Falmouth's blog

Bill and Vinny - People Over Politics


Tim Madden and Dave Vieira get it. The two state representatives whose districts encompass a portion of Falmouth come from different communities, different backgrounds, and hold differing political philosophies. However, their interests and their service to the community converge on one important concept—the service component of public service.
Tim and Dave work closely together, despite the fact that they belong to opposing political parties, and frequently cross the far-too-wide aisle, which seems like the Grand Canyon sometimes these days, to collaborate on issues important to Falmouth. They serve their constituents rather than their party masters. While one may be an “R” and another a “D,” the most important label they have—one they both cherish—is as a representative of Falmouth.
That sort of commitment to community and the people within it is unfortunately rare in today’s political domain, where it is more popular to villainize an opponent and declare them morally defunct for holding a differing philosophy rather than offering an alternative solution. Social media has become a wasteland of wasted words, where personal attacks for the sake of party politics has saturated our collective consciousness. With so many critical issues facing us— here in Falmouth and here in the nation—we need more leaders like Tim and Dave who work together for the people rather than against them, more representatives of the people who focus on common solutions rather than opposing problems, and serve their denizens, not their donors.


In the upcoming election, Falmouth voters will have the opportunity to vote for a couple of like-minded public servants—one a Democrat and one a Republican—who hold similar philosophies of service before self-interest, of people before party.


For the last four years, Congressman Bill Keating has worked doggedly on behalf of the 9th Congressional District—which includes Falmouth—and has made a name for himself as a legislator who is driven by the interest of his constituents, not special interests in Washington. He has frequently partnered with legislators from the “opposition” to pursue solutions of tremendous local relevance.


As the epidemic of opiate addiction continues to explode and related deaths continue to burgeon, Bill has worked with US Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky), to keep generic OxyContin out of the hands of drug dealers and addicted users. He has also pursued regulatory oversight that would limit the overprescription of these killer pills, which leads users to Oxy’s sinister cousin, the cheaper and more plentiful heroin.


Another example of Bill’s non-partisan public service is his tireless work on economic development and job creation. He has worked with both appointed and elected officials of virtually every political philosophy to champion a “Maritime Regional Center,” which will marry local educational institutions like Cape Cod Community College (CCCC) with local maritime businesses and scientific nonprofits to create jobs and solutions to some of our environmental challenges. The impact of that effort will be felt throughout the district, but most assuredly here in Falmouth.


These are not partisan issues—and Bill has not made them so. They are issues of vital importance to our community and our congressman has worked on them for that singular reason. He has not exploited his efforts for partisan payoff. He simply goes to work each day and fights for the people he believes in—and that’s all of us.


State Rep. Vinny deMacedo, who is vying for the state Senate seat being vacated by Falmouth favorite Therese Murray holds a parallel philosophy. For more than a decade, Vinny has made friends rather than foes on Beacon Hill and in his district due to his similar singular purpose of improving our collective lot—one issue, one solution, and one relationship at a time.


To know Vinny for a moment is to know a new friend. To hear him speak with passion and affection for his native Cape Verde and its link to Falmouth is to begin to understand his profound commitment to public service. He takes that commitment to each and every issue and, like the congressman, works with other solution-based legislators, regardless of party affiliation, toward a better tomorrow for his constituents.


Vinny recognizes that tourism is an underpinning in the foundation of Falmouth’s economy, along with health care and scientific research. Working with Provincetown Rep. Sarah Peake and other Democrats, Vinny helped restore cuts to the regional tourism budget, more than doubling the state’s allocation for promotion and enhancement of this key local industry. He also worked across the aisle to override the governor’s recent veto of funding for a new aircraft maintenance program at CCCC, ensuring the creation of good-paying, sustainable jobs for our local workforce.


Our political discourse and our community need more public servants like Bill Keating and Vinny deMacedo, regardless of the letter after their names. On election day, they’ll get my support. They deserve yours, too, regardless of the letter after your name.
 

Comprehensive Policy Must Be Developed Comprehensively

 

Former President Ronald Reagan captured the cynicism and skepticism of a nation while simultaneously being able to poke fun at the disdain that many hold for their government when he quipped, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ ” No matter your political persuasion, those words from the Great Communicator still resonate today because that disdain and skepticism—a healthy component of a healthy democracy—endure more than a generation after those words were uttered.
Given that backdrop of constructive doubt on the competence and intent of government to expand the scope and depth of its influence in our lives, it is easy to understand the questions, concerns and outright opposition to the announcement recently that the Falmouth School Department intends to invade, peruse, and pervade the books of private fund raising organizations that benefit school-affiliated youth sports in town. The proclamation from athletic director Kathleen Burke that “I need to know how much” money each support or booster group holds in their own bank accounts ran a chill up the spines of the volunteers and supporters of high school sports teams. I’m sure more than one parent was channeling President Reagan and wondering why the government was so willing to help so quickly in accessing information on thousands of dollars of privately raised money.

The reason for this financial foray into the Falmouth Quarterback Club and other legendary local booster clubs is a new policy of the Falmouth School Department that requires all booster organizations to submit annual financial statements to the schools (read: the government) and, according to an account in the Enterprise, seek school approval to purchase equipment. The reason behind the reason, as cited by local attorney Laura Moynihan, is to bring Falmouth in compliance with a 2011 decision of the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, which determined that the Town of Hingham was violating Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq. The Hingham report looked at four major issues related to fairness between boys’ and girls’ sports at Hingham High School: facilities, scheduling, coaching, and booster clubs. While I agree with attorney Moynihan, who is a widely respected and accomplished attorney in town, that the Hingham report from the US Department of Education (read: the government) suggested that each district know what amounts of funds are being raised for each sport, I challenge the notion and Evel Knievel-esque leap that the DOE report also suggests that monies raised by private booster groups are “treated like district money and equipment.” Actually, to level the playing field (pun intended) for boys’ and girls’ fundraising efforts, the DOE simply suggested that Hingham, “create and implement a comprehensive policy to regulate booster club funding and other private donations flowing into the athletics program. The policy will ensure that if booster club funding is used to provide benefits and services to athletes of one sex that are greater than the benefits provided to the other sex, the District will take action to ensure that the benefits and services are equivalent for both sexes.”


Here’s my read on that statement: The federal government suggested that a local government create a policy to have some oversight into private fundraising groups to ensure equitable treatment of boys’ and girls’ sports. The government then suggested that if inequities were discovered, that the district will take action, that is, the local government was admonished to fix the problem, not seek to pawn off its responsibility on private, volunteer-run organizations.


In plain English, it simply means that if one group is raising more than another to benefit a particular sport, that the school department is responsible for making up the difference. Our football team right now is equipped by the town with a field, coaches, and footballs. The Quarterback Club provides the rest—pads, helmets, and other equipment essential to fielding a team. The decision of the federal government in no way suggests that the decades-old history of successful fundraising of this group should somehow be dismantled to provide equity to another sport. It simply means that the school department needs to re-allocate resources within its own budget to make things fair.


The Hingham decision that became the basis for this Falmouth issue required the creation of a comprehensive policy. What is most troubling to me is that the policy was announced, not developed. Were there public meetings where booster groups were invited to participate in the policy development? Was there an open, transparent, and comprehensive process leading up to this comprehensive policy?


President Reagan was right. The announcement that the government is here to help create fair funding is frightening. By trying to help in this instance, the government has made things worse. It is time to go back and work with the booster clubs and develop a comprehensive policy—comprehensively. 

Doing So Much - Together


I had the pleasure of speaking to Professor Deniz Leuenberger’s class on public finance and local government at Bridgewater State University last week. The students were eager and engaged, and responded to my somewhat pedestrian presentation on revenues, expenses, taxes and fees with some great questions and genuine interest.
One particular student showed a keen interest in the subject matter, offering plentiful commentary on his hometown here in Massachusetts. “My town stinks,” he quipped matter-of-factly, his young but already cynical voice dripping with disdain for his local government. My modest question back to him left him speechless. Rather than merely validate his youthful pessimism, I simply asked him, “What are you going to do about it?” His confused, glazed look and gaping mouth were all the answer I needed.

Like so many (perhaps too many) observers of the democratic process today, the student had not thought beyond his own criticism; he has not made the leap from problems to solutions. That’s okay, of course; that is why he is in Dr. Leuenberger’s class to begin with.


This is not to say that all is lost for this eager young student. Problems are finding solutions right in our community that provide a great example for the students at BSU, and beyond.


This week, I attended the annual meeting of the Falmouth Service Center, one of Falmouth’s leading nonprofits, and was joined by several community leaders in a discussion director Brenda Swain called “partnership makes the difference.” The entire afternoon was an ongoing example of finding solutions—through community partnerships.


The Falmouth Service Center has long been a shining example of what is right with our community, and after more than 30 years of serving its neighbors—our neighbors—their example of focusing on the solutions and their demonstration of strong community partnerships are simply unparalleled. As I entered their warehouse/kitchen/office/house of hope on Gifford Street, Brenda greeted me with a large hug and an even larger smile. Our meeting was held in the warehouse, and we were all provided with information highlighting the FSC’s remarkable work over the last year, where more than 450 volunteers have distributed more than 34,000 bags of food during more than 1,000 monthly client visits, all while distributing nearly $150,000 in non-food assistance and coordinating nearly 5,000 meals served in partnership with Falmouth’s faith community at the Falmouth Eats Together series of meals. As if this extraordinary community service were not enough, the FSC board of directors, led by president Betsy Doud, convened this week’s meeting of community and nonprofit leaders to further explore how their work can reach and benefit more Falmouthites—and help create more solutions.


I was energized from the moment I walked in. Brenda had me at hello and a hug, but the cornucopia of community leaders with whom I chatted and collaborated had me leaving with hope and enthusiasm that the mission and passion of the Falmouth Service Center are permeating well beyond its walls.


After well-deserved recognition to board members Dana Miskell and Joanne Bayles for more than two decades of combined volunteer service, the collaboration began with the Reverend Patti Barrett from St. Barnabas Church setting the stage for our discussion, noting to all in attendance that, “Life is short. Be swift to love and make haste to do kindness.” Right on, Reverend. The attendees heeded that gentle advice and got to work, sharing thoughts from all corners of our community on how partnerships can be expanded. From Falmouth Senior Center director Jill Irving Bishop to the Boy Scouts of America’s Al Beal to the Service Center’s own board member Debbie Netto, the volunteer experience in the room was in the hundreds of years, with energy to match that know-how.


We split into groups to further strategize on how Falmouth could benefit from working together. Our homework was to develop a definition for “partnerships” that the FSC board could use to broaden its own partnerships in the community.


My group included the Reverend Nell Fields from the Waquoit Congregational Church, Karen Gardner from the Community Health Center of Cape Cod, the aforementioned Jill Bishop from the senior center, and superintendent Bonny Gifford.


Our wordy but pithy offering was the following: Partnership means community leaders: like-minded members of the community, with similar missions and goals, leveraging resources and complementing and supporting each other while working, listening, and planning together to serve others and to bring resources to the underserved. Other groups included words like commonality, authentic, commitment, relationships, and hope.


The themes were the same from all 11 groups, which included such community stalwarts as Capt. Jeff Smith from the Falmouth Police, selectman Sue Moran, executive director Deb Rogers from FCTV, and Laura Lorusso Peterson from the school committee. There are many in Falmouth who need our help. There are many who are helping—and the Falmouth Service Center does an amazing job in bringing them together.


Reverend Nell noted that the forum was extremely helpful in opening her eyes to the plentiful resources available in our community and offered her church’s function hall to any group needing a place to meet in Waquoit. She praised those in attendance for putting down their cellphones for an hour and suggested having similar discussions a couple of times a year—bringing people together to brainstorm ways to help people. Simple but powerful. Partnership, indeed.


Brenda fittingly wrapped up the day’s events with a quote from Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” By bringing together so many dedicated people who are dedicated to helping people, the Falmouth Service Center is helping us do so much—together
 

It's All About Society


I had breakfast with former town engineer Gaetano (George) Calise this week. We decided to meet at the IHOP at the Bourne Rotary, as this local landmark is about to close, and it has been a favorite and convenient meeting spot over the last few years; George lives in Cotuit and I work off-Cape, so we have been able to schedule many an early morning catch-up on the issues of the day related to our beloved Falmouth. I’ll miss their shredded hash browns, a not-so-healthy but oh-so-delicious treat of grilled and shredded potatoes. I could (and did) eat them over and over.
George, still in peak mental and physical shape even as a budding octogenarian, always has sage and thoughtful advice. The man who worked with the state Department of Transportation to keep the Church Street Bridge in Woods Hole made of wood and pioneered the use of state road money to construct sidewalks and bike lanes throughout our community is still a dedicated public servant, even though he retired several years ago. When we get together, he loves hearing about the local machinations and is never shy to offer his thoughts on the people and projects that provide the fodder for this column and local coffee shop talk.

George's overarching advice this week was general yet powerful. “It’s all about society,” he quipped, his still passionate glance awaiting my reply. The quizzical look on my face conveyed my confusion at such a broad proclamation, and my friend and mentor—who always stressed the service in public service—simply said, “Look it up. Look up the meaning. That’s what’s missing today.”


I arrived back at my office after a thoroughly enjoyable breakfast, replete with other bits of advice and thoughts on local projects (he laments the under-utilization of our transfer station but more about that in a future column), and immediately asked the sagacious folks at Wikipedia and Miriam-Webster to help me out with a definition or two on society. Of course, I understood the basic definition having belonged to our American society for all of my years, but knew that George had a deeper meaning in mind. Here’s what I found for a meaning of society: “A group of people involved in persistent interpersonal relationships…typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.” Wow. I started to understand what my old friend meant. Here’s another: “Companionship or association with one’s fellows; company.”


George wasn’t talking about society with the big “S”, he was talking about our daily interactions and decisions. He was talking about the daily conduct of the people’s business and how those involved in the “persistent interpersonal relationships” of local government may have forgotten that those relationships include “companionship or association with one’s fellows,” that is, our neighbors, colleagues, and even opponents on a given issue.


As I contemplated the profundity of this Falmouth philosopher’s thoughts and my spirits began to dim a bit at the dismal state of our public discourse, I happened on a story from last Friday’s paper that presented a glimmer—perhaps even a spark—of hope. The recent roundtable discussion on housing needs in Falmouth and the frank and open dialogue that occurred and will occur as a result, was a local interpersonal innovation. For starters, the leader of the discussion had the courage to admonish our local officials and delivered the same message at the Falmouth Public Library that George did at IHOP. “You seem to fight a lot. My overriding message to you is to come together, stop fighting and improve relationships. Replace the culture of blame with respect,” said Judi Barrett of RKG Associates, the town’s consultant and producer of an in-depth and comprehensive look at the challenge of affordable housing in Falmouth. The discussion that ensued did just that. Attendees offered solutions, not problems. They offered resolutions, not blame. Judi and George present a powerhouse tandem of truth tellers. Their message is clear—get along or get going. Our very future as a society, locally and beyond, depends on that.


The problem of affordable housing is complex and far-reaching one. If the town continues to drift toward unaffordability, our heterogeneous and vibrant community could become far less interesting and enjoyable a place. If our demographics continue to result in squeezing out young but not-yet-successful professionals, our local culture and identity will decay. The dialogue is among the most important and timely we can have.


The next step in this essential discourse is a housing summit where more participants—more fellows in our local persistent interpersonal relationships—will be invited to offer more solutions. I hope to be there. I think I’ll bring George along. He’d be proud to see his society at work.
 

The Apocalypse? Not in Falmouth


It’s easy to get discouraged by the news and distracted by the state of affairs these days. With war in virtually all corners of the globe, including within our own borders, with disease and pestilence seemingly on a sinister rise, with hatred and intolerance (at home and abroad) the normal standard for personal interaction, with electronic texts, tweets, and posts having supplanted meaningful conversation as the preferred and acceptable modes of communication, and with economic insecurity and inequity looming as an ever-present token of the power and persistence of greed in our global society, the end-of-days prognosticators’ voices are understandably getting louder. Preachers have been quoting bible verses for centuries and forecasting the Day of Judgment, but today, their voices seem just a little less harsh and implausible.
This week, while watching CNN for my daily dose of all things apocalyptic in less than three minutes I caught an interview on this very subject. The pastor being interviewed noted that he believes that the end is coming, but his next thought redirected my thinking and brought my focus to Falmouth. He noted that the fateful final day could be tomorrow or a thousand years from now. He believes in the power of today and that we are each individually responsible for living each day in a way that tips the scales toward goodness—that is working individually to improve, not degrade, our global lot.

Now, although I’m fairly confident that when we’re all lined up for the long trip on the up or down escalator of eternity that I’ll be headed northward, I’m mindful on a daily basis of my duty, as the pastor noted, to do my singular part toward the global good. That’s part of my motivation in writing this column—to share what’s right with Falmouth and to note that our community does its part to tip those scales.


So if we pause together and perhaps turn off the television, log off Facebook and Twitter, and simply look around our community, then the desolation can turn to inspiration; the end of days can be replaced with the sun’s bright rays. A simple glance at the pages of recent versions of the Enterprise yields a far less apocalyptic view of where we’re at—and where we’re headed.


No one can tell Morse Pond teachers Ann Goulart and Brian Switzer that we are headed toward the apocalypse. They continue their great work with our middle schoolers in publishing the “Inside Scoop,” a student-produced newspaper that has been around since my days at Morse Pond and Lawrence schools. The newspaper is now headed for an online version, with a dedicated website and great local content created by some of Falmouth’s best and brightest young scribes.


I don’t think anyone will be looking for the end-of-days escalator in Falmouth Village this weekend, as their attention will be focused on the JazzFest, a celebration of culture and music featuring performers from around the corner and around the globe, right on our own Main Street. This annual event will turn Main Street into Bourbon Street and will see our downtown thoroughfare teeming with revelers and merrymakers, celebrating what has become Cape Cod’s “Restaurant Row,” all jazzed up (pun intended).


Our affordable housing committee and the Falmouth Housing Trust aren’t planning on vacating their homes as part of a fatalistic exercise; they have actually collaborated on a project to find ways to make Falmouth affordable and livable for the next generation. This week, a detailed and comprehensive report on affordable housing commissioned by the town was discussed in detail at a panel discussion, attended by concerned Falmouthites of all ages. Those wanting to chart a housing future for all demographics participated and conversed on how to make that happen.


The Falmouth Education Foundation isn’t teaching our young people about planning for the apocalypse; they are planning for the future. Their recent forum, dubbed the “FEF in Action,” showcased how their grant money and the dedicated teachers who create and execute the grant-funded programs are making a difference in how our young people are educated.


These are just a few examples of Falmouthites making a positive difference. Right here. Right now. So tell the end-of-days prognosticators to spend some time in our community, and they, too, will believe in the power of today, in what’s happening in Falmouth today.
 

A Merry-Go-Round of Obfuscation

Transparency and accountability are two overused words in our American lexicon as it relates to government. Perhaps those words are worn out and hackneyed because we so thirst for them both from our elected and appointed leaders and alas, emerge parched and disappointed from that thirst. After taking an exhausting spin on a merry-go-round of obfuscation related to the town’s ownership and the ongoing management of our town-owned golf course, boy am I thirsty!
The Town of Falmouth acquired the Falmouth Country Club and significant surrounding open space more than a decade ago with wide community support and a wide array of funds. The surrounding acreage was rightfully touted as an environmentally sound purchase, usable as both much-needed and somewhat scare open space in that part of town, and potentially as land available as part of the town’s overall strategy for wastewater treatment. It was a true community coalition – from open space advocates to golf enthusiasts, that rallied the community to support the funding necessary to preserve this jewel of East Falmouth from potential development.
When the original Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued for management of this multi-million dollar asset back in 2004, eight companies expressed an interest in helping the town get into the golf business. After a thorough and open process, Billy Casper Golf was chosen, and they have been running one of the town’s most valuable properties since. Casper operated the course under a five-year lease with an option for an additional five year term. They have done an admirable job and have been good stewards of the land and the course. Greens keeper and Course Superintendent Bucky Hall, who is widely regarded as one of the top experts in the business, has been at FCC for more than thirty years and has continued to be a stabilizing professional presence; he has cared for the turf like it was his own lawn. The original lease signed by the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager in 2005 laid out the terms of the agreement, including a base lease payment and a revenue sharing agreement if revenues exceeded thresholds agreed to by the town and Casper. The Town also established a Golf Advisory Committee to provide advisory oversight to the Board and the Town, providing direct citizen representation to the operation of the course.
Having been a signatory to the original lease as a member of the Board of Selectmen, I understood these facts and planned to write a column on Casper’s able stewardship of the course and the process by which the town would choose a new operator for the next lease term, or renew with Casper. Either option requires another RFP and a formal process to maintain compliance with bidding laws.
Since the first process was open and transparent, I had every confidence that this updated version would follow a similar path, and my ongoing thirst for transparency would be satisfied. I sent a note to the Town Manager’s office letting them know that I was writing a column on the Falmouth Country Club, and I asked for some basic information on its operation, including copies of the current lease, minutes from the Golf Advisory Committee, and easily obtainable financial reports to look at the revenues the town received under the current lease.
My thirst began to develop and my concern began to rise when I received a terse reply that my information request (filed under the public records law as a simple matter of course) would be fulfilled after a calculation was made on the time and value of research and reproduction were calculated. Now, to make it clear, the town was well within its legal rights to charge me more than $60.00 for documents it had readily available because it was currently working on a renewal of the RFP, but it stretches the bounds of credulity to think that such a brush-off is consistent with transparent government. I wasn’t asking for obscure information that would have to be dug out of the archives. I asked for stuff that probably sat on a desk ready for distribution to interested management companies.
Nonetheless, I paid my sixty bucks and pored over the information – and my anxiety grew due to the lack of information actually provided. I learned that the five year extension to the lease, signed in January of 2010 – after the financial markets crashed and after rounds of golf began to decline precipitously in the region – included an increase in the ceiling for revenue sharing, virtually guaranteeing that the town would lose money for the entire second term of the lease. As a municipal finance professional, I figured I could look at the accounting reports I requested and perhaps understand the thinking behind this decision that set up the town for financial failure. Unfortunately, the reports provided by the Finance Department, which was supposed to be the public’s link to a deeper understanding of our dollars and cents, showed little more than dollars and made no sense. The revenue numbers in the report didn’t match the revenue numbers in the town’s lease, and no one took the time to explain it, knowing that the information provided would be the subject of a newspaper column. My now burgeoning unease was matched only by my frustration at the lack of meaningful information and my sadness that the great work of Casper is being overshadowed by the town’s unwillingness – or inability – to be straight with the people it serves.
Now starving for information and nearly dehydrated by my thirst for transparency, I turned to the requested minutes of the Golf Advisory Committee, figuring maybe there was some discussion at those meetings that could shed some light on the darkness coming from the town’s highest offices. Alas, the darkness continued and my dismay flourished when it was revealed that virtually no minutes exist for years and years of meetings and deliberations for this important oversight committee. Only after the lack of official records was brought to the town’s attention recently were minutes routinely taken.
A lease renewal that locked in financial losses. Financial reports that provided no useful information. Obfuscation from Town Hall. Missing and non-existent minutes. What is one to think? I think I’m pretty thirsty.
The new RFP for the new lease term was due last week. Only one company responded – Billy Casper. It’s no surprise. I’m sure other potential vendors got the same treatment I did.
 

Let's Join Sam's Conversation

I have a friend who tells me that you cry when the truth touches your heart. If he’s right (and I believe he is), then there’s a whole lot of truth in local director Sam Tarplin’s new documentary film, “What Happened Here: The Untold Story of Addiction on Cape Cod,” because I was wiping tears from my cheek just watching the trailer.

The film, which debuts Friday, September 26, in a public premiere at Cape Cod Community College, is a stark and powerful look at the brutal and nasty grip that the scourge of addiction currently holds on our peninsula. Through interviews with addicts in recovery, community leaders, law enforcement officials, and the faith community, Sam paints a very realistic picture of the impacts of substance abuse—and the hope provided by recovery—in our community. It presents, in the words, emotions, and personal stories of our own friends and neighbors, the impacts of drug and alcohol abuse in Falmouth and beyond. As the title suggests, the film simply tells us what has happened here, in the words of the people to whom it happened.

The documentary will also be screened on Sunday, September 28, at 3 PM at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation on Sandwich Road.

The issue is personal to Tarplin, a Falmouthite and recovering addict himself. He began work on this project after only 90 days of being substance free, fulfilling a strong desire to “get the dialogue going” to raise awareness of the deadly consequences of addiction on Cape Cod—and to speak to a population that struggles to understand it and the people it kills. Those who are in recovery will tell you that simply getting to work each day, maintaining personal and spiritual fitness, and staying sober a day at a time are tough enough after 90 days. Writing, directing, and raising funds to produce a documentary film on top of all that has been an enormous and arduous task, but Sam felt compelled to embark on this creative journey to give back to the community that has “helped, stressed, and blessed” him—before and after his first day of living substance free.

He speaks matter-of-factly, but with a kindness and understanding that belie his young age, for this 20-something filmmaker has seen much pain and suffering. After muddling through high school in Falmouth, Sam, seeking some direction and guidance for a life already struggling for purpose, joined the Israeli Army. After returning to Falmouth from a difficult and war-torn experience, Sam’s drug and alcohol abuse took off. During his active addiction, Sam saw a side—a very real and prevalent side—of Falmouth and Cape Cod that is hidden from view. The desperation, desolation, and bleakness of so many of our young people debilitated by active addiction are real, and Sam is able to tell their stories in some of their own words.

When he was able to turn the page and begin to live a sober life, Sam wanted to have a conversation, a conversation between a sober Sam and his hometown. He made it clear when I chatted with him about this project that it is not an expose on the societal impacts of addiction. It is not a criticism of society’s approach to addiction. It is a simple and genuine attempt to bring his conversation to the people—his people—the people of our community. “This started as a local piece and is ending as one,” noted this able and talented young man, so full of hope for a meaningful dialogue and so full of passion for his meaningful purpose. He explained that the project came alive in planning and production meetings in places like the Falmouth Public Library and Coffee Obsession. Its images play out real stories of pain and hope in living rooms, offices and churches from Waquoit to West Falmouth, and it will soon be available in those same venues so that Sam’s conversation with his beloved community can continue.

September is National Recovery Month. Sam Tarplin is recognizing that designation by having a conversation with his community. Won’t you join the conversation?
 

Eddie Doyle - A Life Lived for Others and A Life Well Lived

The day Glen Charles met Eddie Doyle, his life changed forever.

Charles, along with his brother Les and producer Jim Burrows, produced the iconic Boston-based sitcom “Cheers” which, for more a decade, brought the lives of a collection of lovable Boston barflies into our living rooms. Charles and his wife were in Boston and staying at the Ritz-Carlton on a mission to discover a bar that would become the backdrop of their concept for a sitcom about a bunch of regular people just wanting to go to a place where everybody knew their name. It seems so simple (but truly brilliant) today. After a fruitless search throughout Fanueil Hall and other well-known watering holes in the city, the Charleses returned to the Ritz and prepared to head back to Hollywood without an answer and without a bar to become Cheers. The doorman suggested that they stop into the “best neighborhood pub in the city,” the Bull & Finch Pub in the basement of the Hampshire House, and see if that fit the bill.

Eddie Doyle was preparing for his daily shift at the Bull & Finch when the well-dressed gentleman and his wife unassumingly came through the open door and asked if they could take a couple of pictures. Ever engaging, ever effusive, and always gregarious, Eddie spun a few yarns, told some stories, and sold successful Hollywood producer Glen Charles on the Bull & Finch Pub and on Boston. Eleven years later, as one of the most successful sitcoms in TV history was finishing its award-winning run, Eddie Doyle was still behind the bar at the Bull & Finch. He arranged for the Boston Police bagpipers to play as Jay Leno broadcast live from inside, while thousands of fans came to that place where everyone did indeed know their name to celebrate the success of “Cheers” and celebrate Boston.

Eddie stayed on board at the Bull & Finch for years thereafter, leaving in 2009 after 34 1/2 years of dedicated service.

But Eddie Doyle is so much more than a bartender who helped launch a TV institution and helped make “Cheers”—and the Bull & Finch—a household name. Like Glen Charles more than 30 years ago, most people’s lives are changed—most certainly for the better—by meeting Eddie Doyle.

Although he now calls Falmouth home, Eddie left his mark on Boston and many lives in the Hub through his generous work raising money for local charities in his time at the Bull & Finch. His annual fundraiser for the Globe Santa, which he began more than 20 years ago, has raised more than $1.2 million and continues annually today at the Rattlesnake on Boylston Street. His fondest fundraising memories in Beantown include raising funds by selling buttons to replace a stolen bronze duckling from Boston’s famous “Make Way for Ducklings” sculpture and providing trolley tours for young inner city youth to get them off Boston’s then bullet-ridden streets. Lives were saved and were changed in Boston through the goodness of Eddie Doyle.

A summer visitor since his childhood, with memories of breakfasts at the Shady Nook Restaurant on Main Street, Eddie began his charitable work here in Falmouth in 1991 when, while preparing for a trip down to Falmouth for the weekend, he got a call from another Falmouth legend, Road Race founder Tommy Leonard, who at the time was a bartender at Boston’s Eliot Lounge. Tommy hitched a ride to Falmouth with Eddie and, after a few beverages on the ride down, he needed to stop for a “rest.” They decided on a quick stop at the Quarterdeck Restaurant on Main Street, which even then was Falmouth’s place where everybody knows your name.

After a visit to the restroom and a couple more cold beverages, Tommy and Eddie discussed their desire to raise money for the Babe Ruth World Series to be held locally and conceived of a Falmouth charitable event that could raise funds but accommodate those not inclined or able to run the seven-mile trek of the Road Race. After some input from bartender Margie Mitchell and some notes on some cocktail napkins, The Falmouth Walk was born.

Thirty-three years later, this Falmouth institution and summer tradition raises more than $30,000 annually for local organizations like Falmouth Senior Center, Haven for Healing, the Falmouth Military Support Group, the Ellen T. Mitchell Scholarship Fund, Around the Table, the Falmouth Service Center, the Falmouth Prevention Partnership, the Falmouth Housing Trust, and People for Cats. All from a couple of beers and some notes on a napkin. This year’s walk was another resounding success. Like those in Boston, lives are being saved and lives are being changed here in Falmouth because of Eddie Doyle.

Eddie is telling his own story as well. An accomplished cartoonist (there are probably a few on napkins), he is writing his autobiography. He’s got more than 170,000 words put to paper, and his story is still unfolding. I can help with the title: Eddie Doyle: A Life Lived for Others—A Life Well Lived.
 

Mission Accomplished for Zavala the Magician

A piece to the puzzle. A tile in the mosaic. A link in the chain. A leg of the journey.

No matter what metaphor you use to describe the positive and effective tenure of Jay Zavala as president of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce and his impact on the vibrancy of our local economy, the conclusion is the same: it was an outright and categorical success. He was an important piece to the puzzle, a shining tile in the mosaic, a strong link in the chain, all of which made for a successful leg in our town’s economic journey.

As his tenure concludes this week and we reflect back on his time at the helm during one of the most tumultuous economic periods in a century, the true impact of Jay Zavala on our community becomes apparent. More than just the chamber’s boss and chief cheerleader, Jay was a stalwart presence in our local discourse, and a steadfast supporter of our diverse and robust local commerce. While markets were hurtling and stocks were crashing,

Falmouth’s economy expanded, partially due to the vision of Jay and others who understood and understand that our local commerce is not just tourism, it’s not just oceanographic research, it’s not just health care, and it’s not just culture and the arts. Our local economy is an inextricable mix of all of those, and under Jay’s leadership and with the support and vision of the board of directors, the chamber of commerce supported and facilitated success in all of those important sectors.

In March of 2009, shortly after Jay assumed his position as president, I reflected on that fortunate occurrence and offered the following thoughts:

I can remember a few years back, thumbing through the latest edition of Coastlines, the newsletter of the Falmouth Chamber of Commerce, and spying the new members list. When I saw the note for new member “Zavala, Inc.,” I recall the kid in me being pleased, figuring that Zavala was some alternate form of “Shazam” or “Abracadabra,” and that Falmouth would finally have a magician in its midst. I was partially correct.

Jay Zavala may not be a magician by trade, but he certainly has a near magical ability to bring his enthusiasm and optimism to any task he undertakes, and I suspect it was exactly that ability that led the Chamber Board of Directors to install Jay as its new President. It was a stroke of genius.

In today’s dour world, there is no substitute for the effervescence and positive vision that Jay brings to an already well-organized and sound organization. In an interview with the Enterprise last week, he spoke of “seeking sustainable prosperity,” which is Jayspeak (he is an accomplished member of Toastmasters, a public speaking organization) for keeping our local economy chugging. With the worst economy since the Great Depression upon us, truer words were never spoken by a local economic official.

More than five years later, as that tenure concludes, that effervescence and positive vision have paid tangible dividends—and form the legacy of Jay Zavala. Our local economy is indeed chugging, and chamber members have been inspired to be a part of the community; they are represented on nonprofit boards and town committees and are firmly part of our community identity.

Back then, I challenged Jay by noting to him that, “No one expects you to truly pull a rabbit out of your hat, Jay, but the vision you have set forth to shape the direction of our most important local economic organization by seeking the input of local business people and to re-invigorate the local citizenry by fostering volunteerism and pride in their community is a tall order that will be nothing less than magical if fulfilled. Now, unleash the magic and get to work!”

Mission and magic accomplished. Well done, Mr. Magician.
 

The Carousel of Light and its Legacy - An Endless Supply of Smiles

Rob Hutchinson has a lifetime of Falmouth memories. The Falmouth native, who now lives in Hingham but frequently returns to visit family, fondly remembers days during his childhood when he would get his hair cut at Stone’s Barber Shop back when it was located farther down Main Street, near where Celebrations is now. When Rob would finish his haircut, Phil and Dickie Stone would escort Rob out of the barber shop and help him cross the street on his way home. Memories like that not only shape a childhood, they shape the soul of the community in which that childhood is created; fond memories and the people who make them can define a generation.

When I met and chatted with Rob and his wife, Hilary, at the Carousel of Light in Falmouth Village last week, they were creating and defining new Falmouth memories for three generations, as Rob, Hilary, Rob’s mom and dozens of others watched as their children and other kids of all ages gleefully participated in the merriment and memory-making as Lance Shinkle’s handcarved opus, Falmouth’s beautiful Carousel of Light, spun its way into the hearts and memories of Falmouthites and visitors alike.

As the carousel’s first summer (hopefully one of many) winds down in Falmouth Village, thousands of remembrances have been created, as families from more than 30 states, upwards of 10 countries, and countless locales within the commonwealth have made the trip to the carousel for three unforgettable minutes of fun and fantasy.

As I visited and watched kids from 8 to 80 sing “Let It Go” loudly and proudly as they sat atop one of Lance’s priceless works of art and eschewed technology and the issues of the day for a brief trip to a place of pure fun and innocence, I realized that the true value of having the carousel in Falmouth—the sustainable gift that the Carousel of Light has granted to our community—is its endless supply of smiles, while asking nothing in return.

Smiles are in constant supply at the carousel. Just ask newly engaged couple Melissa Patrician and John Brennan, who are making a lifelong commitment to one another next May in New York, but made their commitment known to their loved ones by having pictures taken aboard the carousel. Just ask Betsy and Bill Hike, committed and involved Falmouthites, who spend time benefitting many local charities, but who spent time at the carousel on a Saturday afternoon, beaming as their grandchildren Hadley and Benjamin gleefully completed their musical and whimsical revolutions.

Just ask Olivia and Cecelia DePunte, who convinced their dad, Craig, to make a stop on the way home from a weekend lunch for a quick and “really fun” ride, making sure they sent pictures to Mom, who was working.

Or ask the group of octogenarians and nonagenarians from nearby Atria Woodbriar who were transformed into a gaggle of giggling schoolgirls during their visit. These few smile snapshots are just a few tiles in the ongoing mosaic of magnificence that having the carousel downtown has created in our community. The Carousel of Light and its all-volunteer board hope to be a permanent fixture in Falmouth—sharing the endless supply of smiles for generations to come. Supporters can visit www.carouseloflight.org to help with that sustainable gift.

Carousel manager Beth Juaire was witness to those stories and many, many more, as this affable and upbeat ambassador of smiles delighted attendees with her effusive approach and endearing demeanor. Many visiting merry-go-rounders filled out comment cards, and one shared that Beth is “one of the most energetic and positive persons we’ve met.” I would agree and saw her act as a tour guide, dancer, singer, counselor, mechanic, safety officer, and DJ—all in one three-minute carousel episode.

More grins piled up in abundance as Pharrell Williams’s smile anthem, “Happy,” wafted through the crisp late summer air and a new group of revelers boarded the carousel and I shared a smile and hello with local radio personality Dan Tritle, who took a break from his duties at WCAI to visit with family and make memories of his own. “Everyone, no matter how old, should ride the carousel,” noted this respected local voice of reason. Yes, Dan, indeed. Everyone should enjoy a ride and a smile. We offered a knowing glance as we gazed into the brightness of the setting sun and the brilliance of the revolving giggles and superlatives, both boasting broad and happy crescents on our own visages, surely like the Hutchinsons, Hikes, and betrothed New Yorkers, imprinting another magical Carousel of Light scene into memory.
 

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