Public discourse has frequently fallen short of the lofty ideals espoused by our Founding Fathers.
There’s of course the story of Sen. Charles Sumner, who was nearly beat to death on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks after insulting a relative of Brooks during a floor speech.
We’ve also seen the police reports and meeting minutes from town hall debates gone wild over the decades.
However, a couple new developments have made the privilege of serving the public even more challenging.
The first is a recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that said inflammatory language used during public meetings — including profanities — is protected free speech. This appears to limit the ability of board chairs to gavel down speakers who get heated, use offensive language, and say other things board members don’t appreciate.
The Abington Board of Selectmen will receive an update on the impacts of this ruling at its meeting Monday night, according to its agenda. Abington, like many communities, has seen tempers flare at meetings in recent years. Some town committees previously had soft policies about the use of intemperate or disrespectful language during public comment sessions. Others have limited when the public can participate, as allowed by state law.
Selectmen Chairman Alex Hagerty said Monday’s discussion will inform whether the board needs to update its policies to adhere to the new ruling.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported on YouTubers sticking cameras in people’s faces in public spaces and trying to provoke them — all under the guise of “1st Amendment audits.” Here’s how it works: a pair of provocateurs go into a town hall or town library, press record, and start asking public employees or even members of the public questions with hopes they provoke an angry response, which they can then package up as a video for their channel. And because an individual’s expectation of privacy is limited while in public spaces, local officials aren’t sure what they can do.
From the article:
“In a video Abrams recorded in Lynn, he argued with a worker about a city regulation and told him “shut that mouth.” Abrams told the man the public has a right to insult city staff.Boston Globe, 5/22/23
MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS
The annual Memorial Day Ceremony will take place on Monday, May 29, at 9 a.m., at Mt. Vernon Cemetery. The ceremony will be led by the Veterans’ Organizations in Abington.
The veterans section of the cemetery was cleaned ahead of time by Cullivan Landscape at no charge, according to Town Veterans Agent Adam Gunn.
On May 27, Chris Schultz, the Troop 41 Scoutmaster, will lead a group of volunteers from the American Legion to Mt. Vernon Cemetery to place more than 900+ flags on veteran graves. That effort will begin at 9 a.m.
NEW DAY DAWNS AT ABINGTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
Abington Fire Chief John Nuttall will serve his last shift Monday before heading into retirement. That means Deputy Chief Jack Glynn will officially become Fire Chief this week. A brief but well-attended ceremony was held for Nuttall Monday at Town Hall. Selectmen Chairman Alex Hagerty announced that Monday, May 22 is John Nuttall Day in the Town of Abington. Glynn presented Nuttall with the American flag that was flying over department headquarters that morning; Other gifts included a ceremonial axe and leather water bucket. Abington News will have more on this transition in the coming days.
SELECTMEN ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR TOWN BOARDS
Volunteers are wanted for boards, committees, commissions, panels, and advisories. The Board of Selectmen will take up applications for appointments at its June 12th meeting.
Positions up for appointment include two seats on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Committee, three seats on the Cultural Council, two seats on the Abington Summer Concert Committee, two seats on the Commission on Disabilities, two seats on the Community Preservation Committee, three seats on the Conservation Commission, two seats on the Council on Aging, one seat on the Griffin Dairy Committee, one seat on the Historical Commission, one seat on the Parks & Recreation Commission, one seat on the Registrar of Voters, one seat on the Strawberry Valley Golf Course Committee, two seats on the Veterans Memorial Trustees, and one seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals.
In addition, there are openings on the Cable Advisory Committee, Charter Review Commission, Open Space Committee, and Veterans’ Advisory Committee.
Also, the Board of Water Commissioners and Board of Sewer Commissioners are accepting applications for openings on those boards.
ABINGTON CELEBRATES FOUNDERS DAY WEEKEND SCHEDULE OUT
We’re two weeks out from Abington Celebrates Founders Day Weekend. A full listing of events is now available.
The fun starts Friday night with the Kick Off Cook Off at the United Church of Christ in Abington, peaks with the annual fireworks display Saturday night at Memorial Field, and winds down Sunday night with the Founders Day Concert. Plus lots of other events in between.
Here’s a list of Municipal meetings (May 15 -18) plus Abington High School’s Spring Concert and a new episode of Community Chat featuring Abington Fire Chief John Nuttall. These programs were produced last week by the staff and volunteers at Abington Community Access & Media Inc….
Board of Health (5/15)
DPW Public Info Meeting; Complete Streets (5/16) Project
Charter Review Committee (5/18) –
Abington High School’s Spring Concert (5/17) –
Community Chat feat. Abington Fire Chief John Nuttall
GREEN WAVE ATHLETICS
Monday, 4 p.m., vs. Archbishop Williams
Wednesday 4 p.m., @ Norwell
Friday 4 p.m., vs. Notre Dame Hingham
Monday, 4 p.m., vs. St. John Paul II
Wednesday, 4 p.m., vs. Norwell
Monday, 4 p.m., vs. St. John Paul II
Wednesday, 4 p.m., vs. Norwell
Tuesday, 4 p.m., @ Cohasset
Wednesday, 4 p.m., @ Norwell
Monday, 4 p.m., @ Whitman-Hanson
Tuesday. 6:30 p.m., @ Cohasset
Tuesday. 5 p.m., @ Cohasset
Monday, 5:30 p.m., @ Whitman-Hanson
Friday, 4 p.m., @ North Quincy @ Veterans Stadium
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m., vs. South Shore Reg.
Friday, 5:30 p.m., @ North Quincy @ Veterans Stadium
Wednesday, 3:15 p.m., vs. St. Sebastian
Opioid Settlement Fund Allocation Committee, 3 p.m., Town Hall. Agenda includes a dicussion about town department needs, and language for a possible special town meeting article.
Board of Selectmen, 6:30 p.m., Town Hall. Agenda includes discussion with town counsel on the state’s new public speaking ruling, on a request for a walking tour campout at Island Grove, and whether to restablish the SAGE Committee
School Committee 7 p.m., MS/HS Library. Agenda includes board reoganization, updates to the middle school and high school handbooks, presentation of the middle school improvement plan, and a presentation by Nicole Corbett on a water quality study performed by her students.