NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 26, 2013

Salisbury moves to curb rancor

Selectmen hope to bring more professional attitude to town boards

(Continued)

“We shouldn’t have to be sending that message, but unfortunately in Salisbury lately we may have to,” Beaulieu said.

“It goes without saying all town officials should conduct themselves in a moral and rational manner,” Condon said. “I believe every situation has to be taken separately.”

A few weeks ago, the building inspector was accused of poor behavior and bad language by a Salisbury police officer after they disagreed over an issue. In a June workshop, Board of Health members and the town’s health agent ended up yelling at each other.

Harbor Commission meetings have often dissolved into verbal combat over differing opinions between commissioners and the harbormaster.

After a fractious Board of Health workshop, Salisbury health agent Jack Morris regretted his outburst and sent letters of apology to the board members.

Things haven’t worked as well for the Harbor Commission. Selectmen had hoped to reconcile the problems with the members; their hostile sessions are broadcast live and don’t set the best example of how town government should run. But the attempt by selectmen to help the Harbor Commission end their internal feuding failed. As a result, selectmen recently table until fall the question of reappointing some commissioners whose terms have expired.

“I think all public officials need to conduct themselves in a professional manner,” Richenburg said.

A Zoning Board of Appeals official was called on the carpet not long ago by Hunt, who referred to what could he considered the use of insulting language. Hunt pointed out that during a meeting a ZBA member referred to a business owner’s sign as “ugly.” That’s inappropriate, Hunt said, and something that could have been handled with more decorum. Being a public official or employee doesn’t give license to being rude or insulting when dealing with those they oversee, he believes.

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