Gloucester's city councilors don't necessarily have to sit in the auditorium to be part of the debate and cast important votes these days — thanks to smartphones and a tweak to the state's Open Meeting Law.
The city has adopted a "remote participation" policy that can allow councilors to take part in the meetings and cast votes from miles away, though with some stiff ground rules — including that every vote taken involving remote participation has to be done with a full roll call.
While Councilor Bruce Tobey's first try at the new practice complied with the city's new ordinance — during the city budge debate last month — he ran afoul of Murphy's Law, which tells us that, if something can go wrong, it will.
Thanks to a City Hall internet connection that was sketchy at best, the council had to reboot its meeting several times for a clear signal. And when the other councilors got Tobey's input, the former mayor came through sounding like a 1930s radio broadcast, complete with monotone sound quality and full of feedback.
Since then, the city has straightened out its Kyrouz Auditorium microphones, but remote participation has its fair share of glitches.
Maritime lesson this Saturday
The Gloucester Marine Railways Corp. is welcoming children of all ages to visit the 1925 gillnetter Phyllis A. from 9 a.m to 2 p.m. today for a living lesson about gill netting history and the industry it represents.
The Phyllis A. — the oldest fishing vessel in Gloucester — has been high and dry since May 1, when it was hatched out of 12 years of retirement and hauled onto the Marine Railways lot at the end of Rocky Neck for restoration of its hull and mast.
As onboard work nears its scheduled completion, the Phyllis A. Marine Association is hosting today's free open house as a preview of the boat's future as a living museum that will serve to educate the public about what it was like to live and work aboard a gillnet fishing vessel — particularly this one, a mainstay of the off-coast fishing boom, and Gloucester's working waterfront for 75 years.
With funding from the city's Community Preservation Committee, and other benefactors, the Phyllis A. Marine Association is ahead of schedule in achieving its goal of welcoming on-board visitors, as it will do today. There will be plenty of activities, and — also free — light refreshments.
The flag at the Veterans Center will fly this week in honor of World War II veteran Emil Walter Mantyla. Born July 18, 1924, he entered the U.S. Navy on December 30, 1942. A Seabee, the pharmacist's mate first class served with Construction Battalion 105, 129th Naval Construction Battalion. He served in the USA, Germany, Africa, Italy and the Philippines.
Mantyla was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, American Theatre Medal, "CB" Shoulder Insignia, Philippine Liberation Medal with two bronze stars, Asiatic Pacific Theatre Medal with one bronze star. He was discharged January 25, 1946, and died April 12, 1996.
The flag was requested to fly in his honor by his widow, Madith L. Mantyla.
Anyone wishing to fly a flag in honor of a deceased veteran can call the Office of Veterans' Services at 978-281-9740.