By Beth David, Editor
So, imagine my dismay when I went to Town Hall and saw that the Neighb News was nowhere to be found. I mean…NOWHERE!
It seems that a couple of town hall employees, namely, Town Administrator Mark Rees, decided that it looked neater without the papers in the entrance.
Can you say “editor fuming out her ears?”
I was beyond flabbergasted. I was downright enraged.
So, I did what writers do, I wrote a letter.
I did not hear back officially from anyone on that, although I did have occasion to speak with Mr. Rees about something else and he said he needed to read the letter again before commenting.
Meanwhile, I went back to Town Hall for something else and noticed that some of the brochure racks were back, kind of, sort of… They were tucked away in a corner. I noticed that the Neighb News was not in the mix.
It appears that Mr. Rees will try to work out some kind of compromise spot. In other words, instead of shoving the papers completely out of reach, they will just be out of sight.
When people walk into town hall, they should see those racks immediately. They should not be hidden away just to make the entrance look uncluttered. They have been in that place for years and years for a reason: For people who may not be specifically looking for them. They are there to catch the eye of the person passing by. We have been putting our papers there for 12 years. Yes, 12 years.
I find this decision to move the papers disturbing on so many levels. First, that one person (or maybe two) made the decision without input from the Selectboard. Second, that it was made for a frivolous reason like keeping the stairs neat, with no regard for what little independent papers like the Neighb News represent. Not to forget the Board of Health brochures, business brochures and Office of Tourism brochures that were also relegated to the hinterlands of Fairhaven Town Hall. And if you’ve ever roamed around our town hall, you know those hinterlands are significant.
Honestly, we have enough trouble keeping our papers in all the retail outlets. I never thought I’d have to fight to keep them in our very own town hall.
I was hoping to run my letter in this week’s issue, but then it got all filled up with other news. So, I’ll put it on our website for those of you who are able to access it that way.
I have a feeling this issue is not going away anytime soon, so I may very well have occasion to run the letter in full soon enough.
Meanwhile, if you want to get our paper from town hall, you’ll have to hunt for it.
In my letter, I said that this is a policy decision, and, therefore, a decision that should be made by the Selectboard, not the TA. I think it absolutely is a policy decision: To stifle independent publications that disseminate information or to promote them; to support the Fourth Estate, or to join the national efforts to destroy it.
I hope my readers will get on the phone (Selectboard office, 508-979-4023, Ext. 2), or go to town hall and tell them in person that the Neighb News should be right at the front door, not hidden away at the west side entrance that no one knows about.
The funny thing is that the front has two really great spots for them. It wouldn’t surprise me if Henry Huttleston Rogers even thought of that when he had the building designed. In the early 1900’s “bills,” or flyers, or bulletins were a very popular way to notify people of what was happening.
Until next week then…see ya,