Monday, July 19, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
Present: President Michael W. Carroll, Vice President Robert Humm, Councilman Jacob N. S. Brier, Councilwoman Annelise Conway and Councilman Carl Kustell
Also, Present: Town Manager Jim Cunha, Town Solicitor Mike Ursillo and Town Clerk Meredith J. DeSisto
President Carroll called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M.
Motion by Vice President Humm and seconded by Councilman Kustell to adopt the minutes of June 16, 2021, at 7:00pm. The motion passed unanimously 4-0-0-1; in favor, President Carroll, Vice President Humm, Councilwoman Conway, and Councilman Kustell; no one opposed, no recusals and one (1) abstention, Councilman Brier.
President Carroll requested to re-order the agenda by discussing Discuss and Act on Flag Requests, followed by the Public Hearing of Ordinance 2021-12 an amendment to Chapter 104 Flag policy: §104-2 Declaration of a Policy. He said that the discussion on Class F licensing has been withdrawn. President Carroll explained the process of public comment and the public hearing.
Paul Dulchinos, 20 Walnut Road, reiterated the position of the Barrington United Veterans’ Council expressing support for respect of the US flag without encumbering flags flying under the American flag. Mr. Dulchinos spoke about the BLM and how it is associated with Marxism and talked about flying the Pan African flag.
Debra Nyser, 30 Adelaide Avenue, questioned why this Town Council would want to desecrate BUVC by flying other flags. These men and women have fought for this country. This is a very divisive and mean-spirited town council.
Kathleen Trinki Bruekner, 4 Ellis Street said she voted for all of you since you share my values and is in favor of continuing to fly these flags (BLM, Pride, Armenian, Autism etc.).
Braxton Medlin, 19 Commonwealth applauds the Town Council for this public comment. He said that flags have different meanings. Barrington moves the needle for DEI inviting all to a welcoming community. Mr. Medlin said that BLM is not a political group but a human group.
Kim Lan said that we should only fly the US Flag in front of a government building. You represent all of us and questioned those in favor of flying these flags. She asked, what if there is another town council with a different perspective. The town should honor the veterans.
Steve Felix, 4 Western Avenue, expressed his gratitude to the Town Council for taking a stand on progressive values.
Sandy Stamoulis, 12 Henry Drive, thanked the Town Council for listening to all the community this evening. She said that it is well-meaning but would cause stress to have another flagpole.
Lisa Daft, 5 Robbins Drive, said that she supports the veterans and would be in favor of another flagpole especially if it were to fly a flag that I requested supporting veterans who have served this country and have committed suicide.
Susan Collyer, 196 Promenade Street said thank you, but the issue is very sensitive, and I am a very left- wing progressive and would not want to see conservative flags such as respect life flown etc. She said that it pains her to see our veterans upset. She encourages a separate flagpole.
President Carroll proposed a flagpole at County and Maple Avenue. He said that the visibility is much better and would help when the US flag is flying at half-mast.
Councilman Brier said that it does not sit right for a secondary flagpole because it would lessen the importance of the statements that we are trying to make. He said that he would support moving the flag from the memorial area to a more visible location but not having a secondary flagpole.
Braxton Medlin explained that having another flagpole, and flying the flags separately, is separate and not equal. He said so let us not talk about unity but let us identify this one thing and keep your ideology and your politics off the pole and keep it somewhere else. He said that he does not think that is what people are looking for.
TR Rimoshytus, 1 Howard Street, said that it is supposed to be equal but you as the Town Council have divided the town and you decide which flags to fly. He said that he stands with the Barrington Veterans’ Council. He said that you came to America to take the freedom and what it stands for.
Paul Dulchinos said separating us is flying another flag under the US flag. He said that no flag can fly higher than the US flag and when the US flag is flying at half-mast no other flag can fly higher.
President Carroll questioned Mr. Dulchinos asking him that you requested for another flag to fly.
Paul Dulchinos said that he would prefer a second flagpole, but you are creating a situation. Mr. Dulchinos said that he agrees with Susan (spoke earlier). President Carroll asked Mr. Dulchinos that you submitted a flag to fly (respect the flag) you no longer want to fly that flag. Mr. Dulchinos replied if you will be flying all sorts of flags then we should fly all of them. He said that he would prefer another flagpole – getting it away from the veterans’ memorial that is flying the American flag. We are all looking at flags from two different viewpoints with two different reactions. President Carroll said that this is free speech and not a first amendment right. He said that we share the same values, that we want a welcoming Barrington, that we want an inclusive Barrington and a diverse Barrington.
Councilwoman Conway said that she agreed with Braxton Medlin regarding separate but equal. This can be a slippery slope, when you start to separate things and then call them equal because they are not. The second point is that we are being misled by what someone said about flag code status. The flag code does allow for other flags or pennants to fly under the US flag.
Councilman Kustell echoed Ms. Conway. The US flag does unify us but in practice we have not always lived up to that and for those that have felt marginalized and have come to us and asked us for a welcoming sign then he said I think that is fair. Mr. Kustell spoke that some think this makes us decisive and partisan. He said that we want to make it clear that everyone should feel welcome.
President Carroll said that our goal was to make people feel welcome especially with respect to the veterans by naming a bridge and placing a plaque (Police Cove) by recognizing their contributions. But for the LGBTQ+ community and our black neighbors we have not done that (for them).
Ken Zanoni said that he is opposed to any other flag because the US flag stands for all of us – UNITY.
Councilman Kustell said that we want to convey to the community the values of our community with a truly symbolic measure by rising above and by living up to American values in practice.
Magi Green, 90 Bay Spring Avenue said let’s agree to leave the Veterans’ flag alone by putting up another flagpole.
Jen Charlesson, Driscoll Lane said that she is worried that the Veterans are fighting against our flag code planting a media campaign.
Debra Nyser said that she agrees with putting up another flagpole but that we need to implement a committee, and they would decide which flags to fly. Ms. Nyser asked, who said that we are not welcoming? She commented that she does not see color and that we are welcoming
Councilman Kustell said that we want to reach out to groups that have felt marginalized. He said that we didn’t go to people they came to us. Councilman Kustell said we try to strive to be better to be a more welcoming community. Councilman Kustell said that he never said that we are not a welcoming community, we are a welcoming community. He said that is why this kind of outreach can work here.
Patti Deal said that she has done a lot of volunteer work and I consider myself a liberal, but it should be just the US flag. She suggested putting a flagpole at Police Cove Park.
Trinki Bruekner said that at these meetings we have heard from Blacks, Jews etc. and they have told us that they were treated with disrespect. We seem to be only welcoming to people that look like us.
Paul Dulchinos said that as you fly these flags you now are offending others.
Braxton Medlin, Commonwealth Avenue, said that if you do not see color then you do not see me, a Black man.
Susan spoke about those that have been marginalized.
Sandy Stamoulis requested to fly a Senior Lives Matter flag.
Steven Felix echoed Jen Charlesson by stating that the Town Council is being blamed but it is caused by a group that have expressed their views. He said that the US Flag has flown during slavery and the Jim Crowe movement. He said that creating a second flagpole represents an appeasement. It is a false equivalency when you say that flying the BLM flag marginalizes other groups.
Rebecca and Steven Stockhecker, 250 Fairfield Road. Firmly believes that within our nation we still need to change, and we need to work to make this change, but we only need to look back to see that we have made progress.
Debra Nyser said that she is upset that people think that we are not a welcoming community. It is tiring to listen that there have been requests for flags, but you (TC) have turned them down. She asks, what is the end game?
VP Humm said although folks do not agree, there has been respect. We have been talking about flags for such a long time. He said that we are your elected officials to make decisions and policies in the best interest of the Town. He said that he would prefer to talk about how we can make the town more welcoming, especially after COVID. He would like to discuss how we can lower taxes and provide more services for seniors. VP Humm said that he supports a new flagpole as long as (flags) they are not offensive or derogatory.
Councilman Brier said that he agrees with VP Humm. He said a flag can be a powerful message. He said that he is not sure of a second flagpole. Councilman Brier wanted to clarify. He said that we have been discussing the “veterans” as if they are a monolith. He said that there are people all over that are for and against this, including veterans. This is with a specific veterans’ group. It does not speak for all veterans. It is not whether we agree or disagree with the veterans’ and that it is not an appropriate characterization of the Town Council. He discussed his consideration to fly the PTSD (referred to as a suicide awareness flag) flag. He said that he did not turn down this request down, he said he actually has a fundraiser for it on Veterans Day for the last 10-11 years. He said that he did not see how veterans suicide fits into PTSD Awareness month. He said that he will abstain from voting on any flag requests tonight or in the future.
Council Kustell said that we need to define the flag ordinance. He thanked President Carroll to have this meeting specifically on flags so that we can convey the message that we need to move forward to discuss other items of importance.
President Carroll said that it doesn’t make you a racist if you only want to fly the US flag/POW and it doesn’t make you a Marxist if you want to fly the BLM flag. We are sending a message to those who do not feel comfortable. We want people to feel welcome.
Motion by President Carroll and seconded by Councilman Kustell to fly the BLM flag in February 2022, to fly the Autism Awareness flag in the month of April 2022 and on April 24, 2022 the Armenian flag, the Pride flag shall fly in the month of June 2022, and in the month of September 2021 and 2022 to fly a flag thanking our First Responders (police/fire) by flying the flag depicting such and the Breast Cancer Awareness flag will fly October 2022.
Councilwoman Conway asked for clarification that these are the flags that will fly for 21-22. President Carroll agreed and said that he does not intend to place this on a future agenda until a year from now unless something significant comes up.
Councilman Brier asked if this action can be taken since there was not specifics on the agenda to fly flags. Solicitor Ursillo stated that the agenda referenced flag requests, and said it is allowed.
Amend Motion by Councilwoman Conway and seconded by Councilman Kustell amending the motion to add Breast Cancer Awareness flag for October 2021.
Councilman Brier asked for clarification that this will be the only discussion regarding flags and that this will set the flags for the year and that the flag of Black History month with a recommendation from the DEI committee. President Carroll asked if you (Councilman Brier) will abstain from this motion? Councilman Brier said that if this is the only time that we are going to discuss flag raisings then I wouldn’t abstain. But if it is going to be coming up throughout the year then I would (abstain). President Carroll said that his intention is that it will not go on the agenda again unless of course there is some type of unusual event. President Carroll addressed Councilman Brier’s amendment (Black History flag w/DEI Committee). He said that he will not agree to that and will not be discussing flags again.
The above motions passed 5-0-0-0; in favor, President Carroll, Vice President Humm, Councilman Brier, Councilwoman Conway, and Councilman Kustell; no one opposed, no recusals and there were no abstentions.
· 2021-12 An Ordinance Amendment to Chapter 104 Flag Policy, §104-2 Declaration of Policy
President Carroll explained the rules during a public hearing.
Councilman Kustell said that it is clear to him, based upon commentary that was made upon introduction, as well as a vote upon introduction, and a conference he had with a single member of the Council, that he may not have the votes to pass this. He said that he does not want to take the Council’s time and the sense of the council that this is not language that would be passed by the Council. He said that he would be willing to withdraw it (ordinance). Secondly, he said that he believes it was the intention of Councilman Brier to discuss a substitute amendment to the ordinance which he will not be able to present at this time. Councilman Kustell said that this may be something that needs to be tabled to a year from now.
Solicitor Ursillo said that the proposer can withdraw the ordinance. Solicitor Ursillo explained that the agenda specifically states 2021-12 An Ordinance Amendment to Chapter 104 Flag Policy, §104-2 Declaration of Policy. He said that this section 104-2 is what Councilman Kustell wants to amend. However, Councilman Brier proposed an amendment (which my office said that he could do) but upon further review his amendment would need to include other sections of §104 – 3-4-5. If the agenda just stated Chapter 104 Flag policy, it would have been possible. Solicitor Ursillo said that you could have a discussion regarding Councilman Brier’s change, but the ordinance would leave in place sections 3-4-5 until such time of another ordinance amendment to have them stricken.
Councilman Brier said that if his proposal were to be adopted then it would cause a conflict with sections 3-4-5. Solicitor Ursillo suggested to continue this entire matter so that the ordinance could be written for the Council and the public to view as one whole document. The ordinance would be introduced at meeting number 1 then set a public hearing for meeting number 2. Solicitor Ursillo said that if the presented ordinance is withdrawn a public hearing does not need to be opened.
Councilman Kustell said that he wants to do what is most efficient and effective. He said that Councilman Brier could propose his ordinance amendment at the next flag meeting a year from now.
Solicitor Ursillo said that if the proposed ordinance is withdrawn the present ordinance stays in effect until a council member proposes an ordinance for introduction.
Councilman Kustell withdraws the ordinance (2021-12 An Ordinance Amendment to Chapter 104 Flag Policy, §104-2 Declaration of Policy) and suggests discussing, and voting on a proposed ordinance at the next meeting in July 2022.
Councilman Brier said that if we are not going to hear any further requests for flag raising or receive any flag applications then he would agree.
· Smug Brewing Company, 545 Pawtucket Avenue, Pawtucket, RI Owner: Robert DeRosa
· Twelve Guns Brewing, 549 Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI Owner: Megan Ruggieri
President Carroll stated that these Class F Licenses have been withdrawn.
Motion by Councilman Brier to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 P.M. The motion passed 5-0-0-0; in favor, President Carroll, Vice President Robert Humm, Councilman Brier, Councilwoman Conway, and Councilman Kustell; no one opposed, no recusals and there were no abstentions.
Meredith J. DeSisto, CMC