The latest flap illustrating the dysfunctional mess that is Derry’s town government comes over the most seemingly innocent of causes: an attempt by town leaders to honor municipal employees for their service.
Who would deny workers, municipal or otherwise, the opportunity to receive a slap on the back and a hearty “well-done” from their supervisors? Surely, no one would. But Derry does not disappoint. The town has found a way to recognize its workers and irritate residents at the same time.
On Friday, Dec. 6, the town closed the Municipal Center and Veterans Hall for three hours, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., to hold its Employee Recognition Luncheon at the First Parish Church. The event has been held annually since 1999. More than 35 employees were honored for their years of service to the town.
While this was going on, former councilor Janet Fairbanks stationed herself at the Municipal Center and noted the number of people coming to transact business with the town, only to find that they could not. A sign on the door announced that the town offices were closed.
“In the 15 minutes which I was standing outside the Municipal Building during the time of closing, at least 15 people got out of their vehicles, walked to the door, tried to open the door and could not because of the door being locked, read the sign, shook their heads and then returned to their vehicle,” Fairbanks wrote in a letter to the Derry News last week. “Two of the individuals who stopped to speak to me said that they were on their lunch hour and were there to pay their tax bill and register their vehicles.
“What a blatant display of total disregard for the citizens of Derry who are forced to foot the bill for this latest excess in an economy that is still struggling,” she wrote.