Ruth Platner: Seeking a More Productive and Civil Discourse

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is shared with us here by the author Ruth Platner. Ruth Platner is Chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission.

Since 2010, Charlestown Town Councils have worked well with most commissions by practicing the philosophy of government that recommends you keep your political opposition close and work with them to reduce acrimony and find common ground. But a small faction of the Parks and Recreation Commission has used their appointments to politicize the commission to attack the Town Council.

At nearly every Charlestown Town Council meeting they line up at the podium to badger and try to bully the Council with a competing agenda. Between meetings they write letters to newspapers and post to websites and Facebook with fabricated charges against the Council. Why would any Town Council appoint or reappoint people who behave in this way?

Now one who cries “shame on the town council” complains because the council failed to reappoint her, and appoint her mother, her father, and two other members of her household. Another applicant is the wife of the current Commission Chairman. Certainly packing one committee with members of your household is a greater conflict of interest than giving unrelated new members a voice.

Given a choice between keeping the members of an expiring bike committee or reappointing those who would continue to batter them, the Town Council chose to appoint the bike committee members to the vacant seats on Parks and Rec.

The angry unappointed now claim political favoritism on the grounds that the bike committee is made up of members of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) that endorsed election of the current Town Council. Bike committee members must be as surprised as I am to hear that. Only one has a history with the CCA steering committee, but she hasn’t been involved in years. As an advisor and the web master for the CCA since its inception, I can say I don’t know the other recent appointees at all, nor are they known to the Town Council. Their political views are unknown to the CCA and the Town Council. What is known is that they worked diligently and collaboratively as members of the bike committee. However their opinions on recreation might differ, I’m confident that a more productive and civil discourse will prevail with these new members.

Ruth Platner
Ruth Platner