Vol. II No. 21 11/1/2021
The Latest Kerfuffle
by Patrick White
The backstory: The Select Board (SB) and Conservation Commission met with the president of the Stockbridge Bowl Association (SBA) on September 28. The results were mixed: some questions went unanswered, some tensions remained, but overall it felt less acrimonious than it was during litigation. The Berkshire Eagle ran a story highlighting the divisions on Oct. 4; Stockbridge Updates echoed that sentiment in a subsequent editorial. Then, approximately ten days ago, the SBA president and our SB chair wrote a joint statement taking issue with the SU editorial. The SB chair unilaterally ordered that it be distributed as a Press Release from the Town to the Eagle, which ran the story last week, rather than as a letter-to-the-editor to the Eagle or Stockbridge Updates.
I have some observations.
To my Select Board colleagues: Press releases indicate Town policy. I should not be learning about policy in the Eagle. I remind my colleagues we only have authority as a Board; we do not have any authority as individual members of that Board. Beyond that, we don't get to determine what people should write or read. Your decision to ignore Stockbridge Updates, going so far as to quietly ban the Town Administrator from engaging with it, does a huge disservice to the vast swath of the Stockbridge community that relies on it for information.
To Town employees: There is a chain of command in place for a reason. If you are a team member, your manager is your department head. If you are a department head, your manager is the Town Administrator. If you are the Town Administrator, your manager is the Select Board, which is required to make decisions in public in an open meeting. The Select Board as a whole, not individual members, is the executive of the town.
To the SBA: Our success at repairing our relationship will be based on actions, not press releases. We are making progress but it will take time.
To the readers: Get your news from many sources! Read the Eagle, the Edge, Stockbridge Updates. All of these publications cover news, and give leaders and readers a forum to submit letters to comment on or correct the record. Claims of "fake news" and "misinformation" are an attempt to undermine the press and avoid accountability for the actions being covered. This playbook has no place in our local discourse.