Letter: How Can this Board Best Lead, and Serve the Interests of the Entire Town?

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What I witnessed at Tuesday’s Select Board meeting broke my heart. For Mr. Friedmann to denigrate the members of the Reading Police Department by implying they are capable of violence against the citizens they are sworn to protect is a disqualifying event. While I believe his apology was sincere, and that no one should be judged solely on their worst day, his continued presence on the Board will be a distraction which will prevent the town from healing and moving forward on other ambitious projects. His unfortunate remarks have again cast Reading in a disparaging light statewide, just as we are trying to climb out from the negative attention received from the swastika incidents. After seeing this would you apply for a job here? Move here? Invest in a business here? I hope Andy can search his heart and come to the conclusion that in the best interest of the Town of Reading, he should graciously step aside.

Andy’s remarks are a symptom of a deeper problem. There is a complete breakdown of trust between the Board and the staff. Rather than working together on developing a broad agenda for the town, the Board, through the actions of its current and past chair, seems intent on overstepping its role and usurping for itself powers and responsibilities the Charter gives to the Town Manager. It is unfathomable to me why for weeks Ms. Alvarado utilized Mitch McConnell tactics to delay bringing Mr. LeLacheur’s recommendation to the Board for ratification. She cannot cite the lack of public input as the reason since as Chair of the Select Board and member of the search committee, it was her responsibility to organize such a forum.

Our politics are broken. No less than three private Facebook pages operate in town, agitating its membership to the defense or prosecution of Board members. Echo chambers replace conversation. People continue to dig in, rather than lean in. Control and power have replaced service. We have become tribal.

Two meetings ago, after ten months of flailing, Jayne Miller, a member of Bob’s staff, led the Board on an exercise to articulate its goals and priorities. No less than two dozen important issues were identified. I cannot see how this Board will able to lead us under the current charged climate. On Wednesday the Board needs to quickly ratify Bob’s choice for police chief. After the election, a new chair will be chosen, and the first meeting should have one agenda item -“How can this Board best lead, and serve the interests of the entire town?” They should follow the prompt – “What Would Camille do?”

Barry Berman
Longview Road
Select Board member 2015-2019

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