To the Editor:

I was deeply disappointed to learn that at the June 4 Southbury BoS meeting, Selectmen Manville, Bertram and Harrison refused to allow a discussion of the joint letter from Superintendent Smith and the First Selectmen of Southbury and Middlebury to even be placed on the agenda.

The letter, announcing our collective concerns about racial injustice, was timely and appropriate for our school and town leaders to speak out in this troubling time, and the statement included many fine sentiments about fairness and equity.

However, the statement fails to acknowledge the endemic racism in this (and every) town. It also does not offer leadership in leading a public, town-wide conversation on this painful topic. Instead, we are told “There are resources that can help guide conversations about injustice, hate and intolerance on the website below. We encourage you to use the resources to have conversations with those around you, to trust one another and help promote compassion and understanding within our communities.”

In other words, it is each individual’s job to create conversations that affect our entire town, not the job of our leaders.

Indeed these conversations are difficult and potentially painful, and they require skillful facilitation. Which is why we so rarely have them.

Selectmen Rosen, Bette and Buschsbaum simply wanted to know how the statement was created and how it might more effectively reflect our town’s commitment to real change, and with the leadership willing to guide that change.

Instead, their motion to add the discussion to the night’s agenda was stonewalled. Clearly, even talking about racism and our town’s public stance on it is not worth the selectmen’s time or effort.

What are we afraid to talk about or hear from others?

 

Chuck Jones

Southbury

(1) comment

gregonweb

I would argue that any reasonable person who did their due diligence in reading the nearly 300 comments on the Town Facebook page would understand that the night before the BoS meeting, Selectman Mike Rosen went online ready to throw elbows. Brazenly accusing the First Selectman of having a “total lack of understanding”, he frames the context to which he inappropriately raised his concern at the beginning of the BoS meeting. His tone was charged and it was not difficult to put these things together to surmise that Mike Rosen was ready for a fight, if not a highly charged adversarial conversation.

I have no issue with Selectman Rosen having concerns or seeking to be heard. It was the way he did it that lacked professionalism. There is nothing about what he wanted to know that night that could accurately be described as “simply” as you state it. I believe the board did the right thing, not because issues and conversations about racism don’t deserve a forum - they do. It was seemingly because the intent was to embarrass and humiliate. Further, in the end, Selectman Rosen attempted to get the last word in with a resounding, “Oy, oy, oy”. I “simply” want to know how any of that is appropriate.

Selectman Rosen missed an opportunity to be a leader who could bring people together. I’m actually okay with that because just like you and me, nobody is perfect. By your own admission, the letter was timely and appropriate in its intent to speak out, and “included many fine sentiments”…. I would say Selectman Rosen should reflect on that notion.

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