A second member of the nine-person Finance Committee has resigned in protest over the decision to replace two former colleagues.
Ronald O’Brien wrote in a letter to fellow members, “I have been struggling with the action that the FinCom Appointing Committee took to admonish and not reappoint two Bedford FinCom members due to their questioning of town leadership.”
Late in August, Elizabeth McClung abruptly resigned, explaining, “It is apparent tough questions are not welcome without fear of retribution.” She added, “I do not believe there is sufficient respect for differing committee opinions.”
O’Brien and McClung were referencing the decision by the Finance Committee Appointing Authority to deny reappointment of Erica Liu and Steve Steele in July.
O’Brien wrote, “It is unfortunate that our leadership apparently does not understand that leading effectively is to ‘serve,’ not to ‘rule.’ True leadership builds organizations, it does not tear them down or vilify citizens due to differences of opinion. If leadership needs to silence opposition, then it is tyranny, not true leadership.”
“I question the actions and motives of our current town leadership and can no longer devote my time to this role knowing that there are organized town officials actively vilifying voices that are not in lock-step with their politics and agenda,” O’Brien said in his letter.
His term expires at the end of June 2024. McClung’s term is over a year later. Both seats will be vacant for months, as the moderator is one of three members of the appointing authority, and that position will not be filled until the Town Election on March 9.
As spelled out in the town charter, members of the Finance Committee are appointed by the chair of the Select Board, the moderator, and the chair of the Finance Committee. Appointment must be by unanimous vote.
Liu and Steele both voted against a proposed municipal budget increase in February. The budget was approved 5-4; the other opponents were McClung and O’Brien.