Someone (I believe it was the rock band “Extreme“) once said there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth.
This past Monday night’s Selectboard meeting seems to be an example of this. According to the meeting minutes,
“Chairman Fox said he wished to set in place a format by which Selectboard meetings would henceforth be conducted in the interests of minimizing disruptions, providing a better opportunity for members of the public to present thoughts to the Board without interruptions, and enabling Board members to more clearly focus on matters of business. To eliminate the need for use of the photocopier periodically through the meeting, he offered Chris Costanzo, as ?Herald of Randolph? reporter, a packet of information relating to business on the evening?s agenda. Mr. Costanzo considered that the rules of procedure being set forth were an affront to his own participation at Selectboard meetings, expressed that he would no longer serve as reporter, and left at this time.”
Mister Costanzo’s account of the event is a bit different:
“At the beginning of the Monday night selectboard meeting, chairman Neal Fox announced he had a “headline” for The Herald. He said that he and the board thought I was too disruptive at selectboard meetings. He cited an instance several weeks back when another member of the public, on his own, started to make notes on the blackboard regarding some facts and figures that the selectboard was reading off, and I went up to help him. He also cited my frequent photocopying (during the selectboard meetings) of documents passed to the selectmen. And, he complained that I asked too many questions.”
Whose account is the truth? Not having been there, I can’t say. It’s probably a combination of both. I do think Chris can be a bit “intrusive” at times, in meetings, and I can see how this could slow down meetings, something that I’ve heard Mr. Fox complain about in the past about other people who attended meetings and asked questions. Does that mean he should be publicly humiliated at the opening of the meeting? Hardly. The solution is to pull him aside and discuss the matter privately.
Also, Chris is not the first person to say he was treated in a condescending manner by the chairman of the board. Complaints of this nature came out last year during election season and again in the weeks leading up to this year’s Town Meeting when Chairman Fox was re-elected.
Given that I was told by the chairman that the concerns I brought to the board are “bullsh–” I am inclined to side with Chris on this one, and to believe that the minutes may have been written to present Chairman Fox’s actions and comments in a favorable light.
What does this mean for Bethel? Well, for starters, coverage of the events in this town is going to suffer. Of this I have little doubt. Chris has done an excellent job doing so over the past several years.
Given our sudden lack of news coverage, if you have news you want to contribute, I highly encourage you to post it on the BethelVermont.com web site by clicking the “suggest news article” link at the top of every page.