There’s nothing new under the sun.
An old adage, but true.
The corner store and 10-party phone line as the place of gossip and innuendo have given way to social media where misinformation is rampant.
Everyone gossips to some degree; it’s human nature, but trying to find the root of malignant gossip is like attempting to track the wind.
It travels from person to person, writhing and growing, changing shape and, when in the wrong hands, can become malicious and harmful.
It damages people and reputations.
It can be used for bullying and to silence those with opposing views.
It is a tool, building momentum, pushing personal agendas and egos.
It can be used to win elections.
It’s like a drug — an adrenalin rush.
So, we’re not exactly sure the point of what happened at the Gardner City Council meeting Monday night. But, as usual, drama, over active egos and dysfunction were present.
About 40 people took time from their schedules and attended in support of Jim Pruetting, police chief. The concise reason why he needs support is unclear. There has been no formal statement issued regarding Pruetting. Officials can’t comment publicly on personnel issues, and it is an exemption from public meetings under state statute. Public comment by officials is usually not advised by legal council, as it can lead to litigation.
So although no formal statement has been issued to indicate Pruetting needs support, from comments on social media and made during the meeting – and in an e mail obtained under a KORA request – it appears a statement by Alan Abramowitz, human resources department head, questioning continued trust in Pruetting are an issue.
Abramowitz was upset because Pruetting leaked a confidential working document to Melton. The memo which was displayed during Melton’s January presentation regarding an independent police board which Melton suggested should possibly be placed under the Citizens Police Advisory Committee, of which he is chair.
Abramowitz’trust comment was an off the cuff remark, improper and unprofessional.
Lee Moore, councilman, later placed posts on social media urging residents email him supporting Pruetting. Under a KORA request by The Gardner News about 40 emails were received.
In one email from Moore replying to a resident, he writes he is upset with the city administrator’s handling of personnel issues behind the scenes and that he is working with city council to rectify the situation. This sentiment was echoed by several attendees during public comments.
Also during the meeting, between supporting Pruetting and disparaging the handling of personnel issues, Melton found time to introduce a resolution to censure Chris Morrow, mayor, for “chronic and blatant misrepresentation of facts to the governing body and citizens” of Gardner.  The censure was introduced but was tabled. The censure resolution does not list a specific fact or facts that Morrow is to have blatantly misrepresented.
There had been no prior public discussion of a possible censure or mention of chronic and blatant misrepresentation of facts by Morrow at prior meetings.
So, to put it bluntly, Monday night’s council meeting was a well-orchestrated mess.
There were no winners – only losers, with the primary loss the citizens of Gardner who deserve better.
It was divisive politics at its finest: pit one department against another, whisper, tear down others to make yourself look good, play to the video, present alternative facts and tarnish more than a few reputations.
Other than ego, posturing and misinformation, the only business actually conducted at the meeting was the approval of the consent agenda, eventually.
What a waste of the taxpayers’ dollar.
Welcome to Gardner; we’re open for business.