By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer
Hartford — Toward the end of the Selectboard’s last meeting, on May 15, board newcomer F.X. Flinn made a motion asking members to replace the approved April 3 and April 17 minutes with a version that he had edited.
Some of the changes were correcting typos — inserting missing spaces between words, for example, or adding the period after a board member’s middle initial. Others were more involved, such as rewriting sentences in a way that, Flinn would later argue, made them more accurate and provided better context for the reader.
As Flinn began speaking, though, he was interrupted by Selectman Alex DeFelice.
“I’d like to make one statement and then I hope that the board would just vote, instead of discussing it for 45 minutes, if that’s appropriate,” DeFelice said, announcing his opinion that “any Selectboard member should not try to rewrite the minutes, and I will vote against it just in principle.”
Selectboard members didn’t discuss the motion for three-quarters of an hour, as DeFelice had worried, but they came close, clocking in at 34 minutes before Flinn’s motion failed. (Later in the meeting, Flinn’s minor changes to the May 1 meeting minutes were approved.) And that was on top of the half-hour board members spent discussing meeting minutes during their previous gathering on May 1.
If how the meeting minutes are generated seems like a small issue, that’s because it is, board members acknowledge. But it points to a big problem affecting the board since elections in March: The focus on minutiae, caused by a lack of cohesion among board members, stymies efforts to address town business. Continue reading