Monday, November 26, 2007

Middletown Library Trustees & Others Deserve Apologies

Why not? The "Newport Daily News" and Middletown Council members were not the only ones condemning them. We all make mistakes because we're in a group or business, or even individuals trying to pursue the "right thing" does not make us immune to errors.

I refer, of course. to the earlier library brouhaha in Middletown. Accusations flew from individuals, some of whom should have known better, and both the "Daily News" & Middletown Council called for the entire Library Board to resign for inappropriate actions & a lack of public trust (although they had helped engineer the later). Councillor Silveira was removed from his position as liason while being publicly rebuked.

Although I've alluded to it before, this link with documentation from the Attorney General proves that neither the Library Board nor Councillor Silveira acted inappropriately and, in fact, did exactly what they were supposed to do - protect the library's & town's best interests.

Here is some of the language in reponse to the filed complaints: "No violation," in the use of e-mail, false rumors as to the reason that trustee Bev Murphy resigned (nothing to do with the library - personal reasons), "Councilman Silveira properly included in Executive session...presence was germain." Correct postings, agendas, & meeting minutes.

"While many assumed the [Nov.] meeting was to be on Director Robert Balliot's performance, in fact it was never discussed & Mr. Balliot resigned." Some knew that this was to be the case. The Library Trustees & lawyers were not free to speak.

Mr. Balliot had been directed by the Library Trustees's in Sept. to come up with a organizational plan to work "civilly and cooperative with the Board." Gosh, ain't that just awful. Mr. Balliot did not & asked the board's extension for the Oct. meeting until Nov. Most of the Nov. meeting consisted of lawyers for both sides discussing resignation terms. Without favorable perks, Mr. Balliot's lawyer threatened to sue the library & the town. It suited the director, then, to have a vocal, public audience on his side without knowing the true purpose of the meeting. Too bad the public did not know, but were led down a path making them think they were privy to all pertinent facts (kinda like the Iraq war).

This was a rumor campaign designed to malign individuals & manipulate the public in a political season which many bought into for good reason. Those who have the public trust were counted on to have "insider info" and be beyond a rush to judgement. But the opposite occured. These groups/individuals fueled the accusatory onslaught for their own agendas or merely to ride the tide. In a system designed to protect the individual, "groupthink" overwhelmed reason and a pause for facts by targeting both groups and a few individuals.

Councillor Silveira isn't to blame and neither are the Library Board nor the local Democrats then active in the committee, nor myself. The blame lies elsewhere. A manufactured affair designed to aggravate many while benefiting only a few. Gossip, rumor, innuendo at its worse, masquerading as protecing "intellectual freedom." Those whom we trust unable or refused to act in our best interests by withholding judgement until all the facts were known. Instead there was an immediate call for relentless and irrevocable castigation- a public lynching without the gibbet.

Apologies are owed. I won't hold my breath.
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