WAKEFIELD - A blue windbreaker with a Red Sox logo on the back sits tossed across a chair. Fenway Park is the screen-saver on the computer next to his desk. Other sports memorabilia dot the office. Town Administrator Thomas Butler is a certified sports junkie.
As he contemplates his final days of service to the town of Wakefield, after a career that has spanned 36 years, you know that closely following his Sox and BC Eagles will continue to be a passion for Butler in his retirement.
But you also know that the man who has put in so many hours, both nights and weekends behind his desk at the William J. Lee Town Hall, will also miss the job.
Butler, a lifelong resident, first became Acting Town Administrator in November of 1998 and was named to the post permanently the following August. Before that, he was the selectmen’s executive secretary, a position he had held since 1991. Butler’s first job in local government, from 1972 to 1991, was a senior town accountant.
Butler, 62, was always a numbers guy. He admits that. But he is also a man who cares deeply about the town he grew up in - just don’t ask him about smashing face-first into a goalpost at Moulton Field while fielding fungoes off the bat of his high school baseball coach, Lou Racca.
He feels torn about leaving at a time with so many fiscal problems but confident in the knowledge he turned in a balanced budget to Town Meeting in April. He candidly revealed that he believes a representative form of Town Meeting would serve the town better than the current open meeting format. He wishes that more of his time was taken up with economic development rather than balancing all of those budgets. And feels that the town must now wean itself away from its reliance on state aid.
I hope you enjoy retirement, Mr. Butler, and I hope whoever takes over can aid this town in this time of financial crisis. I agree, we need to wean ourselves off of reliance on the state. But representative town meetings? The open town meeting is the only remnant of true democracy in this nation. If Wakefield loses that...oh boy...