Undue process

Feb 18, 2021 by

Published in the February 18, 2021 edition.


 “First we have the fair trial, then we hang him.”

That quote from Judge Roy Bean came to mind last week as I watched the School Committee discuss the “process” that would be used to determine the fate of the Wakefield Warrior logo.

After this “process” plays out, the School Committee, in its adopted role as Supreme Court, will hand down its verdict and sentence.

This is apparently the next step after the Youth Council, acting as grand jury, indicted the Warrior last October.

An argument has been made that the School Committee/Supreme Court (SC) has more important matters to deal with, like getting kids back into school full-time, and for that reason the case of the Warrior should be postponed.

But the SC dismissed that argument and apologized to the Youth Council for its delay in providing a speedy trial.

As you may have noticed, when dealing with the Youth Council, total deference is called for by the elder town boards.

Just last week, the youngsters informed the Town Council that they wanted to increase the Youth Council membership.

Did the Town Council offer the wisdom that comes with age and advise the Youth Council that, with 11 members, they are already one of the largest boards in town?

Perish the thought.

No, the Town Council dutifully increased the Youth Council to 17 members, making it larger than even the Finance Committee.

In fairness, the work of the Youth Council is far more important than anything the Finance Committee does. How many racist logos has the FinCom canceled? I rest my case.

Which brings us back to the trial, which is now scheduled for Feb. 25. Witnesses will have to testify via Zoom, which means those unfamiliar with the technology, like retired senior citizens, are out of luck.

The suggestion that a referendum question on the April 27 Town Election ballot might be the fairest way to allow the greatest number of citizens to be heard on the logo issue was summarily shot down by the SC at last week’s session.

“Civil rights should not be subject to majority rule,” Justice Thomas Markham intoned, not bothering to explain what a logo has to do with civil rights and ignoring the fact that a ballot question would be non-binding.

The SC decision against letting the entire town speak via the ballot was 4-3, with Justices Markham, Liakos, Guida and Veilleux opposed to a ballot question, and Boudreau, Purcell and Burns in favor of a plebiscite.

Why would anyone be opposed to letting the people have their say at the ballot box? I think we know the answer.

So, the Warrior’s next appearance before the SC is scheduled for Feb. 25. After hearing all the evidence, the SC justices will retire to their separate chambers to deliberate.

In March, they will render their decision and the hangman will be summoned to prepare the gallows.

Somewhere, Judge Roy Bean is smiling.

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