Friday, December 23, 2011


Ken O'Brien

Southbridge Town Council Rule 19a. says:

"Councilors Forum will be an agenda item on each regularly scheduled Town Council meeting. The purpose of Councilors' Forum is to conduct Council business."

At December 19th's council meeting the council chair began by lecturing the assembled citizenry of her intention to see that proper decorum would be maintained during meetings. Any interruptions by catcalls or applause would result in removal of the offenders from the hall.

As a less than subtle punctuation to this admonition, one only had to notice the presence of four police officers in the council chambers.

Apparently, however, adherence to proper decorum is more a function of how favorably your conduct is viewed by the chair rather than by its actual propriety.

Now, as a matter of collegial courtesy, an element of discretionary latitude has been exercised by all chairmen to allow some comments during councilors forum that did not strictly relate to "Council business".

Recognition of achievements by local citizens or groups or generic holiday wishes have been allowed to slide with no particular disruptive effect.

But in my opinion the extended quoting from the Bible as well as comments about abortion by Councilor David Livengood went far beyond the bounds of a casual oversight. Proper decorum, it seems to me, would have required the chair to restore proper order and advise the councilor to suspend such remarks.

With another election season just around the corner one can only hope against all experience that the chair will exercise a little more equanimity in her interpretation of what constitutes proper "decorum".

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