To The Editor:
I am writing about the discussion at the Select Board Meeting of February 28th concerning the report from the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Committee presented by its Chair, Dr. Addison Reid.
I was shocked to see how the Board treated someone who came forward to give a report. The Board created this committee and asked for a report. If the Board didn’t like what was presented, there are professional ways to discuss it. Attacking someone for work done professionally and thoughtfully because they could not understand it or did not like what it said, does not excuse their behavior. If another Board appointed committee, such as the ISSAC (Information Systems Security Advisory Committee), came before this Board with such in-depth technical information the members did not understand would they be attacked, or simply asked for clarification?
One Board member said performance reviews based on self-assessment will never happen. IBM, a company of over 300,000, has been doing self-assessment (Checkpoint) for years, a common practice in industry. Saying it isn’t going to happen without understanding it is just plain foolish. There are union contracts to deal with, but instead of dismissing it, find out why this would be good practice and would help Burlington.
This thorough report should have made the Board proud that the DEI took their responsibility seriously. The Board didn’t seem to understand the need for the DEI even though they created it. We are all effected by this lack of understanding. Research shows a diverse community enriches the everyone. It doesn’t happen easily but needs to be encouraged by its leaders. To say “Love and respect” is not enough; laws and regulations help. The Board is lucky to have this group who collected data, can help us interpret it and use it to improve our town. A Board member should have said, “There is a lot here, we need to understand it better. With the help of the DEI we will be able to do so. For now, what are five priorities that you, Dr. Addison Reid, recommend we work on first?” This would have encouraged a cooperative working relationship.
No one who comes to this Board should be treated so disrespectfully. Would the board members want to be treated this way? Dr. Addison Reid maintained her professional demeanor while under attack. I am ashamed of the Select Board’s behavior.