Reasons to be cheerful


If you approached the 2020 Annual Town Meeting with a touch of trepidation, you certainly weren’t alone.

There were several articles on the warrant that had the potential to make Wakefield a less safe and more restrictive community.

Busybodies had placed articles on the warrant seeking to expand the plastic bag ban and impose new restrictions on plastic straws and the popular Styrofoam food containers and cups.

Even more concerning, there were several articles on the warrant directly related to funding local police operations. There was the proposal to rehab and Public Safety Building. Plus, there were articles to fund the FY 2021 Police Department budget and two new contract agreements between the police unions and the town.

The concerns were not without basis. Just a few weeks ago, several hundred children and some of their parents marched down Water Street in solidarity with an organization whose stated mission is to “defund the police.”

Fortunately, Town Meeting tends to attract a more adult crowd.

All of the police-related measures passed easily, although there was one errant motion to reduce the size of the Police Department from 47 officers to 44 by eliminating the School Resource Officers at the high school, the middle school and the vocational school. The maker of that motion couldn’t even get one person to second it, so it went nowhere.

Where were all the brave defunders?

Meanwhile, the sponsors of the articles to expand the ban on plastic bags and create new restrictions on plastic straws and Styrofoam food containers apparently saw dawn breaking over Marblehead. At the eleventh hour, they withdrew their articles to ban these modern conveniences.

Apparently, it occurred to them that as business owners are trying to salvage something from a government-imposed four-month shutdown, this might not be the best time to enact more measures designed to hamstring merchants. As opposed to other times, when shackling businesses with silly feel-good measures is something of a hobby for these folks.

It hasn’t been a good month for Wakefield’s Woke Community.

A few weeks ago, it came to light that the Wakefield Human Rights Commission, those guardians of civility, had a decidedly uncivil meeting during which their own prejudices were on full display. To add to the already abundant irony, the discussion occurred during a meeting of the WHRC’s Pride Subcommittee.

Unfortunately for them, in this COVID-19 era, all public meetings are virtual and therefore recorded. Despite the commission’s best efforts to squelch the video before too many people got to view it online (so much for transparency), those who did see it were outraged and soon, you might say, the clip went “viral.”

Two commissioners resigned over the episode, and the commission’s credibility took a serious hit.

We all have biases. It’s human nature. But if you’re going to set yourself up as the moral arbiter of other people’s biases, you’d best keep your own in check, at least in public.

So, as we head into a summer where most fun has been canceled, we can take solace in the knowledge that Wakefield remains a somewhat normal community that frowns upon intolerance, supports its police force and declines, however temporarily, to nickel and dime struggling small businesses.

In these times, that’s cause to celebrate.

[This column originally appeared in the June 25, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]

One Response to “Reasons to be cheerful”

  1. 1 Carole Scovel

    Wonderful article, thank you

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