The taxpayer-funded Melrose Commission on Women just cannot let this one drop. They continue to post on their Facebook page trying to manufacture outrage over the historical name of the Board of Aldermen. Aside from the irony of this whole non-issue being created by someone with the last name "Lemmerman" (why haven't she and her husband changed it to better reflect the gender diversity of their family?), it is interesting that the Commission spearheaded by Lemmerman and whose members were handpicked by her personally has chosen this as their issue to champion. It's almost like they are trying to eke out a political win for her on a hot-button social justice topic in an election year.
For more background they refer readers to a longer post in the "NOTES" section of their page where they publicly question the other Aldermen's truthfulness about citizen feedback, claim mass confusion over what a Board of Aldermen even is, ignore the existence of hundreds of Boards of Selectmen across the state and claim that the name holds women back in the Victorian Era, nevermind that not a single woman Alderman besides Lemmerman could be convinced to get on board with this knee-jerk erasure of Melrose's unique character and history.
From their page:
"There has been a recent setback in efforts to have the name of the Melrose Board of Aldermen changed to the gender-neutral “City Council.” Each of the Commissioners on MCW supports this name change. Please read and show your support of changing the title to City Council by adding your name and address in Melrose below.
By way of background, every ten years, there is a review of the Melrose City Charter by the Board of Alderman (BOA). A city charter is like the constitution of the city. The BOA created a Charter Review Committee (CRC) to discuss suggested revisions and recommend changes. After review, CRC recommended that the name of the legislative body in Melrose be changed from Board of Aldermen to City Council. Our research shows that of the 55 Massachusetts municipalities with a city form of government (including those which have a city form of government but call themselves towns), an overwhelming 53 had city councils. Only 2 (Melrose and Somerville) have “Board of Aldermen.” Additionally, the public supported changing the name to Council by a two to one margin when the full BOA discussed this issue last October.
Unfortunately, at the next stage, which just took place at a July 24 meeting of the Appropriations Committee (AC), the AC voted not to follow the recommendation of the CRC by a vote of 7-4. This meeting was held in the middle of summer vacations resulting in no public participation or input before the AC voted against the CRC recommendation. Hopefully, there will be meaningful notice and opportunity for the public to participate when the entire Board of Aldermen considers the recommended CRC changes and the non-binding AC decisions.
So what does this mean? It means that speaking up about this issue to the aldermen is important. You can do this by email and by speaking with the aldermen, especially your ward alderman and the aldermen at large. Written support is best because it creates a record. To make things convenient, you can quickly show your support by adding your name below by stating (1) that you support changing the title of “Board of Aldermen” to the gender-neutral “City Council”, and giving your (2) name and (3) address. You may also send this same information to email@example.com.
If you feel you don’t know enough about this issue to make a decision, we have added a list of reasons why this title change matters as well as responses to some of the arguments voiced by the aldermen and others in opposition. For example, why does this title change matter? You will find this information under the “Notes” section on this page.
We would like to thank the Aldermen who have consistently voted in favor of changing the name to the gender-neutral City Council and Councilor. They are Aldermen (Councilors) Lemmerman of Ward 2, Zwirko (at-large), and Wright Jr. of Ward 3. We are also very appreciative that Ward 1 alderman, Alderman Tramontozzi, also voted in favor of the change to City Council. After speaking with Alderman Mortimer, his vote on July 24 was meant to be in support of the change as well. Thus, we are grateful for his support as well. The emails for each Alderman are listed on the city website: cityofmelrose.org.
We will post on here the date of the meeting when the BOA as a whole consider the issue."
"We would like to draw your attention to the reasons why the change to City Council is not only appropriate but also long overdue. The word alderman derives from Old English, literally meaning “older man.” The reasons given at the AC meeting on July 24 for not supporting the change of title to City Council do not withstand scrutiny.
1. Some on the AC relied on incorrect data to conclude there should be no change of title.
One alderman noted his survey of every municipality in Massachusetts and noted that several still have boards of aldermen or selectmen. However, this approach failed to recognize that city and town forms of government are different. Other numbers cited failed to include city forms of governments which are called ‘Towns.”
In fact, there are fifty-five (55) cities in Massachusetts. Of these 55, there are fourteen communities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but they still want to be known as “The Town of. “ Most significantly, of these 55, a whopping 53 have city councils. The only cities that do not are Melrose and Somerville. We have research listing each city with its website link to show that more than a majority and almost all cities have recognized the need for their legislative bodies to be called City Councils and not boards of aldermen or selectmen.
2. Public Support Favors the change to city council not against
Public support should not be the primary argument for or against choosing a position on this issue by the leaders of our community. It would be akin to asking the public whether women should have the vote. History has taught us that traditions can be wrong when kept in place in modern times. Those seeking the same treatment as a majority will rarely, if ever, be upheld by the majority if put to a popular vote. For example, women’s right to vote was not put to a popular vote of only men. Rather, it was a constitutional amendment. This is why we often look to our elected representatives to do the right thing and to be leaders who represent all of the voters and not just one group.
Nevertheless, some aldermen did seem to base their position solely or mostly on their perception of which way members of the public who expressed an opinion wanted them to vote. There were comments about calls they received and conversations they had in favor of tradition. First, it would be helpful to see the records of these calls or conversation, identifying who and when, especially when there are claims of 30 or 40 conversations. Second, when there is no solicitation of opinions, those who do call in are self-selecting for the most part, and do not represent a fair sampling.
Unfortunately, at the hearing, some relied on the incorrect conclusion that the public did not support changing to “City Council” when the BOA discussed this very same issue last October. As pointed out at the AC by Alderman Lemmerman, the members of the public that weighed in on the issue, by letter or appearance at the official meeting, actually supported the change to “City Council” two to one, not the other way around.
3. Basing one’s position on his or her personal views fails to recognize that the role of city legislators is to represent all citizens and not just a few. To the extent that individuals on the board voted against the measure because they don’t mind or like being called an alderman, we appreciate that this is their personal preference. However, one’s personal preference should not adversely affect the advances in government that have been made by women in the past and for women in the future. Indeed, women would not be on this Board if it weren’t for the efforts of women and others before them. This is absolutely not to take anything away from the current women on the Board and their hard work to serve Melrose in their roles as representatives. However, the rejection of City Council is a step backwards and against the progress that has been made for women.
4. Reliance on tradition or the Victorian quaintness of Melrose as a reason to keep the Aldermen title fails to recognize that some traditions and Victorian era rules were unfair and damaging to many and should not be followed. It was also noted that Melrose should keep the alderman titles because it is quaint, traditional or in keeping with the Victorian era theme. However, let’s not forget that in the Victorian age, there were no voting rights for women. If we did things as were done in the Victorian age, women would not even be on the Board. Further, the issue of inclusion and fair treatment is not on the same level as liking Melrose’s streetlamps, as mentioned at the AC meeting, and renovating Victorian era houses. The reality is that if the traditional name had been Board of Alderwomen instead of Aldermen and it were men who sought to change the name to city council, this change would very likely not even be up for discussion and would have been implemented long ago.
5. Use of the title City Council is inclusive. A gender-neutral name does not only benefit women but also signals that Melrose is “one community open to all.” Melrose has been forward thinking and acting on behalf of others such LBGTQ, such as transgender people, both children and adults, in our community and the people who care about them. Preventing this change of title would only serve to keep women and others back in the Victorian age.
Also, when voting down sanctuary status for Melrose, many on this Board argued that there is no need for a formal recognition of sanctuary status since we are so open to all races and accepting. Keeping the name Board of Aldermen when people have asked for it to be something other, flies in the face of those sentiments of openness and acceptance of differences.
6. The name change is not a trivial issue to those who want to see the title change. Some say that this is not an important issue and so the name should remain as is. Yet, if it is so trivial and meaningless then why object so vehemently to allow it to change? It is one thing when no one has an objection, but here there are clearly people who object to the continued reference to aldermen. To purposefully override or ignore those objections is to trivialize other people’s views and to substitute your own judgment for that of the community. If you are against the change to Council, please ask how yourself how does the title City Council diminish or hurt those want to keep the old name? Asking for neutral treatment for all should not be perceived as losing a privilege that was never correct to begin with.
What you say and do as leaders in our community of Melrose matters. By calling someone who is a woman an alderman, the message, intentionally or not, is that the Board is by default, the realm of only men not women. This messaging can be and is of particular importance to young adults, both female and male, who we want to encourage to become a public servants.
There are also those who would claim that these types of changes will lead to the use of Hu-persons instead of humans or other such silly arguments. This reasoning fails to recognize that there are certain roles and titles in our society that are meaningful to people. Public service and elected official titles are and should be in a separate category. For example, respectful people do not use the words policeman or fireman but rather firefighters and police officers.
7. Keeping the confusing title to force or create interaction with the public is unnecessary. Some felt that the name aldermen should be kept because it is unfamiliar to some in the public and they enjoy educating the public about this role. Others cited their perceptions that millennial and younger generations seek instant gratification. Clarity has little to do with gratification. The goal of our leaders should not be hide their function in order to educate. The goal of our elected officials should be to lead and to work on behalf of the public to make things better; not to obfuscate in order to make people ask for clarification. Part of good leadership is to make sure that the words of the leader are not misunderstood. In this instance, the only way to do that is to change the title to City Council.
We would like to thank the Aldermen who have consistently voted in favor of changing the name to the gender-neutral Council and Councilor. They are Aldermen (Councilors) Lemmerman of Ward 2, Zwirko (at large), and Wright Jr. of Ward 3. We are also very appreciative that Ward 1 alderman, Alderman Tramontozzi, also voted in favor of the change to City Council. After speaking with Alderman Mortimer, his vote on July 24 was meant to be in support of the change as well. Thus, we are grateful for his support as well. "
Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason.
What next ? The DPW will be asked to refer to "manhole covers" as "personhole" covers and "manpower" as "person power". Identity politics that's been promoted by the Democrat-dominated Mass. Commission on Women. The board members who were in favor of a name change will just have to go home to their wives and take a stand for the "Board of Aldermen". Dinner will still be served.
Such a waste of taxpayer's money. And, our elected officials are wasting their time on this crap? Please, move on to more important matters that truly concern the people of Melrose.
This is not a huge issue. I don't see any problem with changing it. The opposition is what is causing the "waste of taxpayer money" by opposing a simple change. There's really no harm in changing it and better aligning the name with other cities.
Really, how does this affect YOUR life?
Who says that the other cities are right? [:)s]
If The Women's Commission felt strongly about the "name change" from Alderman to Councilor, why didn't they lobby earlier in the summer during The Charter Review process and/or when the BOA voted on this change? Who is on the Commission? What have they done? Obviously they don't have their act together--- too little and too late.
It passed the charter review process and was in the recommendations.
The one line in this excessive explanation for change that sums everything up is "Keeping the name Board of Aldermen when people have asked for it to be something other, flies in the face of those sentiments of openness and acceptance of differences." So, the current worldview of these people is that "if I ask for something, you must comply, lest you are a bigot of some sort". It is a wonderful one-sided argument that is used whenever people want change for any reason. They are entitled to have everyone comply with whatever they want.
Personally, I don't care about the name or the name change. It will end up happening, because these people who want it to happen will be relentless until they get their way. It is a little satisfying to see that they are having to waste their time and work for it.
Seems like the Women's Commission is wasting their limited Political Capitol on an issue which isn't as important as the problems women struggle with every day. The name change would be fine. It doesn't really matter. Hope this group becomes active in Melrose. It isn't really clear who they are or what they do.
The Melrose Commission on Women is not a "home grown" organization. It is basically a branch of the Massachusetts Commission on Status of Women, representatives from which testified before the BOA in favor of establishing the Melrose Commission. Legislation currently being supported by the Mass. Commission include:
1) Expand health care coverage for contraceptives; 2) Establish a Pregnant Workers Fairness Act; and 3) Establish Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. No matter one's support of these issues, the use of Melrose taxpayer money to support, what is basically a political action committee ,is highly questionable. The BOA must have been a little surprised that the organization it agreed to fund wants the BOA name changed after over a century. Name-changing, however, has become the attention- getter in identity politics.