Selectboard Meeting Notes – Safety Report Accepted, $12.5 Million for Water Treatment, Home Rule

Brattleboro Selectboard jan 19 2021

The Brattleboro Selectboard accepted the report of the Community Safety Review Committee with a unanimous 5-0 vote and sent the document to Town staff. Staff will annotate and organize the recommendations for the board, evaluating the legality and logistics for each recommendation.

The board also heard about plans for a new water treatment plant at a new estimated cost of $12.5 million. They approved of a charter change amendment to be put to voters on March 2. And they recommend to Town meeting representatives that the police training budget remain at $27,000 rather than be increased to $40,000.

Comments | 11

  • Preliminaries

    Pre-meeting banter about kids, Tim being late, Daniel shaving, Tim arriving….

    Chair Tim Wessel – a little hectic here in the household today. Apologies for being a minute or two late. In deference to the weighty agenda, no remarks, though I could make plenty.

    Town manager Elwell – we will be clearing snow from downtown. We sent notice over the weekend and that didn’t happen because of the storm and in part because of equipment failures, so we had some challenges. We will be collecting snow tonight and tomorrow, so have cars off the street by 11 at the latest.

    Tim – I saw the reminder on High Street.

    Ian Goodnow – the usual reminder about elections. Town Mtg Day and school election on March 2nd, etc… (repeats his election info psa). Consent for candidate forms deadline is Monday Jan 25 by 5pm.

    Brandie Starr – I have a statement. Tonight we’ll have another opportunity to show real leadership listening to the shared stories. I thought about MLK jr letter from a Birmingham jail – “the white moderate more devoted to order than justice…. who agrees with the goal but not the methods of direct action…. constantly advising to wait for a more convenient season… ” This spoke deeply to me as I contemplated tonight’s agenda.

    Tim – our consent agenda had five items and so if you want to speak to it in public participation, so if you’d like a board member to pull it for discussion.

    Josh Wyman – a windauhm county resident. I support the recommendations and e by the safety review board. I won’t be on later for comments, but I hope the board considers adopting these considerations moving forward.

    Kurt Daims – I thank Brandie for the excerpt – is that the speech that he said he didn’t want peace if it meant restrictions on the liberty of people?

    Brandie – uh, I’m looking…

    Kurt – he says I don’t want peace if it means this… or that. He was turning revolutionary in later years, which I like. I want to speak of Brattleboro Common Sense for activists, and give lodge to those starting down an activist lifestyle. Could be used for community policing. This is police living in our communities. A year ago, not one of our police officers lived in Brattleboro. We offer lodging part time for police officers at our facilities at our HQ near downtown Brattleboro, at no cost. Should this be an amendment to the proposal or separate?

    Tim – I take that as a comment…

    Kurt – should we bring it up later under the police budget discussion- our free offer to the police department – it doesn’t affect the budget directly.

    Tim – there are two sections later to review the police training budget and a review of top priority actions from the community safety report. This won’t be the last time we discuss it, that feels more appropriate for me. Chime in then.

  • The Consent Agenda

    (A) acknowledge the Monthly Financial Report for FY21 through December 2020, (B) ratify the appointments of the Town Clerk, Town Attorney, and Interim Town Treasurer, (C) approve the annual contract renewal for the Town Attorney, (D) authorize the purchase of a replacement parks maintenance tractor and (E) authorize planning and design work in preparation for planned Living Memorial Park Capital Improvements

    Tim – we are going to do (the above). The board is familiar with these items…

    consent agenda approved (cg: our first real timesaving use of it – congrats!)

  • Water Treatment Facility Replacement Project – Update from Town Staff and Design Engineer

    DPW Director Steve Barrett and Project Manager Crissy Hawkins

    Steve – Just want to do an overview, design, and cost estimate, and permits, approvals, funding, and project schedule. Then Crissy can answer technical questions. First, an overview. DPW has been working on the Pleasant Valley Water Treatment Plant, which has served the town since 1989 – max 2 million gallons a day. Current building is in poor shape. New design standards require a new filter. This will replace old equipment and eliminate costly maintenance. Cost estimate was $10,900,000 at start. Final design now has cost estimate of $12,500,000, including planning and design costs. Some of the cost changes came from knowing the actual details. Major cost increases came from: fire suppression system needs new sprinkler system with dedicated electric, generator needs to be bigger, heat pumps upfront costs, driveway paving at the facility. Permits and approvals – should be done by February 2021. Zoning permits have been approved. All other permits being reviewed. For funding, the drinking fund has some grant money – a low interest loan with possible forgiveness. And some other possibilities. A bond vote at RTM in 2021 is required to move forward with the construction loan. We’ll have a special informational meeting on this project. Schedule is to move forward, warn the vote, finish the plans, have the town meeting informational session and vote, project goes out to bid, and project could start in June. 12-18 month completion schedule. Finished in 2022. Questions?

    Elwell – one additional fact. The deficiencies of the current building. We have used it more than a decade beyond its useful life. Now we have to deal with it. There’s a reason it isn’t in the best condition and needs to be replaced.

    Tim – you took away my fun zinger question to Steve…

    Liz McLoughlin – water fees will go up?

    Steve – the board approved a rate adjustment and the board decided to flatten out the rates, lower for sewer and higher for water, and those rate increase will support the project. The debt service will start to go down for sewer, but water treatment will go up.

    Elwell – a 6% increase in water rates each year for the next four years. About $26 a year for avg household. Less for smaller households.

    Daniel – Could you explain the drinking water revolving fund loan application and forgiveness?

    Crissy – with Dufresne Group – the fund changes their funding every year. In the past year, Feb 2020, we submitted an application for the project, and we’re in the queue for that funding. They offered a 25% subsidy this year, not affordability related. Brattleboro was #1 on priority list below emergency projects. Remainder of loan terms will be determined once we are ready to proceed. They’ll put together the loan terms – a 30 year term at 0-3%, probably close to 0%. Also potential forgiveness on the planning loan of $50k.

    Ian – For the public, in the draft warning of the RTM article, #11 is the bond vote. The Act 250 permit – could you walk me through the next steps? Any possibility they’ll add things we need to do?

    Crissy – great question. What we like to do upfront before we submit an application, we contact al state agencies to find out what we need. Our Act 250 applications have everything nailed down – the shoreline protection, wetlands… all the agencies. The Fire marshal. I don’t expect that anything should be added. We’ve gone though it already.

    Elwell – an ACT250 permit for a new facility would be harder. Replacing is easier.

    Steve – we’re not changing the location. If we moved it closer to residential it would be different.

    Liz – Of course we all think it is good and prudent and efficient to have a safe water supply. In Flint they did a series of very bad mistakes. It’s a serious responsibility, and we take is seriously to provide clean water for the town.

    Steve – that’s appreciated. A different challenge in the 80’s – it should be free and unfiltered. Our facility was educational and proved its importance to our users.

    Tim – RTM informational meeting will be separate?

    Elwell – yea – you know the details, but RTM members will be new to it, and it is an important project with a big price tag – we want everyone to know what they need to know to cast an informed vote. So, like sewer, and police and fire, we’ll have a special meeting for this project, a week prior to the March 10 informational meeting. March 3 or thereabouts.

    Tim = 2021 – this year. Makin’ sure. Who doesn’t want to have another meeting? This was an update so no action to take. Thanks for the update!

  • FY22 - Review Current Status of the FY22 Proposed Budget

    Tim – a general FY22 proposed budget with four agenda items, and Peter will kick us off on the current status.

    Elwell – A quick summary of what has changed in the proposed budget during your consideration. This is the 10th budget meeting. As you approach final decisions… no changes in revenues, and on expenditures side you approved $66k to human services funding, increased funding for street paving by $50k to $400k, and you approved BCTV’s request for $7k. That adds about a penny to the tax rate, so the budget as proposed is 3.17 cent increase to property tax rate. Next you will think about police training and selectboard stipends, and any other items. If you have any other items to consider, raise them tonight so we can bring the full budget next week for approval.

    Brandie – so we need to decide those items – board compensation? OK…

  • FY 22 - Additional Consideration of Selectboard Compensation

    Tim – I won’t queue it up too much but it will reconsidered whether or not we do anything. Brandie wanted more time to think..?

    Brandie – I wanted more time. It is uncomfortable to talk about, and we should send it to RTM, but that doesn’t give a number to work with, and I should think about the next person sitting here in this seat. I don’t really know… being woman and a bit raspy I don’t want to talk about my salary, but we should put in a placeholder number…

    Daniel – last time I raised alternative structures, not different numbers. I was uncertain about whether we could have different systems, such as a pot of money for board members to divide. I got some feedback that they liked that, and having a base level to start with – everyone would get X and an amount to divide up… but how does RTM get to act on it. It would really be the question they are asked. Don’t know how to proceed with it.

    Liz – I’ve had discussions with Millicent Cooley about this. We discussed what the meaning of a stipend island it is to help defray expenses associated with our duties. babysitting or eldercare or whatever the board member would need to get to the meeting. We’ve had 40 meetings at $15 an hour is $3k, which sounds like the stipend. I think we should discuss this at RTM. It is their perogative more than ours.

    Ian – Milicent is on the RTM finance committee and they are working on an item for RTM to consider regarding this article, which will include some material based on 2017 report on the same topic.

    Daniel – I hear what you are saying about stipends. In the budget, it says board salaries, and salaries are different. We don’t need to go to that place about word meanings. Is this about increasing access? The work is not just how many hours we sit in a meeting. When I spoke with Milicent on Saturday, we spoke of increasing the compensation, would it improve access tot eh board. I think it is one piece of improving access to the board. People want some space to kick around ideas, and some suggestions from us. If we send $17k as the line, that’s what they’ll work with. If we send $25k, that’s where they’d start. What higher amount increases access to this position, and I don’t know.

    Tim – it has been tradition, and I can upend tradition, it is to ask what the compensation for board members will be.

    Elwell – I recall it being called salaries, and we looked and it says compensation in the Charter.

    Tim – my point is that in the past, many previous boards consider giving themselves a raise is impolite, but we could put the actual amount in there. We need to put a number forward clearly…

    Elwell – you probably could. In the past, in the motion it is clear. The wording of the warned article doesn’t include the narrow action contemplated to give room to the discussion. So instead, you warn a question, then make the motion have the amount in there.

    Tim – Irregardless…

    Brandy – my ears are bleeding

    Tim – Websters says it is a word. RTM should set the amounts and have the discussion.

    Daniel – reframing this – it isn’t a raise for ourselves but improving access to this position – 3 seats expire in a month or so, and very few people have put their hat in the ring. I cannot say why, but we would like to see more people running for these positions. It’s better for the town. Why are they not running? 5 hour zoom meetings every week? Might have scared them off this year. Last year we talked about this. I get all the talk of compensation.. I hope that when RTM considers they think about whether it achieves what it should, and could other things be done to increase access to positions of power. It’s not just a raise. If we did the pot of money and let board members decide, some might end up with less money. All of our needs are different. I don’t have child care expenses. Not about us becoming more wealthy by $1k a year.

    Kurt Daims – I’ve been proposing a raise at every RTM. I want to make your work lighter. You don’t have to debate this. Charter says RTM shall fix… compensation. It is part of RTM regular duties. Also, you don’t have to bother with this. Don’t have to do it. It’s not your job.

    Tim – I agree.

    Wichie Artu – I’m in the regional equity task force. Compensation is a big barrier, and there is work to be done outside of meetings, and it is hard for people with children. Good that you are raising the issue. We’ve also found that people don’t know how to find out about petitions, or where to submit it, or what the process is, especially people newer to government. Also, mentionship – people who are asked do well. So, to uplift, reach out and ask and explain how to do it. Hope this helps.

    Liz – I am an Emerge graduate and there are barriers to woman participating in government. That push and recognition that women’s voices are necessary is very important, and there are parallels to people feeling empowered to run for office.

    Ian – Wichie spoke to what I was trying to say weeks ago about the web site and I’m excited that when we upgrade the website we get people involved. Hope that conversation grows.

    Kaz DeWolfe – Tim, you said it wasn’t polite to vote on giving yourself a raise. The only connotations I have about polite is about ruling classes surpassing challenges to their power. Whenever I hear that.. don’t make decisions based on what is polite.

    Gary Stroud – hi great to see you in the new year. Daniel – there is an opening for committee? Awesome – how about mentioning selectboard seats available at your meetings. New people come to town. And you deserve better salaries, like an Outback Steakhouse gift certificate. When we have a pandemic, how do you compensate for it? It’s good you are taking time to put your thinking caps on… per diem or salary, and who would of thought of a pandemic and zoom meeting – no travel or childcare for meetings, but essential help. I’m proud of you guys and what you’ve done since this began.

    Tim – run for selectboard.

    Daniel – this is the last meeting before candidate forms are due in, so if you want to be on the ballot – two 1 year seats (me and Ian) and Brandie has a 3 year seat… 3 seats. I’ve put my name in for a 1 year seat again. If you are watching and think we’re not getting it right, put your name on the ballot. Easy to get on the ballot. I spoke with two people interested in running. It’s not just about money. Do people feel allowed to do this? None of us was born a selectboard member. Well. maybe Tim…

    Tim… Noooo… this year is the easiest year to get on the ballot – no petition signatures required. Two one year seat and one 3 year seats. I find a beauty in that set up that is very satisfying. If people trust you for one year, then step into a three, which is a bigger commitment. A kind of poetry in it. Deadline next Monday at 5 pm.

    Sonia – back to the stipend conversation – I want to underline that this is not sufficient to increase access to the board but it is essential, and other things could change. Community engagement officer idea is good. It’s hard to figure out the dates.. the first tuesday after the third tuesday… make it easy. People would run if compensation was better. If you can’t give RTM a larger number, I’d love some input as to how else it could happen. We talked for 2 hours at last RTM and it didn’t get anywhere. There are question marks about how to get people more involved… this isn’t a question. We know we need this.

    Daniel – One more thing to say – to what she just asked. When this article comes up, if someone amends it, that drives the conversation. And it will be just about money. Harder with such a large group. making space might make for more free flowing ideas. People gonna do what they are gonna do.

    HB Lozito – I’m glad we’re having this conversation now before RTM. many thoughts. It’s not about people who are currently serving. For me and my work, increasing compensation is about who comes after. use your power to increase access to power. Money is the number one reason I haven’t run for the selectboard. I’d need more than $3k to make it work. Number one reason. It’s why I’m not on the board. There is more work to do to expand access in these ways. This is very basic and foundational. Send a higher number to RTM. It holds a lot of weight. easier to get behind something he board suggest, rather than a floor amendment.

    Ian – This is an RTM issue and I was going to quote the Charter, but I also hear the issue of how it is being presented so RTM can do its job, so I’m curious if we can talk about the warning…it is super open… what is the compensation going to be. Whomever makes the motion limits it. Could we make a motion without limit?

    Elwell -there’s still some time before you finalize motions so we’ll have a better idea of what the finance committee is doing on this matter.. Depending on what we learn, that will inform the framing of the motion.

    Ian – while I think it is an RTM issue, it is the board’s responsibility that RTM can do its job. The board should try to make it easier to have a discussion and let them do their job.

    Daniel – I can’t get away from this topic – the finance committee will have a report that focuses on money, primarily. I wonder is there any kind of scope for RTM creating an access and engagement committee, or could we create it, to look at things like this?

    Liz – Based on Millicent’s questions to us, the report is broader than money itself and I’m content to let them present their findings and open the discussion, in their own terms, as a RTM committee.

    Brandie – that would be helpful for me

    Tim – where di we land?

    Brandie – $10k each

    Tim – we’ll take this up again?

    Liz – RTM finance committee will have their report

    Elwell – and you can reconsider motions in a month as they are finalized.

    Tim – I don’t want to speak to this first at RTM. I do also want to say that part of the non success of racing salaries, there are residents that believe we should professionalize the board and we’re paid more than most board in the state. Sharpen your arguments. Groups of RTM members can meet prior and discuss plans.

    Kurt Daims – Trying to make your job easier and meeting shorter. The article could be presented as always, and do the motion like you do the budget.. to see how much will be allowed… to see how much. It could have the same wording for salaries.

  • FY22- Additional Consideration of Police Department Training Budget In Furtherance of the Community Safety Review Team’s Report and Recommendations

    Tim – summary then break?

    Elwell – the budget proposed had $40k of money for police dept training in FY22. A $13k increase over $27k figure for the current fy21 budget. One recommendation is to maintain level funding at $27k. You have a pending decision about the training budget. This is just about the training budget.

    Tim – welcome

    Mark Carignan – I’ve told the board the general areas we want to invest in training – diversity and inclusion, and deescalation training. Initially, the DEI training…. police don’t know what training might be best, and I agree with that. We need to find subject experts with lived experienced – the report suggested local folks and we’d like to do that. Here at the department we’ve had a fair amount of implicit bias training -a first step. The goal is to ensure that police officers treat people equally. Awareness is one thing. I hope to find some sort of training to make us realize implicit biases don’t influence our work. We don’t biases manifesting into practices on the street. Another piece is related. It can’t be a one and done type of taring. I hope to do it periodically throughout the year – multiple sessions will cost more, as reflected in our request. For deescalation, I’d like more training. Enhance the taring we are doing. It changes every year. This year we had scenarios for interventions by officers on other officers – to prevent other officers from using force. You can’t just have a a policy and hope it happens. We need to practice doing it. We want training to calm situations down, slowing events, and better decisions by officers and space for volunteer compliance so force doesn’t;t have to be used. I want to enhance this with more scenario training – where police officers aren’t needed – where police recognize they don’t need to be there and can withdraw from a situation. That’s the 100 foot view of what happens if you increase the budget.

    Liz -a third way. The report discussed not increasing training in this budget year, but police hoped for more guidance on type of training they recommend. The town has the expertise to discuss training, using members of the community and police to define what train should be, like restorative justice model. The police can learn and change and the community can make it happen. The conversation about this are training. We’re not that far apart. We all want more Brattleboro based training that acknowledges the harm. learn from this report, and restore trust and repair the harm that has been done and move forward together. It’s the only way.

    Tim – ask questions, make statements, or take or break?

    A break until 8:15

  • PT 2 Police Training Budget

    HB Lozito -I’ll read… speaking tonight to level fund at $27k instead of increasing in 48%, based on the report. It’s not new for BPD to do this training. Been trying for 8 years to do the kind of training on fair and impartial training. New recruits had the taring. BPD officers had the training. There was to be a trainer on staff. For the last 14 years, BPD has been aware of this type of training and have been implementing it, but the statistics show BPD to be the worst in the state. Why no improvements? Where is the accountability for the existing budget? We’ve been trying this for over 14 years with no change in conditions. Let’s try something else. $27k will still be the second highest amount in the last 5 years. It isn’t zeroing out the training budget. Give the $27k taring budget, not a 48% increase.

    Shea Witzberger – call in user 1? It’s me. One of the two facilitators of the community safety review and author of the report. We’ll talk about a lot of recommendations soon. This set of recommendations did not ask for any wholesale defunding of the police even though many people and organizations wanted that. We didn’t put that forward because we didn’t think you’d go for it. What did seem possible was level funding the police budget, which is surprising to me. You want to build alternatives. You talk about money all the time. What we are asking for is marginalized people to do even more free labor to make this stuff happen. Why have we known about these alternatives but don’t do them? We made a lot happen with a little bit of money. To support alternatives after denying funding to go for it is no restoration of trust. We didn’t ask for a 30% police decrease in budget. We asked to level fund a training budget. You can’t support the recommendations if there is no way to make it happen. This one is a lynchpin to make the others happen. This is unfortunately paternalistic to say I don’t want us to lose hope. Marghinalized people told you what they want to be safe. Acknowledge the harm. Sit and pause. Don’t steamroller over alternatives. It tales money to do alternatives. Can’t happen out of thin air. We’re about pragmatic imagination.

    Cassandra Holloway – I want to talk about work I have been doing around bringing law enforcement and people who have been harmed together. I’ve been doing this myself. COVID interrupted my regular work. Been working around people in recovery and to hold panel discussions to share experiences of harm with law enforcement and health services. One person Daryl McGraw – a trainer. He wanted to meet. Usually works in the justice system and met with our law enforcement. He got to meet recovery coaches. Met with restorative justice. He mentioned people brining trauma with them to Vermont from other places. We’ve been working to train people in recovery and health care allies to hold conversations, with stipends, and from those conversations will prepare best practices. Going to do it with law enforcement as well. I hope the models are explored. So much healing happens when these parties come together. It wouldn’t be as good without those conversation. It creates sustainable relationships.

    Emily Megas-Russell – thanks for bringing me up. I echo what Shea said. Think critically and pragmatically how you will support alternatives, and this being the one opportunity to look at a budget item this year. Repetition is how we depend and learn. The full 2021 budget wasn’t used up. There is potential within the current budget for deepening in some of the areas, but I really want to also reflect a key finding of ours that there isn’t readiness for the level of training being proposed. The assessment we’re asking the town to make with this department is the investment in training hasn’t led to the impact you are hoping it will. Brattleboro isn’t alone. The good intention is not actually leading to the intended impact of recused bias. It’s about a commitment and how we are addressing the needs of the whole department? It’s a freeze, and the assessment is that there isn’t a readiness for reduced bias training. To push this forward would be your agenda, not grounded in the assessment that has been done.

    Tim – I know and others know when we talk about training budget year after year, a certain percentage goes to statutory requirements. Right? Not just for Brattleboro. Some state requirements…

    Elwell – if you want a deeper dive into the budget we can address that. A certain amount of training has to be spent on state requirements.

    John Ungerleider – director of greater falls community justice center… I won’t speak to funding. The type of training we’d like to see… What we used to do at SIT, there is wisdom in the people we are training. If we get people who are impacted – police and community members and social workers – to find out how to be creative and move forward and do better. That’s the kind we have experience doing around here. Whatever budget you decide on, you should do that kind of training. Eliciting the wisdom of a community to solve problems.

    Alex Fisher – can we get a sense of how you will vote? Are we extending a conversation we don’t need to? It’s hard to know with Roberts Rules… the challenging is not knowing what will be happening. I think what is at the heart of this decision… 13k is on the table. It’s mist when we talk of water in the bucket. It’s not the dollar amount but trying something different. Responding to the moment. It’ll show the community you are willing something different. Not the same thing that isn’t working. It’s not a big budget issue. Just a commitment to do even the smallest thing differently for just a year, because it has been proven that the last 14 years hasn’t been effective. What are you afraid of happening if you do this? What would you be giving up?

    Franz Reichsman – I hear we want training to be effective in the BPD and in other law enforcement structures. It isn’t obvious to me that if you want ti to be more effective you take funding away. maybe you increase funding to do more/better training. What would get the police department more ready for making changes? Could you include that as part of the training? Should we support that different thing? What would help police be ready to use training? I’d like to hear what we need to do to make it worth our while to spend money to get the outcome we want?

    AC Mark Carignan – one point to make and you decide the budget but I may have misspoken or misrepresented. Someone quote the article about us doing this for a long time and it hasn’t been effective. I don’t disagree with that. The numbers are the numbers. Someone also said we shouldn’t ask people to do things with no money. We don’t know what the most effective training is, and that’s why I’m asking for additional money to go to local people and pay them so they can design training for us that would be more effective. Are we ready to receive this… that will cost money, and I want to pay people to do that. I’m agreeing that training thus far has been limited and I want to pay folks to remedy that. I want to make sure this is articulated better.

    Brandie – thanks for the clarification. Do you have an answer about how much budget goes toward state compliance?

    Mark – a certain amount goes to state requirements for officers and equipment, and some is discretionary. Often it is reactive, to increase officer skills. I can’t give you an accurate number but it is substantial.

    Tim – I’ve been thinking about the argument for no additional training money being that we’re not ready. That resonates with me somewhat and more than symbolic. It’s a real thing to make sure training is effective. Pause or enhance the training. On the de-escalation side, it is a tougher question. It’s harder to measure… it’s things not happening. Like on Putney Rd. That’s an argument for more de-escalation training. Training isn’t always something that is measurable.

    Daniel – I’ll bite. Alex wants to know if they need to keep talking if we are ready to vote… this is super complicated. On one hand it is a litmus test, and the other hand can people develop or grow? I was a teacher for 10 years working with all sorts of students. People were ready for things at different times. A 2 hour training will be effective for some and not for others based on where they are that day. There is skepticism about diversity training in policing… many say it doesn’t produce the outcomes, so why throw more money at it. Sometimes schools get money thrown at them, but money doesn’t fix problems. Good leadership, soft things in the budget. I trust mark’s understanding of the readiness of his officers. If, right now, $27k is substantial, second highest in last five years, last year’s money hasn’t been spent, and I’m in favor of level funding it but it isn’t a simple decision.

    Liz – my glasses fell off… so, I share the thought that as the report calls for, this discussion is very useful. It could be a paid discussion among people in the community who do this work. I don’t want to put training on hold for FY22. Why start and stop. Let’s go forward. We don’t need to make a point to be punitive to the police department. Asa gesture, it isn’t coming together to solve the problem. Coming together to find the right training is the way to solve the problem.

    Tim – the DEI – diversity, equity and inclusion – I can go either way and de-escalation is important to me. This is a small part of the budget.. I’d like to strike a balance to give some increase but make it clear that the dept should work with local folks to come up with better training? Seems to strike a balance. How is not training better than training?

    Daniel – it’s about timing and context and whether it fixes what needs to be fixed. Traffic stop data from UVM shows us that there is a problem there and I’d hope.. I want to see the department talk with he authors of the report. Whether or not more DEI training helps is very unclear so $27k ia still a substantial budget. There will be deescalation in there. It’s false that if we don’t give more de-escalation training won’t happen.

    Ian – so, reading the section of the report for recommendations… the last bullet point on pg 158. Increased training is not going to be effective without assessment… and we need to develop accountable training plans with outcomes that are demonstrable. I’m inclined to level fund. Why take funding away? I think we shouldn’t increase funding on what’s not working, but that leaves a question. Where does the money come from for police to engage community members? Figuring out training sin’t training. A bigger point, how are we implementing all these things? It is complex. Lots of room to work together on this.

    Brandie – I want to give validation to what Franz said -it is ok to feel that way. We’re not taking funding away, we’re level funding what’s already there and let Carignan work with community members to figure out next steps. I want to thank him for … it could make people defensive and feel like there was a lot of openness from Mark and willingness… not resisting this part of the report. That takes courage to say the numbers are the numbers. I’m inclined to level fund. My fear is that police will feel a certain way about them… I hope any officer I know knows I do like you and enjoy you and trust that this is going to work. I want to step back and level fund while we figure out a new direction. It isn’t punishment.

    Daniel – there are three – I can make a motion… or is that enough agreement?

    Tim – you don’t have to do that. I’ll put it this way for myself… I will vote against level funding because of de-escalation, and increased training is generally good for the department. Training better than non training. Ineffective training can be recognized… it can be effective to some individuals.. I don’t want to say some aren’t ready for this and certainly not for deescalation. I’ll vote against it, with no ill feelings. We could split the difference…

    Liz – Philosophically this report recommends level funding and police aren’t ready. That’s giving up. To do the training that would be beneficial costs money and to hamstring that effort to make some sort of a point is foolhardy.

    Daniel – I’ll put a motion and save people some time. I move to fund police training budget at $27k rather than the proposed $40k.

    3-2 (Tim and Liz against)

  • FY22 Any Other FY22 Budget Matters

    Tim – one other part to the FY22 budget – any other budget matters?

    Elwell – someone made a joke earlier about me saying “anything else?” – this is the time to speak up.

    Tim – last call…

    Daniel – swimming pool, new bus station, gold toilet…

  • Additional Consideration of Top Priority Actions in Furtherance of the Community Safety Review Team’s Report and Recommendations

    Tim – long agenda names, but they are accurate. Thanks to Daniel for giving us a starting point. let’s focus on that tonight and look at low hanging fruit that will have more convergence among the board. It would be great if we can come up with some areas of consensus and agreement. Move toward handing peter and his staff a list of things to work on and bring back to us before the end of this board’s tenure. That’s my hopes.

    Daniel – I feel like I sent a list so I should speak to it.

    Liz – can I suggest we discuss it point by point and move along…

    Brandie – something doesn’t feel ok about it…

    Tim – some items are closely related.

    Brandie – if we go through his list, can we go through other things?

    Daniel – I know what you mean. This list – there are 40 recommendations… in my list it isn’t everything – I want to give us a place to start. It’s hard to move forward as one piece. It’s hard but not impossible. This is an attempt at a starting point. (I can see faces now on zoom sessions. Liz and I used to pass notes…) Here”s my list, the whole list, then we can work on them one by one… so… the list. No particular order: a. working to decouple police from welfare checks and mental health response b. no coercive responses, c. racial disparities in traffic stops, d – traffic stop data lapses, e. CPCC, f. invest in new programs that are most helpful, and g. consider neighborhood deescalation training….

    Liz – there is a lot of agreement, so maybe…

    Daniel – is there anything else….

    Liz – yes, almost all of them… shall we tweak the language as we go along for Peter?

    Tim – I’m excited that we’ll have some agreements. I agree but retreated a bit. For a I added a preamble “to investigate the merits and challenges… ” a commitment to hoping it will work.

    Daniel – the word working is all sort of investigating and collaborating and…

    Tim – working presupposes the outcome we want. I reworded it that I hope it is the outcome but I don’t know enough yet. “Working to decouple” might be good but I need the investigation first.

    Liz – I had something similar – ask staff to assess legal framework to do this… research the issue.

    Brandie – My question Tim is are we presupposing or were we told that is what they want. If they say this is what they want us to work toward we aren’t making it up. You preamble makes me feel dismissive of them and makes me feel like we know better than those experiencing things. There’s something about that that doesn’t make me feel comfortable. We should look at legal obligations, yes… definitely.

    Ian – Liz, re-read your suggestion?

    Liz – asks staff to address legal and logistical framework ….to decouple police from welfare and mental health checks.

    Brandie – I like that better – we heard what is in the report and are just looking at what is legal. We heard the assessment, but our goal is to move in that direction.

    Tim – I can see that.

    Ian – I like how this is moving. Peter, are we giving a clear direction going down this path?

    Elwell – Good conversation! On behalf of staff – Mark, Patrick and myself – we’d like an opportunity to give that kind of advice related to the entire report. Add value not by substituting by adding – showing you places the town has full authority to act, or not, or can if the law changes, or other options. There is work to do around this. We’d welcome the idea to do it one this item and more broadly. We’re ready to help and can do that in a way that can help you and the community in deciding what the community wants to be the priorities moving forward.

    Daniel – very helpful and good use of town resources. This is why we [pay you the big bucks..

    Liz – and we just eta stipend..

    Daniel – I’d love to turn it over to get your additions and annotations. Very grateful for that and I trust you all to do that work.

    Liz – are we done now?

    Daniel – could be…

    Ian – I’m thrown off a bit, do we want to work through this list to give direction on and expect a product back from staff and continue the process? Is that where we are at?

    Liz – I have a couple of things to add to Daniel’s list about things we can all get behind. he can know we give initial support to…I’d like to add exploring increased restorative justice and add revising police department policy to be more demonstrative about anti-bias and inclusion. maybe we can agree on those things?

    Tim – is going through the list still valuable?

    Brandie – I don’t want to leave other things out.

    Daniel – the list was a place to star and there isa lots of agreement but we trust the staff to annotate this with professional opinions of what’s possible, that would be a good thing to do.

    Peter – One thing I didn’t say that is relevant to your decision tonight is I think our initial input on this would happen with this board and could possible happen by February or March – we could take a first look to see what we’re bringing back and you can take a look. If it needs more, we’ll get more direction from you. I’m not asking you to stop, but what I’ve heard so far, we’ll commence the work you suggested. You don’t have to wait months for that. Just weeks. Everyone’s goal is to move the work forward. We need to give definitions to the first steps.

    Brandie – honest – my brain is working overtime. I’m missing things. Peter, if we went with this, you’d come back based on this report… and does that mean we’d pass this in full to give to staff? What would the motion look like?

    Elwell – what you do or don’t do you need to decide. What I suggest, whatever you do or don’t do, the work needs to be done to find out what we can do and what others will have to do. To give you that info, we can do that. If you do something else tonight, we can do that to, or you could wait for this info before deciding. It would start with an organizing piece of work. Right now it isn’t in a good form to sort through who does what. We can bring it back with info on legal boundaries and logistical things we see as relevant – you’d get staff perspectives on how to move forward. I don’t think that is doing nothing. That work will make us all better equipped to do the work.

    Liz – what daniel said, that this does not supplant our own decision making, it is an organizing document to work with.

    Elwell – not does it supplant the communities experience. You have policy making authority, and the goals have been identified in the report. Staff can help to identify what’s going to be… we can help you make good decisions about what to move forward with, with confidence, about what can be done.

    Ian – a great idea. The five of us could bang out a point and then find out it is illegal, or we could make a better decision with more info. We want to create change. peter and Town staff are actors in this and have done a great job so we can trust in what he is saying. Full support of this.

    Brandie – I’m also in full support… I’d ask you to do with that for all recommendations. I’m willing to make that motion…

    Liz – all these nodding heads…

    Tim – my push for low hanging fruit was to take a burden off staff, since there are some items that won’t go forward., but if Peter is willing to commit, it is hard to say no.

    Ian – Maybe with more info, maybe other items could be low fruit… trying to stay positive.

    Tim – we have attack of people…

    Brandie – I’ll risk their wrath. They want us to do this. Ask for forgiveness later… that’s my choice tonight.

    Liz – hands are going down.

    Brandie – I move we pass the recommendations in full and come back with an organized version of what’s recommended.

    Liz – I don’t like the passing in full… we’re asking town staff to organize the report so we can go forward…

    Daniel – folks in community want us to acknowledge what’s in here and act on it. We won’t agree on all, but we believe the report is worth spending time and resources on. I’m in support…

    Peter – thanks for leaping in there… I believe as Town manager that you as a board are not being disrespectful if you ask professional full time staff to devote time to this in the near term… all of it… to come back with additional information to help you decide priorities. The point here is not to commit to all of it without having a better idea of what all of it entails. What can the town do, and who should we coordinate with? All of you agree you want us to spend that time. You are conveying the whole thing is important, but not acting on all of it other than to assign to your staff to come back with additional information for additional review. We may not get it the first time out. It’ll start to fall into place, then you can allocate resources and set priorities. It is about all of it. Look at all 40 recommendations, not just what you can agree on. No motion required.

    Brandie – I kinda want to make a motion and have a unanimous vote…

    Peter – If you take your 10 pm break I’ll work it out and suggest language….

    Brandie – I want a unanimous vote we can all feel good about.

    Tim – how about back at 10:05?

  • And more...

    Elwell – I Worte one. It is a bit wordy but a lot to convey. Say so moved…. “the board gratefully accepts the community safety report and directs staff to provide additional information regarding recommendations in that report to help the board make decisions to move forward on this work…”

    Brandie – so moved.


    Brandie – This report asked us to acknowledge harm. I can only speak for myself but this board member would like to publicly acknowledge and accept the details of this report and work to address systematic racism…. in an ongoing way.

    Daniel – I concur.

    Tim – we have some community to speak…

    Gary Stroud – that was a good motion that went through. Being on CPCC, we had a meeting about reconstructing and revamping it to improve its body and structure to get things done. Getting things back in order for the town and country. Just my feelings. I want to give my whole support to this. Salvage and make improvements to the CPCC, or find other avenues.

    Shea – howdy howdy howdy howdy….. echo… I think this is great. Thank you all. I had some points of process but you made it through. Thanks you. It isn’t a final decision about what you read and processed, but super grateful that you are giving this the attention and process time to see what is possible. A strong step in the right direction. I can help you, Peter…

    Ivan – I have a combination of congratulations and scolding. Congrats on hearing all of these marginalized voices and taking action. The scolding, much earlier there was talk of implicit bias and the danger in implicit bias is that it is implicit. We don’t realize our judgement is being clouded by unrelated judgments. I have feelings of affinity with people here regardless of their positions. So, watch out for implicit bias. I’ll be here to scold you in the future.

    Wichie – Really happy the town is looking more closely at this. peter said somethings the town can do, and others have to do. As a person who sits on boards and makes recommendations tot he governor, this has to be collaborative work, and I look forward to looking at the tangible things, and things that can be done statewide or at the hospital. I’d like to help.

    Ain – thanks for the discussion. I’m honored to present a petition signed by hundreds of people and organizations – it speaks to how many people want this change. I’m excited this is going to town staff. We want to implement this change… the statement they signed said many members who participated see this as a sign of hope and change. It should materialize actual change. Let’s honor the work and build on this process…. we call upon the board to adopt the final recommendations in full. Glad you are directing town staff to work on this and hoping that you will implement recommendations as written. When you do add to the recommendations – the first five are very important. Need to acknowledge the harm and the first five recommendations.

    Tim – okay… deep exhale. Thanks everybody.

  • New Business (10:20 pm) Self-Governance Update & Proposed Charter Amendment

    Elwell – we’ve talked of self governance for a long time. It started as a talk about hub towns and being larger in a rural area. We’re the big town and there are demands placed on us and other hub towns different and greater than towns around the hub towns. As we got working on that it grew into a statewide effort to increase self governance for all municipalities. There was legislation submitted that would have created a PILOT program of home rule. Quick civic lesson. A home rule state, municipalities can do anything not prohibited by state law. In Dylan’s rule state, municipalities can only do what the state authorizes. The opposite. Time and agin we recognize needs but we hot barriers. Greater self governance would help us identify and address issues locally without asking for state permission. The pilot project was passed, but the House didn’t take it up during COVID. There’s a new session just begun and it will be re-introduced. In the first year, all attention is on COVID and economic actions. We don’t expect it to go anywhere for a while. At VCLT, some larger communities are adopting language that would be a charter change for each community. We’d adopt this change to our charter. It is subject to approval by the legislature. The hope is by having a cross section of municipalities adopt the same or similar language, that might positively influence… the legislature to realize it isn’t just one town, but across the state there are places interested and our constituents are their constituents. We think it will put some pressure on them. We’d modify our charter to draw upon any other charter in VT that we think is beneficial, without asking the legislature for approval. The thinking is the legislature already approved all these charters, so we want to draw on what was approved for another town (or vice versa). That’s what we are proposing. I’ll read the exact language… you need to adopt the language as the intended charter change, and place it before voters… to see if Brattleboro voters should amend the charter to add a section that’s ays the selectors, upon approval, any charter amendment approved must conform to a charter amendment approved by legislature for another municipality, subject to giving notice to sec of state.

    Brandie – have you seen anything het in other charters?

    Elwell – I’m aware of some we might consider. One thing that causes consternation is that some things have been approved in one place and not in another – inconsistent – maybe these legislatures will be less controlling and empower us to do things already permitted in other parts of the state.

    Ian – very excited about this subject. Are we essentially already doing this? Williston passed this? has it been accepted?

    Elwell – Williston voters approved similar language, Winooski is considering in, and others. Probably a dozen.

    Ian – what’s the recourse if they deny?

    Elwell – none. Voters in Bennington approved a charter change for attendance requirements on selectboard. State legislature rejected it.

    Tim – I have to say… it really is political football and paternalistic actions. the relationship to the state to municipalities is very paternalistic.

    Liz – sound arbitrary…

    Elwell – the motion is slightly different.. to approve the propose charter amendment and add an article to the annual town meeting warning as presented.


    ian – any info on the marijuana ballot item?

    Elwell – we’ll talk about it in the next item. It’s not like state ballots. Our format for warnings, each item is an article, and we propose the last wone be article 3 on the ballot.

    Final item is reviewing draft warnings. We’ll see ya next week…

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