Discussion poisoned by politics Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Yaakov Cohn, Vice-chair PILOT/Impact Study Committee
Town Meeting member, Precinct 5, Framingham
Metrowest Daily News
In Dave McLaughlin's article ("Social services report disputed," March 24) he failed to make clear that I called Dawn Harkness out of order because she was ignoring my expressed instruction that the meeting be focused on the data being presented, and not on recriminations and attacks on the motives of members.

Bob Berman's prepared remarks cast sufficient aspersions on the so-called majority, and I refused to allow Ms. Harkness to go further down that path and divert the attention from a discussion of the merits, or lack thereof, of the data presented.  I did offer her the opportunity to resume her comments at the end of the meeting, but she did not take that opportunity.

Reporter McLaughlin did not note that I also did not allow any response to Mr. Berman's inflammatory comments.  I, too, will refrain from further comment at this time.  As I stated at the meeting, I cling to the hope that the committee can resume its work this coming Tuesday in a collegial fashion.

Meanwhile, I urge the self-described minority to come back to the table and work cooperatively with us.  It is my view that the difficulties that the committee has had in addressing issues in a collegial fashion is largely due to the ongoing violation of this rule by a single member, with the tolerance, if not explicit encouragement of the chairman.  Personal attacks poison the atmosphere.  We are a citizens' committee engaged in a pioneering effort to study this contentious public policy issue.  Let's have an exchange of ideas, alternative proposals, and specific dissents, not political theater.

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