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Glovacki/My Turn: Calmer heads should prevail

Enough with the hysterics.

Everybody, including The Recorder editorial board, just take a nice, big, deep breath.

I like this paper, I really do, and I make it a priority to read it every day and I’m proud of the awards it rightly earns. But the way you have handled this brouhaha over one of our well-known citizens being allowed to submit his ideas to the Appointments and Ordinances Committee’s review of the Conservation Commission’s proposed new ordinance is very disheartening.

The headlines and placement at the top of the page were disturbing. The slant the reporter chose to put on her articles was maddening (by deciding whom to interview, quote and in what order, and by describing what happened as a “rewrite,” among other subjective characterizations). Chris Collins’ column on Friday was unsurprisingly inflammatory. And then the editorial on Saturday crowned my disillusionment.

Have you noticed, Recorder, that you have never won any awards for your handling of the long-standing development conflict in our town?

As many letter-writers before me have tried to suggest, Al Norman is just a human being. He has intelligent ideas, passionate opinions, he does his homework and then some and he is not at all afraid to speak his mind. But he is not the monster this paper so loves to make him out to be.

David Singer is a highly intelligent attorney whose roots in this town include decades in which he and his wife raised their two children from birth to adulthood. He has committed himself through the years to making Greenfield a better place to live through his public service in numerous capacities, including work on the Town Charter, the Town Council, its chairmanship and committee work, and the School Committee, its chairmanship and committees. He is steady, thoughtful and maintains a friendly and humorous attitude. Not only does he bring innate talent to situations involving significant conflict, he has been highly trained as a legal mediator to help resolve conflict outside of the adversarial environment of the court room.

We would be hard-pressed to find a better public servant for our town than Singer.

In the Feb. 18 newspaper, Singer states he may have made a mistake in bringing Norman into the process of reviewing the Conservation Commission’s regulations when he did. On the editorial page, he makes his intentions clear and council President Mark Wisnewski negates the possibility of anything unethical or improper happening here, despite the accusations made by our “shocked town leaders” in Saturday’s paper. Singer was never trying to force Norman’s views on anyone nor did he allow him to rewrite the Conservation Commission’s submission. But this paper treated him as if he were doing just that, even obliquely calling for his resignation.

I sometimes get the feeling that The Recorder editorial board is deeply uncomfortable with conflict. The board jumped onto the bandwagon of those who tend to malign the intentions or character of people with whom they disagree, whose aim is to defeat their perceived opponents rather than to seek common cause.

But we need public servants who are steady and open-minded, who can “sit with” conflict calmly until all the facts and opinions have been gathered. When Singer brought Al Norman into the process early he was thinking as a mediator. A mediator is someone who embraces conflict and jumps right into the middle of it to seek clarity, compromise, and resolution. If The Recorder continues to expose people to overblown attacks such as we have witnessed here, the public arena is liable to be left to those who choose drama and antagonism over calmness and rational discourse.

Susanae Glovacki is a Greenfield resident.

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