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Proposed New Marlborough pot farm sparks irresponsible public rudeness

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By Wednesday, Mar 7, 2018 Letters 16

To the Editor:

I grew up in New Marlborough. It was my first home and my formative years were spent in the quaint borrow in the hills, a vantage point that many at the February 28th Planning Board meeting do not actually share. I went to the public schools, and my first job was stocking coolers at the Mill River Store. It has been a source of great pride to be a native resident of New Marlborough, that is until now.

When I heard about the outcome of the Planning Board meeting I was horrified to hear that those who posture themselves to be concerned and engaged residents of NM had shifted the meeting and its scheduled agenda towards an aggressive and erroneous public crucification of one of the members. I will not opine to advise on the agenda items being discussed in the meeting, I will leave that for the professionals to discuss.

If I may though, I’d like to invite some context. My family has been active and engaged in the NM community since before I was born. My mother was a pioneer in the early success of The Old Inn on the Green and Gedney Farm for over twenty years and worked tirelessly to maintain the reputation thereof that would one day become one of the foremost wedding destinations in the nation. My father has been a dedicated public servant and member of the Planning Board since 2000, this year marking his 18th year. My father has built everything he has with his own two hands, figuratively and literally. He is a self-taught student of urban planning, and an incredible artist of landscape architecture. He is undeniably a wealth of knowledge in zoning, regulation, and land use. He is a treasured resource. To belittle his efforts and defame his character is preposterous and tone deaf. (I will spare you all the dense potential legal ramifications for defamation of character for another time in hopes for more peaceful resolution.) Mullen is owed a public apology.

I have always known what lies beneath the surface of these people. Their fraudulent, passive aggressive, and often times hypocritical backwards banshee behavior has up until now has been humorous dinner table banter and I have dismissed it. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. However ,Barbara Marchione’s egregious attack on James Mullen and his character cannot and should not be ignored. To take advantage of the platform that is offered at these meetings and publicly humiliate someone has consequences. Interrupting a Board Member and viciously clapping him off a podium into silence is killing the very spirit this institution instills. Marchione’s distracting and venomous interruption not only detracted from the point of the meeting, she reinforced a sort of gang mentality, cult-like group-think that was out of order. I’d also like to remind her, and anyone else who hasn’t left the five towns in a while, that had she pulled this sort of tantrum perhaps in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I reside, or anywhere else outside the backwoods of Mill River, she would have been immediately ejected from the meeting. Her nonsensical outburst was unproductive, grossly misplaced, and frankly unhinged. Further, those who enabled her uncivil and vindictive outburst either by reinforced applause or by silence; you are complicit too. We see you, and we will not forget you.

Had the “concerned” residents of the beloved five towns actually listened to what Mullen had prepared to say, their clarifying questions would have been robustly and enthusiastically addressed. To treat a public town hall meeting (not hearing*) with the same regard as a personality contest is a disservice to the townspeople and those who have served as trusted advisors for the town for nearly two decades. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and it has fallen here. It has fallen.

*A public hearing, different than a committee meeting, will be held on March 12th to address the special permit application by the Oasis Campus LLC application.

In the spirit of the revolution of speaking out against bullies and protesting this Trump-era diseased narrative that has infected, or rather revealed our community, it is our responsibility to drag your draconian asses into 2018.

One of the greatest qualities I inherited from my father is that we do not tire easily. We’re not going anywhere.

Govern yourself accordingly, we are waiting.

With endless pride and unconditional support,

His youngest daughter,

Mackenzie W. Mullen

New Marlborough

16 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Susan P. Bachelder says:

    you could use a bit of editing, as any text over 144 characters tends to tire out those with draconian asses, but – you go girl.

  2. with you says:

    I don’t know who you are, but I totally applaud your sense of decency and bravery to stand up to bullying. Keep on it and I hope you are and feel supported.

  3. Lois Reynolds says:

    We’re teaching children to be kind and not bully……..and to speak with peaceful decency to all……hope this can be resolved…sounds very sad and people will mature and treat each other with respect as all of us are due each day……

  4. Joseph Poindexter says:

    If the Berkshire Edge wishes to promote civility, it might begin by resisting the urge to publish an overwrought ad hominem attack, based on an exchange at a meeting that the letter writers appears not to have attended.

    1. Mackenzie Mullen says:

      Good Morning Poindexter,
      Welcome to the opinion page!
      I think you missed the point here but that’s okay we can forgive you. I guess we know what angle the 5VN will be taking! I’d like to caution you that the 5VN should remain objective in their reporting, and remind you that it is not your diary in which you only publish and support articles you personally agree with. Given your comment here, I take it you were not at the meeting. If you need a refresher on rules and regulations that were completely tossed out the window, I can refer you to those. Included therein it clearly states that an audience at a meeting is a courtesy, and any interruptions or uncivil behavior will not be tolerated.

      See you around town good buddy, I’ll be sure to give you the friendly neighborhood salute 🙂

      1. Aine ungar says:

        Thank you for your letter. Apparently , only ivanka trump can defend family members from attacks.

  5. C. Reynolds says:

    VERY well spoken! (Applause)
    I hope you are allowed an appropriately run meeting and the audience you deserve. Everyone deserves to be heard.

  6. concerned citizen says:

    I think our town’s people are going a little crazy over this issue and should realize that will enrollment down in our schools—especially if Monterey and Egremont join the Berkshire Hills district; looking at broadband needing to be paid for by taxes in our town; that they are pushing out the locals who can not afford the increase in taxes. Perhaps they should have sold the Kolburn School property to this company since that was what he wished to purchase in the first place. Instead they sold it and it is now a farm that does not pay taxes. No offense to the farm, but we do need to change things in our area and we need jobs, we need tax revenue. Southern Berkshire in general needs to change their ways…just look at the waste in tax payer money over the Dollar General in Sheffield!

  7. Carl Stewart says:

    A few thoughts on the Letter to the Editor and subsequent comments. (N.B., I was not at the meeting so I am relying, in significant part, on the reporting by Ms. Mullen.)

    1. We should recognize that people attending meetings that deal with a controversial subject sometimes engage in heated discussions. That, however, does not excuse improper behavior towards a speaker, which is apparently what happened here. It is the responsibility of the Chair of a public body (and the Planning Board of New Marlborough is clearly such a body) to maintain order at an open meeting. If Mr. Mullen was treated only 1/4 as badly as his daughter represents, then the Chair of the Board was remiss in his/her duties as Chair. The first response should have been a warning and, if the disruptive behavior continued, the ejection of the offending parties from the meeting. It is clearly within the province of the Chair to do what is necessary to maintain order, even to the extent of calling on the local constable to remove people who are unable or unwilling to abide by the rules.

    2. We should keep in mind the adage of “what goes around, comes around.” For anyone who tried to prevent someone from speaking, think about how you would feel if the tables were turned and you were the object of derision?

    3. Ms. Mullen’s letter, although a plea for civility, was not particularly civil itself. She could have made her point, as pointed out by
    Susan Bachelder, in a much shorter and more temperate manner.

    4. Ms. Mullen did not answer the question posed by Joseph Poindexter regarding her attendance at the meeting. It would be interesting for readers to know if the observations made by her were first-hand or hearsay.

    5. Mr. Poindexter has a point in his criticism of The Edge. There is little or no editing of the Comment Section, which too often is ad hominem.

  8. Barbara Marchione says:


    Here is a respectful reply to your letter of opinion.

    If you were at the meeting , you would have seen that the chairman opened the floor for public comment. We were on the agenda , which was a legal posted meeting. People were called upon by the chair, and voiced their concerns. You also would have seen that every time a valid question was asked, Mr.Mullen was interrupting the citizens, with sullen, condescending , and disrespectful remarks.

    When I was called upon, I directed my question to the chair. I told him that with all due respect , Mr. Mullen was interrupting the questions from the public with rude and condescending comments, which were not productive. I told the chair, that fifty concerned citizens were here for a very important issue, and were not there to be belittled by a member of the board, with sarcastic comments. And the chair agreed.

    No one at that meeting thought that I was out of line or bullying. In fact, the room broke out into applause because they were feeling the same negative tone. I did not become unhinged, nor did I interrupt your father at this meeting.

    I have the utmost respect for people who donate their time to serve in a community, and have always encouraged people to do so. But it goes both ways, Mackenzie. When you are a public servant you need to listen to the people you are serving. And respect them in the process.

    In closing, I hope you reread what you have written, and the follow up response to Mr. Poindexter. Both of your correspondences sound very angry and threatening. I would be happy to speak to you any time.

    1. Bill Simpson says:

      Barbara. I’ve never known you to be a bully. Opinionated, yes, bully no. I also know how much you love this town and what you have done for it as Selectman, EMT and School Committee. So, YES. I’m on your side. Apparently, some people don’t know what it is like to be bullied, cause I do.

  9. Surprised Citizen says:

    I would like to support Barbara Marchione’s response to Mackenzie Mullen’s letter of opinion. I was present at the meeting (Ms Mullen was not) and can say without reservation that Barbara’s description of that meeting is 100% accurate. She made a true statement in a respectful and non threatening manner. I understand a daughter’s support for a father, but not at the expense of another’s reputation via false accusations. Barbara Marchione is a valued and respected member of the community who has served on a number of Boards and Committees for many years. She knows the protocol.

  10. Sandra Fusco-Walker says:

    I did attend the meeting on February 28 and posted the reply below in response to another letter written to the Berkshire Edge regarding this meeting.

    Sandra Fusco-Walker
    March 2, 2018 at 6:20 pm

    February 28th meeting of the Planning Board in New Marlborough was just that, a meeting of the planning board that, according to Massachusetts Open Meeting Laws can be attended by the public. The public is not, however, guaranteed the opportunity to comment or speak at committee meetings. Public participation is at the discretion of the Chairperson.

    Wednesday’s Planning Board agenda which can be found at http://www.newmarlboroughma.gov/Pages/NewMarlboroughMA_PlanningAgenda/201%20Agendas/amended%20pb%20agenda%202.28.18.pdf
    clearly states the Board’s intent to discuss Item #5 regarding the Oasis Campus LLC application and THEN Item #6: To discuss possible board action regarding recreational marijuana with time for public input. A public hearing, different than a committee meeting, will be held on March 12th to address the special permit application by the Oasis Campus LLC application.

    The Planning Board, a group of town volunteers, is responsible for studying issues and gathering information before they make a recommendation to the Select Board. Unfortunately, for people like myself who went to learn more about both the proposed project and what my neighbors think about it, I learned bullying is alive and well in New Marlborough. Sarcastic comments, continuous interruptions, yelling and disrespectful behavior made it impossible for the Planning Board do its job.

    We live in a democracy. Everyone has the right to speak and as citizens, we have a responsibility when we engage in the process, to listen and not silence those we don’t agree with because they don’t think like us or we don’t like what they say. I understand people are upset and angry, but there is no justification for bullying. Period.

    I am saddened by similarities I saw Wednesday night that seems to be permeating the legislative process across this country. I thought New Marlborough was different.

  11. Aine ungar says:

    Although , not at the meeting , which apparently is a prerequisite for being able to judge rude discourse,
    I am disgusted by the behavior of supposedly ‘civil neighbors’. Generally speaking, one does not need a militia of 50 friends to make a point, or engage in the behavior they espouse to be offended by. This is a democracy, bullying and uncivil behavior is usually beneath intelligent adults. It is not why, whether new or old inhabitants of the five towns, we chose to live here.
    It is high time, no pun intended, for Berkshire citizens to stop ‘trumpian ‘ behavior. No progress is made by being ‘one issue’ voters or eschewing another’s point of view. An apology to mr Mullen, and a civil reapproachment
    Of the issue , is what is needed.

    1. C. Gregor says:

      I think being present and actually hearing what was said would be a basic requirement before commenting and making a judgement.

  12. Martin Albert says:

    Are these meetings recorded in some way?

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