The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 5, 1999


Welcoming a new town counsel

It was no secret that Carlisle's town boards had been unhappy for some time with the services of the former town counsel, Kopelman and Paige, P. C. Last spring, selectmen Doug Stevenson and John Ballantine queried town boards and administrators to learn more about their concerns and came up with a plan to appoint a search team to find Carlisle a new town counsel.

After a six-month search, which produced several fine possibilities for the town, the selectman formally announced at their January 26 meeting that the Boston law firm of Deutsch Williams Brooks DeRensis Holland & Drachman, P. C. will be the new town counsel, with Paul DeRensis as the principal representative from the firm.

DeRensis and his firm come with an impressive list of qualifications. The firm's land use and environmental group has been involved in many development matters, which include Chapter 61 and 61A purchases, land bank issues, comprehensive permits, zoning bylaw reviews, subdivision rules and regulations and wetland protectionthe same issues facing the town of Carlisle.

DeRensis hails from Sherborn, a town often cited as very similar in character to Carlisle, and currently serves as chairman of the board of selectmen. Over the years he has served on many other Sherborn boards .

DeRensis calls himself a "hands-on town counsel" and says he likes to know what is going on in town. He proved that to us here at the Mosquito this week when he ordered a subscription to our newspaper.

The search team appears to have done its job well, and we look forward to having Paul DeRensis of Deutsch Williams advise and represent Carlisle.

Life on Wheels

On last New Year's weekend, my wife and I had the chastening experience of having no functioning automobile. Our 1983 Volvo had been driven very little since summer and hence was now only scantily charged, Now, confronted by cold rain, and with insufficient current from the generator stored within its battery, the motor emitted a few groans and then sullenly declined to turn over.

This was the day before New Year's, not a choice time to be seeking road service. Given the prevailing road conditions, no doubt many others, too, were faced with the failure of their cars. Our own situation had some bright spots, however. Fortunately for us, a friend had given us on two preceding Christmases full memberships in the American Automobile Association road service (AAA). Over the past three years, we had already called three times upon AAA for a tow, including once from the Burlington Mall and once from Amherst, Massachusetts. Each time, and now also on this last occasion, help has come promptly and without further charge. For those like us who have only a single car, one that has reached what the French call "a certain age," the AAA sticker is an important source of peace of mind.

We were lucky enough not to need another jump-start until after the weekend, when the weather changed and the car began to function better; in a few days we were able to get a new battery installed. I should add that other conditions also kept our concerns within bounds: as we now reside in downtown Concord, we can walk from our home to nearby sources of urgent groceries, hardware, light bulbs, and both new and library books.

Most Carlisle families have two or more cars; they need a backup car to help cope with such a situation as we faced, and any family members who have outside employers must usually have cars of their own to get to work. To take care of small children is also likely to require a car. Thus family life now virtually demands the possession of several cars, and that means additional up-front family costs. These include driving instruction, insurance, lubrication, and the replacing of worn material, such as brake pads, mufflers, tires, and (of course) batteries.

The operation of a family car pool involves integration into a whole system of compatible, interfacing machines, in an interstate highway network. Such a system requires participants to meet some set standards, as by auto inspections, to ensure that vehicles do not endanger others. Trucks, for example, must be not too high to pass beneath an overpass or a traffic signal. Look some time at a passing 18-wheeler and notice how narrow this margin is.

Few middle class adult Americans would think today of doing without cars of their own. People who need cars must save to make installment payments, and they must prepare for the next replacement of one of the family fleet. A German sociologist, Werner Sombart, wrote an essay in 1906 on why there was no socialism in the United States. Like others, he noted that the passing of the cheap frontier lands might change this, but he was just barely too early to take account of new major factors: the attraction of shiny motor vehicles and of such goods as refrigerators, and the related assumption of other installment debt. These things keep our citizens on their good behavior, mindful of their need to preserve their credit-worthiness.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito