At March 21 Longmeadow Select Board meeting, Michael Clark, clerk of the Longmeadow Finance Committee read an official statement during the public comments period regarding support of the formation of a Bonding and Investment Advisory committee. At the end of the written statement, Mr. Clark offered his own "personal" remarks that were different from the official FC vote including a re-thinking and reversal of his original committee vote. It was clear to me and probably to most viewers that these were his personal comments. Below is a short clip (courtesy of LCTV) with Mr. Clark's remarks.
At the Finance Committee public meeting two days later, Peter Greenberg, the FC chair read a strongly worded message that was highly critical of Mr. Clark's personal remarks and threatened that similar future actions by any committee member would result in member expulsion. Because this FC meeting was a public forum on the upcoming FY2012 budget, was being taped for broadcast on LCTV and attended by a large number of town employees and residents, the remarks were not simply a intra-committee discussion. It was a very public reprimand.
Richard Liasse, the appointed FC to SB liaison was present at this March 21 SB meeting. Why wasn't he asked to read the FC statement given that this is his assigned responsibility? Also, it is interesting to note Mr. Liasse's biweekly SB comments as the FC representative usually contain both official and his personal remarks. Below is a video clip (courtesy of LCTV) of Mr. Greenberg's remarks.
As readers of my Buzz posts know, I was highly critical of Mr. Clark's lack of experience when he was running for Select Board last June but I have been impressed with his participation in town government related business over the past 9 months by his membership on the Finance Committee. His recent decision to run for School Committee to gain experience on school related business is also very noteworthy. While I do not agree with many of his publicly expressed views, I do admire his willingness to commit his time and energy to town and now school related business.
What happened at the March 23 Finance Committee meeting was a "cheap shot" aimed at making sure that committee members "toe the line". I'm sure that Mr. Clark is feeling similar to how I felt last year when I was fired as the "town webmaster" for expressing my "personal" opinion about the tactics of the School Building Committee. (N.B. My commentary was here on the Buzz blog and was in no way connected to my responsibilities as town webmaster.) I suspect that Mr. Greenberg is working from the same playbook as our current SB chairman.
We need both public officials and town residents to be able to voice their opinions in public without fear of reprisal of any kind.
Michael Clark deserves an official public apology from Peter Greenberg.