Littleton Board of Selectmen minutes will now be edited. On his own, Chairman Ron Bolt deleted comments made by fellow selectman Edward Boynton at the March 24 meeting.
Bolt excused his behavior by asserting the comments were defamatory of the fire chief, and if left in, could lead to a lawsuit. Before the meeting was over, selectmen passed a minutes protocol that will allow the minutes to be edited down from the usual dozen to 15 pages to two or three pages, with the full meeting recorded and available in the town office.
This new policy is a bad idea. Minutes are taken to allow the discussion and actions at a public meeting to be reconstructed by from those minutes at a later date. It would have been impossible for a member of the public to reconstruct the March 24 meeting from Chairman Bolt's editing of them. He had no right to do that. The threat of a possible lawsuit clearly was not real. Mr. Bolt took the comments out because he was offended by them. In so doing, he changed the tenor and the substance of the meeting. The rest of the board was right to chide him.
The board's later reversal makes no sense. What is said at public meetings is a public record, warts and all. This new protocol should be scrapped at the next meeting.