Friday, February 18, 2005
Old Home Day controversy reignites
Members of the Carlisle Democratic Town Committee, who were refused permission to enter a float in last year's Old Home Day (OHD) parade, decided to try again this year, this time with hopes of receiving the Board of Selectmen's blessing. Susan Stamps, chair of the Democratic Town Committee (DTC), made the argument that the DTC is very much a part of the fabric of the town. "The point of Old Home Day is to celebrate the community of Carlisle," said Stamps. "There couldn't be more of a Carlisle institution than the Democratic Town Committee."
2004 OHD debate
Last year OHD chair David Reed threatened to cancel the OHD celebration rather than allow the partisan organization to enter a float in the parade. The Selectmen and Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie became involved and consulted Town Counsel. While the law is unclear on the matter as to whether Old Home Day would be considered a town-sponsored or a private event, it was very clear to Reed, who was protecting "a tradition since 1912 of having a family day, a fun day." He referred to the light-hearted nature of the parade, with its goats, bikes, and soap box cars and said that this venue is inappropriate to politics. "Old Home Day is for Carlisle, and when you bring in national issues, especially partisan issues, it just doesn't fit."
Stamps, at the February 8 Selectmen's meeting, claimed that they don't want to make any enemies and said she believed the parade would be a fun thing for DTC to participate in. Reed, who was in the audience, looked at his watch and apologized profusely to the Selectmen for wasting their time. "The OHD Association is a non-profit organization and partisan politics is not allowed. It's against the law! We work to make sure that nothing is contentious. All we want is one day of non-contentious innocence."
James Bohn, chair of the Republican Town Committee, identified himself in the audience and gave the DTC a playful poke by voicing their strong support for Reed's decision.
BOS: Keep politics out
Going down the Selectmen's head table, Deb Belanger said, "Politics is the last thing I want to see after this last election!" Looking at Reed, she continued, "It's your corporation, your charter." John Ballantine viewed the June 25 OHD and anniversary celebration as a private event, not a public event. "It's not July 4th," he said. Doug Stevenson, who has had some experience with politics himself, saw the situation as not restricting individuals, but activities. "We should respect the traditions of the community." Tony Allison minced no words. "Politics is polarizing, keep it out!" Dave Reed summed it up by saying, "One day out of 365, that's not asking a lot."
Stamps then questioned why the DTC had been refused the use of the Town Hall for their annual caucus. The Selectmen explained that only town government has use of Town Hall.
© 2005 The