Letters to the Editor
Originally Published September 19, 2019 in the Arlington Advocate
Last week, Arlington’s Select Board held a vote endorsing the Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine’s handling of the Lt. Pedrini case. The vote was the latest in a series of self-exculpatory actions by town leadership to mislead the public into thinking that the “problem” posed by this officer has now been resolved, when it hasn’t.
From the start, the town manager has pursued a path seemingly designed to rehabilitate Officer Pedrini’s public reputation and to enable the town to sweep the whole matter under the rug as swiftly and with as little liability as possible. At the select meeting, board chair Diane Mahon urged critics of the town “move on” and find “closure” with the process. But there remain too many unanswered questions in this case for anyone with a social conscience, or with an interest in transparent government, to rest content.
Why wasn’t Officer Pedrini fired outright when his racist screeds came to light? Why weren’t former APD Chief Ryan’s warnings that Officer Pedrini was unlikely to express sincere “remorse” for his statements not heeded? Why was his case, in an unprecedented action, shunted through an absurdly flawed restorative justice process?
Dozens of residents have worked for much of the last year researching the Pedrini case, lobbying town officials, investigating the APD’s past performance, and raising public awareness about racism in our town. They have issued FOIA requests and published articles, held protests, circulated petitions, etc. And they have done all this in good faith, in an effort to better our community.
Incredibly, however, it was these very people whom chair Mahon publicly belittled in her remarks at last week’s meeting, angrily accusing critics of the town’s leadership of hurting the “morale” of the APD and sullying the town’s good name.
Mahon said that the Board had put the Pedrini case on the agenda out of a desire to “hear from the community” and to allow for “healing.” But “hearing” the public means taking their complaints seriously and in good faith, admitting error when error is noted, and remedying past mistakes. The Board, however, has done none of these things. Instead it has instead circled the wagons, rallying around the town manager and dismissing his critics for “undermining” his “leadership.”
Members of the Board must chart a different course, under new leadership, to initiate a genuine dialogue with members of our community. No justice, and no peace.