Monday, November 16, 2015

Friday the 13th - the Local View

GOUVEIA: Very superstitious, writing on the wall

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Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2015 10:25 pm | Updated: 11:16 pm, Sun Nov 15, 2015.
This past weekend included Friday the 13th. That is the day tradition tells us is bad luck. It is when our superstitions and darkest fears rise to the surface, threatening to bring us down and strip us of good fortune.
That is, if you believe in that kind of stuff.
But even the most non-superstitious tread carefully around the 13th day of the month when it happens to fall on a Friday. After all, it’s one thing not to believe in bad luck. It’s yet another to unnecessarily tempt fate.
Since this space is often dedicated to the goings-on of local government in the various Sun Chronicle communities, it seemed like a good idea to remain in that mode through that dark date. So your intrepid columnist endeavored to find out just what it is local officials are most afraid of on Friday the 13th.
This required extensive research and much courage to look Triskaidekaphobia squarely in the eye without blinking. Our experienced staff of one cast aside all horseshoes, four-leaf clovers and other weapons of the weak. After exhaustive investigation, we have uncovered what was previously secret.
So, tongue once again firmly planted in cheek, here are the things town boards and officials fear most on Friday the 13th.
The Norton Planning Board is deathly afraid someone will try and open a store that sells drive-thru windows for other stores. Of course, those store owners will have to walk in to buy one because the board would deny the drive-thru store a permit for a drive-thru.
The Foxboro Board of Selectmen is secretly afraid they will be chased through town by a giant slice of Kraft cheese with a pair of dice in one hand and a bag of medical marijuana in the other.
Seekonk Town Administrator Shawn Cadime has a Friday the 13th nightmare. In it he wakes up and discovers he’s still in Seekonk and is running out of other jobs or elected positions to seek.
Mansfield Selectman Olivier Kozlowski breaks into a cold sweat because of his Friday the 13th fear. He’s in a Lowe’s store trying to shop, but all the signs are in English and Kozlowski discovers he can now only read Spanish.
Plainville officials were very wary last Friday. When you are home to the only casino in the state, you want to make sure you don’t alienate Lady Luck in any way. In Plainville’s nightmare, Foxboro selectmen win a giant jackpot and drain Plainridge of all resources, then make the Splitsville bowling alley/bar move there.
State representatives are not immune to this irrational fear of Friday the 13th. Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, dreams of women suddenly complaining to him about making less than men while doing the same jobs. Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, is terrified out-of-town lawmakers might sneak into her district without her permission. And Rep. Paul Heroux, D-Attleboro, is afraid voters will finally figure out he is a Democrat.
Attleboro has also been affected by this phenomena. Mayor Dumas reportedly had a fear Friday the 13th would somehow yield an opponent who posed an actual threat. The city council shudders over the fear of councilors flipping each other off during public meetings, and of gates opening and closing without control all over the city.
And of course, North Attleboro also has some irrational fears about Friday the 13th. The town’s Representative Town Meeting seems to be considering making voters cast ballots at least 13 times before they listen to them on the matter of government reform. In the same vein, North Attleboro selectmen try not to stick to a plan on the town budget for more than 13 minutes.
So what about the columnist, you ask? What are his peculiar Friday the 13th issues?
I’m constantly afraid I am 13 words over my column limit. I never open the 13th email I get on any particular piece. And I try not to mention my oldest grandson is named William more than 13 times in any given article.
Ok, it’s 13 minutes to deadline. I’m going to walk around my desk 13 times now before sending this in. And for the record — the next Friday the 13th is in May.
Let the preparations begin.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.

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