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June 17, 2013

Editorial: Committee must be accountable for 'censure' promise

The Gloucester School Committee’s formal censure of member Roger Garberg last week should close out what only be called an embarrassing episode for a committee that has some significant issues to address.

But the board’s own censure declaration — and Garberg’s own comments — have put the root cause of this arrogant escapade front and center as all parties try to move forward from his “satirical” insults to a parent who had the audacity to question an incoming school program. And that’s where it belongs.

In its censure statement – essentially a scolding slap on the wrist, yet the only real action the committee could take, given that Garberg, now in his second term, is elected, not appointed to his post — the committee noted that it “hereby reasserts its commitment as public officials to uphold respectful deliberation and communication in all aspects of its work, and regrets that Roger Garberg’s action led to public doubt about that commitment.”

Yet Garberg has hardly done that on his own — and that this was, as we noted previously, not an isolated incident. Let’s not forget that both he and Kathleen Clancy — the board member who was listed as the addressee in the condescending email that Garberg instead mistakenly sent to school parent Lisa Fornero — both voted against even holding a public hearing on a petition to beef up security in city schools.

And let’s keep in mind that this committee continues to push a new school building project for the West Parish district while resisting any referendum on that proposal or on the potential re-use of the Fuller School building as the site of a consolidated elementary school that a number of residents have suggested as an alternative.

Garberg — who protested the censure in the committee’s executive session, and said the next day he remained “disappointed” in it — said he knew that “some members felt that they would be viewed as having no interest in public input if they didn’t vote to censure me.” And he’s probably right.

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