Thursday, January 19, 2006

The pot calls the kettle black

A letter from The Monument Editor Elizabeth Prata to Town Council Chair Gary Foster on Jan 18, 2006. I guess stamping her foot and calling Lynn a doo-doo head wasn't enough...

"Dear Gary, 

I think you did a good job handling the meeting Tuesday night. It is difficult while under fire to maintain one's cool, to be respectful in the face of harsh criticism, and to have the wherewithal under the harsh glare of television to follow procedures when 50 angry hostiles staring you down want the opposite. Thank you for that. You, and fellow Councilors, are good community role models in this regard.

Unfortunately, some citizens are not good role models. I have a grave concern about Lynn Olson's pattern of harsh and aggressive behavior at public meetings. I had sent you a letter two weeks ago after the previous inappropriate eruption from Ms Olson.

I retracted that statement because my comments were tied to several of the clauses regarding civility that had been removed from the recently amended version of the Council Rules.  However, the amended version in “SECTION 602.12 - Chairperson’s Duties” still makes the point that the Council Chair’s duties include preserving “decorum and order.”

As I said above, you have been very good at preserving order and maintaining a respectful attitude toward even those whom are ruled out of order.

However, preserving decorum is also important. Decorum is defined variously as “Appropriateness of behavior or conduct; propriety, Conformity to recognized standards, as of conduct or appearance, appropriate behavior, good manners.”  We can all agree that listeners and audience members should not be subjected to obscene language, and you have consistently ruled such persons out of order. 

I think we can all also agree that obscene gestures are equally indecorous. While Ms Olson can make all the choices she wants while in the privacy of her home, she does not have that same latitude when in public. There, other rules apply, including at Stimson Hall. Under Council Rules, such behavioral choices fall under the Chair’s jurisdiction to rule in or out of order.  

Over the last year, Ms Olson has repeatedly demonstrated that she chooses to be intimidating (as Vice-Chair, almost coming to blows with a citizen), harassing (at the CEDC meeting toward a duly appointed town committee member), combative (personal attacks at Council meetings), and on Tuesday, offensiveness (using obscene gestures to communicate her point). 

I think of the bystanders who watch these behaviors, and I think of the children who watch these eruptions from people who are supposed to be their role models. I think of the citizens and committee members and others who see these behaviors and may feel intimidated and therefore choose not to be in the same room as such a person. 

Ms Olson’s public behavioral choices do not exist in a vacuum. Innocent citizens, bystanders, fellow Councilors, and children are watching. Perhaps Ms Olson’s gesture was captured on television last night, and what a shame that would have been. 

It is up to the Chair to see that people who congregate at public spaces are safe - and that safety includes freedom from harassment, intimidation, aggressiveness, and obscenity.  

Ms Olson has demonstrated a consistent pattern of disorder and indecorous behavior, and unfortunately has never been ruled out of order nor challenged by past or present Council Chair or Committee Chair on her negative example. With no insistence on decorum, her behavior will likely continue, to the detriment bystanders who are present and watching. 

Chair Foster, please see to it that decorum is maintained at all times. Perhaps a talk with Ms Olson to outline Council’s decorum expectations and consequences thereto is in order. My advocacy is for the innocent bystanders who should not be publicly subjected to harassment, intimidation, aggressiveness, and obscenity from any person. 

Thank you for your time,
Elizabeth Prata
The Monument Newspaper
January 18, 2006 "

Local Hero Speaks Out

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What kind of sycophant . . .

This didn't really happen, but it sure seems plausible . . .

Andy Upham is browbeating Gary Foster. "What kind of sycophant are you?" he sneers.

Foster's face goes blank for a moment, then he brightens and says, "What kind of sycophant do you want me to be?"