Southwick board makes progress on rules revamp

SOUTHWICK – A “work session” last night meant further progress for the Board of Selectmen on a revamp of the board’s policies and standards of conduct.
The board has been reviewing policies enacted in other Massachusetts towns, such as Harvard and Andover, as a guideline in drafting procedures for Southwick. While some of the policies reviewed last night are already in practice and will remain so, such as how executive sessions are handled (which follow state law guidelines), there were topics that the board plans to detail and localize in Southwick’s document.
One area of concern were policies pertaining to the public comment portion of regular, open selectmen meetings. At times, discussions in this setting can become heated and sometimes counterproductive, according to Selectmen Chairman Arthur Pinell.
“We have to balance letting people get their thoughts across without being rude or disruptive or inappropriate,” he said, adding that the policies selectmen are currently drafting will further clarify how citizens should interact with the board during meetings. Board members agreed that while serving in public office leaves them open to criticism, things should always remain civil, regardless of the subject matter.
“People need to understand that [personal attacks and other such behavior] will not be tolerated,” said Selectwoman Tracy Cesan.
Selectmen also discussed reconnecting with other town boards and commissions.
“I think there’s a real disconnect in this town with [selectmen] and other boards and commissions. The best we have is the annual town report to know what other town officials are doing,” Cesan said.

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