BOS Motions “transparently vindictive”
During the October 5 Selectboard (BOS) meeting Chairman Daniel Freitas made a motion to assign the legal ads to papers other than the Fairhaven Neighborhood News. His reason for doing so was that he did not like the “gossip” coverage in FNN and that “people” had complained to him about it. He said he did not want people having to read the coverage to access legal notices.
He did not have the courtesy to advise Beth David, the publisher, that he had put the discussion on the agenda. However, she got wind of it and appeared via Zoom to defend her paper. Evidently, Freitas planned to make his motion a “done deal” without any consideration of supporting data.
His motion was transparently vindictive. His intent was to hobble the paper’s revenue because he does not like the paper’s reporting. And admittedly, the coverage has been damning for Mr. Freitas:
• His brawling near the McDonald’s parking lot where, allegedly as the aggressor, he is awaiting a scheduling for court appearance.
• His visible hostile attitude toward reasonable and well thought through comments by fellow board member Bob Espindola during BOS meetings.
• His declaration that he will not allow public comments during several important BOS meetings.
• His decision not to entertain involvement of the state’s Department of Revenue which exists to help municipalities plan and adopt best practices.
• His defense of an event sponsored by the BOH chairman that appeared to violate MA state pandemic rules on gatherings of more than 50 people.
Now, on top of it all, his shameless performance during the October 5 BOS meeting (10/8/20 issue, page 4) which you can watch on www.fairhaventv.com It starts at two hours and thirteen minutes (2:13 on the progress bar) and ends at 2:46 .
As you watch, ask yourself:
1. Did Beth David make a clear and compelling case for continuing the ads with FNN? Overwhelmingly YES!
You will see that she came prepared with the facts, figures, and clear rationale. Unlike other options, her paper is free, dedicated to the community, and read first and foremost by Fairhaven residents. Her column inch cost is the most favorable and she was willing to add extras to keep the business. There really is no comparison or better option for Fairhaven.
2. Now ask yourself if Mr. Freitas was able to offer any evidence to support his motion? Clearly No!
His mind was made up and based solely on flimsy unsubstantiated complaints by unidentified people. In order to objectively evaluate, the record should reflect the specific complaints and who is making them. His disdain for FNN is obvious and his focus was hell-bent on moving the ads regardless of his lack of facts. He did not know any of the specifics: cost to the town to place ads, cost to the community to access ads, or other papers reach into Fairhaven’s intended audience. Yet, he remained undeterred in pushing his motion.
Fortunately, Mr. Espindola insisted on an objective data comparison, departmental feedback, and specifics re any complaints. Mr. Silvia, likewise, said he wanted to see relevant information. So, the motion was not seconded and will be revisited at the next BOS meeting.
It must be asked: Is this any way to conduct the town’s business? The public expects that motions be based on sound reasoning, supported by objective factual data, and not out-of-spite revenge. Arbitrary motions like this, before gathering the facts beforehand, reveal extremely poor judgement.
3. Now, the people of Fairhaven must ask themselves: “Is Mr. Freitas worthy to be a selectman?” So far, the evidence — in pattern, practice, behavior, and example — is that he is not.
And, Mr. Freitas has a choice. If he does not like what is being reported, he can either wallow in it or change it by behaving better and model good behavior to others. He could work at setting an example of sincere collaboration; demonstrating objectivity and fairness; being respectful to his colleagues and constituents; and, putting the best interests and image of Fairhaven forward.
Most leaders start with these attributes and are tempered by humility and an awareness that, as public servants, they will be held accountable. It just goes with the territory. Clearly, Mr. Freitas has a steep learning curve to be worthy of the office he occupies.
The bigger question for all of Fairhaven is: Do we allow irresponsible behavior to shape Fairhaven or do we have the political will to insist on good governance? If we don’t speak up what we see is what we get!
Cathy Delano, Fairhaven
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