The following is my comment to George Hassett’s article Somerville Aldermen e-mails secret? in the Somerville Journal this afternoon.
I don’t see what was so confidential about Ald. Roche’s resolution. It sounds like the reason he was upset was not that his email was leaked early, but that there was organized opposition to his idea. The only rational conclusion is that he hoped his motion would come to a vote without much public scrutiny. When a legislator wants to keep the public out of the legislative process, that should be grounds for impeachment! How dare he and Ald. Pero try to keep the public in the dark!
As a Somerville resident, I want our elected officials to be more transparent, not more secretive. Legislative discussion is PUBLIC business, not “privileged and confidential information” as Ald. Roche claims. I’m sure the city lawyers will report to him that his idea to hide city business would violate the Open Meeting Law. I appreciate Ald. Gewirtz’s firm stand in defense of the public’s right to know about BOA discussions.
It is also troubling that Ald. Roche is rushing to support the police department before a full investigation has been carried out into the matter of the alleged police brutality. That is not sensitive to the families of the teens nor to the community.
What were the “special interest groups”?
Why would Ald. Roche reveal the gender of the alderman who leaked his email, but not her name? Did he intend to raise suspicions about them both?
Why was no action taken on the resolution to support the SPD at Tuesday’s meeting? Perhaps because Ald. Roche was intimidated by resident opposition?
The problem with Ald. Bill White’s analysis is not that resolutions can be voted on the same night they are proposed, because obviously a new resolution could be raised at the meeting itself and that would give residents even less time to know about it. He would show leadership if he introduced a motion to ban new resolutions on the day of a BOA meeting.
It’s odd that in his same remarks about desiring the ability to keep communication confidential, Ald. Pero discussed his attempt at Twittering which broadcasts one’s message to the entire world. It would be a great thing if he learned how to Twitter, so maybe he can stay in touch better with his constituents.
Thanks to George Hassett for reporting this important issue!