We would hope that recent imbroglios between selectmen in both Milton and Lebanon prove a learning opportunity for how a town should be run, or not run.
In the space of a month or two we have had major shouting matches in videotaped town meetings between residents who thought they had complied with the permitting process and selectmen who felt they hadn't.
An ugly substory is that both residents feel they have been thrown under the bus by a selectman with a vendetta against them.
In Milton a business owner put up a wall to protect his building from dirt and rocks coming off a steep hill only to be told now to take it down.
In Lebanon a resident laid a cut across his road to stretch and electrical conduit under his street only to be told now to rip it out.
In both instances these men went to the Code Enforcement Officer in their respective towns to see if any permits were needed.
In both incidents they say the code enforcement officers said something to the effect of: There's no ordinance on the books that covers this, so ...
... So there's the rub.
We are not pointing fingers, there's already enough of that going on.
So the question becomes: Does a code enforcement officer have the right to give permission to an individual to do something for which there is no ordinance or state statute?
We say no. And for their part, to an extent, they say they didn't.
Forget the he said, she said.
What may be the easiest way to fix this is for CEOs to direct them immediately to the town's Board of Selectmen, which is the ultimate town authority ... before they start their project.
If the board OKs their request, they have no worries.
Both of these ugly scenarios go away.
Mistakes happen, you just have to try to learn from them.