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LETTER: ‘Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears a Crown’

Stephen Harrington, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 13, writes that he’s dismayed by a trend he sees with the Board of Selectmen.

The following is a Letter to the Editor from Arlington resident Stephen Harrington, a Town Meeting member from Precinct 13.

Three times in the past six months Arlington residents have tried to engage the Board of Selectmen with their concerns.  

In May, the Landscapers Association asked the Board to place a non-binding question on the April ballot concerning the leaf blower ban. The Board refused citing the sanctity of a Town Meeting vote. The Association and more than 1,200 voters forced the Board to call a summer election where an overwhelming majority of voters, in an unprecedented vote, came to within a few hundred votes of rendering the Town Meeting decision irrelevant.  

In July, I asked the Board to call a special Town Meeting to reconsider the ban given the results of the summer election. Not a single Board member responded. A petition of more than 200 voters forced the Board to call a special Town Meeting, a minor cost to the Town that returned millions of dollars to residents through reduced kindergarten fees and bond refinancing. Elected officials offered uncivil behavior, personal slurs and procedural shenanigans and Town Meeting failed to adequately represent voters by ignoring the election results. 

On Monday, Dec. 3, the East Arlington Concerned Citizens Coalition asked the Board to place a non-binding referendum on the April ballot concerning the removal of one lane on Mass. Ave. The Board refused and chastised the residents. A petition of more than 3,000 voters will force the Board to place the question on the April ballot.

Although each of these three efforts was carried out by independent groups, they all have common trajectories. Citizens ask the Board for relief. The Board fails to engage those citizens and votes against their modest requests. Many thousands of voters then exercise their right to petition a wider audience than the Board of Selectmen, whether it be Town Meeting or the electorate directly through a ballot initiative, which alienates the Board members. Board members then disparage the petitioners and use their office to bully residents in an attempt to silence them. In addition, Board members actively work against the thousands of petitioners who want their concerns not just heard, but listened to.  

Three time in six months residents have exercised their rights and forced the Board of Selectmen to allow voters to hear petitions. Three times, Board members don't just disagree with petitioners but chastise residents who have the courage to speak out. Elected officials in Arlington will proclaim that they work for the voters in Arlington, but their actions say otherwise. The bullying tactics and inappropriate public response to petitioners indicates to me that, quoting Shakespeare, uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Stephen Harrington
Precinct 13 Town Meeting Member
Columbia Road

Tim December 10, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Bob, Please ....... it's the Holiday season .....
Tim December 10, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I guess you don't watch town meeting or the selectmens meetings. On many occasions I have seen Kevin Greeley tell people to "sit down" or "Stop wasting my Time". Bob your bias towards the town is sickening...
Stephen December 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Hi Tim, No worry, we all know Sprague is a troll, but the question is legitimate. Fortunately, it is all documented. Look at the link here: http://truepersons.com/2012/12/06/bully-pulpit/ To see Greeley bully a senior citizen, or watch the youtube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk1Cig0cw3I and decide for yourself. This is not an isolated incident. Read another example here: http://truepersons.com/2012/12/10/swan-dive/ where other residents were bullied. On a personal note, Kevin Greeley thundered at me in a public meeting that only an idiot would ask for a special town meeting. His insincere apology is recorded at the next Board meeting where my calls for civility were met by deaf ears. I have plenty of examples, but Sprague wants to turn the discussion away from elected officials and onto me or someone else. It is such a transparent tactic I try to never respond to his trolling.
Tim December 10, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Wow Stephen after reading in true persons I can see that it looks Like Mr. Greeley is under alot of stress. The family doesn't have a good history when it comes to health related issues. Hopefully all is getting better , maybe he should resign . I think that would be best for him. If he doesn't is there a way to recall his position?
Cantafordcambridgemovetoarlington December 10, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Mr sprauge ........comment :.............Bob..............comment
Roy December 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I have viewed the video of Mr. Greeley --- shocked and appalled that these public officials, such as Mr. Greeley, treats the citizens concerned enough to show up, participate and urge that the board consider the votes and opinions of town residents are subjected to abuse and bullying.
Tim December 10, 2012 at 11:51 PM
There should be term limits on how long these people can serve . Mr Greeley looks way too comfortable sitting in that seat . He does not have to anwser to anyone . He reminds me of Mr Lyons a few years ago and the way he treated people . It is time for Me Greeley to go ...
x December 11, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Our forefathers and foremothers did not anticipate Arlington becoming the Moonbat Nation... only a small step below Cambridge in all things liberal - oops, progressive. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III
Roger Johnson December 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
What nonsense.  The Selectmen voted no action on the original leaf blower article.  Then they advised the landscapers not to cause a costly special election because it would fail, and they were right.   But the Selectmen tackled the problem anyway, getting the proponents and opponents together to hammer out a compromise.  They asked Mr. Harrington to let them work through the problem, but he tried (and failed) to hijack the issue anyway.   And he shouldn't take credit for the School Committee and Town Manager's later addition of money-saving articles - he complained about having other articles than his and didn't care about the cost when he submitted his petition.   Mr. Berger's ballot question is myopic - let's also have a vote on the placement of every crosswalk, traffic light, sign, tree, bus shelter, and bench.  Even Diane Mahon won't carry water for the anti-Mass Ave people any more. The Selectmen have been elected by the voters to serve the entire town of 42,000+ people, not just a couple of squeaky wheels.
Tim December 11, 2012 at 02:58 AM
The selectmens way of letting them tackle the problem is giving into these people... Time to end this form of Government....
John December 11, 2012 at 05:02 AM
What ever you say, Saul
Tim December 11, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Jon Boy you sound frustrated.....
Tim December 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Well Sour , you will never get an apology from that guy ... He is a coward... Remember this is the guy who printed the names of children who were enrolled in special education ... If he ever published my kids name the blogger would need a lawyer .... I am tired of this guy and his terrible journalism .....
Edgen December 12, 2012 at 01:26 AM
It would all be so much easier if Arlington made Stephen Harrington King!
John December 12, 2012 at 02:40 AM
he does seem to know what would be better for all of us simpletons. Steve Harrington for King!!! Can we get rid of this town meeting style government by the people, and install Steve as King!!! although, if he would only pontificate in public, we wouldn't need leaf blowers. The town would be leaf free any time Steve wanted, May or June included.
Richard Langone December 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Hi Bob I was at the BoS meeting and everything in the video of the meeting is true (swan dive) the fact that as soon as I asked the question about the targeted ticketing the meeting ends.Mr Greeley doesn't want to talk to me! Whats up with that?------Rats! ----- I wanted to talk to him! Rich
John B December 12, 2012 at 01:01 PM
And we have yet another sock puppet of Stephen Harrington. More attempted diversity, but you really should avoid slurs, Stephen.
Tim December 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Richard, you will never get a response from this guy . A Coward is a Coward Remember this is the guy who printed the names of children with learning disabilities ... Shame on you ....
Tim December 12, 2012 at 01:27 PM
John B , the only Sock Puppet in Arlington is the Blogger . Who continues to spin half truths and lies ....
Raymond Hiller December 12, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Stephen, What exactly was your involvement in the Kindergarten fees issue? My understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, was another town blazed the trail and figured it out. An Arlington mom noticed and let the appropriate people in Arlington know. After some hard work by many people (not you) the issue was researched and taken to town meeting for a vote -- which everyone said yes. What exactly did you do besides vote yes like everyone else?
Raymond Hiller December 12, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Stephen, the hero in the kindergarten fees reduction was that mom who figured it out. It really annoys me when people like you try to spin credit for other people's work. You called the STM for leaf blowers -- everyone knows that. Your wheels are so squeaky at this point that SC members leave the room when you stand up to talk. After 24 years of dealing with people like you, I'm amazed Greeley wants to run for office again.
Tim December 12, 2012 at 06:51 PM
@ Ray ... Of course Greeley is going to run again . Don't be silly it's called FREE HEALTH INSURANCE" . When you own your Own Business as Mr Greeley does free health insurance comes in handy .. He cares for Arlington,,, yeah right .. This guy doesn't even send his kids to public schools .. Sure he cares ...
Bob Sprague December 15, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Richard, Tim, I checked the box on this thread to respond to comments, but I did not see these comments until now. I watched the selectmen's meeting in question. You did ask a question, Richard -- many questions, in fact. But you became increasingly difficult about it, drawing Mr. Greeley's ire. I have offered you the opportunity to publish your story at YourArlington.com. Tim: I responded at some length to you recently regarding your allegations about the addresses of special-education children. Your claim that I do not respond is simply wrong. Steve: Why do you block me from Trueperson.com? Isn't "Menotomy Observer" an pseudonymous troll? Bob Sprague
Tim December 15, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Mr Sprague , please show where you have responded to my comments about you printing the names of these kids ....
Tim December 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Mr Sprague , please show where you have responded to my comments about you printing the names of these kids .... Please show me I would love to see your reason for it... Let me guess Jeff asked you to do it?
Richard Langone December 17, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Bob I will get that story to you soon. Bob if you saw the same video I did and you think Mr. Greeley was letting me speak then why dose the meeting end? Tell me the reason; what got him so mad that he had to end the meeting! He stopped me from saying that the selectman K Greeley and D Mahon had our street targeted I have reason to believe the proof I have will show that. If I ever get the chance to say it. Those two are on the parking subcommittee they are bias toward our street and there in charge of the Board the committee that ends up ruling on our street Bob Tell me why does Mr. Greeley stop the meeting? Rich
Bob Sprague December 17, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Tim, I guess you don;t read what others write. I already noted that I watched the meeting. As for my lengthy response to you about special-education children, I did post it, and you will have to find it. It was in response to your claims about my posting addresses. I never posted addresses. As for your biases, I believe you need some help fro your anger toward the town. Bob Sprague
Tim December 17, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Mr Sprague , big deal you didn't publish addresses . You still wrote their names . Mr Sprague please use your words carefully . I have no Anger towards anyone or anything. Anger and dislike are two totally different things . So I suggest you choose your words carefully .. As for needing help , you are the one who needs help ...
Bob Sprague December 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Tim: I did not publish any names. I published a map for about 20 minutes. That map had no names. I apologized publicly. These are facts, Tim. I welcome yours. Bob Sprague
Tim December 18, 2012 at 02:31 PM
Mr Sprague , I am not going to debate you on your ethics .. If you think you caused no harm that's your opinion .. People know the truth about your journalist habits . We all have to meet our makers someday Mr Sprague and if you feel comfortable meeting your maker esp after the Ottoson debockle good luck to you . Once again Mr Sprague you have brought me more entertainment and I thank you for that ...

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