The Great Tip O'Neill, who was a legend in local politics in Massachusetts was famous for saying, " All politics is local." - no truer statement could ever be made about this issue or how Politics is viewed by those who live in Massachusetts.
My hometown of Middleboro, MA is no exception. We have had our share of donnybrooks and struggles over how the town is run, who runs the town and what the Town should/should not allow. Google " Casino" and Middleboro will pop right up. Not the first time it has happened in town, nor will it be the last time.
There is not only a local, but also a national dissatisfaction with the incumbents in office due to the way things have been done and the less than stellar results of Government on Local, State & Federal level. The Taxpayers are fed up and have had enough. Those who are in the position of being " Public Servants" have instead placed themselves as the "Lords of the Manor" and are using their positions of being politically connected to alter how things should be.
Example number one this week is Marsha Brunelle, Chairman of the Board of Selectmen. She has instituted a new set of rules for weekly Selectmen Meetings that effectively stifles all public dissent from occurring. The new rules are so restrictive that it would be near impossible for a town citizen to appear to speak unless they have full approval from the Board.
This is not only counter to what the purpose of the Selectmen's Weekly Meeting is for, it is against the long standing tradition of being able to show up, listen to the deliberations of the board and contribute in a respectful manner to the discussion.
Marsha Brunelle has had a series of ethics issues, mainly due to her inability to proper handle the responsiblity of her position, and being married to the Director of IT for the town, Roger Brunelle, another person who has had a long standing history of ethical issues. The two of them act like they can do whatever they please and there is no one who can hold them accountable.
Marsha wants to cut off all dissenting opinions which is further evidence that she should not be in the position of deciding town matters as her use of the "rules" to limit challenge to her position is a sign of her lack of ethical behavior. No person should see themselves as above reproach. All of those who work in public service should be willing to have all their actions subject to review and comment from the public. If you are unwilling to do so, then STEP DOWN.
There is no gray area in this issue - it is purely black & white. You should allow the public to contribute in an open and traditional manner as you were elected to manage the town's affair as a representative of the people's will. If you put in place restrictive rules stifling dissent, you have become a dictictorial Hypocrite who is unworthy of the position.
Enclosed is a copy of the editorial from this week's Middleboro Gazette.....Time to go MARSHA....take your less than ethical bag of troubles with you, and retire with your HACK husband to somewhere you won't deprive others of their right to challenge town leadership. You'll be living off the taxpayers for the rest of your life, not caring who has to pay the bill.
The disgusting abuses of the municipal pay & retirement system is rife in our town and others across the country. The self-serving people who were trusted with the public well-being have instead turned the rules around to satisfy their own needs. It is a total betrayal of the public's trust and a perversion of what was established as a way of providing a retirement.
Alllowing Muncipal Governments to get out of control and become unresponsive to the avergae citizen is something we and our children will regret for the rest of our lives.
A spirited discussion may be shaping up here
August 12, 2010 11:07 AM
Jane Lopes - Middleboro Gazette
I had a dream last night that was more like a premonition. I dreamed that I saw Vic Sylvia, Paul Stiga and Larry Carver marching on Town Hall.
Well, it might have been a dream but there's no doubt in my mind that if it's possible for people who have passed on to make a return appearance, this trio will be at the next selectmen's meeting.
Vic, Paul and Larry no doubt have better things to do now, but surely they glanced down Monday night as they heard the selectmen talking about a proposal drafted by Chairman Marsha Brunelle that would, as one onlooker put it, severely restrict if not stifle the public's ability to participate in meetings of the Board of Selectmen.
After a majority of the selectmen twice rejected a proposal that they adopt Robert's Rules of Order as their guidelines for conducting meetings, the board received a letter from former selectman Adam Bond suggesting that they need some sort of rules to run meetings by, and offering guidelines adopted by other communities as examples. Ms. Brunelle instead came up with a six-page document that goes well beyond providing a structure for the board's weekly meetings. In terms of the meetings themselves, the document — which was not voted upon Monday night — Ms. Brunelle is calling for "all matters to be placed on the agenda" to be submitted by noon on Wednesday prior to a Monday night meeting. And that goes for anything that a resident might want to bring up during the "public comment period" that Ms. Brunelle reluctantly retained when she took over again as chairman from former selectman Pat Rogers earlier this year.
"If a resident desires to make an inquiry or comment during the public comment portion of the meeting, notice to do so must be given to the Board's secretary by the deadline stated above (Wednesday noon). This allows time for appropriate research if required," the proposed rule reads.
Resident Allin Frawley, who regularly takes advantage of the "public comment period" opportunity, read this paragraph and rightly envisioned, well, a muzzle. After the meeting, Ms. Brunelle allowed that she is aiming to limit what she views as obstructive chatter from the audience. And the alleged obstructionists are not limited to the audience, since the proposal to require board members to get on the agenda in order to speak is also designed to limit discussion — say, like the proposals to adopt Robert's Rules, which came up under "Other." "Other," an agenda item designed for board members to raise issues, is to be as circumscribed as the "public comment period."
Mr. Frawley's consternation would surely be echoed by the aforementioned Vic, Paul and Larry were they available for comment Monday night. Because Allin Frawley and the others who regulary participate in selectmen's meetings come from a long and honorable tradition in Middleboro, one that has been fiercely defended by Vic, Paul, Larry and others like them over the years. Two of the three men, Vic and Larry, served as selectmen at different times, but for most of their public lives they, like Paul Stiga, made their contributions from the audience in the selectmen's room at Town Hall on Monday nights.
The chairman of the board suggests that other government bodies do not provide for the public input that Middleboro residents enjoy. Well, Ms. Brunelle, we live in Middleboro, and in Middleboro we speak our piece. As chairman you have the right to cut off someone who is disrespectful, who has long since made his or her point, who is holding forth on the subject of apples while the board's discussion involved oranges. It's up to the chairman to ensure that meetings run effectively and adjourn in a timely manner unless there's pressing business that dictates otherwise. But the tradition in Middleboro is that the selectmen's meetings on Monday night are the place where people can get their questions answered and make their opinions known, albeit certainly within reason.
There was little comment Monday night about the proposed guidelines, and it was indicated that there will be discussion at the next meeting. Since Ms. Brunelle seems to have already adopted her own recommendations, given the lack of input allowed from the floor Monday night, the discussion may be limited to the board members themselves. The proposed guidelines are available on the town web site with the Aug. 9 selectmen's agenda items for those who want to read for themselves.
So far the Town Hall has been investigated for paranormal activity and spirit beings with limited results — mostly a ghostly voice or mysterious light source here or there. The investigators might want to stop by for the next selectmen's meeting. I'd be surprised if some folks weren't there in spirit. Certainly someone needs to be present to object to the those physically present in the audience being seen, but not heard.