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5 changed articles, including police-review plan, draw support

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019
"In response to feedback, we’ve clarified the purpose of a police civilian review board."
-- Jordan Weinstein

The Special Town Meeting starting Nov. 16 will focus on warrant articles tabled from this spring’s annual meeting because of Covid. 

“Five articles are either new or have been substantially changed since originally proposed,” and will be heard tonight ― articles 5, 6, 8, 10 and 25, Board Chair John Hurd said. 

Articles 8, 10 and 25 appeared on the 2020 warrant, but were not discussed at the annual Town Meeting because of time limitations caused by the pandemic’s state of emergency. Articles 5 and 6 have changed in form and substance since their prior iterations, which affects the board’s prior posture, explained Town Counsel Doug Heim.

At its Oct. 19 meeting, the Select Board discussed articles 5, 6 and 10. 

Articles 8 (Acceptance of Legislation/Bylaw Amendment/Municipal Affordable Housing Trust Fund) and 25 (Resolution/Black Lives Matter Banner at Town Hall) were postponed until the next board meeting, Nov. 4, at the request of their proponents.

Article 5: Home Rule Legislation/Bylaw Amendment/Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

The board recommended favorable action, 4-0 (DeCourcey recused, because he does work for National Grid). This article will enable Arlington to file legislation to regulate the fossil fuel infrastructure in new construction and/or major renovation and rehabilitation projects, which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage renewable energy production and use.

Patrick Hanlon, article proponent and a town Zoning Board of Appeals member, advocated for the prohibition of fossil fuels in new construction, with exemptions to make this policy realistic, such as hot water in large buildings. “We’re following the lead of Brookline, which adopted a similar ordinance, and now is in front of the attorney general.”

Article 6: Vote/Establishment of Police Civilian Advisory Board Study Committee

The board voted unanimously to support designating nonvoting members for this committee and including a Select Board member responsible for convening the meetings.

Board member Diane Mahon added, “I am willing to vote in support of this advisory committee, but also have trust in Chief Flaherty and her committee.”

Many community members shared their concerns, and Town Counsel Heim will draft a vote that includes everyone’s comments.

Jordan Weinstein, article proponent and an Arlington Fights Racism and Town Meeting member, recommended a place for people to go who have issues with the police department other than the police department.

“In response to feedback, we’ve clarified the purpose of a police civilian review board. It would be independent of the police department, have the authority to receive and investigate complaints, and report findings to Town Meeting, so that any part of the [article] can be amended by Town Meeting.”

Comments about proposal

Other Arlington Fights Racism members and residents also spoke at the meeting, and most favor this committee:

  • Elizabeth Dray: “It’s important to have representatives of black and brown residents on an equal opportunity committee. This civilian review board would be parallel to the police chief’s committee, an independent forum for discussion and to investigate and review complaints. There’s room for both in Arlington.”
  • Judith Garber: “It’s important to have oversight of the police department separate from the police department. Arlington has had several instances of racial profiling and mistreatment, and a civilian review board would provide a safer place to report such incidents.”
  • Lynette Martyn: “This is a very different advisory board than the [one proposed by Chief Flaherty for the] police department, and needs to be independent and separate. We need to provide a non-hostile place for that, where people feel that they can be heard, and have diverse people who can participate.” 
  • Anna Henkin: “I support the civilian review board committee. Hopefully this will lead to a board so people feel heard, and it’s not just police interested in protecting other police. This will go a long way to repair the broken trust we have for the police community. This community needs that.”
  • Sandra Mustajo: I support this article. Separate from, and parallel to, the chief’s committee, it would build a bridge to the community and establish trust.”
  • Laura Kiesel: It’s time that we rebuild trust in the community. I live in affordable housing, which is more heavily policed. There need to be places we can go to appeal if we have issues, without conflict of interest in their own department, and more accountability for these type of judgments. 

However, one resident spoke against the need for this committee: Ed Tremblay: “I never felt there was a problem that there wouldn’t be people I could talk to, such as the Select Board. Julie Flaherty is fully capable of having a review board. I’m concerned there’ll be competing review boards with different agendas. Give Julie a chance to put her board together, and see how it functions. If it doesn’t work, we can reevaluate it in the future. I’m a little uncomfortable with people who’ve no clue with what the police have to put up with."

Article 10: Acceptance of Legislation/Gold Star Family Tax Exemption

The board unanimously supported this article.

“Arlington has a small number of Gold Star Family members. I support this article, for the people whose family members have made the ultimate sacrifice,” recommended Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine.

Additional warrant articles

The Select Board had no additional comments on the following articles. 

The public has provided input on all of them, and the board held meetings to discuss and vote on recommendations to Town Meeting. The articles’ wording is mostly the same as before, and are just being resubmitted due to the Covid-caused delay. 

Article 3: Bylaw Amendment/Regulation of Outdoor Lighting–Uplighting

Article 4: Bylaw Amendment/Minuteman Bikeway Hours

Article 7: Vote/Bylaw Amendment/Envision Arlington Updated Language

Article 9: Vote/Election Modernization Committee

Article 11: Home Rule Legislation/Justin Brown (added Dec. 31, 2000 deadline date)

Article 12: Home Rule Legislation/Consolidation of Town Meeting Member Elections

Article 13: Home Rule Legislation/Ranked Choice Voting

Article 14: Home Rule Legislation/Senior Water Discount

Article 15: Home Rule Legislation/Retired Police Officer Details

Heim added that Article 15 has two points that prevent retired officers from being appointed as detail officers: 

  • The language of the special acts makes it clear that these appointments are purely discretionary, and requires the recommendation of the police chief. Any appointment can be denied for any nondiscriminatory reason, and neither candidates nor appointees have Civil Service or collective bargaining rights to the appointment or to maintain the appointment, and can be terminated with or without cause.
  • Based on comments from the public and the board, officers aren’t eligible if they were involuntarily separated from employment or have any active administrative or disciplinary matters open against them upon involuntary separation. Someone who’s terminated cannot be hired back as a retired officer for detail, nor can anyone quit voluntarily to avoid a disciplinary matter.  
 See the ACMI video of the Oct. 19 meeting:

September-October, 2020: Special Town Meeting links

Oct. 23, 2020: Police, animal control investigate kennel license petition 

Oct. 14, 2020: E. Arlington, Summer St. plans vie for last recreational-marijuana license


This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020.

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