LtE:  Were We Watching the Same Meeting?

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Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to John Lippitt’s LTE about the most recent Reading Select Board meeting, posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2024, by the Reading Post. Mr. Lippitt’s LTE attempts to lay blame at Mr. Bacci’s feet for the unfortunate way in which the most recent Reading Select Board meeting went off the rails. After reading Mr. Lippitt’s LTE, I found myself wondering if we were even watching the same meeting.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, and immediately following public comment, Mr. Mark Dockser, who is currently the acting Chair of the Select Board, states that he would like to “make a couple of quick comments”(time stamp 41:11). Dockser continues on to state that if a Chair cannot be elected by 3 or 4 votes during their meeting that he:

will not relinquish his role as Vice Chair until a new Chair is elected by the Board.” Full stop. 

Read that again, or better yet, watch it for yourself on RCTV’s Youtube recording.

This bold statement made by the current Vice Chair/acting Chair is what set the stage for the meeting to run off of the rails. Incidentally, the bold statement also expressly violates Select Board policy 1.1.1, which is pretty ironic considering one reason Mr. Dockser later gave for not wanting to support Mr. Haley as chair was Dockser’s subjective belief that Mr. Haley would not follow Select Board policy.

Mr. Dockser is now in an election year, and knows full well that the Select Board policies also indicate that as such, he may not be the Chair this year. Mr. Dockser is also aware of the Select Board policy to rotate the Chair amongst the Board members and, of course, the implicit part of the required reorganization, which is to give up the gavel. However, despite this knowledge, he still announced to his fellow Board members and the crowd gathered at Town Hall that he would not be relinquishing the gavel and did so immediately preceding a discussion and vote to reorganize. It was this bold act by Mr. Dockser that is to blame for what Mr. Lippitt calls a “refusal to allow the Democratic transfer of power to new Board officers.” Mr. Dockser literally refused to relinquish his role. Immediately after Mr. Dockser drops this bomb, not surprisingly, a member of the crowd starts speaking in protest and Mr. Dockser’s response to him is “Excuse me sir, there is no public comment. We are finished with public comment. That’s why we had it before.” 

Did anyone else catch that? Mr. Dockser intentionally set up the meeting so that public comment would take place prior to his bombshell comments so that no one from the crowd could comment on his blatant refusal to allow the democratic transfer of power, to borrow words from Mr. Lippitt. Any LTE written about Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting that fails to lay blame at Mr. Dockser’s feet for the way in which that meeting went off the rails is deliberately misleading to readers.

In Mr. Lippitt’s second paragraph, he states that “Mr. Bacci did little or nothing to discourage his supporters’ disruptions and at times appeared to encourage them.” This is not true. Mr. Bacci pleaded with residents to remain quiet. Unfortunately, the RCTV recording (timestamp 45:05) is muted, but there is visual of Mr. Bacci pleading with residents. Additionally, the fact that Mr. Bacci pleaded with residents to remain quiet was noted in an article of the Daily Times Chronicle written by Mr. Bob Holmes, and published on March 13, 2024. If memory serves me, Mr. Lippitt was actually at the meeting, as his name was read and he responded that he was present. So, even though Mr. Bacci’s comments were muted on the tv, Mr. Lippitt was present to hear him speak. So, I wonder, were Mr. Lippitt and I even watching the same meeting? His odd portrayal of events certainly makes me wonder.

Lastly, Mr. Lippitt is correct in that Mr. Bacci and Mr. Haley did walk out of the room. However, one could certainly argue that it was not this action that brought the Town business to a halt. Town business had already been halted over an hour prior to this act when members of the Select Board refused to work with others. 

Laura Noonan
Pennsylvania Avenue

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