Selectboard Meeting Notes – Community Safety Process Gets Underway

brattleboro selectboard july 21, 2020

There was  just one topic for the Brattleboro Selectboard meeting this week: the police review process.

It took hours, but they approved a community-led writing of an RFP to detail a community safety program to be voted on in early August.

A special meeting to discuss Representative Town Meeting will occur next Tuesday.

Comments | 6

  • Preliminaries

    The virtual meeting begins as usual with little boxes of participants joining a screen. Board members say hello and test mics.

    Chair Tim Wessel starts things off.

    Liz McLoughlin – I saw the comet!.

    Wessel – I like the ISS but haven’t seen the comet.

    (Brandie works out audio issues)

    Wessel – Hi and welcome to the January… July 21 regular, but not regular, Brattleboro Selectboard meeting. I’ll start off with a procedural thing we’ll do. I was speaking to Ian and we came up with an idea. I will have him help me with the task of manage the chat section and who wants to speak. Maybe the clerk could help the chair in making a running list of who wants to speak. We do ask that you ask to be heard by stating your name, subject, and where you are from in the chat section. It’s hard for me to manage, so I’m hoping Ian can help me manage that, so we’ll see how that goes.

    Ian Goodnow – it’s a role the clerk needs to do. Whomever the clerk is should do it if there are meetings like this. It’s a new job that needs to be done.

    Wessel – I’ll check in with Ian and he may write the order in the chat, and we’ll see how that goes. One community member said I should let go of telling people not to chat own the chat. We’ll see how it goes.

    Board likes the idea.

    Liz – is he to read the comments into the public record?

    Tim – interesting. Unfortunately the chat isn’t recorded so when someone makes a comment in the chat, I’ve been trying to get people to come live and ask the question, so it is in the record. I’d still ask we don’t put much side commentary or something you was on the record in the chat.

    Ian – my plan is to post in the chat what the running list is, and I’ll take it straight from the chat. People will see that. I’ll see how often I can do it and keep up with the meeting.

    Tim – we sprung this on the TownManager – surprise!

    Tim – I have some comments that I printed out. On the general state of things. I’ve been thinking about the national trauma we’ve been going through – COVID – partisan swipes to score political points, we can’t agree on wearing masks, or to ensure our health. WE need to reject the polarization and move forward with our discussion around public safety. I take to heart the comments that people of color voices have been marginalized, and the system in town has privileges, and we need to hear from the unheard. Our democratic process in New England is robust, and this board is quite responsive to every reasonable request, and tonight’s discussion is proof of that. The discussion is vital and I welcome it. On a personal note, on personal comments, as far as comments directed to me, do as you will. I’m doing my best but I am imperfect so call me out. That’s a way for me to do my job better. As for other comments – other board members and town employees, and that;’s where I am uncomfortable. They are our community, too. I won’t remain silent when that occurs. No one will be silenced, but I will call out that behavior. I want this to be a safe space for those that’s serve the community and those who have been marginalized. We need to respect everyone who serves our community. Those with a true desire to improve things will do well here. I want this process to succeed and I’m feeling pretty good about where we are and the process moving forward. What’s been presented has a lot of merit.

    Tim – manager’s comments?

    Town Manager Peter Elwell – the meeting is properly warned, and a reminder that in the meetings coming up – next Tuesday night will be a special meeting to discuss the RTM process. Thanks to all who responded to the survey. We’ll review that plus additional info from staff and town attorney. Next week we’ll discuss.

    Tim – board comments?

    Brandie – can you still hear me? (yes) I’m paranoid now. It wants all microphones on. If someone wants to fix this computer, private message me.

    Ian – Voting reminder – two elections coming up. Aug 11 primary and Nov 3 general election. Encourage everyone to go to my voter page to update registration and addresses, and request an absentee ballot. You must request a ballot to get one. If you have any problems, contact the Town Clerk or call 251 8157. Register to vote at website.

    Tim – good reminders. Requested ballots are going well. Public participation. Anything not on the agenda. We only have one thing on the agenda. Let Ian know that you want to speak and what topic.

    Oscar Heller – energy committee chair – we have two vacancies. The core is active and committed, and there is a lot of work to be done. many people are interested in climate change and we’d love new faces on the board. Contact me. I can answer any questions. Lots to do, and kinda fun.

    Tim – we do have callers… anyone for public participation? Nothing? OK.

  • Police Review Process Pt1.

    Tim – anyone want to kick something off? I have something if no one wants to begin.

    Ian – I’d like to present a process question to the board before we get going. At 12:46 today we got an email from Quipp with a document from a colloboratve community statement, for this meeting tonight. It is four pages, single spaced. The procedural issue that I see is that it wasn’t published with the rest of the material with the agenda on Friday for the public, and I am a little unsure how to proceed. We have a rule that isn’t very clear. It is clear the document is not a proposal… not really a proposal. I have two questions test – part one, is it substantive and have a lot of material to it? Could we summarize it for the community and get the heart out now, and it is substantive and brings up new points and don’t think we as a selectboard could do it justice, but the community members who drafted it. Second, do I believe the community is at a disadvantage to particpating if people can’t review this document. I kinda think they are because this has new things in it. Everyone needs to review this material before we talk about it in depth. Can we continue the discussion at all tonight , and if we do, can we vote on anything tonight since this wasn’t in the warned materials.

    Daniel Quipp – my name was invoked. I want to tank Ian for the questions. We need to make sure the work we do is the public’s business. In the chat there is a link to the document so anyone here can click and see it. I think what’s happened here is a group has been laboring hard. We heard from them last time. In this case the folks met last Thursday and yesterday. A great deal of hours of work has gone into this. They were responding to the material from Liz’s draft. It is germane to our conversation tonight. It is a four page document, but the people who drafted it will speak to it. I see it as a courtesy to the board to have something that they are speaking about. There is precedent here – the downtown brattleboro alliance and SEVEDS we were handed documents just before voting. We can make space for this. The agenda only has one item. We can make that space. Let’s use this time. We have a big discussion of RTM next week. let’s have this talk tonight.

    Brandie – did this come up last year? My feeling is… if we can add a voteable agenda item, we can take a deep dive into this document. Someone just fell running in the kitchen. There’s no rule against us taking a dive into this document?

    Elwell – there is no rule, it is a matter of discretion for the board to move forward or take another approach. That’s true each time this comes up.

    Tim – that goes to one of his questions. I think…I have no problem talking about it. I’d feel uncomfortable with a vote. Since I got this, I only had a quick read, and that would never be enough for something worked on so hard. We haven’t even discussed Liz’s RFP. This seems like a reaction tot he RFP. I’d feel uncomfortable voting before absorbing all of this.

    Liz – two points. The first about it not be in the informational materials – we’ve had five whole hours, and the committee are familiar with it, but there are people in the community who might have joined the meeting had they known about this, and they aren’t here and they don’t know. As to the second point, I listened very carefully to the last presentation. I absorbed and heard the heartfelt comments made by the community and rally came to understand and accept all of the comments and was ready to negotiate and discuss and listen more tonight. Now there are more comments. I need more time to understand them and their implications to understand how these comments change my ideas of going forward and the community’s plan for going forward. Police and public safety is a substantive committee that I’m not prepared for. We might choose to hear about it by I’m not prepared to vote on it. There are members who might join this meeting had they known this document was to be discussed, and I’m not ready to absorb all this information and vote on anything this evening.

    Daniel – I think by sending this along, it was in good faith with some amount of lead time – not the usual. had they not submitted it, they’d still be here tonight wishing to speak on these things. let’s get to it and take it as it comes.

    Tim – I’d love to have the forum. Shall we proceed? Ian, anyone raise your hands? Chat comments are not on the record. Board comments?

    Alex Fischer – I wrote something. First, gratitude and thank you to the town, the people’s land we are stewarding, the black led liberation organizations, to all the BIPOC organizing for what you’ve taught me about community. Thanks for the community members that have come together for change – community safety and wellness. Thanks to the people who have signed on the what we have created, and to the selctboard and town manager. Thanks for opening this conversation and moving it forward, and to the ASL interpreters. To Peter for the leadership, to Tim to being open to dialogue, to Brandie for your words, for Ian sharing honestly, for Daniel for showing up to community meetings, to Liz for her proposal, and to the board for listening. We set out to create an addendum, but Liz got there first and drafted something first. It’s slower for more people to be involved. It wasn’t on time, but thanks for updating your proposal. Many people are showing up with skills and not all of a single mind and looking to compromise. IT seems to be a split between Liz and the rest. If it wasn’t clear, we would love for you to join us and come together to these meetings with a single voice. The practice of struggle and compromise we want to invite you into. Not a personal attack on you. You are caring and committed. Let’s work together. With that, I’ll move into the concerns with the RFP.

    Alex – I won’t say all we agree with, for simplicity. We are seeking a review process based on comprehensive look at police force to see if police force is best way to provide safety in the community. It’s the job of the community, not the police, to have community safety. We do a disservice to our own power and skill by having them do it. How do we create community safety and wellness for all. To address the enormity of this moment. We ask you grapple with the task at hand, take it slow, and take the time limit of the budget off the table. We’re in this for the long haul. Join us, or lift us up to do the work. The 5 points of disagreement, 1 wider scope is needed, move beyond BPD and look at community as a whole, community safety at all levels, puts forth a chosen framework and we’d like to remove campaign zero, and we’d like to change the timeline, and acknowledge the labor. It would be good to know how each board member feels on each of the 5 points. I appreciate your patience and can email you what I read. Other folks can speak to main details. This is a frame of the larger pieces to acknowledge the size of what we are doing…

    Tim – so, Alex, you want us to kick it around first to get a read of our thoughts?

    Alex – it would be helpful for the groups understanding. We’d like these edits to be made. When the goal is to get something voted on, if we don’t know where you stand we may belabor points that don’t need it. We can show we care in less time if we know where you stand.

    Tim – I appreciate that… we do have this space and will honor it after we make comments. My own problem, could you repeat the five points?

    Alex – 1. wider scope is needed – look beyond BPD for community safety. 2. Community decision making power. Most impacted by policing are invo9lved deeply and meaningful. 3. is that the RF names Campaign Zero, which has its own goals. Remove it. No outcomes. 4. Acknowledge and expand the timeline. Having something by November is important, but as an end date diminshishes what we are getting into. November is a benchmark. 5. Valuing community process and labor – our skills and experience. Those who don’t feel safe have created non traditional means to keep safe. There is wisdom that exists already.

    Tim – my caretaking sense wants me to encourage Liz to speak first, since she has put a lot of work into this.

    Liz – thanks Alex – thanks for the welcome into the process which I very much appreciate and have tried to engage and didn’t get very far. Let’s talk. As for the five points. I had already come to the realization that stipends were necessary and a budget needed for them. An example of listening and understanding – it takes me some time. I appreciate the time and the value of time and there should eb a stipend. The timeline is less important than doing the right thing – agreement there. Campaign Zero – or other criteria – and Daniel mentioned another offshoot. The intent of this is to have some benchmarks to judge public safety so I’m open to those discussions. The broader scope and community decision making I need time to understand more, but not ready to opine on those two things yet.

    Brandie – my mic is a multi step process. I am reading the document and agree with Liz on the points she’s willing to change. Community decision making power is really interesting and it speaks to sharp changes to the structure – I like the idea of hearing from people who have lived under this process and it hasn’t helped them. I’m fine with the larger scope. We need to build toward the horizon and deepen our understanding as it says in the document. I’m open to all 5.

    Tim – I’m pretty excited that it feels like we’re getting somewhere and it is collaborative. I’m positive about most of these. I’m not sure what the wider scope means. Let’s talk that through. I don’t want too much laid into the task, but recognize a proper discussion is bigger than just the police. I do want to absorb this better but positive about all but one of the proposals. The verbiage I see around community decision making power is good… a problem is how we would empower a committee to have power over a decision that has to be our decision? That might be something we have to talk out and figure out. Oh, something in my eye… We’ll have to find out what is possible. Something I caught in #2… right at the end, if they identify that change is needed, it will be approved by the selectboard and RTM… the board needs to review committee decisions. We have to see legally what we can do, and what is the right way to go forward. Are we usurping power of the Town Charter or state statute. Campaign Zero was just a starting point. I have no allegiance to sticking with that.

    Ian – short and sweet. 5, 4, and 3… agreed. If I understand them correctly, yeah, for sure. The other two, I don’t disagree but they need to be flushed out more. Not entirely clear what this means for the committee or the process. We can talk about that more. We can hone in on 1 and 2, and maybe more as I understand more.

    Daniel – I was involved where people created this and it is a beautiful thing to see a blank page become a proposal through community process. The way in which this work happened really bodes well for the process going forward. When we talk of a wider scope – I used to be a teacher and we sometimes start with big questions – how do we know we are safe – I’d love to ask those questions. I’m against picking a framework as it limits the scope too soon. We can have a longer timeline to be more expansive. A lot of hard work. People are ready to do this. I support everything in here. When I reread this I saw the part about being approved by the selectboard – I assumed that would mean it would be put to the selectboard or RTM. I support everything in here and believe the board and community can work together to do something quite transformative.

    Liz – there was a comment about paid facilitators or committee members.. I mean both. I have come to understand the merits of stipends for committee members.

    Tim – I’m a recent convert to both as well. Kicking and screaming, but both.

    Shea Witzberger – in the cotton mill parking lot. Thanks for showing up. One thing about the framework. -The founders of Campaign Zero have stepped away. It’s now an apology and call to work on other things. People have challenged their data. Campaign Zero isn’t fully supporting Campaign Zero – if this is a community process with most impacted, we can’t narrow it. We have to listen more deeply than that so I’m happy you are open to it.

    Tim – Daniel tipped us off to the Campaign Zero changes.

    Ain Thompson – I was here because you are talking about not getting the statement – I’ll read some, and others will read some, if that’s helpful to the board. We’re not asking you to vote, just don’t for an RFP we couldn’t collaborate on. Want us to read this? I’m willing and eager?

    (board decides… okay)

    Tim – One thing – Liz’s RFP was a launching point, and the process would happen after the facilitators were chosen. That might not be the best way, but that was our intention – to pass it to facilitators.

    Liz – the goal was to advance the process and incorporate many items in the community’s previous statements. Obviously further discussion. Ready to listen.

    Ain – same goals – examine the police dept. and community safety. The statement: Collaborative Community Statement – we are seeking review process to determine if police force meets need sand if best to enforce community safety. many don’t feel safe, and just looking at police does not create a solution. We need to look at community safety framing, and fund the community members to do this work with a skilled facilitator and a meaningful timeline and resources. take a step back, define community safety, then determine roles for meeting those needs. Community members called for the board to examine community safety, community members put for a proposal requesting a process that was deep and equitable. Many wanted to work on this, and many signed on. A board member put forth a proposal. There were differences. We requested paid facilitators and committee members, a more expansive process, community decision making power. Agreement about this was not reached and this meeting was scheduled. We looked at Liz’s RFP, and have the following response…. Abby?

    Abby Mnookin – the rap response – while appreciating the selectboard initiative, if it affects the community it should involve the community, and many request have been included, but there are changes needed. Key points – wider scope needed. We seek a comprehensive review of community safety and policing to see if police force meets community needs, and how best to fund community safety. Many do not feel or are safe. Replacing police taks with social service tasks doesn’t create a solution. need to look at community, not just BPD. What does the community need to be safe. 2. Community decision making – decisions should be led by community and those most affected should be empowered. Not just information gather, but also to craft proposals for change to be approved by selectboard and RTM. 3 Chosen framework and leading outcomes. Project Zero is already supporting an outcome before starting. We don’t support the goals, and neither do the funders. This would exclude voices from the process. We are focused on process, not outcome, now. 4. Short Timeline – to be done by November is unrealistic. We propose this be conducted in phases. Phase 1 could be funding in FY21 budget, but then keep going. Don’t just grab low hanging fruit but take a long look. 5. Valusing community work – many in the community are impacted or are involved – 150 individuals and many organizations have signed on. We ask this knowledge and labor be listened to and valued. Thank you to board members who are investing their time. It would be more desirable to work together than to pit proposals by community vs individuals…

    HB Lozito – It is important to establish agreements before and RFP is approved. Facilitator qualifications – anti-racist, person experienced in eliminating racism by changing systems and redistributing power, someone experience in many voices being included, someone experienced in research, familiar with decolonized systems such as transformative models, and ability to handle data ethically, body based work, getting non traditional information such as art, including people who have been harmed. Someone who has worked with those marginalized by police. Someone with rural experience. For the review committee – should be weighted toward BIPOC and others impacted, poor people, LGBTQ, etc. Everyone should be compensated and there should be a budget and a phased timeline. As to the wider scope questions – the town is already looking at things with a wider scope. In not so distant past when people were saying they were only about the budget – I see you all looking more broadly and do this in different ways – financial support, putting port potties downtown, suing pharmacies, racial dynamics in hiring, … very few things that the selectbaodr doesn’t look at, and nothing more germane than a deep look at safety for everyone. I hear the questions about looking beyond policing – I can walk into that with all of you. I’ve lived here ten years. We have dedicated folks who live here, and many others will help.

  • Police Review Process Part 2

    Ian – we should ask the phone callers…

    Tim – callers chime in now? (82 meeting attendees). No callers.

    Tara O’Brien – thanks to the board and Peter to have this discussion. Many worked on this tirelessly to make it concise. Thanks, too, for the one on one conversations. Thanks to Fischer for reminding us we are in this for the long haul. I was here for CPCC, and here wee are again. Something that could do similar work with an expanded scope. I’m here as resident and The Root. We gave members a chance to submit written items… (reads a statement) Dear board and community – thanks for letting me be heard. Thanks to fellow community members to working the last three weeks drafting proposals, being in meetings, and collaborating on a response the RFP. You keep my fire lit. We have been born into a hero patriarchal racist society – laws created to criminalize those who white men felt were inferior. This would have been my grandmother for voting while black, or my uncle for loving someone as gay. WE’ve had hundreds of years of injustices, acts we see every day, forced on BIPOC, women, LGBTQ – we must take care that this is not action from fleeting intent. We must transform our ideals to uplift is all, not oppress and control. I approve of our proposal and our RFP edits tonight. I hope 1. a scope that defines safety and root causes. 2changinging structures to eliminate recision in community safety systems, 3. fostering community involvement in accessible way and removing barriers. 4. dismantling white supremacy will take money and labor and compensation. Thanks everyone for time and energy. I hope we can be inclusive, successful and reparative…. The Root supports his statement.

    Tim – a few others… we are approaching the time we take breaks. Board, shout out when you want to do that.

    Rikki Risatti – I was wondering if there was any intention to solicit HCRS to create a budget for their cost of replacing the police and hiring bodyguards needed for cultural service staff.

    Tim – not currently.

    Liz – in my first statement I mentioned interrogating HCRS about alternatives.

    Elizabeth Francese – I’m Liz, with tenants union of brattleboro. I support the proposal. There are a lot of people today who grew up here. I’m not. I volunteered with groundwork’s when I arrived. I appreciated the attention that group and the town gives to the homeless. It isn’t overlooked. I saw that as maybe this could be a town to live and work in and cooperate with to set an example, rather than just being pretty. On behalf of the tenants union – we formed recently in reaction to rising rent costs and COVID and renter issues. One thing to point out, the idea of having a reasonable response to requests – as someone who is cynical, a tool of white supremacy is to be cyclical and not believe things can be done. We need to acknowledge that. To defund the police shouldn’t be seen as impossible, just outside of what we have been taught. There have been 80 people at these last three meetings. The people here attending are trying to stand up for the most vulnerable in our population. That’s about it. Thanks.

    Tim – so, a great place to take a break. We’ll be back in 10 minutes. at 8:10.

  • Police Reform Process #3

    Tim – Brandie – what do we do with 2 year old oppositional behavior?

    Brandie – swaddling and snuggles. Bring the big feelings to the small package.

    Liz – I suggest humor.

    Brandie – It gets better. I just kissed them as they put themselves to bed. It gets better.

    Tim – not fast enough. Welcome back. Like the Intermission sign? We had a bunch of people chiming in. Where should we go from here, board?

    Daniel – a proposal, and offer, a motion. I wonder if Liz would work with the committee to produce a polished RFP to vote on at a future meeting.

    Liz – I had asked about that for ages, so thanks. I appreciate the invitation to be welcomed in. At least point I’d like to study the statement that was given, and maybe meet one on one with Ain. Take if from there and that process can be worked on. Not sure outside of a public meeting we’d make a document to be voted on. I will take the welcome I have been given and find people to meet with me.

    Tim – thanks. I have a question – I’m kinda curious how the community group feels about the role of the selectboard. Tonight we’ve been invited in. Some members have questioned the role of the selectboard, but this feels more collaborative, but I’d love to hear people talk about the power and invitation to selectboard members. Maybe this is rhetorical and we should think about.

    Daniel – you are asking what our role is in this?

    Tim – possibly . I thought a committee would be chosen, it would do work, then come back. Now it feels invitational to a collaboration.

    Liz – the invitation was to collaborate on an RFP to be voted on, but the process in the committee is that we’d set it in motion and they’d come to us with recommendations.

    Amber Arnold – I think I have an echo… I think there is a collaborative and.. it’s a both-and thing. We are hoping for collaboration that looks at equitable collaborations, where the committee and facilitator have decision making ability… more than just us making recommendations, and empowering people in the community to make decisions.

    Tim – this has felt pretty good to me, how do you feel?

    Brandie – a struggle with my technology

    Tim – I’m feeling this has been productive but want to absorb this document and evening and am gently moving us to… on stack? what’s that? Sorry, we’re watching the chat. Stack is the cure.

    Fischer – my curiosity right now is coming to the meeting the goal was to vote on something. Curious what the selectboard is voting on? More collaboration before another meeting? Some extreme clarity. Also, acknowledge that the information sent in help moved things forward and not slowed it down. It was sent ahead to support the discussion, so I repeat and urge that things move forward. There is such agreement amongst board and community, and that we wrote things out clearly. I thought the majority agreed with all of the concerns, so it would be great to just move that forward and not bypass anything. I don’t want to courtesy of sending something to bypass it. Clarity on what is being voted on and if it is voted tonight.

    Liz – I appreciated prior and this discussion but was not in agreement with all points, I need time to digest some of them. I welcome the welcome to continue discussions so I can fully understand but not willing to vote tonight. Late paperwork isn’t the cause, it is the new information.

    Fischer – it is majority? or Concensus? I hear you Liz, and know others want to move forward. If it is 2 out of 5 to move forward we can do that, or wait for Liz.

    Tim – we use modified Roberts Rules but shift to consensus sometimes, but we follow Roberts Rules. Ian brought up hesitations on voting. I share some discomfort moving forward. There was an issue I want to absorb more. You said this is a long term process and to take our time, but I want to put some thought to the facilitator qualifications – they have kind of blown up. I’m concerned it is restrictive… not restrictive. It’s a rigorous bar. It was more wide open before.

    Daniel – the description of the facilitator is really important and we should set the bar high. If we can’t find anyone, we can go from there. Set the bar high. We have many people who would fit that bill. Whether they are available and we can afford them…

    Tim – yes, it is a new thing and want to think about it before voting before whole community has reviewed.

    Ian – not comfortable voting tonight. I hear the points made. People are just getting access to this document. It’s a community discussion. I’d like to vote on a single document. Not to har to get that together. That does push it out. People need access to this material. It needs to be in the supporting documents for the next discussion.

    Brandie – can you hear me? I would have been ready to vote. When 150 people work on this – that’s the size of our town meeting. Not everyone has seen this, but everyone has seen the Reformer articles. Everyone knows what’s up. Other people are not here. Something right now has been making me feel anxious and embarrassed. Not sure why. I feel ungrounded about this conversation and I need to sit with it.

    Tim – not sure what we’d be voting on if we voted.

    Daniel – I could offer something….

    Tim – I want to be able to vote yes on something. If we vote tonight, and I still have these questions… it’ll be stronger if we can all support it.

    Daniel – the history of the board is most votes are 5-0. Not all. It’s okay for us to have disagreements. I feel confident were we to get people together we could have a perfect polished document. I’ve had more time to think about this and have no objections. We can all take things on the fly. Maybe we can vote to accept the proposal and create an RFP by our next meeting?

    Ian – Amber, Rikki and Abby are online…

    Amber – I appreciate what Brandie was saying.. it is important to say what is in your body when creating safe spaces. It is important to decenter urgency, so prolonging things to avoid things is a symptom. The comment about wanting more community involved – know that the proposal has ways to create safe places… this structure doesn’t feel safe. We’re talking about policing and the Chief of Police is on this call. It will impact decision of board members who are friends with police. WE’ve put it out to the community and the center of our proposal is to first create a structure so all voices can be heard. Creative ways to hear community input, so we can look at ways that process would work. We’d start to create the strict for more community voices. We need to look at whose voices we are centering. Liz and Tim are uncomfortable – but are we centering the feelings of two white people or the many others speaking up about the harm they are experiencing? All of these things are important to take into consideration.

    Tim – all board members – we are always operating in an open meeting, we are required to have an open and accessible meeting while we make decisions. WE are talking about making space in the committee area for more private conversations. That’s the only legal way we can operate. Correct me if I’m wrong peter. You haven’t spoken all night.

    Elwell – the select board’s business must be done in public meetings, except for limited discussions in executive session. Most legal matters.

    Tim – I feel that not voting right now but setting a date to vote is progress. If we vote now, the headline is this fails. We want to move this forward. Three members are uncomfortable voting.

    Ian – Daniel – what are we voting on? The statement? It addresses Liz’s RFP, so would it be Liz’s RFP with the collaborative community issues incorporated? What will you propose?

    Daniel – this community statement is a response to Liz’s RFP, making some changes. I expect town staff to take those things and draft something fo our consideration. It sounds like we could move forward tonight. We can vote and fail… not worried about headlines.

    Tim – it would be frustrating for me to turn this into a no vote because some want to digest this document.

    Rikki – (breaking up) can you hear me? hello? My interpretation of the proposal is that the committee will be appointed, but the chat box says it will be publicly elected committee. Would you reform the other committees to be publicly elected.

    Tim – we’re being requested to form a committee. Electing isn’t typical, so not sure how to address that.

    Daniel – Rikki is asking if we can do something different. Can we move to an RFP we can agree on, then we’ll have this process and figure out how the committee is formed. Not worried about that today.

    Brandie – I also don’t know that we need to do it tonight, but for the last two hours everything is unestablished. It’s all going to be outside the norm. I’m ready for that. There isn’t much we’ll be asked to do that is a well established process.

    Tim – okay

    Abby – doing my best not to repeat. Thanks to Amber for speaking so bravely to the selectboard. The transparency of this process? Up until two days ago, I was unaware any RFP would be presented tonight. Liz made some effort to reach out, but I’m not aware of her reaching out to any of us, so the transparency feels problematic. I hear we didn’t get our documents in time, but we weren’t aware there would be a proposal at this meeting beyond what we discussed two weeks ago. That feels unfair. As for lack of community awareness of our proposal, we have been more successful at engaging members of the community than most selectboard meetings and so instead of think of all who might want to be engaged but didn’t have warning, we have a tremendous job engaging people in the community and we’ve reached out in a wide variety of forums, so it is misleading and false that this community collaborative proposal doesn’t have enough community input. We need real clarity – if there is not a vote tonight, we need real clarity about the nest meeting, so we aren’t surprised as a community of engaged people the friday before a meeting. I’m getting intense emotions coming up now, but feel it is unfair to say a lot of those things.

    Tim – Daniel – how about a vote on intentionality for the next meeting, but if it is an actual document it is too soon.

    Daniel – up until the last half hour I felt positive and I love everyone involved. This tiny town doing amazing work. We should be excited about this. I’ve felt defensive and have overcome it. WE’re doing this in public, which makes it harder. We have agreement of accepting the vast majority of the proposal and Liz’s… to create an RFP.

    Ian – I appreciate Abby’s points. I’m trying tow work this out in public right now. I represent the entire town of Brattleboro. I want to make sure voices are left out. Not trying to say there isn’t sufficient collaboration.I want the board and community to have the time to consider before we vote. I’d like to keep talking now. I’m not going anywhere.

  • Police Reform Process #4

    Shea – where do we have common ground? Can we move forward on that? It’s been a productive conversation. There is a lot of common ground. Liz did her work alone. The community made points. There is a lot of agreement. Why not vote to accept the community proposal and create something together? Agree to edit some document together and no more proposals in a silo. If we can work together, a lot fo people will be happy. They’ll be bummed if this is delayed. No voices of people impacted by policing are left out of this. We are centering their voices. Don’t vote anything down now. keep collaborating and no documents in a silo. Let’s find creative solutions inside the tricky rules of the selectboard.

    Tim – thanks, that was awesome. Want to vote on intention?

    Liz – let’s hear from others who want to speak.

    Franz Reichsman – I have several concerns – procedural and substantive. I address the feeling unsafe. I feel I”ll be judged by what I’ll say, and who I am, and my opinion. You have to speak up whether you feel safe or not. What do you mean by not feeling safe? My unsafe feeling is mild anxiety right now. Not that I’ll be physically attacked. Procedurally, I don’t understand the talk about an RFP – that’s a contract to get bids and proposals. In any case, if you want to vote on something, you make a motion. I don’t think you can take any action right now. My next concern is that much is fundamentally anti-democratic doing an end run around government for the entire community to have it’s say. The idea that this body is by invitation or election – that is untenable. I’ll go to a meeting despite my anxiety, but I didn’t know about the meetings or if I was invited. 150 people is an excellent number, but it isn’t representative. What does openers and transparency mean? I didn’t know about discussions outside this meeting. This proposal is muddy, and flawed. People should be able to review a document that has been seen by a select few. I don’t know how many I’m speaking for, but don’t do a namby-pamby decision. I’ll withhold my last snarky comment.

    Tim – The RFP was Liz’s which was included in the documents, but the other document in reference to it took over. There is an RFP and most has been about modifications to that submitted RFP last week. The fact that it was unclear to Franze means others will be potentially confused. Everyone needs to be clear.

    Brandie – I do want to speak.

    Julie Cunningham – My heart is pounding right now. I’m a woman of color. I’ve raised my family in Brattleboro. One son has had many encounters with the police. he has been disappeared on me. One night the doors were nearly broken down by police looking for my son. They terrified me. I thought I’d throw up. I went to the police to file a complaint. I had support from the ZCheif. but police officers didn’t apologize to me. They were the epitome of snarky and disrespectful. I’m a middle aged social worker. The most non-threatening person. I serve people with disabilities at Families First. The complexity and the pain and trauma of these issues, especially if you are of color, especially if you have been over-policed. The community proposal is an incredible document and could be used in other communities all across the county. We ahem an opportunity to get this right. What kind of community do we want to have. I feel your good intent and attention to procedure and making policy that will stand up. To the marginalized, I am privileged to be in a community with you. My family is in support of this. I appreciate the comments about doing it carefully and intentional, but we also have to remember DR King said wait sometimes means never. Two of my grandsons are persons of color. I have 7-8 years before they are seen as a threat. I don’t have time, for their sake. Let’s have intention and action.

    ACAB – The community hat keep[s coming into this that isn’t the majority says we need to organize in the political spectrum – it is ridiculous – we’re are here and we are ready and doing what we need for our communities. It doesn’t have to be for a local government. many organizations have been shut down my local governments. Everybody knows we need to help the homeless and disenfranchised and help people who can’t take care of themselves. I’m not done. Secondly, I want to say that on the purpose of voting tonight, it is so ridiculous. I have been going to skatepark meeting in this town for decades and what happens, the community shows up at meetings, then private landowners express their opinions and they have more control over those things. Liz, I voted for you. Tim, you take pictures with your kid at the skatepark. These things are radical. WE want to see and need this. I don’t want this to happen in 10 years, I want it to happen soon. It’s not up to me. I’ve seen this town since I was raised here and it isn’t cool to wait for something that needs to happen in the future. Be more progressive, I guess. Thanks.

    Ain – Julie just made me cry… I was going task a quick question. I’m afraid to ask this…it bothered me what happened with Franz. How many people is everyone. This one guy wants us to get over our safety. We’re all trying to work collaboratively and we genuinely care about the democratic process and we believes when you said you wanted to do this, too. Ian, my question – what are you afraid the community thinks that we aren’t considering. I want to consider it. If that thing is I’m white and everyone is namby-pamby – those aren’t our values in Brattleboro. We want a process . Can this be the process? What aren’t we considering?

    Ian – let Brandie speak.

    Brandie – can you hear me. I’m crying, too. That wa stunning=. As a person who smiled every time Franz came to the room, but what we just saw is an example of what makes people uncomfortable – when you’ve survived trauma, ordinary things can be hurtful, exactly like what Franz has said tonight. How many things have we voted on things on the spot, or after we got handed things in the room… Franz has been in the room. I’ve called on him, or had Kate call on him. Nothing tonight is abnormal except it is on Zoom and it calls =for a disassembling of systems that make people feel uncomfortable. people and groups have come time and time again. Noting came out Friday was secret. Where are the dissenters? The have not been at these meetings. WE have people asking us to trust them , and someone twho sits on committees treating them like trash. It is time for us to step up and do better and let people come to a place when they are safe and to be cold is digesting to me. Tim , you said you wouldn’t tolerate people trashing out chief of police. And yet Franz comes in and trashed people, vulnerable people in our community. I need to stop right now.

    Daniel – Gary was next. I can wait. Just want to say thanks to Brandie. I’d give ya a hug.

    Gary Stroud – thanks to all the people on the board and who are stepping up to do what’s right. I’m the only black male at most of the meetings here. I’m trying to get more people. I’m coming to you as an african male and a human and a man and a father and person who cares about the committee. I signed up as a district rep to represent the district as a whole. After we tear down walls we need to the bricks and build bridges. I see what’s going on around the country. To make doors open, we have to open them. Also, people who want to join these committees. I’m the only black male on most committees, and that bothers me, but I’ve met others. I grew up in Yonkers. The last desegregated town in NY. I’m a man on the street.

    Tim – we lost a bit, but got most..

    Gary – this needs to get done. It is very important. We’re being watched by the world and will be judged in history by the decisions we make for the next generations to come. If it isn’t this board, the next board…

    Tim – we got most of that… Brandie, I will hear what you said… that will be going down a rabbit hole. I heard what you said. Alex?

    Alex F – I’ve moved locations for the 3rd time. Earlier I spoke on script. I just want to … whoo.. a few things. We’re 3.5 hours and finally showing feelings and true face and getting past the niceties. It is uncomfortable to have feelings in public, and for white folks to have feelings, and it is important to do that work. Thank you BNrandie, and what Julie shared. She shared to tears. let’s not get sidetracked by one angry white man in the community. This has been a beautiful moment. The board was open to sharing things, to connect, to build bridges. Franz, I’m so disappointed in you, and sorry you will be uncomfortable, but you will still be safe, and that;’s different from what other folks are feelings. Thanks Brandie for taking time and emotion to express that. Having feelings is amazing. It’s how we white folks start healing. There is a lot that is happening and we should stay focused on the beauty of this meeting, and the willingness to come together. I cried in my car a few weeks ago when the city council of Minneapolis disbanded the police after a decade of work – what she said as head of city council – we don’t know what to do but our community does. What is being asked of the board is not to have all the answers. Your job is to move out of the way for people with the answers. I see you starting to do that. Move that forward one more step. There will always people suing anger as a way to justify privilege being shifted. Emotion is beautiful and necessary. The board can wrap this up before people get more hungry and tired. Please take control of your meeting and move this forward.

    Daniel – I’m sorry Julie had to tell us that story. WE’re asking for process that will reveal more of those stories. It could eb potentially harmful. We can move forward with enough consensus… an hour and a half ago we were in good shape. The proposals are still the same. It’s collaborative, this meeting was warned. We had one agenda item. You would have showed up if you were to speak to this. People would have said the same thing even if I didn’t send you the document. We can commit to incorporate all the stuff in the community proposal and move forward. Not fully complete tonight…

    Ian – Daniel – did you make a motion? (yes) Trying to gather myself. Repeat it?

    Elwell – it is in the chat somewhere…

    Ian – I’ll read what is in the chat – an RFP based off the collaborative community statement..

    Daniel – yes, Liz’s is the base and then we add and change…

    Ian – I want to thank Julie, too. I have a lot of.. uh, um. Ain’s question – I’m not worried of anything coming from the community. I’m expecting further community support. I want our vote to be a strong vote toward something we all support, and showing the community as a whole a succinct and clean copy could be very powerful and something we could be proud to show to other communities. I don’t really understand why we couldn’t move to agree with he motion to create the final RFP that incorporates all we spoke of, and at next meeting… two meetings from now… your motion references a document never proceed. I don’t like that. It’s something we need to consider here.

    Brandie – we can’t draft this – we’re a white board with leadership over the town. We can approve it our like it but we can’t draft it. We can’t do that. It’s not for us.

    Tim – I’m confused. I didn’t see that in the motion.

    Ian – this was our only agenda item was the discussion, I’d like an agenda item to vote.

    Brandie – who pulls together this document?

    Ian – the Town..

    Brandie – but that is us! Daniel – the Town should pull together the final document?

    Daniel – I hear you… why can’t we wait? We’ve heard from so many people that things need to change and we’re committed to a process that will lead to change. What more do we need to hear? There has been lots of opportunity. I can live with whatever we get to tonight if it is a good place.We can be braver tonight. When you voted against the budget that was nerve-wracking. I put myself on the line to vote for it. I stand by that, and this. We can do it tonight. We can get crackin’ on this.

    Tim – an hour ago we agreed that the next available meeting – the 11th in Aug. What has tripped us up is voting on the agreement? Do you want us to vote?

    Brandie – yes, vote on the intention and let this communities take the lead on this. This board nor the white town manager are to take the lead on this. We’ll sign off on their sign off. That trips me up, that we are willing to stay up and talk against the 1250 people. They have told us what they need and we are not in their shoes. They have shared stories no one wants to share and have asked us to trust them. Trust them to take the lead and move forward.

    Daniel – if someone can make a better motion…

    Brandie – do not water this down with our classic white supremacist…

    Tim – That wasn’t;’t the suggestion.

    Brandie – ask the community.

    Tim – we can’t go by the chat.

    Liz – I came fully supportive of the previous statement by the community group. I took the time to listen and took time to understand. We need to listen and strive to understand. I came to a promising point, then earlier today we got a slightly different set of ideas that I haven’t had time to contemplate. I need to understand then act, and we’ve been asked to act. And RFP for paid facilitators is the best way forward. There are ideas on the table. Then we will do our selectboard duty to set this in motion. Maybe two hours ago we had a consensus, but it has gotten much more emotional. We shouldn’t act on emotion. I think we should wait, be even handed, be responsible, and understand what’s before us, and next time act. We were told to take our time, and that’s what we should do. No hasty decisions.

    Shea – thanks for sticking with this. Haste and comfort are not opposites. It will be uncomfortable. next meeting won’t be more comfortable . Things will stay uncomfortable. We have to be uncomfortable if we are fighting injustice. Is there something to agree on? Don’t things in a silo, but don’t do nothing. Take Daniel’s motion but bring in community collaborators. The sticking point… they both want to move forward… language just from the board isn’t good but collaborators could help. I’m going to be in hours of meetings about this this week. Tap this energy and commitment. Let’s work together. The huge group could work together or parallel. We got his, let’s do this. Almost there!

    Amber – hope you hold what Shea said. She’s in a car with no wifi just to do this. It is frustrating in this meeting. textbook white supremacy. Tim, and Liz – I can’t imagine there has been any anti-racism taring. To understand a process that doesn’t impact your life but we have hundreds who this does impact in the community. It’s not about your comfort, or a couple of white people not impacted by this system. This is about this directly impacted by.. not doing this so you can be freakin’ comfortable. This s about people being heard, and having spaces to feel, and heal and live. Just trust. Even if it doesn’t work, it won’t affect you. WE’re restrained and murdered and called n*gger every day – we are impacted by this every day and have been doing this work. Even if it doesn’t work it doesn’t impact you. This is ridiculous. Peter isn’t saying anything. That’s white silence and super violent and it is wrong.

    Tim – thanks Amber.

    Daniel – I’m ready to move this forward. We’ve heard plenty. No need to belabor this.

    Liz F – just want to jump in and talk about waiting. We heard that last time about waiting for the budget. We are doing the work right now. the proposal has been written, and counter proposals. We’re being told we aren’t involved enough. I was told the protesting we’re doing is not enough. What does it mean to this town that we do all of this and it is not enough. What will be enough to get something done and get something tased? I mean this in the most sincere way. I feel like we are being placated. I like the collaboration and playing nice, but as the nation loves forward we need to maybe be on the forefront of that ship and institute these ideas. Stop placating us, yea. You can all be a part of this. Daniel – you came in with a neutral point of view and you’ve listened and heard. You’ve shifted and trying to be a voice for the people. And Brandie – you were willing to put your own emotions on the line tonight. Amazing. We can do this and it is so possible and this is what this town is. let’s just do it. Go.

    Daniel – back to that motion as much as you don;’t like it. To accept the stamens in full and town staff draft an RFP based on it.

    Tim – one clarification – we will still be able to hash out more things at the next meeting?

    Daniel – yes, 100%.

    Ian – so the idea is the communities response and Liz’s RFP…?

    Daniel – they are both in there.

    HB – so, what I want to respond to is what shea said and what Brandie said… the Town would be carrying this forward excluding the community? My suggestion is to modify it to work on it together, community and town. The way it is proposed is what got us here. if we do the work together and bring it to the next meeting, that would address all concerns. Not just town staff.. that’s my suggestion.

    Daniel – would Liz like to work with the community was where I started… I’m happy wherever we land that incorporates all this work and trusting our neighbors that they know best. I have zero experience with what people here discussed. I got a warning for running a stop light. I need to trust the community.

    Tim – you are board member – without the board this could just happen. let’s cut to the chase and honor all of this work. Let’s take the staff out of it. It’s unfair to dump it on them. I want Liz to feel good about the collaboration… tonight was amazing, It was difficult, but it should be.

    Ian – I think Liz, by putting forth the proposals you’ve put yourself in the position that you need to collaborate. I’d offer a friendly amendment. That we vote on it at the next time it is on the agenda. I believe this board’s word is worth something. We will make a committee. Let’s commit to voting on it at next Aug mtg.

    Tim – Daniel’s motion is on the floor.

    Daniel – a motion to accept the community statement in full and collaborate with them to create an RFP? Remove town staff?

    Liz – might be helpful to have town staff collaborate with the community and selectboard members just because the zRFP is going out as a legal contract to the public and they might have insights that others do not have. Ask Town manager…

    Elwell – I think there is a piece of selectboard business to do here. It is incredibly important to the community, and it requires, that if the Town of Brattleboro launches this, it will require selectboard action. I’ve heard lots of things to be hopeful about in agreement, and full agreement from two of you, and not from three of you. Continued collaboration… an aside – an important part o doing the public’s business is what the public does on its own initiative. It can continue on its own path. It can be collaborative in launching it and acting on recommendations as long as a majority of you can embrace where it is headed. It is also possible that there is action that isn’t official town action, but it might impact our spending or police, it will require selectboard action and RTM action. If we are going to learn and grow – the five of you on the board are five white people and I am a middle age white guy. there is a lot to value about continued collaboration. We can respect that lived experience and organization, but it has to be in partnership with town, or be its own separate thing. I feel you all wanting to embrace something official, and more work needs to be done and needs more participation. There are frustrating laws and processes – may be white supremacist but that is what we deal with until changes are made. Two of you can help, but not three – to obey open meeting laws, to protect the public who is engaged and those not engaged. The best way forward – for one or two of you to engage with community groups’ core group and town staff will stay involved. We’ll see what’s needed and bring the right staff resources. Hopefully, in a few weeks what will come back to the selectboard is a way forward that may be an approval of an RFP and possible more about intention.

    Daniel – there is some precedence for this – like the sustainability coordinator position. If we can move forward tonight I’d be very happy.

    Elwell -one more – this is my opinion, now…what might lead us to a good outcome. My opinion – your desire to take a formal action tonight will go against taking your next step. If you could embrace a next step involving people working together for the board to address, I just feel like you will end this evening like we got some momentum – with an informal agreement rather than an action. You are trying to get to a place with defined action. We’re one step short of that right now.

    It’s 10:27pm.

    Alex F – we’re getting places. So, one thing that is confusing to me is that we have one member and the community group working together…. one of the major reasons what has been put forth is so powerful is that the collaborative work is the way things get done and how we collaborate. Daniel is one of many voices. Liz, in an honest moment, if we join forces and we find our voices are one of 25 in a space, is that your understanding. What do you want your role to be going forward. Is that in line with your values – the way we are operating. If you come to hang out, that collaboration is in line with the values we put forth. Daniel does that. I want to be clear before we get started working together.

    Liz – if I understand – will I work with you in the process you have been working, and what I’m hearing from elsewhere right now we assemble a smaller committee of me, Daniel, Town manager, and community members to come up with an RFP for next meeting. Is that acceptable to you?

    Alex – that’s not what I heard proposed. The power of what we are doing is the number of voices. It is powerful and beautiful. I can’t speak for 25 people, especially as a white person. I just wondered what you thought collaboration meant. I guess you are saying you see you, Daniel, Peter and I’m happy to pass this to Amber. I’m confused. HB says we did this document in 19 hours with a bunch of people…. we are very efficient and effective in our large process.

    Brandie – I was reading the chat. I’d like to hear from the community. yea.

    Amber – To Tim’s original thing – we are doing within the town structure and outside the town structure. This structure is super racist with bunch of obstacles. We’re using both ways. Anyone else feel like a zombie a=pocalypse… you have a proposal by 25 organizations and more than 150 people who have signed on and you want to keep a proposal by one white woman with no experience or history or taring. It makes no sense. It makes sense to have a proposal done by a group that does this work for years and years. Your are prioritizing a white person’s proposal with no experience. It makes little sense to me. bringing the board into the proposal already created by the community – bring in the people with experience with white supremacy, or Brandie or Daniel, not people who don’t understand decentering white supremacy. Maybe someday this will make sense.

  • Police Reform Process #5

    Tim – I just want this to be a successful process. I thought Peter showed us a way to get there but we are stuck on a vote? There is a motion on the floor…

    Brandie – I’m stuck – I need to see in the motion that while there may be some of us, it will be led by people of color and queer people and those who drafted this. We’ll collaborative but take a back seat. That’s where I am stuck.

    Tim – I don’t want to be there because I don’t think I should be there…

    Daniel – a proposal – accept proposal in full and ask reps from it to draft a new RFP in time for the next meeting, to discuss and vote on Aug 4.

    Tim – is it in the chat, can you email it to me?

    Daniel – I was hating the chat but it has been helpful today.

    Tim – Daniel made a motion… reads it again…. is that it?

    Daniel – lets make this as widely available as can be, yes.

    Tim – fill in those dates –

    Elwell -consider this in a special meeting. Trying to do this with other items doesn’t work. A special meeting next Tuesday meeting, then the next week is a regular meeting, then you could have a Tuesday Aug 11th meeting for this to be the only topic. Plenty of time. If you like that timeframe, okay, if you want ti quicker, have a special meeting on another day, sooner.

    Daniel – I’d consider sooner, like Thursday the 6th? (works for tim, brandie…as long as okay with community, ian…)

    Tim – there are positive comments in the chat.

    Daniel – act the portal injustices full and ask for a more full RFP by Aug 3rd…

    Elwell – if you are comfortable with that… Brandie made a good point. Other people are doing this for free. We can distribute on Monday for a Thursday meeting.

    Daniel reads it again.

    Tim – ready to vote?

    Daniel – there are questions in the chat. I will value it but can’t guarantee the outcome, but it will be valued greatly.

    Tim – we all agree. And committing to another special meeting.

    passes 5-0

    Tim – congratulations to the community thanks for the hard work on several levels.

    adjourned… 10:52

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