Letter: Town Departments Should Act Within Their Jurisdiction

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To The Editor,

“Power is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” – Margaret Thatcher

It is in this spirit that I have to raise an objection to the proposed Human Rights proclamation put before the Board of Selectmen. If the town of Reading has to say it stands for human rights, there is the implication that it doesn’t, or hasn’t in the past, which is patently absurd. All town departments have mission statements fully outlining their commitments in this area.

This is not my only concern. There is a passage that has clear implications that it is the town’s responsibility to infringe and/or publicly condemn an individual’s free speech protections. Where clear violations of the law are directed at other individuals, I fully expect Town departments to act within their jurisdiction. But to imply that someone’s speech is open to official sanction is very disturbing.

This also reminds me of the time Town Meeting was asked to debate a resolution condemning the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision. It eventually passed, after a lengthy debate, and has had no impact on the national debate about the issue. At a time where town resources are stretched to the limit, this seems like a giant waste of the board’s time and a political statement by those bringing it forth.

The proposed proclamation bears striking resemblance to the one passed by the city of San Francisco, minus the direct attacks on the sitting President of the United States. Respectfully, Reading is not San Francisco. While some residents, new to town, envision turning Reading into a progressive utopia, there are many residents who do not share that view. Frankly, it is shameful to expect the board, who represents the entire community, to bend to this partisan view.

I therefore respectfully ask that the board vote against this proposal.

Thank you,

Karl Weld
60 Highland Street

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