Saturday, March 18, 2006

Out of the closet

Herewith, a tongue-in-cheek response to the nasty letter published in The Monument several weeks ago. Most readers will get the point. But, as you will see from the comments, some readers take this blog just a little too seriously! NT.

"An open letter to our loyal readers -

Dear friends:

It is time I come out of the closet and admit to the world who I truly am. For the first time, I am publicly admitting that I am a heterosexual.
Before you judge me, please look at me as the neighbor you have known since I moved to Gray several years ago. I haven't changed, and am still that same person.
In case you're wondering, that person I've been living with is my wife, Susan. And now I can reveal that the little boy you see with us is our son, Andrew.
It's very scary to admit to something so personal, and I hope my friends and neighbors will support me. I'll still continue to volunteer as a firefighter/fire-police for Gray Fire-Rescue. And I'll still continue to do my photography.
I spoke with Don Crandall recently, and he said he would not think any less of me for being who I am. I was very relieved to hear that, since I've always considered him to be a kind, caring, supporter of Gray and everyone living here.
And now that you've found out who I truly am, I'm sure you'll agree that you couldn't care less about my personal life, any more than I care about yours. You expect to be treated with courtesy and respect, as do I.
Straight or gay, I'm not defined by labels, but by how I treat my family and neighbors.
I'm sure you agree.

Nathan Tsukroff"

Friday, March 17, 2006


Dean Bennett named interim town manager. Can anyone confirm?

Inquisitions, responsibility & why Upham must go

by Don Crandall

I attended one of the special council sessions on March 14, 2006 to see how they (the Council) were dealing with the current crisis caused by the departure of Mr. Berkowitz and the town Clerk.

Did you know that the council will be spending over $4,500.00 to retain a head hunter service to replace Mr. B.? I don't blame him for wanting to move on, given the horribly adverse situation that he has been forced to endure over these many months. I have since learned there is some history between Mr. B. and Andy Upham. Apparently Mr. B. didn't hire Mr. Upham when he had applied for a paid position in the town. It could be that the push to harrass Mr. B into leaving was fueled by Mr. Upham's voracious appetite for revenge. I have also heard him quoted when running for office that "he wanted to cause trouble."

The $4,500.00 + is the tip of the iceberg, however. Your tax money has been squandered on a law suit that has been lost several times in the past (Pennell). We can only imagine the attorney's fees incurred to correct this council's ignorant, bumbling mistakes. Heaven only knows what other costly errors have been covered up. It would be refreshing for the Council to publish how much money they have spent on legal fees this year.

Mr. Upham has a regular habit of harassing and humiliating volunteers on the town's committees. Don't take my word for it. Go get the CDs of the meetings at the library. Better yet, wait till the next victim is brought before the council and attend. During the Spanish Inquisition the Inquisitor would often hold a blank paper and pretend to read charges written on it. The accused was never allowed access to the document. I have seen Mr. Upham waive papers and make innuendos in a similar manner. It is truly chilling to see this tactic resurrected. Nazi judges also used this tactic during the reign of the Third Reich.

It is interesting to note that there are a lot of vacancies on our committees. Perhaps if nice folks didn't feel they had to face the Upham Inquisition they would be more prone to volunteer.

Mr. Foster is council chair in name alone. In some senses Mr. Foster is a victim as well. I have never observed him do anything that Andy Upham did not approve. During the meeting on March 14, 2006 Mr. Foster hardly said anything. He nodded his head as the Mr. Upham called the shots. They (the council) seemed to be stuck on locating the criteria that the prior search committee used to screen candidates for Manager. Sitting right in front of them was Mr. B. I suggested to them that perhaps they should ask him to put down his thoughts as to what to ask prospective candidates in addition to locating the other information. Kudos to Ms. Duda for picking up that ball and running with it. It seemed common sense to me to ask the person who has been doing the job to detail in writing the problems and situations the Manager for the Town of Gray might encounter.

We have heard a constant grinding drone about "Order of Magnitude, Force over Distance, I have a concern, yada yada...." Mother taught me a long time ago that one doesn't have to step in BS to recognize it. Mr. Upham must go because we must stop our descent into a vortex of ignorant, self-serving, demagoguery.

Is Mr. Upham a devil incarnate? No. He is human, like me with as many faults and virtues as I have. Is he competent to make good decisions as a Town Councilor? To that I have to answer no. Therefore, he should be replaced. I am not comfortable having him make decisions regarding how my tax money is spent. If you aren't alarmed as well, you haven't been paying attention. It is your civic responsibility to be aware of what your local government is doing. Democracy is a garden that must be weeded continually. Failure to do so will cause it to strangle and die.

Vote to remove Upham.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

This just in

A total of 1029 signatures from citizens seeking recall of Andrew J. Upham have officially been certified by the Town of Gray.

UPDATE: Town Council receives official notification of Upham recall.

Lets hope they don't lose it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Town hall just confirmed that there are more than enough certified signatures to force recall of soon-to-be-ex Councilor Andrew J. Upham. The counting is complete. A final tally is underway. Official results will be announced tomorrow.

(If you're not already hearing appropriate background music, click here. I'll kill the sound effects tomorrow. But for now, its just the thing.)


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The constitution and our laws

I think our Town Council Chair Gary Foster may be fooling us with his quiet manner. His ready smile hides some very deep thinking, as shown in his letter to the editor in the Portland Press-Herald last week.
In his letter, Mr. Foster presents the argument that the "late" TABOR petitions were not late at all, since state constitutional rules supercede laws. The TABOR petitions were delivered within the time frame allowed under state constitution and therefore must be accepted. A very well-presented argument that I buy into. Bravo!
Now for my twist on the issue . . . 
The town recently asked anyone gathering signatures for the recall petition to leave the library, since the town has a policy against political campaign literature inside public buildings. This policy is spelled out under Personnel Policies and can be found on the town website.
However, if the state constitution trumps state law, should federal constitutional rights trump town policy?
I would agree that the town has the right to request that no person or persons campaign in public buildings during regular business hours. And I believe that policy has been evenly enforced for everyone over the years.
It's interesting to look at this issue from a different angle, much as Mr. Foster has in looking at the issue surrounding the TABOR petitions.
Nathan Tsukroff

When in Rome....

Petitions requesting a recall election of Councilor Andy "Little Caesar" Upham and bearing the signatures of 1090 citizens were submitted to the Town of Gray yesterday. Certification is currently in progress.

At right, a picture of Councilor Upham standing in front of the Colosseum Stimson Hall before a recent meeting of the Roman Senate Gray Town Council.

In other news, the Ides of March is nearly upon us.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Is Upham up to no good?

I had a delightful talk with town councilors Denise Duda and John Welch over the weekend. In all honesty, despite my philosphical differences, I think all our counselors have some interesting things to say.
What we talked about is Order 77 as promoted by Town Council Vice Chair Andy Upham. The amendments at Tuesday's meeting essentially prohibit the Planning Board from requiring sprinklers and cisterns in new subdivisions.
Duda said she believes those requirements fly in the face of state law, since they are not specified in Town of Gray ordinances.
Except that cisterns ARE SPECIFIED IN ORDINANCE under paragraph 401.34(c), as a fire safety water source.
And health and safety requirements are allowable under paragraphs 401.28(c) and 401.10(f).
It appears obvious that the original writers of the ordinance purposely left gray areas in order to allow the Planning Board to be flexible.
Welch believes there is too much of a gray area, and the Planning Board spends too much time inventing solutions. I buy into his thought process. And I agree with Welch that it would be helpful to future builders to have a little more specificity in our ordinance.
But being too specific forces builders into ridiculous situations, such as being required to provide cisterns when a major water source like as a river or lake is nearby. This can be addressed, however, and I encourage our earnest and capable members of the Planning Board to listen to their peers on other town committees as they work through this.
So why is Upham hamstringing the Planning Board? And why is he putting future citizens of Gray in danger of losing life or property?
I hope this is merely an attempt by Upham, however strong-handed, to improve Gray. I sincerely hope this is not an example of Upham changing ordinance to benefit his friends in the building business.
Nathan Tsukroff

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sound Off callers caught on film!

Rare daytime photograph of Sound Off callers vocalizing in trees adjacent to 12 Main St. Normally nocturnal, these noisy primates use grunts and tail gestures to define territorial boundaries. Observers report that this pack is dominated by an alpha female.