A member of the Community Media Committee (and its predecessor, the Cable TV Advisory Committee) for more than 20 years was denied reappointment by a 4-1-0 vote of the Select Board Monday.
James Shea “has made it clear several times that he does not support additional committee responsibilities” inherent in the expanded charge of the committee, which was approved in 2018, said Select Board liaison Emily Mitchell. The board’s mission now includes “to recognize new modes of dissemination” of local access content.
Mitchell acknowledged Shea’s many years of service as a committee member. But she noted that “we need a new direction to provide that broad community access to PEG programming that our residents expect.”
“Community media and PEG access are at an inflection point,” she continued. Online technology and collaboration with Bedford TV, has played a major role in keeping townspeople informed as town government has gone virtual, she pointed out.
“We really need to meet people where they are and the Community Media Committee needs to help us do that,” Mitchell said. She noted that in his response to the Select Board’s new brief questionnaire to candidates for reappointment, Shea did not reference the committee’s expanded focus.
There was no other comment. Mitchell moved specifically against reappointment. Select Board Chair Ed Pierce was the sole vote opposed.
Many other committee members were unanimously reappointed Monday, retroactive to June 30. Town officials have been preoccupied with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic over the ensuing weeks.
Select Board Bill Moonan was reappointed to the Historic District Commission by a 3-2-0 vote. It was a close vote because a provision in a draft Select Board handbook would prohibit board members from serving on committees other than their liaison assignments. Mitchell and Bopha Malone voted against his reappointment.
The Select Board intends to provide this handbook with information that could benefit new board members and simultaneously remind the Board’s already elected members.
The current draft includes information about the election of the chair, vice-chair, and secretary. Also included is information about the role of the Select Board members on other boards and committees.
Mitchell explained that since “the role of the Select Board member is the pinnacle of town volunteer service… It is inappropriate for members of the Select Board to serve outside of liaison and representative positions.” Mitchell also explained that her advocacy for this change was to ensure impartiality and increase opportunities for other residents to serve on committees and boards.
Moonan objected to this change’s effect. “There are boards that are making decisions about how the town will progress, and there are boards that are relatively independent of the town,” Moonan said. He also stressed how most committees, including the Historic District Commission, have multiple vacancies, and his service on the committee was vital.
Furthermore, Moonan explained that the “Historic District Commission doesn’t really do anything except enforce the state law,” and “serving on the [commission] doesn’t create any conflict.”
The Board also discussed an amendment to the drafted handbook about encouraging Select Board meetings to end early.
In her report to the Board, Town Manager Sarah Stanton reminded everyone of the importance of social distancing and using masks. She acknowledged that many are tired of Covid-19, but residents cannot let their precautions down. She also reiterated the Town’s guidance on Halloween safety. Click here to read the protocols.