The Falmouth Town Council has revealed its true colors: It is punitive to residents who publicly question its policies.

Nine volunteers applied for the town’s Long Range Planning Advisory Committee. Its recommendations impact land use, taxes, growth, infrastructure and quality of life. Four applicants were steered to other committees. Five were rejected based on their stated lack of qualifications. But in fact, all are qualified, respected and engaged members of the community.

Their common denominator? Publicly questioning the 2016 rezoning.

Despite promises and similar expressions of embracing diversity, councilors’ actions and words do not align. LPAC volunteer interviews were conducted. Only afterward, the council suddenly changed course. And the unanimous rejections go against the town’s ordinance mandating “a balance of backgrounds and perspectives.”

Contradictory information from councilors has also been emailed regarding LPAC’s current “directive.” LPAC meetings continue – four of them with a consultant paid $750/meeting to gather “data” in the form of committee member opinions, the majority of whom wrote and recommended the reckless 2016 rezoning. What is the council’s intention for the result of this expensive LPAC directive? Additionally, councilors are actively soliciting like-minded friends to apply.

Councilor Hemphill apologized for “errors” in the rejection letters. He did not reassure the qualified volunteers who regularly attend LPAC meetings that they have any hope of ever being considered for LPAC in the future, a potential comprehensive plan committee or any land use recommendation body.

We must continue to hold the council accountable to its ordinance and promises to embrace diversity of opinions, especially when applicants are highly qualified and continue to demonstrate full engagement with the committee.

Valentine Sheldon