Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

I often find myself in disagreement with Town Councilor Jane Millett on most substantive issues, so imagine my surprise when during the final council meeting of 2015, she made the following comment, “I don’t want to overstate that this is an issue we are having in Brunswick,” and I agreed with it wholeheartedly. What confluence of events brought me to this moment and better yet for the both of us, what sort of impact will this have on the street cred for Councilor Millett and I amongst our social groups? More on that later, maybe.

The town council decided that its final agenda item for 2015 was to be the creation of a task force to battle the ever growing problem of derogatory and disparaging comments made in the downtown area. The council chair, Sarah Brayman, outlined a number of meetings with community organizations that were had where a handful of comments were discussed. Councilor Brayman also stated that there was little impetus from these organizations to act so it was time that the council did so.

What followed in the meeting was an hour of confusion and competing ideas and a real sense that this was a solution in search of a problem. In addition to the creation of the task force, there was a resolution that was introduced at the beginning of the meeting that sparked conversation and irritation. The resolution, before it was amended, mentioned things like having a list of intolerable acts. For a resolution aimed at being tolerant, this seemed far too intolerant for many councilors.

In the end, there were a number of councilors and town staff who were left to ask, what they were voting on because of the number of amendments and motions. In the grand tradition of voting bodies coming up with a product, this sausage had a little bit of everything for everyone.

The problem is that, despite some of the anecdotal stories about what may have been uttered, there was little in the way of evidence that these comments actually existed and, as Councilor Millett further commented, that these things were said by people from Brunswick.

As each councilor spoke to their feelings about the creation of the task force there were statements about their experiences with disparaging comments. Councilor Richardson spoke eloquently about hearing of these types of comments years ago away from Brunswick. Councilor Kathy Wilson spoke of being subjected to comments but that she has not heard them in decades. Recent examples were in short supply.

A couple of councilors mentioned that a body like the council cannot legislate away ignorance. In this they are correct. Neither can you expect that everyone in a town the size of Brunswick will have the same view on all topics. Passing a law, or a motion or an amendment will make those who do so feel better but it will have no appreciable impact on that small group who do not hold the same views. Hatred in any form will only subside as people become more comfortable with individuals around them. In this, Brunswick is light years ahead of many places. Let’s not beat Brunswick up because of something we think may be happening.

Ultimately, the creation of a task force was approved by the Council. Let’s hope that their work is short lived and that it is confirmed that Brunswick is a place, as I believe it is, where disparaging comments are the exception and not the norm.

That’s my two cents… .


Jonathan Crimmins lives in Brunswick.

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