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I watched the 11/21 Select Board meeting in absolute astonishment that some in the audience felt their grievances gave them license to ignore established meeting rules. I appreciate that the issue being discussed (the request for a menorah and a Christmas tree on the Reading town common) is a very personal and emotional one for many. That does not excuse the abhorrent and juvenile behavior I witnessed:
- Continued clapping after Chair Dockser repeatedly and politely asked for it to stop
- Heckling, laughing at, and interrupting speakers
- Insulting name-calling
- Outbursts and audible side comments while speakers were at the microphone
It is disappointing that many there thought such discourteous behavior towards fellow residents and the Select Board was acceptable and justified. I commend Chair Dockser for maintaining his composure. He has consistently demonstrated calm, rational, and fair conduct during his time on the Select Board.
While I am not an expert on Robert’s Rules, it is my understanding that Point of Order may be used by elected officials and meeting participants for infractions such as exceeded time limit, veering off-topic, or to call out behavior. I urge the Select Board to review as a future agenda item not only rules for audience members but also the protocol for Select Board member interaction. After the 11/21 Select Board meeting, and Town Meeting that followed, I’ve concluded that many of us could use a refresher.
For more context, I encourage anyone reading this letter to watch the 11/15 Select Board meeting (starting around 2:01:40) and the 11/21 Select Board meeting (entire video).