Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Slapstick Shanagans Stall Selectmens Meeting
Last night we had just such moment here in town.
The writers strike may still be on, but we aren't hurting for good sketch comedy here in Sturbridge. (See previous posting regarding incident at Board of Selectmens meeting.)
When a town official is making a presentation to a board, or talking to another official during a recess, it takes a person with either enormous brass ones, or very little gray matter, to heckle the official, and to call him "Bozo". And not to do it just once, but a few times!
Then there is the person being heckled going over to the heckler and getting himself slapped silly.
You just don't walk into a mine field unprepared hoping you don't get blown up. If you do, then you deserve to be blown up no what matter your intentions are.
Now what do we do about this kind of behavior? Simple. We stop it dead in its tracks. Now.
"Dad. You can't come to the Board meetings anymore."
"Why? I didn't do anything."
"Dad, don't give me that. You provoked someone, and called them a "Bozo".
"Well, he is, and he touched me, too."
"Dad, you slapped him like a bad prom date. You can't come anymore"
"My daughter's a lawyer, you know!"
"I know, Dad."
Now, as far as the official goes:
"OK, next time you are heckled from the audience, just continue on with your conversation, or presentation, and ignore them. Then sit your ass down. No going back to the heckler, no reply comments. Nothing. Present, and sit. That's it. Then go home and write about the incident in your blog. You got it?"
"But he called me "Bozo"!"
Well, maybe it's time to take off the rubber nose, funny wig and large shoes."
"I don't wear those!"
"Anytime we draw attention to ourselves we wear a costume. To that guy, your wearing a red nose, greasepaint, and large red shoes. Can't change his perception, unless you change how you are perceived."
Actually, I can't imagine either of those conversations ever happening. As a result the behaviors, both at the meetings and away from town hall, will perpetuate.
But, we don't have to have the behavior interfere with our town government. It takes forever to get things done here in town as it is, don't delay the process any further with side show shananagans. If the crowd becomes unruly, then the moderator must throw them out of the meeting. If an official gets out of hand, the same applies. Suspend them like the NHL suspends a player. You don't come back for two meetings, or three. That's it. Then move on with the agenda. If we have to start paying a patrolman to be at the meetings, then so be it. And, they have tasers.
We elect, and appoint officials based on their experience and intellect. Common sense, or lack of it, is something we don't see until after they are in their position. If they lack it, and are unable to get some, then we have the power to use ours and not re-elect them, or re-appoint them.
So, I guess this whole ugly event comes back to rest on our shoulders. We either ignore the behavior and it becomes worse, or we don't allow it.
And, if they behave themselves in the Town Hall, but still want to "meet at the bike rack after school", then so be it.
They're on their own time then.