Massachusetts official faces charges for painting crosswalks

By Jacqueline Tempera BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts town selectman who painted over fading crosswalks in his town in response to complaints from constituents was criminally charged on Tuesday for his efforts. George Simolaris, a selectman in Billerica, about 25 miles from Boston, said he was tired of constituents asking when the white paint would be freshened up, so he fixed the problem himself. He said he bought cans of green paint, the town's official color, and spent the weekend painting over six faded crosswalks. "All I've heard for months is: 'When is this going to get done?'" Simolaris said. "I got sick of it." Police and town officials said painting the street without authorization was illegal and charged him with two counts of destruction of property, according to Billerica police spokesman Roy Frost. Town Manager John Curran said the town was in the midst of a $400,000 pedestrian safety project that requires digging up the street including some of the crosswalks in question, which are slated to be repainted once construction is complete. He added that Simolaris would be required to repay the $4,000 cost of cleaning up the paint, which he said chipped and smeared. "His job is to uphold laws not break them," Curran said. "He has no respect for the governmental process." Simolaris defended his actions. "I'm just trying to do right by the people in my town," he said. "I didn't think I was intervening in other people's day-to-day activities or doing anything wrong." (Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney)