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Select Board logo, 2019

The Select Board at its Feb. 27 meeting began the annual process of reviewing articles to be discussed and voted on at Town Meeting this spring.

It reviewed seven, approving three and taking no action on four.

Resolution to improve MBTA service

The board endorsed improvements to MBTA service in Arlington. The vote was 3-0-1 (DeCourcey, Hurd and Mahon yes, Diggins no, Helmuth recused).

Proponent Paul Schlichtman, who requested the resolution, said, “There’s been a tremendous loss of service to the town of Arlington, and it keeps getting worse.” 

DeCourcey sees this resolution as a statement that’s important to our community. “We’ve all seen reductions and are disappointed. I share the concerns of the school department and School Committee.”

However, Diggins said this resolution won’t effect change. “Although there’s been a serious lack of investment for the T for decades, we’re better off working on changes that’ll allow more housing, especially in the Broadway area. This way, we can show that there’ll be a lot more people in another decade, which helps the argument that more public transportation is needed.”

Special legislation/repeal MBTA prohibition

The board approved filing legislation to repeal a law that prohibits the MBTA from locating a mass transportation facility near Arlington Catholic High School. The vote was 3-1 (Diggins, Hurd and Mahon yes, DeCourcey no, and Helmuth recused because of a potential conflict of interest).

Schlichtman said this resolution would “clear the books of preventing the Red Line from coming into town. The 1976 decision [which he said prevented the Red Line from reaching Arlington] wasn’t a good idea; repealing that sets a neutral playing field. Let’s clear the decks, repeal the law and let us have discussions without the state law in place.”

Board Chair Len Diggins said, “My inclination is to talk to our delegates to see how they feel about this; it could help with future transportation possibilities. This may not be the thing that does it, but could spark other things that need to be changed or proposed, to allow development in that area.”

Board member Steve DeCourcey, who voted against the resolution, said, “I don’t think this act is what prevented the Red Line from extending into Arlington.”

Resolution/change state flag, seal

The board voted in favor (4-0, Helmuth recused) of a resolution to change the Massachusetts flag and seal. The state flag currently depicts an Algonquian Native American, the Myles Standish sword and a motto that translates to “By the Sword We Seek Peace, But Peace Only Under Liberty”. 

Resolution proponent Chadi Salamoun requested approval of the Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth to recommend alterations and/or alternatives.

Arlington joins other municipalities that are also doing this, and the commission seeks additional pressure to move this issue forward by adding Arlington to apply momentum, explained Town Counsel Doug Heim.

Bylaw amendment/medical antidiscrimination bylaw

The board unanimously voted no action on a bylaw amendment motion stating that people not be denied access to facilities or service based on medical status. 

Proponent Mark Kaepplein, Precinct 19 Town Meeting member and newly elected chair of the Arlington Republican Committee, said that people are losing their jobs if they’re not vaccinated against Covid-19. 

“People should not be denied access by health status. I grew up during the AIDS epidemic and discrimination; this all went out the window in the Covid era. [President] Biden says Covid is over.”

Board member John Hurd said he promotes no action because “the language seems overly broad.”

Resolution/My Body My Choice

The board unanimously voted no action on a resolution stating that people have a natural and innate authority over their own body.

Kaepplein, the proponent, said that people have a natural, innate rule over their own bodies, which includes such things as reproductive rights, gender-affirming surgery and wearing a face mask. “People are born with their own rights and bodies.”

Special legislation/police officer age waiver

The board voted no action (4-0, Helmuth recused) to waive the age restriction of 32 years old to apply and become an Arlington police officer on an artcile brought by James Looney.

Vote/Establishment of Civic Participation Study Group

The board voted "no action" after proponent Elizabeth Dray, a Precinct 9 Town Meeting member, requested it. She told YourArlington that she received input from DEI Director Jillian Harvey as well as from the recent equity audit indicating the effort would be redundant.

Read the documents submitted for these proposed articles >> 

Watch the Feb. 27 meeting on ACMi:
Jan.-March, 2023: Read draft warrant for spring meeting, including 19 citizen articles


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

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