Saturday, December 24, 2011


Ken O'Brien

During her remarks at the start of December 19th's town council meeting, the council chair said:

"...we [the town council] represent the entire community, you are not, the people sitting here in the audience, are not the entire community. You are part of the community, and as we are trying to be respectful of you, we require, expect and demand that you be respectful of us as well."

You've got to love the dichotomy of the parallelism in this statement.

The chair is saying. "... we are trying to be respectful of you".

To quote the words of that interstellar sage, Yoda, "Do or do not... there is no try.”

Contrast her trying to be respectful with the fact that she says, "... we require, expect and demand that you be respectful of us..."

I think the graphic that appears above sums up the reality of the situation.

A case in point.

On October 3rd I appeared before the town council. At that meeting I presented a statement regarding the town's current trash collection and recycling policies.

Some may regard my criticisms of the council and town management in this forum as less than respectful. However, I think that anyone who views (part 1 of the video) my conduct before the council would regard it as totally decorous.

The statement that I presented on October 3rd was carefully researched over several days and involved consultation with a number of legal and public health professionals.

The town attorney acknowledged the effort and research involved in the presentation at the meeting and requested that I meet with him to discuss it.

He and I subsequently had two substantial telephone conversations where we discussed the content of the presentation as well as the appropriate procedure that the council should adopt in dealing with it.

Subsequently I heard nothing about the matter until I was informed that the town manager made several disparaging remarks at a subcommittee meeting about my not being a lawyer and that I relied upon archaic laws.

Then, at the December 19th council meeting, during councilor's forum, councilor Laurent McDonald asked about progress on my remarks.

The town manager replied that information regarding the matter was contained in the councilor's packets, but that it might have been easy to miss.

This brings me back to the matter of respect.

I presented a statement that involved several days of work to the council in a respectful manner. I engaged in two conversations with the town attorney about the matter in which he sought my advice about appropriate matters of process.

In the end I received disparaging remarks from the town manager and I have not yet received a response from any public official as to why my critique was dismissed.

I can only hope that someone in authority will have - not the respect - not the courtesy -
but merely the common decency to provide me with a copy of the town attorney's opinion on this matter and spare me the folderol of having to file a FOIA request.

Traditionally the approach of a new year is a time to consider the past year and amend prior bad practices.

In this age when bullying is a major problem in our schools stemming from a lack of respect, perhaps our community leaders should set a better example by doing more than "try".


  1. Now we need a law degree to have a voice in town governement. Its bad enough you need money to buy an election. Where will it end.

  2. Regarding the two comments you highlight about "trying to be respectful" and "demanding respect" the two comments indicate an authoritarian inclination. Now I don't follow your town council and I'm making a summary comment in regards to two comments here, but if you try to be respectful or others while demanding their respect it shows an inclination to holding yourself above others. It's a hallmark of an authoritarian approach to government.

  3. Jim:
    For someone who doesn't follow our town council, your analysis is spot on.

  4. aka Jester

    People truly need to be reminded of who/what we rightfully are:


    "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."


    In the Pledge of Allegiance we all pledge allegiance to our Republic, not to a democracy. "Republic" is the proper description of our government, not "democracy." I invite you to join me in raising public awareness regarding that distinction.

    A republic and a democracy are identical in every aspect except one. In a republic the sovereignty is in each individual person. In a democracy the sovereignty is in the group.

    Quote Quencher:

    "The true republic: men, their rights and nothing more:
    women, their rights and nothing less."
    -Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

    "Peace cannot be kept by forces.
    It can only be achieved by understanding."
    -Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
    -Buddha (536 B.C.-483 B.C.)

    The End

  5. The current majority on the Southbridge town council and town manager are like Bruce Willis in the movie "The Sixth Sense". They're already dead, they just don't know it. Unfortunately they, and a good portion of the Southbridge electorate, don't have a Haley Joel Osment to wake them up to that fact.


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