Letters To The Editor: Election Endorsements, Upset And Voting For The Override; How To Select School Committee Members


Supporting Saeh For School Committee

I am writing this morning as a mom and member of the business community here in Belmont. I am a local Realtor here in town and a 17-year resident.  Just as many people do, my husband and I decided to start our family here in Belmont solely for the public school system. The past year has made many parents and residents question that decision.  I am writing to give my full and enthusiastic endorsement for Jamal Saeh for School Committee. Jamal has committed himself to the difficult task of sitting on that committee.  It is a demanding and time-consuming endeavor that determines our children’s fate.

My experience with Jamal has been through his tireless efforts and our interactions trying to get our children back in school. He has proven to be a skilled problem solver while presenting endless solutions to the many challenges our current administration has proposed. His background and profession enable him to analyze and research the data and that translates perfectly for a position on the school committee.

He has worked and fought continuously to give our children the education they deserve here in Belmont. He is honest, transparent, fair, and approachable. Our children are worthy of so much more than what they have lost this past year.  There are many challenges for our school system that lie ahead.  Jamal will help preserve the integrity and standard of our school systems and ensure that all families are receiving the highest quality education that we expect from our town. Our children not only deserve someone like Jamal, but they also NEED him. A vote for Jamal is a vote for our children.

Melissa Maniatis, Country Club Lane

I’m Angry and I’m Voting for the Override Anyway

When our children were very young and just learning how to manage conflict and complicated emotions, my wife and I used to say, “When you’re tired, be careful of your body and the people you love.”

We are all tired now. Bone tired. Pandemic life is strange and unnatural.  After a year of isolation, little things like going to the grocery store or the park can feel stressful. Many of us are working from home and, at the same time, trying to make sure our kids continue to be educated and socialized in the ways that they can these days.

From last March to today, the School Committee and the Belmont Public Schools administration have not been up to the task of managing our growing, diverse, and under-resourced school system through the COVID crisis. Teachers have worked hard to learn new skills and to support students in new and creative ways, but the teachers’ union has run circles around the BSC and BPS leadership in negotiations, ensuring that even basic improvements to students’ opportunities to learn take forever to implement or never happen without state intervention. As a consequence, reeling from the chaos of the last year, families have formed insular factions that quarrel with one another online while others have lost hope that their kids can get even a semblance of a decent education this year and have become disengaged from the conversation about our public schools.  Many families have left the Belmont Public Schools altogether.  

And that’s just the schools. After 11 years, my street still looks like the surface of the moon and recently installed sidewalks are in need of repair.  We can’t seem to make simple municipal decisions like how to replace an aging fuel tank or how to collect trash from our parks without a resurgence of rats.

Then there’s the fiscal management of the town where it has seemed for a decade that no one has been able to develop a viable plan to permanently and comprehensively deal with the structural deficit we have inherited from previous generations by consolidating services and creating new and sustainable revenue streams that rely less heavily on residential taxes.          

It’s exhausting. All of it.  

This is the environment in which we are being asked to consider financial decisions with real consequences. After a year when so little has been in our control and after so many ineffective meetings, committees, communications, and decisions, it’s tempting to focus all of your tired rage on whatever decisions are directly in your hands.

Here’s where we need to be extra careful of our “body” and “the ones we love.” In this case, our body is the civic culture of our town and the way we relate to one another as neighbors. The ones we love in this analogy are the teachers and students in the Belmont Public Schools, our seniors, and other members of our community who rely on town services.  

The underfunding of our schools and our other town departments doesn’t explain away poor management, process, and communication, but it does make it more difficult for challenges to be identified and resolved effectively and efficiently. The low levels of staffing at the Chenery, for example, made it much more difficult for Principal Koza and her team to offer more synchronous learning time during the hybrid phase. I learned recently that the electrical system of our library, unlike Watertown’s which has been open for weeks, can’t handle running air purifiers so that we can enjoy our library safely.        

I’ve come to the conclusion that I can support the override on April 6 without signaling that I am satisfied with the performance of our town’s leaders.  I am not satisfied.  I am angry and exhausted.  There needs to be real accountability and real reform, especially in our school system, the School Committee, and the way that we plan for the future financially.  Through our votes for School Committee, Town Meeting, and Select Board and our engagement with our elected officials, we can express our righteous anger, insist on better local government, and fund services that are essential to our quality of life without hurting the ones we love the most. 

Jeff Liberty

Vote Jamal Saeh for School Committee

Belmont’s school system has always been a source of pride, yet it is in a state of crisis. We are enthusiastic that Jamal Saeh is offering his time and expertise to chart a better path forward. He is a strong leader with a vision, having tirelessly advocated for better, evidence-based decisionmaking in our schools.  
Why are we in crisis? Last summer, 70 percent of Belmont parents, consistent with recommendations of health experts, expressed a preference for in person/hybrid education for their children. We view in person interactions as crucial for children’s emotional well-being and effective learning. However, Belmont began this school year with remote-only instruction, forgoing two months with mild weather and low transmission, and leaving many details for the return to in person instruction unspecified. Results have been discouraging. Recently, Belmont ranked third from the bottom state-wide in terms of number of hours of in person instruction. Little has been done to improve upon initial hybrid instructional models selected with almost no parent feedback or public vetting of assumptions. Teachers have been forced to make major changes multiple times in mid-stream at short notice. Many of these problems felt avoidable, a symptom of a broken decisionmaking process.

Jamal offers a different model for approaching these challenges moving forward. Jamal proposed a plan for a pooled testing program which was easy to implement and cost effective, one which closely resembles programs eventually recommended by the state and adopted here in Belmont, albeit four months after his initial proposal. He has continually advocated for practical and thoughtful solutions. A common thread in these proposals — whether related to evaluating public health metrics, live-streaming for high school students, or better layouts under social distancing constraints — is their practicality. Rather than reinvent the wheel, Jamal studied successful solutions which worked elsewhere and adapted them to our specific context. He has always been transparent about his assumptions and consistently pointed to easy opportunities for improvement, while carefully considering views of all stakeholders. 

We should not be surprised to see such an approach from Jamal, given his experience as a researcher. He has worked for two decades doing strategic planning in environments with uncertain outcomes and incomplete information. Given the myriad of challenges we currently face, Belmont would be very fortunate to benefit from his skill set.

We highly encourage you to visit  www.saehforschools.com and to vote for him on April 6.

Lawrence D. W. Schmidt, Richardson Road; Martin Zwierlein, Richardson Road

No School (Leadership) Will Lead to School Flight

In a recent poll, nearly 65 percent of Belmont parents stated they will consider sending their children to private school if Belmont does not commit to full in-person school. Approximately 25 percent of respondents – 50 people – have applied or secured spots in private schools for their children.  This after we saw a drop of nearly 300 students enrolled in Belmont public schools this past year.  We are on the cusp of flight from Belmont Public Schools, a trend that will hurt us all.

Recently, a number of concerned parents conducted an informal survey of nearly 200 parents to learn more about the impact this year may have on school enrollment. The results are upsetting. The reason is unacceptable.  Parents have lost confidence in the School Committee and Administration.  They are upset because online school does not work and the hybrid plans – especially at Chenery where hybrid is described as a mess and ridiculous – are failing our students. Children are not learning and their social and emotional needs are not being met. Parents believe leadership has failed and they lack confidence in Belmont Public Schools. 

Belmont already has earned the bad reputation of being one of sixteen schools in the state to be cited as failing to comply with guidelines to provide in-person education, and then had our hybrid plan ranked 240 out of 242 by DESE. If families start to leave, the problems are exacerbated. We risk keeping and attracting the best teachers. We are creating a less equitable school system. Families will stop seeking out Belmont and our property values will decline. Our schools, which have been the pride of many and a consistent draw for families, will suffer.

While this poll is not scientific, it is a clear sign of an important and concerning undercurrent in our town. Families are looking to send their children to other schools because of our schools and leadership are failing them. We need to allow all of our students to return to full in-person school now – not just for our children, but to start to repair the trust in our system and allow our community to thrive. 

It has been more than a year since our children have attended real school.  To repair our community and help ensure the continued success of our schools and our town, it is time to open our schools for every student who wants to return.

Danielle Lemack, Fairmont Street

How to Choose the Right School Committee Members for the Future of Belmont

On April 6, town election day, we have an opportunity to elect two members of our six-person School Committee. If you do not have children in the school system, do not abstain from voting for School Committee candidates. Throwing away your vote is like giving a blank check to someone you do not know. 

Get to know each of the five candidates on the School Committee ballot. Visit each of their websites, participate in their Zoom sessions, and most importantly, ask questions about how they will deliver on their promises. Your vote is your voice.

The School Committee has the power to hire and fire the Superintendent. They control over half of our town’s budget. And most importantly, the School Committee looks out for your student’s best interests in much the same way that the teacher’s union looks out for the teachers’ best interests.

Here are four ways to consider how to cast your vote for School Committee candidates:

1. School Committee members must be committed to being the best advocate for our children by gathering information from the community so he/she can make an informed decision on whether to accept or reject any policy regarding the public schools. They do not participate in creating curriculums, that is the job of the superintendent and school administrators. This means a degree or experience in the field of education does not make or break a School Committee member. Rather, a School Committee member should be attuned to the needs of the students and gather applicable data from reputable sources (i.e., other school committees, scientific data, etc.) to help make an informed decision.

2. School Committee members are responsible for continued oversight of the school budget expenditures to ensure the funds are spent appropriately.  They must be familiar with the school budget, which includes salaries and enrollment numbers, and must be confident enough to raise questions and challenge the numbers if they don’t make sense. Keep in mind the school budget represents 60 percent of the town’s operating budget. It is important the School Committee does not simply rubber stamp financial information. It is their job to probe and manage finances to ensure that the budgets reflect programs that will best support our students.

3. School Committee members must have skills in negotiations and arbitrations because it is they who sit in the room with the administration and district lawyer when negotiating with the teacher’s union.

4. Members must exercise good governance, which means knowing how boards operate and how to adhere to guidelines of operations and civil interactions. It is not easy to wrap your head around and quickly “dive into” this type of knowledge. It is best to have some members who have prior experience running boards of directors.

The best way to choose a School Committee member is the same way you would choose an advocate to represent your child at the bargaining table. You need to be a terrific negotiator, someone who knows how budgets work, how the rules work, and what levers to push in order to advance children’s best interests.  

Vote on April 6. Your vote is your voice. 

Rubi Lichauco, Belmont High School parent ’21 and ‘17 

Letter To The Editor: Our Plan For A New Rink Worked But Town Lacked The ‘Political Will’ To Get It Done

Photo: Rendering of the Belmont Youth Hockey’s proposal to the town for a new rink.

To the editor:

On Nov. 10, the Belmontonian reported that eight months after receiving a single proposal for the development of a new skating facility, the town of Belmont determined the proposal was not economically feasible. While certainly convenient to blame the bidder, it was not true; the proposal submitted by Belmont Youth Hockey Association to develop a new facility was professionally vetted and fully financially feasible.  

The deeper story is that the town issued a Request for Proposal that was never feasible. The RFP asked for more square footage of programming than currently exists in the designated development space west of Harris Field. In an area that currently houses the White Field House, one rink (the Skip), a soccer field, a softball field and facility parking – the town’s RFP asked for all of these to be maintained and improved while adding an additional half rink, baseball field, shot put and discus area and 90 additional parking spaces required by the new high school.   

Once the review committee realized they needed more space to meet their own RFP requirements, the town made the decision to pass on the opportunity to adjust their expectations to make the project feasible. The town lacked the political will to address the need for incremental parking for the high school in an alternate location.   

The decision by the Select Board to pass on the only proposal caps nearly 10 years of effort by Belmont Youth Hockey to address a critical issue: the town continues to operate a facility that is structurally and mechanically unsound. By passing, the town has eliminated any potential for a public/private partnership. Belmont is no longer a credible partner. The town wasted the time, resources, and diligent efforts of a consortium of financial, construction, design, operating firms, and individual volunteers all collaborating to solve a pressing safety and viability concern.  

The positive news is that the path forward is now clear. By failing the RFP process, the town must move forward on its own. It’s time to allocate and approve the approximately $15-$20 million needed to rebuild the Skip and the White Field House and to do so as part of an integrated plan to develop the space west of Harris Field so that the pending development of the field space is not squandered. Continuing to deny the lack of structural integrity of a complex that services several thousand kids and adults each year is not a responsible option.

Bob Mulroy

Belmont Youth Hockey

Letter To The Editor: Belmont’s Poll Workers and Election Staff are Amazing

Photo: Election workers

Dear Neighbors and Voters of Belmont:

While many Americans are focused on the results of the Nov. 3  Presidential Election, I  call special attention to our fellow Belmont neighbors who served as election workers to guarantee the rightful exercise of our treasured right to vote, even in the midst of a global pandemic.  They did a fabulous job and need to be recognized for their work:

The Official Election Results for Belmont have not yet been finalized, but the official results will be certified by Nov. 18.  

Exactly 81.99 percent of Belmont’s voters cast ballots in the Nov. 3 election. That’s 15,038  people – of whom more than 12,100 voted during the fourteen days of the In-Person Early Voting period or Voted by Mail. The conclusion: a vigorously active electorate and even more amazing election workers and staff. We enjoyed expert assistance from many town departments, but most particularly the Police, Public Works, Fire, Library, Council on Aging, School Department, Facilities, Treasurer, Information Technology, Community Development, Select Board’s office, Health Department, Emergency Management and others. Lastly, the members of the press/media covering Belmont, each of our media outlets, got the word out to our residents to let them know the details of voting which really made a difference.

More than 200 election workers were trained and ready to go; 116 actually wound up working during the Early Voting Period or on Election Day itself along with the fantastic, hard-working staff of the Town Clerk’s office :

  • Rising before the sun to arrive at the polls by 6 a.m. and be open to voters by 7 a.m.:
  • Happily greeting every voter;
  • Checking in and out thousands of voters and processing absentee and early voting ballots, some routine, some needing extra help;
  • Researching voter information so voters who needed to go to a different precinct or community to vote could do so;
  • Helping voters who needed a little physical help or extra time;
  • Expertly responding to hundreds of phone calls from precinct election workers and voters from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Election Day and many days before and after;
  • Opening and tabulating more than 10,000 Early Voting ballots, while ensuring a secret ballot for all voters;
  • Posting signs, now-famous blue arrows to direct voters along with COVID-19 reminders;
  • Giving up hours at home with family in the evenings and even holiday weekends;
  • Scheduling the workers like an air traffic controller;
  • Processing and mailing more than 2,000 Absentee Ballots, including hundreds to Members of the Military and Overseas Citizens;
  • Registering 1,973 new voters since Jan. 1, 2020 and deleting many more so they could vote in their new communities;
  • Keeping everyone’s spirits buoyed, even when face-to-face with an angry voter when we made a mistake;
  • Closing out the polls, accounting for every ballots and all the legal requirements so we could post Belmont’s results to the website;
  • Most importantly, enjoying one another’s company and looking forward to working the next Belmont election.

We are extremely proud of the work these folks accomplished to make Belmont’s election a huge success with accurate results and we thank them sincerely for their efforts, their attitude and their willingness to participate so wonderfully in this open election process. 

When you see them around town, we encourage you to thank them in person.

With thanks and in awe of:

JoyceThe Voice
Paulavan Horn

Town Clerk’s Staff Members


Ellen O’Brien Cushman, Town Clerk and Fellow Members of the Board of Registrars of Voters: Robert McGaw, Paul Minor and Stephen Shestakofsky

Letter To The Editor: Belmont Educators Disagree With Return To In-Person Learning


To the editor:

The members of the Belmont Education Association have spent the past six months balancing the needs of our students- their health and safety needs, their academic needs and their social and emotional needs- against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic

On Oct. 7, the BEA was  made aware of numerous inconsistencies, errors, and omissions in the report completed by BALA, the contractor hired by the school district to assess air exchanges in school buildings.  

Based on the failings of the report, the BEA adamantly disagrees with the district’s decision to enter Phase 2, and educators feel obligated to share our concerns with parents.

BALA’s direct measurements show that most classrooms do not have sufficient air exchange (ACH 5) in line with the Harvard University recommended standard that Belmont would need to meet. Assumptions that open windows and air purifiers could raise classroom air exchange to an acceptable level may, in the end, prove correct. However, BALA’s current report has numerous instances which call into question the validity of the report. For example, multiple interior rooms, which have no windows are listed as having substantial improvements once windows are taken into account. 

Furthermore, there are spaces across the district where no data has been provided at all and are omitted from the report and there are other spaces that are mislabeled. The district is working to rectify this situation, and BALA returned to Belmont this week to reassess spaces to make corrections to their report.

Our community made a commitment not to send students into the buildings until spaces used by students and staff were safe. On Wednesday, the BEA requested that the district delay the start of Phase 2 until the community has  a complete report. The Belmont Public Schools  made the determination that schools were safe and began Phase 2 on Thursday. The short notice and concern for the social-emotional well-being of our students forced us to make a difficult decision to return to our classrooms without assurances that they are safe.

John Sullivan

President, Belmont Education Association

Letter To The Editor: Human Rights Commission Condemns Abuse Directed At Belmont Police Officers

Photo: Members of the Belmont Human Rights Commission

To the editor:

The Belmont Human Rights Commission condemns the acts of hate directed at Belmont Police officers over the past months.

The recent report by Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac to the Select Board, as reported in The Belmontonian on Sept. 14, that Belmont Police officers are facing an increasing amount of verbal abuse from some members of the public was both shocking and disturbing  (http://belmontonian.com/featured/belmont-police-officers-increasingly-targeted-with-verbal-abuse-from-the-public/).  MacIsaac reported that officers were experiencing derogatory slurs yelled at them on a weekly basis. 

While BHRC decries the Black lives that have been taken at the hands of some police officers across the country, directing anger and vitriol at members of the Belmont Police Dept., who are not those police officers, is an act of hate that BHRC strongly condemns. MacIsaac and the Belmont Police Department have supported police reforms within their own ranks, student action on Black Lives Matter, and been consistently open to dialogue with community members on issues of race and conflict. We commend them for their initiatives and their responsiveness to our community.

We all need to let our police officers know that we support their work in our community and communicate with them directly when we have a problem or complaint. Lashing out in an abusive manner is never acceptable by anyone and only contributes to the current rancor that has led to violence and discord across our country. We all need to unite together to address this kind of unacceptable abuse and make sure that Belmont is a safe place for everyone, including the officers who make up the Belmont Police Department, who are an integral part of the Belmont community.

Belmont Human Rights Commission

Letter To The Editor: Claims Belmont Overtax Property Below $1 Million ‘Untrue And Misleading’ – Assessors

Photo: The Assessors before the Select Board (from left) Martin Millane, Robert Reardon and Charles Laverty III

Dear Editor:

The Town of Belmont Board of Assessors has recently received information being circulated by a group calling themselves the “Citizens for a Fiscally Responsible Belmont” in which it is claimed that the Fiscal Year 2020 Assessments overtax properties under $1,000,000 in assessed value and under tax higher-end properties. The information used to make these claims is untrue and misleading and does not adhere to the actual assessment process which is regulated, reviewed, audited, and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on an annual basis. The Board of Assessors has a long and exemplary record of fairly and equitably administering the Massachusetts General Laws to all taxpayers of Belmont.

Current assessments are historical which is a requirement of Massachusetts General Laws.  The Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) assessments are based on an effective date of 01/01/2019 based on sales information that occurred during the calendar year 2018. The effective date of assessment is based on the information on file in the assessing office based on inspections and reviews of every property in town.  Therefore, the fiscal year 2020 assessed values are as of Jan. 1, 2019, and are do not reflect the value of a property today.   

The report being circulated uses sales that have occurred in Calendar Years 2019 and 2020 compared against assessments that were based on 2018 sales.  The activity in these years is the basis for the upcoming assessments in the Fiscal Year 2021 (effective this upcoming January) and Fiscal Year 2022. Additionally, the sales in the report show no adjustment for changes in the Belmont Market and there are no adjustments for changes made to the properties after Jan. 1, 2019 (permits and renovations).  

The following table is from one of the many reports required and reviewed by the Department of Revenue to obtain certification.  

Fiscal Year 2020 Sales Ratios

Sale RangeSales RatioCODNumber
Q1$674,000 to $975,0000.951.8935 Sales
Q2$980,000 to $1,202,0000.951.4835 Sales
Q3 $1,206,000 to $1,512,5000.951.2735 Sales
Q4$1,515,000 to $5,500,0000.951.2434 Sales

The sales are segmented into four quartiles by sales price. The next column, sales ratio, is the assessed value divided by the sales price, which results in the assessment level. The Commonwealth requires that assessments are within 90 percent to 110 percent of sales. All four quartiles are at 95 percent which infers that than assessments are at 95 percent of market value in Fiscal Year 2020. The COD column is a further statistical test known as Coefficient of Dispersion which weighs, in short, the quality of the data set.  The Commonwealth requires that this be less the 10. The Belmont assessments are under 2.  The last column is the number of sales analyzed in each quartile. 

It is important to note that the Department of Revenue sets all guidelines and regulations for assessing in the Commonwealth. All communities are required to adhere to the same rules and procedures and Assessors are under oath to uphold these practices.    

A full version of the report above, as well as other reports used in the Certification Process, are available on the Belmont Board of Assessors’ website.

The Belmont Board of Assessors

Robert Reardon; chair, Charles Laverty III; vice-chair, Martin Millane; secretary.

Letter To The Editor: Belmont Against Racism Asks ‘Why And How We Can Accept This?’

Photo: A vigil at First Church Belmont

To the editor:

The Board of Belmont Against Racism is saddened, anguished and, yes, angry at the taking of Black lives in our country by law enforcement officers over these past several weeks, culminating in the death of George Floyd. The COVID-19 pandemic will be overcome by our scientists, medical leaders and public officials. We ask why this same focus and determination has not and still will not be applied to eradicating racial hatreds, injustice and violence. 

Belmont Against Racism was begun 28 years ago as a sad, anguished and angry response to the police brutality directed at Rodney King on another spring day in Los Angeles. And many of us in 1992 recalled too well the events of the 1960s and the Kerner Commission report which declared that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” So very little has changed and so it is time that we ask each other and our civic and community leaders why and how we can accept this and call ourselves a civil society whose laws and structures protect everyone, not just those whose skin tone happens to be white.

Stephen Carter, a Yale Law Professor and former clerk of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, stated in an interview on NPR this week that this hatred, injustice and violence will continue until our country can forsake our belief in the inherent superiority of white people and inherent inferiority of black people. We believe he is right. In “These Truths,” her history of the country, Jill Lepore observes the many ways we have failed to ever really be faithful to the words from the Declaration of Independence in each generation as nativism, nationalism and white supremacy have too often contradicted the aspirations that neither the founders nor we have ever lived up to. She quotes Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1862, “We must disenthrall ourselves and, and then we shall save the country.” More than 150 years later, it seems we have barely begun to do this.

Some will be tempted to focus on the protests, riots and burning. While we too regret that so many small businesses and communities are ravaged as well by the rages that are swirling, this is not the core problem now, nor was it in 1992, nor in the 1960s. It is too easy to let our sympathy and support for those who are the rage’s victims become “the story” and not the underlying cause of racism. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar makes this point in his op-ed piece in today’s Los Angeles Times. He quotes Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem:” 

What happens to a dream deferred?

…Maybe it sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

We are fortunate in Belmont to have leadership in our Town’s Police Department who have embraced The 21st Century Policing Principles and are demonstrating their commitment to anti-racist policing in our town.  Some in BAR can recall times and incidents when such principles were not adhered to as well. But, we have made progress in our community. Belmont is not Minneapolis, LA, St. Louis or any of the larger cities where police violence against blacks are too common and until the age of the smartphone often unseen, unless you happened to be the black victims. 

But, if we can make progress in our small town, we must retain some hope that it can be done elsewhere. However, focusing just on law enforcement is also a mistake. We who are white must continue the work to become disenthralled. It is done in small and large ways. We must pick ourselves up from these ashes and recommit to creating a country that someday will see beyond the color of our skins.

Michael Collins

BAR Board Member

Letter To The Editor: Chief MacIsaac Discuss George Floyd’s Death And Future Of Trust

Photo: Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

On Thursday, May 28, I received an email from a Belmont resident who, in light of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer, felt it was necessary to ask me a few questions to proactively ensure the safety of Belmont’s minority citizens. I immediately answered the residents email. I have since heard from others with similar concerns, so I believe it is necessary for me to write this letter.

I watched the video of George Floyd’s death with dismay. As a police officer and former use-of-force instructor, I was sickened by the video. Speaking for the Officers at the Belmont Police Department, I can say that they, too, found the video disturbing. The death of George Floyd runs counter in every way to the values of democracy, justice, and fundamental fairness. Any officer who is not upset about the death of George Floyd, or seeks to justify the unjustifiable, should leave the profession of law enforcement.

Please know that our officers work very hard to build and maintain trust within our community. Our number one goal is to provide excellent, fair and impartial police services to the community of Belmont. Over the years, leadership at the BPD has infused an ethos into our Department requiring that all citizens and visitors to Belmont that we encounter receive fair, equal and compassionate treatment. Maintaining and cultivating this culture is our number one priority.

The most effective way we can build trust between the police and the community is for us to get to know one another.

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac

Our officers are aware of the differences of explicit and implicit biases and have received annual training on how biases can affect their interactions with others. Belmont Police Officers are trained in de-escalation techniques that include de-escalating incidents involving people in crisis, people living with addiction, and people with autism.

The circumstances of the George Floyd death will and should cause police organizations across the country to take a hard look at their officers and their organizational cultures to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in the future. I can assure you that the Belmont Police Department fully embraces the six pillars of the principals found in President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

The Belmont Police will continue our partnerships and collaboration with existing and future groups that seek to bring social justice within our community. I have never been more proud of officers and our team at the BPD. At no time during my career, can I recall us having a group of professional and community minded officers like the ones that fill our ranks today. I will be attending each roll call in the coming week to discuss the incident in Minneapolis with our officers and to share the concerns that residents have expressed to me.

The most effective way we can build trust between the police and the community is for us to get to know one another. I, and the members of the Belmont Police Department, will always make ourselves available to anyone who has concerns or questions regarding operations, tactics and how we interact with the public.

As a police officer, it is heartbreaking to me when I learn that there are people in our community that fear the police. We will make every effort to alleviate that fear and build trust within the Community of Belmont.

James MacIsaac

Belmont Police Chief

A Letter To Patrons: Belmont Library Preparing To Reopen In Phases Over Coming Months

Photo: Peter Struzziero, Belmont Public Library director

Dear Belmont Library Patrons:

Thank you so much for your support of the Belmont Public Library during this time. We have enjoyed connecting with many of you virtually over the past few months. We are looking forward to getting library materials back into your hands soon.

We are putting together a phased reopening plan for the Library based on the guidelines from the Reopening Advisory Board created by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, as well as recommendations from the Belmont Health Department and State Library organizations. Our goal is to fully restore Library services over the next several months, while continuing to prioritize the health and well-being of patrons and staff. 

We hope to see staff return to the Library during the month of June and will be working on preparing the building, collections, and technology for reopening. We’d prefer that you keep your library materials at home still, but will be willing to receive them in our outside book drops if it would be inconvenient for you to continue to hold them for us. Due dates for items currently checked out are extended until June 30 so there is no rush to bring your returns back. The Friends of the Belmont Public Library are unable to accept book donations at this time, and we appreciate your patience with that. 

We plan to begin offering contact-free holds pickup to you as soon as we can safely do so. More information, including the specific date that this service will start, will be announced soon in through our newsletters.

To keep our community connected and informed, we send out regular email newsletters with the latest news. We’d love to see more of our users sign up for updates or read previous newsletters at belmontpubliclibrary.net/services/news/. If you are already a newsletter reader, if you’d help us spread the word among your circles, that would be great too.

Please contact me at pstruzziero@minlib.net with any questions or comments. Stay well!

Peter J. Struzziero
Belmont Public Library director

Letter To The Editor: Postal Service Asks For Help With Social Distancing

Photo: The USPS logo (USPS photo)

To the editor:

During these challenging times, postal employees are working hard to ensure residents stay connected with their world through the mail. Whether it’s medications, a package, a paycheck, benefits or pension check, a bill or letter from a family member, postal workers understand that every piece of mail is important. While service like this is nothing new to us, we need our communities’ help with social distancing.

For everyone’s safety, our employees are following the social distancing precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health officials. We are asking people to not approach our carriers to accept delivery. Let the carrier leave the mailbox before collecting the mail. With schools not in session, children should also be encouraged to not approach a postal vehicle or carrier.

If a delivery requires a signature, carriers will knock on the door rather than touching the bell. They will maintain a safe distance, and instead of asking for a signature on their mobile device, they’ll ask for the resident’s name. The carrier will leave the mail or package in a safe place for retrieval.

We are proud of the role all our employees play in processing, transporting, and delivering mail and packages for the American public. The CDC, World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General indicate there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.

With social distancing, we can keep the mail moving while keeping our employees, and the public, safe. 

Erick Scholl, manager

U.S. Postal Service, Belmont Post Office