To the editor:

I couldn’t help but shake my head at the outraged “concern” that city councils are “shutting citizens out of the democratic process” by adopting online meetings instead of the “usual” in-person versions (“Peabody shutting out its citizens,” May 15). Such is the pain that the formerly privileged always feel when they get a small taste of what the majority of citizens already experience on a regular basis.

I have no doubt that “some” citizens don’t have access to a laptop or computer to participate. But the resource in far shorter supply has always been time. Most council meetings start around 7 or 8 p.m., right around the time kids are getting to bed, or need help with homework. So this immediately is a barrier a very large segment of the population: busy families. If it’s a single-parent family? Forget it. They aren’t going to have the time or money to set up a sitter beforehand in order to drive down to their local meeting.

This is nothing new; just business as usual. Yet where are the calls for “fairness?” Where’s protest that those whose concerns directly relate to what city councils deal with (education, safety, housing, future investment) are not getting heard? Surely we wouldn’t want to use the “if it’s important to them, they’ll show up” argument? Because if that’s the case, then wouldn’t those citizens without Zoom setup be able to “find a way” too?

Douglas Bowker



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