How to Ensure Municipal Discord

The name won’t mean much to Rhode Islanders from elsewhere (except inasmuch as you’ve seen it on Anchor Rising), but I heard last night that the Tiverton Town Council is considering appointing Mike Burk as the moderator for the upcoming financial town meeting. Do they want unrest? Do they want to encourage discord across the town?
This is a man who has been not only open, but active in his contempt of local reformers in Tiverton Citizens for Change. He’s expressed paranoiac class-warfare insinuations about them in the local media. He’s paced the back of Budget Committee meetings, swearing and seeking to shout down TCC members on the committee. (He’s captured in the background of the two audio clips here).
Having Burk stand as the ostensibly neutral conductor of the session would be downright hostile to democratic compromise and would ensure broad suspicion of the results even before the meeting’s opening. The demeanor that he displayed during meetings when he was an elected official — even when he’s been advancing policies that I’ve supported (such as holding the line for months against the teachers’ union) — would be perfect if the town’s aspiration is to stoke controversy, but wholly inappropriate if the objective is to host a thoughtful, productive meeting.

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14 years ago

“He’s paced the back of Budget Committee meetings, swearing and seeking to shout down TCC members on the committee.”
Financial town meetings are governed by certain rules and laws. There is a high likelihood that someone who is as wrought up about these matters as this gentleman will fail at points to conduct the meeting within those guidelines. This could even lead to the legal nullification of the results of the meeting.
In this litigious society, the Town Council may well be held responsible for those failures because they will have knowingly appointed someone with a demonstrated lack of professionalism and objectivity. Is this a risk they want to take?

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