Editorial: Council smart to leave ‘bullying’ situation alone

Monday, December 11, 2017

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Thank goodness they got that out of their system — at least for now.

After hearing testimony under oath from several town officials regarding alleged bullying and abuse of power by Greenfield Town Council leadership and the mayor, councilors have decided no action is the best course.

“I think everybody behaved a little badly here. I don’t think there was an ethical violation,” concluded At-Large Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud, who proposed the investigation after Mayor William Martin publicly accused council President Brickett Allis and Vice President Isaac Mass of bullying when they complained to the police chief and Town Hall employees about parking ticket enforcement. Others in turn complained the mayor can come off as a bully himself at times.

Public testimony and subsequent questioning lasted about 2½ hours, but in the end, the council wisely did nothing.

Lots was said during those 2½ hours, but we have to agree with those who said the whole situation got out of hand, and ultimately we have to agree with At-Large Councilor Penny Ricketts who said, “This was a serious matter, but the questions were just too far out there … I feel right now, let’s scratch this whole thing and let’s move on.”

Mark on target

Let’s hear it for state Rep. Paul Mark, who has managed to get some big-ticket Franklin County projects into a House bond bill.

Though the bill, H.4018, still needs to be authorized by the Senate and it will be up to Gov. Charlie Baker to release funds, the House has allocated $1 million for the construction of a Heath Public Safety Complex, $1 million for the renovation or construction of a Bernardston Fire Station and $200,000 for Greenfield Senior Center updates.

The bill also reauthorizes about $9.4 million for a long-sought child care center housed within Greenfield Community College.

Mark said he was pleased to see his earmarks adopted for the benefit of Franklin County. We were pleased to see our local legislator going to bat for our smallest towns, which can so easily be ignored on Beacon Hill.

Nursing partnerships

Greenfield Community College’s nursing program finds itself in the middle of a beneficial collaboration that is making it easier for area students to become nurses with bachelor degrees and good-paying jobs at local hospitals.

The collaboration involves Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, GGC’s LPN and RN programs, Westfield State University and Cooley Dickinson Hospital.

For more than two decades, the college has been offering its Licensed Practical Nursing Program in Hampshire County, originally located at Smith Vocational High School. It then moved to other locations but is now back on the Smith Vocational campus in a recently renovated building.

A new educational collaboration with nearby Westfield State will make use of the facility by holding classes there when the LPN program isn’t using it. The GCC-Westfield State agreement will allow GCC associate degree RN graduates to transfer credits to Westfield State, giving them a chance to complete their bachelor’s degree in one additional year of schooling.

Having the GCC-LPN program located on the Smith Vocational campus may also help graduates of the tech school’s certified nursing assistant program visualize a pathway to nursing school.

Many graduates of GCC’s 10-month LPN program go on to get their associate degree in nursing through the Greenfield campus RN program. From that GCC program, students can transfer credits and go on to Westfield State to pick up a Bachelor of Science, registered nurse degree. This is often needed for those who want to work in acute care at a hospital like Northampton’s Cooley-Dickinson.

Conway saves debate

Conway residents will have a chance to debate a proposed “safe community” bylaw that was tabled during an October special town meeting, triggering discontent among those who never got to say their piece on the town meeting floor.

After catching some blowback, the town’s three-member Selectboard has voted to put the proposal on next May’s annual town meeting agenda.

The original “safe community” article was placed on the town’s Oct. 30 special town meeting agenda through a citizens petition that garnered more than 100 signatures. Had it passed, the bylaw would have prevented Conway police from honoring non-criminal civil immigration detainer requests, and all town employees from acting as immigration officers.

Near the end of the special town meeting, the proposal was unexpectedly tabled in what some saw as a parliamentary trick to kill the idea. It’s nice to see that those leaders who oppose the idea nonetheless recognize the need to debate the issue.