It is that time of year when we all start to look for new calendars as this year, 2014, comes to a close.
2 members of the Hingham Board of Selectmen, Chair Irma Lauter and Selectman Paul Gannon, need reminding that 2014, soon to 2015, is in the 21st century. What does being in the 21st century mean when it comes to elected boards?
It means that meetings are recorded on video and can be watched on public access stations as part of your cable package which then get uploaded onto youtube and can be viewed to within a second of when a contentious issue is brought up. As well as replayed over and over again with the pertinent times noted and the ability to share the clip easily with social media.
While an elected board still must keep official Minutes and Agendas, additionally, the 21st century means websites for States, Cities, and Towns which must publicize Agendas and Official Minutes for those Meetings and do so through the use of the World Wide Web.
Here is where 2 members of the Hingham Board of Selectmen, Chair Irma Lauter, and newest Selectman Paul Gannon, need to recognize the century we all live in.
Many citizens of Hingham watch Board meetings through HCAM, which videotapes meetings. Sometimes the room where the, or any official meeting is being held, look pretty empty of citizens.
Ahhh, but it would be foolish to assume that an empty room means no-one at home is watching.
This past Fall of 2014 the Hingham Board of Selectmen ( Selectman Paul Healey is the 3rd member) found itself with a season-full of youtube accessible cringe-worthy moments.
What the December 4th BOS meeting has shown is that Chair Irma Lauter and Selectman Gannon want to pretend, denigrate, and ignore what actually was said at practically a season full of meetings and rewrite the ‘official’ Minutes to – there is no other word for it – ‘spin’ them, -’Official Minutes’ mind you, no other word for it – in about 10- 12 minutes, citizens of Hingham can watch while 2 elected officials try to ‘spin’ the official Minutes.
Have I mentioned that ‘Official Minutes” are the legal and historic record of what actually occurred at a public Meeting?
Think about that for one second.
By voting to “Accept” the official Minutes – it really doesn’t matter what anyone saw or heard on HCAM.
Whatever we, the citizens of Hingham, actually saw on youtube, or in our home watching public access tv, or in person( and there were meetings this Fall in which people were outside in the hallway at Town Hall because there was no room where the actual BOS was taking place, so many people attended), what we all saw, witnessed, will NOT reflect what was captured by HCAM.
The only thing that will matter, legally, historically, are the voted upon, ‘Accepted Minutes’ of those meetings.
Have I mentioned that HCAM has 2 cameras operating in the room?
Citizens get to see fellow citizens in the audience and their reactions, we get to see the reactions of Board members interacting with one another, get to see when the Fire Chief stands up and reads a statement to the Board detailing how demoralized town employees are after recent votes taken by certain Selectmen and certain BOS meetings, we get to see our fellow citizens ask for detailed answers concerning a timeline of events, we get to see our fellow citizens express the need for restitution,we get to see how often the Board goes into Executive Session( or tries to), are able to see how long it takes for a certain Selectman to second a motion when he is practically begged by another Selectman to ‘end’ a disgraceful witch hunt. Can you say pregnant pause? I can. I can write it as well. With an HCAM youtube clip – you can time that pregnant pause too. Trust me, it was not an automatic ‘second’ ~ a man’s job pretty much hung in the balance until that ‘second’ was uttered.
Meeting after meeting, seemingly all Autumn of 2014 long, every little and big debate, gesture, and sigh caught on camera.
This December 4th 2014 Hingham BOS meeting really takes the cake in my view.
In about 10 minutes,beginning at the 1:55 mark and ending at the 11:58 point watch as 2 elected members try to rewrite history, denigrate in a subtle way HCAM, pooh-pooh what ‘official Minutes’ are, and then, try to insert into the record a document that was not introduced at the Meeting in question.
Full disclosure: I am endorsing and volunteering for Mary Power for Hingham Selectman come May 2015.
I do so because I want a Selectman who has integrity, a deep knowledge of how town government works> Mary is the present Chair of the Advisory Board, and for the good of Hingham.
I want to see the focus return to what’s really important for Hingham as the 21st century continues to unfold.
I want to see an end to pitting special interest against special interest and to have elected officials remember we are one town and that we all move forward together.
With respect for all who live and work in this community.
Generations of volunteers in this community have worked assiduously to build a community with a strong economic foundation. The Town enjoys the benefits of a Triple A Bond rating. Leaders have worked to develop respectful relationships with town employees.
Most especially I want a Selectmen who respects the process of government. A Selectman who recognizes what the proper role of that position truly is and can navigate, avoid, and certainly not create obstacles in how government should function.
It may be slow at times, but by being slow, it is transparent and it that engenders respect for the institution of government.