating well within the bounds of good citizenship and could, at the very least, expect a responsive considerate reply from the BOS.

However, rather than addressing the legal question raised by Mrs. White, Selectman Michele Couture, with a backhanded non-responsive retort, drew the similarity between Mrs. White’s daughter-a town employee being reassigned from a funded and voter approved town position to another voter approved funded position.

The issue was not Mrs. White’s daughter-it was the unauthorized reallocation of Town Meeting approved specific funds for non mandated positions without seeking voter approval, which was being addressed.

If the voters have not approved the funding by vote, it is illegal by State Law and cannot be funded! That is the issue Mrs. White was raising. Did any of the Board of Selectmen answer the question or is it a matter of the mountains are high? Was Mrs. White’s exercise of good citizenship rewarded with graciousness? I think not.

In another case, Ms. Heather Bruce came to the Special Board of Selectmen meeting on December 17, 2007 and spoke of her small inherited beach-side dwelling and the assessed tax rate having been increased 61% over a two year period! Not one Selectman expressed dismay or shock upon learning these facts, even after this writer at the same meeting expressed knowledge of certain other beach-side properties assessed rate having been reduced during the same period.

Rather than proposing at, a minimum, to look into the matter as a point of curiosity, if not of concern or courtesy, the Selectmen suggested that she take her problem to Beijing! Oops, I mean Boston. Would they suggest that to a parent or friend? Does not the Assessor work at the behest of the Selectmen/Town Manager? One has to wonder.

At the December 17, 2007 BOS meeting, I expressed concern for the town’s dependency upon a USDA grant of $814,000 to augment the Wastewater Enterprise Fund and pressed the point that if these funds were not forthcoming, we would have to either increase our general fund budget or the property owners that pay sewer betterment and user fees would have to pay the additional $41,000 per year for twenty years. Selectmen Couture was sanguine then and is sanguine now, witness her comment in the January 17, 2008 issue of the Banner “Manor Grant falls short,” where she is quoted as saying she preferred to look at the situation as “the glass half full”.

I look forward to the ratings each Selectman receives when calls for “Rate the Selectmen,” especially Selectman Couture. She is the last vestige of the old regime.
The river is wide; mountain range high; and the Emperor is far away!
Clarence L. Walker, Jr.