The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 3, 1999


Needed: A Full-Time Town Administrator

Looking back over a collection of Town of Carlisle Annual Reports starting with 1986, I was able to see for myself how the role of town administrator evolved in Carlisle's town government. Here is what I learned.

In 1986, when Carlisle had a population of about 3,965, the town first took part in what was called "a shared administrative assistantthe circuit rider program." We shared an administrative assistant, Patricia Vinchesi, with the towns of Bolton and Dunstable. This program, based in Dunstable, was created to assist smaller communities in setting up "a professional management capacity." In the 1986 fiscal year, the town's expenditures were $11,519,817.

In 1988, Carlisle hired its first full-time "municipal administrator"Teno West. In the 1988 Town Report, West wrote that he was active in providing general coordination to town departments and facilitating communication among boards, commissions and committees. He also participated in regional planning activities. In the 1990 Town Report, he listed his activities as overall coordinator and supervisor of effective town services under the jurisdiction of the board of selectmen. In 1990, the town's population had grown to 4,379; town expenditures for fiscal 1990 had risen to $15,928,025.

In May of 1992, town administrator Teno West resigned, and Paul Cohen was hired in September. In the 1993 Town Report, Cohen wrote, "I have sought to serve the interests of the Board of Selectmen and the Town of Carlisle...confronting politically-sensitive issues, raising difficult questions for discussion, and examining the future of the community. The underlying principal[sic] to provide the residents of Carlisle with an effective government." Town expenditures for fiscal 1994 were $18,223,222.

Town administrator Paul Cohen resigned in March of 1995 to become executive assistant to the town of Dover. In June, Teresa DeBenedictis was hired. In the 1996 Town Report, DeBenedictis wrote, "The Town Administrative Officer of the Town of Carlisle is responsible for all activities under the jurisdiction of the Board of Selectmen, as well as coordinating activities among all departments." In August 1997, DeBenedictis resigned and David DeManche was hired in November. Carlisle then had a population of 4,645.

No town administrator's report appeared in the 1998 Town Report, and in September of 1999, DeManche asked to go on a half-time work schedule. The population of Carlisle as of 1998 is 4,697, up 18 percent since 1986; town expenditures for the 1998 fiscal year were $27,249,348, up a whopping 137 percent for the same period.

So what does all this tell us? It seems pretty clear, after the finance debacle at last year's spring Town Meeting, that the town desperately needs a full-time administrator with managerial and financial skills to guide the town into the next millennium.

Heavy-footed Catalogues

As many Carlisle citizens have surely noticed, mail order catalogues have become more intrusive and aggressive than ever. It was not always so. Time was when catalogues were merely one expression of the seasonal transition. Along with the stacking of cordwood and canning of peaches, people took pleasure in leafing through the catalogued pictures of dollar watches and galoshes. Other items, such as flannel shirts, might be considered for Christmas presents, depending on the just deserts of family members. Little did we realize that we were being prepared for a pre-assigned fate as part-time outdoorsmen.

I will here pass over in silence the early, primitive mail order world of Sears and Montgomery Ward, and turn at once to a direct introduction to modern Mail-All as I have experienced it. At lunch one day I fell into a discussion with one Robert Healey, a foreign aid worker whose outdoor experience extended to the rocky Eastern Mediterranean basin. Bob's dad had once been a shoe salesman, and with Bob's help I was able to secure a handy pair of six-eyelet Oxfords from Bean's. More important, I soon found out that Bean's carried the classic U.S. infantry high shoes, with the wide-toe Munson last. Unfortunately, Bob's other interests ran afoul of views held at higher levels and he left our organization. Unhappily, these shoes have also disappeared from Bean's list.

Shoes, of course, come in many different forms, each kind appropriate to a certain personality and function. My three pairs of Munsons have been very satisfying, giving me a solid psychological foothold (if the expression may be used), as someone who owns practical, long-lasting footgear. It is immaterial that I have worn my Munsons only once in the last 10 years.

One of this year's most intriguing catalogues is entitled, "The Sporting Tradition," circulated by the Orvis Company of Manchester, Vermont. Orvis offers for $289 a pair of shoes described as "the same boots worn by Scottish Game Keepers...." Unhappily for the desired effect, the Orvis catalogue states that these ostensibly Scottish boots are made in the U.S.A.

Incidentally, modern British footwear is best known for the heavy, aggressive lace-up Doc Marten boots, built to a German design, and bought and owned by a different class of customers, such as the "Lager Louts." I have not found these boots listed in the catalogues we receive here.

For comparison, let me note that among other shoesellers the Land's End company of Wisconsin sells chukka hiking shoes admittedly far different from the ten-eyelet Orvis boots for $65 a pair. These chukka shoes are, however, made in Brazil. At this writing, Bean's closest approach to the old Munson is a shoe priced at $59. Its origin is "Imported."

Happily, the goal of finding a more pacific identity emerges clearly in an American catalogue entitled "Real Goods, Gifts from the Earth," which has four branches, all suitably located in California. A typical offering of theirs is a Disaster Preparedness Kit, including among other items a mylar blanket, 45 waterproof matches, a ceramic water filter pump, a hand crank AM/FM radio and (as the saying goes) much more.

The era of catalogue shoeselling, now a truly global enterprise, has become both heavy-handed and -footed. I myself would doubt, however, that any of the pricey new choices would take the place of my old Munsons.


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito