Behavior at Landmarks Commission meeting was inappropriate | Letter to the Editor
October 3, 2012 · 10:59 AM
I attended the meeting of the County’s Landmarks Commission on the proposed historic district at Center last Thursday. Most people attending the meeting apparently came with very fixed opposition to the proposal. Comments by both staff and the commission chair were often greeted with derisive laughter, and at the end of the meeting, the questioning of the commissioners was pointed, angry and rude. Not one person in the room would like to have been treated in the same manner either in their professional capacity or as a volunteer.
Many people referred to the collective “we” when expressing their opposition to the project and the commission’s process — how “we” do things differently on this island. I will not be included in that collective “we.” I believe in civil discourse, the opportunity to ask questions in a respectful way, to listen openly to other opinions and be informed by new information. Derisive laughter which borders on ridicule and divisive clapping have no role in civil discourse. The words we choose, the phrasing we use and our inflection have real power to persuade and alienate. The atmosphere that was created at the hearing made it very difficult for people with different perspectives to speak. The anger and disrespect were palpable and, I hope, not representative of our true Island spirit, nor how we would handle a process that we might design.
— Donna Klemka