The hoopla surrounding Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee pumping gas from the town highway department facility into his personal vehicle still lingers throughout that community. It is an example of a bad move by a local politician, and therefore the incident should not simply go away. It should stick around as a lesson.
Mr. Ferebee should not have taken advantage of his supervisory power by pumping town gas in the first place. If Joe Citizen, or even Joe Town Employee, had run out of fuel in Keene, not only would he have paid the market price instead of a discounted $2.98 a gallon, but he would have had to walk to the closest gas station - Stewart's in Keene - go through the hassle of finding a container suitable for holding gas and then walk back to his vehicle. Of course, knowing the hospitality of area residents, an individual in need would have probably found a ride and assistance.
While Mr. Ferebee certainly overstepped his authority, he did not steal - he paid for the 14 or so gallons the following morning. He also was exonerated by the Keene town board - but not by the court of public opinion. And that court is still in session.
Bill Ferebee, town of Keene supervisor
(Enterprise file photo)
It is human nature to wonder if Ferebee had visited the highway department gas pump before, but in this land, a person is still innocent until proven guilty. There is no evidence to warrant a claim of previous visits, so people have to take Mr. Ferebee at his word that this was a one-time incident - regardless of all the scuttlebutt in Keene.
As a public official, Mr. Ferebee still needs to address the court of public opinion. What he should do is make amends by publicly making a donation to a local charity - more than the amount he saved on gas - and make a public apology for his transgression. The next meeting of the Keene town board would be a perfect venue for such an action, and concerned residents should attend that meeting to push the issue.
No, it is not a huge deal, but it is one that warrants more action than letting it pass and having Keene residents upset by the thought that Mr. Ferebee might consider himself above the rules.
There is no discount gas in Keene; rather, a public official may have to pay a little extra to restore public trust that has been broken.