LETTER: Charter Review Needs Transparency, Should Consider All 3 Forms of Government

Watertown Town Hall

The following letter was sent by Marilyn Petitto Devaney, former-Town Councilor, former-Town Meeting member and current Governor’s Councilor:

The Watertown Charter Committee consists of nine elected town councilors and six residents appointed by the Council president who acts as chair. They are charged to conduct a 10 year review of the Watertown Charter. They are to review entire charter to determine if any changes should be made in the structure of the government in addition to other agenda — i.e. considering all forms of government. The committee publicly stated they would go through the charter completely, but have not. This committee has been having meetings on Zoom at 6 pm.

OP-ED: The Truth About the Proposed Noise Ordinance

The Truth about the Noise Ordinance

I read Councilor Woodland’s Op-Ed of March 18th on the proposed Noise Ordinance with dismay. It was filled with misleading claims and fear mongering tactics. I feel it is necessary to clear up some misconceptions. 

In order to make his points Councilor Woodland left out key elements of the ordinance which alter the meaning of several quotes that he chose to share. For instance, he asserts that the “proposed ordinance caps permissible noise from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in residential areas (more than 10 minutes long) between 55-60 dbA (depending on duration)” and since conversation is 60 dbA it would outlaw talking. However he neglects to mention that the dbA at the source is not relevant.

OP-ED: Proposed Noise Ordinance Effectively Bans Lawn Mowers, Leaf Blowers

The Proposed Noise Ordinance Effectively Bans All Residential and Commercial Leaf Blowers/Lawn Mowers & Will Have Significant Other Negative Effects on Watertown Residents

On September 12, 2017 (yes 2017), the Town Council was asked to consider an issue brought up by the then Health Director regarding the Town’s noise ordinance. The reason? A resident, who lives next to the Commander’s mansion, claimed the landscaper who cuts the grass around the mansion was violating Watertown’s noise ordinance by cutting the grass too early in the morning. The Health Department disagreed. They reasoned that the noise ordinance, in its current form, exempts domestic lawnmowers and although the ordinance did not explicitly mention exempting commercial lawnmowers like the ones used outside the mansion, such a strict interpretation would likely place all commercial landscaping equipment in violation of the ordinance and result in a complete ban of such activity (whichclearly was not the intent of the ordinance).

LETTER: Watertown Group’s Letter to Superintendent, Supports Middle School Teacher

An Open Letter to the Superintendent of Watertown Public Schools, Dr. Galdston,

We are writing to express our strong support for a Watertown Middle School teacher who is under attack. She is a courageous and principled teacher who has sought to constructively challenge herself, her community, her colleagues, and her students to face the realities of race in America. She has done this in part by becoming an advanced Kingian practitioner. Many like to quote the more comfortable sections of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is often a more relevant touchstone. It is a challenging call to courageous action, and we believe that this teacher epitomizes its spirit.

LETTER: Resident Supports Teacher, Cites Work Spreading MLK’s Nonviolence Principles

To the Editor:

I am deeply distressed to see that the anti-racist work of Ruth Henry, Watertown Middle School teacher, has become the object of so much criticism, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding. For so many of us, Ruth has been a community icon and mentor, representing the highest standards of respect, clarity, and courage in her teachings and activist practices. Ruth’s commitment to anti-racist, anti-oppression work goes back many years. I became better acquainted with her passion for social justice when we worked together on the World in Watertown committee that planned and facilitated Dr. Bernard Lafayette’s visit to Watertown in 2016. Dr. Lafayette, one of our country’s foremost civil rights leaders, came to our community because of his close relationship with Ruth.

LETTER: Councilor Discusses Upcoming Meetings Look at Police Services in Watertown

The following statement was first read by Councilor Lisa Feltner at the March 9 Town Council meeting:

Watertown is very proud of its police department. The men and women who have served here, have served with distinction, and we appreciate overall their dedication to keeping us safe. They put their lives on the line for us every day. There are members of our community that have some concerns, which is understandable given all that has happened over the past year and in light of the pandemic, which has prompted questions about municipal and societal priorities across the country. The Town Council unanimously recommended the Public Safety Committee hold meetings to discuss current services and operations of our police department.

LETTER: Resident Calls for Stronger Response to Showing of Anti-Police Video at Middle School

Dear Dr. Galdston,

Let me preface my comments by expressing my admiration for the vast majority of wonderful teachers that have answered a “calling” to educate children, especially those in the Watertown Public Schools. As I noted, being a teacher is far more than a job, it’s a vocation and calling. My older sister was foreign language teacher and reading specialist, before she retired. I personally saw all the hours she put into the lesson planning and correcting papers. People don’t see all the work teachers do. Nor do they see that they often buy supplies with their own money. But the most important thing many folks don’t see or understand is the emotional commitment teachers make to their students. Having said that; I must express my dismay at your weak response to the situation at the Middle School. In your statement you rightly noted that the video shown to the students was Anti-Law Enforcement.

LETTER: Group of Parents Calls for Reopening Schools When Safe for Student & Staff

The following letter was signed by 60 residents, and is being sent to the Superintendent of Schools and the School Committee:

Dear Dr. Galdston,

Before addressing anything else, we want to thank you for your stewardship of Watertown Public Schools during the pandemic over the past 12 months. As we approach the anniversary of our community’s move to remote learning, we recognize your work, leadership and sacrifices,and are cognizant that the personal tolls of our circumstances not only affect our families, but yours as well. In addition, we recognize the tremendous pressure you are under to immediately, and fully reopen our schools. While we empathize with the hardships of our fellow families and community members, we unequivocally cannot support this plan. Though a vocal group of ourpeers are demanding a full return to in-person learning, there are just as many families who want to keep their children remote or hybrid for the remainder of the school year due to safety concerns.