Veterans Group Alleges Retaliation For Opposing Flying BLM Flag Over Barrington (RI) Veterans Memorial
After 68 years, the Barrington United Veterans Council was removed as organizer of the 2022 Memorial Day Parade, after it vigorously opposed the Town Council flying the BLM flag over the Veterans Memorial. The group’s leader, a vocal opponent, was replaced as Master of Ceremonies by someone who publicly favored flying the BLM flag. Yet the Town Council says the BLM flag dispute had nothing to do with it.
On March 7, 2022, the Barrington, Rhode Island, Town Council voted to have the Town Manager organize the 2022 Memorial Day Parade replacing the Barrington United Veterans Council, which had organized Memorial Day parades for 68 consecutive years (excluding 2020-2021 when the parade was canceled due to Covid restrictions).
The Veterans Council says it had no prior notice, was not consulted, and alleges retaliation by the Town Council after the Veterans Council and its leader Ret. Lt. Col. Paul Dulchinos vigorously opposed the flying of a Black Lives Matter flag and other political cause flags on the town flagpole at Town Hall, above the Veterans Memorial. That conflict, led by Dulchinos, rocked the town for over a year and continues to reverberate. Dulchinos, who served as the parade Master of Ceremonies for the past several years, was replaced by Frank “Scott” Douglas, a Naval War College Instructor who spoke out publicly in support of the Town Council’s decision to fly the BLM flag.
Dulchinos, in an email to Veterans Council members, asserted, among other things: “This appears to be retribution for the BUVC having previously taken a stance against flying a BLM flag over its Veterans Memorial.” The Town Council denies that, but the sequence of events and presently-known documentation make a plausible suggestion of viewpoint retaliation, which could potentially subject the town to legal claims. Legal Insurrection Foundation will be submitting public records requests to obtain more documents.
Background – “Woke” Town Government And Growing Opposition
Barrington is where Legal Insurrection Foundation is headquartered, and where I have lived full or part-time for most of the last 25 years. In May, 2021, LIF co-sponsored an online event with the Veterans Council and Dulchinos, titled Unity Not Division: A Non-Racist Approach to Community & Education, in response to a speaking event by Ibram X. Kendi sponsored by the Town Council. Both Dulchinos and I were panelists, and we each separately opposed the flying of the BLM flag over the Veterans Memorial during a February 1, 2021, Town Council meeting on that topic. Douglas spoke at that meeting in support of flying the BLM flag, as reported in the Barrington Times:
Scott Douglas, a former member of the town’s Committee on Appropriations and a member of the U.S. Military, said he supported the policy. He also said he supported the town manager’s decision in August 2020 to fly the Black Lives Matter flag.
The full February 1, 2021, Town Council meeting video is here (Dulchinos starts at 2:33:30, Douglas starts at 2:46:40, my own comments start at 2:54:50).
The flag and related controversies took place against the backdrop of a rapidly changing town political landscape. Barrington was once known as a Republican stronghold in blue Rhode Island. The influx of liberal-leaning of out-of-staters and people fleeing the dismal Providence school system for the top-ranked Barrington schools turned the town politically Democratic, and ideologically liberal/progressive at the elected level. The 5-member Town Council now is entirely Democratic.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, here is what I wrote on May 6, 2021, as background on town “woke” politics:
Barrington, where LIF is based, once was a somewhat red island in a blue Rhode Island political sea. But things have changed with an influx of liberal-leaning people from Providence lured by the best public school district in the state (and highly ranked nationally), thus avoiding the cost of private school, and out-of-staters lured by relatively low housing costs (compared to NY/Boston) and a beautiful location between Narragansett Bay and two rivers. Where Barrington once was a Republican-dominated town, it’s now solidly Democrat at the town council level. At the state level things have changed also, with the once working-class “blue dog” style Democrats becoming aggressively progressive. One thing that hasn’t changed is that public sector unions, particularly teachers unions, still run the state.
The somewhat stodgy town once nicknamed “Borington” is now woke as hell at the government and educational levels. And that is the source of conflict, as progressive politics are pushed hard by people with power and megaphones. It’s a microcosm of how institutions are taken over and repurposed.
In late August 2020, the Barrington town manager unilaterally raised the Black Lives Matter flag on the town flag pole outside town hall above a veterans memorial. That led to an outcry of protest from BUVC, which previously had objected to any political movement flags being flown at that location. BUVC, headed by Lt. Col. Paul Dulchinos, led a “Keep Politics Off The Flagpole” campaign to no avail as the town council affirmed the town manager’s decision, voted to fly the BLM flag indefinitely, and rejected BUVC’s request in such case also to fly the “Back The Blue” flag.
BUVC continued to lead objections to the BLM flag flying on the town flag pole, but the town council, after a highly contentious and well-attended zoom meeting, voted to enact an ordinance giving it sole discretion over which flags to fly, and then minutes later voted again to fly the BLM flag for another month, and possibly again in the future. BUVC then asked to move the veterans memorial so it would not be located under political movement flags, but that request was refused.
As the BLM flag controversy was continuing, it became apparent that at least some teachers in the Barrington school system became actively involved, and got students involved, in fighting a proposal to ban CRT teaching in public schools. Based on comments at public testimony on the bill, it became clear that some opposition from students in Barrington and elsewhere was organized as part of class activities.
The specific precipitating event came recently when the Barrington town council committed the town itself to sponsoring, promoting, and providing logistical support for an April 26 online lecture by Prof. Ibram X. Kendi, the well-known CRT advocate and the person most associated with the CRT variation called “antiracism” training. This wasn’t the town, as a governmental entity, merely permitting or facilitating Kendi, it was a full-blown town production in the town’s name. The Barrington Public Library used its Zoom account for the event, and had 100 copies of Kendi’s book to give away to library visitors….
Based on records obtained by LIF pursuant to a public records request, we learned that Kendi was paid $15,000 for his one-hour “conversation” with Barrington’s outside diversity consultant, paid by the massive Rhode Island Foundation and apparently additional private donors. The zoom meeting provided 600 spots but did not sell out. There reportedly were only about 400 people who attended.
The Kendi event announcement led to BUVC asking LIF’s help in putting together an alternative panel, which we have done. We will use LIF’s Zoom platform and registration system for logistical support.
If anything, the atmosphere in town has become worse since I wrote that in May 2021. While the Town Council said it would fly an alternative version of the BLM flag, the Veterans Council continued to oppose flying any political cause flags in that location. The Town Council continues to push a progressive agenda, including a recently instituted “land acknowledgement” for meetings.
Parent protests have erupted over the School Board taking an unusually harsh approach to Covid masking and vaccines, including terminating three teachers who requested but were denied religious exemptions:
The fired Barrington teachers — Brittany DiOrio, Kerri Thurber and Stephanie Hines — requested religious exemptions from the district’s vaccine mandate, but at a pre-termination hearing in Oct. 2021, Barrington School Committee members Ms. Bae, Erika Sevetson and Megan Douglas followed the superintendent’s recommendation to deny the requests, citing an “undue burden” the teachers’ unvaccinated status would place on the school department.
The terminated teachers also filed a lawsuit against the school committee, alleging that the school committee did not properly notice the meeting during which the committee voted to approve the vaccine mandate for all school department employees.
There are looming “equity” audits and activism at the senior school system level, and a possible master plan to achieve “equity” by eliminating neighborhood elementary schools. This aggressive progressive agenda has given rise to a new parents group in opposition. What is happening in Barrington looks similar to what happened in northern Virginia last year, and the current Memorial Day controversy can only feed those feelings:
An effort is underway to remove members of the Barrington School Committee from office.
During an hour-long public comment period at Thursday night’s school committee meeting, more than a dozen people criticized committee members for a variety of reasons.
Longtime Barrington resident Brian Hughes shared a statement that pointed to problems with the existing school board and a concerted effort to remove many of the sitting members of the committee.
Following is a portion of Mr. Hughes’s statement:
“We, the people of Barrington, elected the school committee. Those were our votes. This was nobody’s fault besides our own.
“I have talked with many teachers, administrators, principals and parents over the past few weeks and I shared my frustration as a parent of a six year old girl in the school system, feeling as though my voice has been silenced, and I’m not alone. When the parents are screaming from the rooftops and the very school committee that’s supposed to be protecting them refuses to listen, something is wrong.
Almost 70-year Tradition of Veterans Council Organizing Memorial Day Parades
The Veterans Council has an unusual status, an independent entity recognized by the Town. According to its bylaws, the original of which dates back to 1954, the Veterans Council is recognized by the town, and copies of the bylaws were served on the town:
This Veteran Organization Known as The United Veterans Council of Barrington, RI As authorized by the Barrington Town Council shall be concerned with any and all Matters of interest to all honorably discharged veterans who live in Barrington.
* * *
The United Veterans Council of Barrington also has the following Responsibilities and duties:
1. To plan, organize, oversee and execute the annual Memorial Day Parade for the Town of Barrington.
* * *
The bylaws make the Veterans Council self-operating, including with regard to membership and officers, yet the town posts on the town website items regarding the Veterans Council and Dulchinos was provided with a town email address. The town covered the expenses of the Veterans Council in organizing the Memorial Day parades. The Veterans Council is not listed on the town website list of Boards and Commissions, yet it exists and has operated the Memorial Day Parade for almost seven decades, a tradition that until this year has been recognized and honored.
Barrington is still a town which values its Memorial Day parade, and the Veterans Council has a long history of turning out participants and crowds, as these 2015 videos show:
In 2019, the Veterans Council organized the Memorial Day Parade as usual.
2020-2021 – No Parade Due To Covid, BLM Flag Controversy Mars 2021 Ceremonies
In 2020, there was no parade due to Covid, so the Veterans Council held a “virtual” Memorial Day wreath-laying:
There wasn’t a Memorial Day parade in Barrington this year in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, so the town had to figure out a way to mark the solemn day of remembrance.
The Barrington United Veterans Council held a virtual wreath-laying event to comply with social distancing requirements and streamed it live on Facebook….
The ceremony opened with an introduction and Pledge of Allegiance led by Lt. Col. Paul Dulchinos and Col. Charles Brule offered a prayer.
Maj. Bill Groves conducted a roll call of deceased Veterans while the American flag was lowered to half-staff by Al Girard. Marine Vietnam War Veteran Mike Tripp placed a wreath at Veterans Memorial.
“By participating in ceremonies like today’s event, we ensure that their acts of heroism and sacrifice are not forgotten. We as fellow veterans must advocate for those whose voices were silenced too early. Their deaths will never be in vain until their memories are forgotten,” the council’s post continued. “God Bless our Veterans, Service Members, and First Responders and most of all God Bless America.”
You can view the 2020 video here.
In 2021, again there was no parade due to Covid:
During the April 5 meeting, members of the council voted unanimously to cancel this year’s parade. Council president Michael Carroll opened the discussion by saying he felt it was just too soon during the pandemic to hold the parade, which is typically well-attended by Barrington residents. He later referenced a book he read about the 1918 pandemic and how numbers spiked following a celebratory war-time parade.
Councilors Carl Kustell, Jacob Brier and Rob Humm all agreed with Mr. Carroll, each saying that while they enjoyed the parade in the past they felt it was too soon for the town to hold the event.
A dispute erupted between the Town Council and the Veterans Council over the location of that Memorial Day event. The Veterans Council did not want to hold the ceremony at the town flagpole because of the flag controversy (by that point the BLM flag was gone, but the controversy was active), and arranged for the event at another location. The town then organized a separate and second event without notice to the Veterans Council, according to Dulchinos. The Barrington Times reported:
For years, members of the Barrington United Veterans Council have played a key role in planning the Memorial Day Parade in Barrington.
And before the town council pulled the plug on this year’s event, UVC members were already moving away from organizing the 2021 parade. The local veterans have been locked in a months-long battle with the town council regarding flags flown on the town hall flagpole above the Veterans Memorial outside Barrington Town Hall.
The UVC has asked town officials to refrain from flying political banners on the flagpole; the council has supported flying the Pride flag and the Black Lives Matter flag on the town hall flag pole.
Later, the veterans group requested permission to relocate the memorial to a new space away from the flagpole. Both requests have been denied by town officials.
Paul Dulchinos, a Barrington resident and president of the Barrington UVC, said his group has been very disappointed with the way it has been treated this year.
“It’s a very emotional issue,” Mr. Dulchinos said. “To not meet us half-way. To not compromise. Sometimes groups can come together … you have at least half the community in support (of the veterans)…”
Mr. Dulchinos said the Barrington Town Council’s decision to cancel this year’s Memorial Day Parade offered them an easy excuse from “having to deal with the 600-pound gorilla in the room.” He said the town council wanted to avoid a difficult conversation with the UVC, adding that “they have pretty much burned the bridge” with veterans.
Mr. Dulchinos said that turnout for regular Barrington UVC meetings has doubled since the beginning of the dispute with members of the town council.
“The council was very disappointed in the way we were treated this year,” Mr. Dulchinos said, adding that the group will hold a Memorial Day ceremony at Victory Gate at Barrington High School.
The 2021 Veterans Council Memorial Day video is here.
2022 – Veterans Council Files Permit For And Organizes Parade, Until Halted By Town Council
In early February, 2022, the Veterans Council submitted parade permit paperwork to the Town for the 2022 parade, as it had for almost seven decades prior to the pandemic.
Dear Barrington Memorial Day Parade Applicants and Points of Contact,
Thank You for having participated in our Town Memorial Day Activities in the past. We are excited to announce the reconvening of this historical event after our brief 2-year COVID-19 hiatus.
Attached is the Barrington Memorial Day Parade 2022 Registration Package. If you have passed your parade organizational duties on to another individual, please forward this email to the new parade coordinator and inform us who will be your organization’s new Point of Contact.
Please complete the “Barrington Memorial Day Parade Entry” form and the “Applicant’s Compliance Certification” section on behalf of your organization and return a scanned signed copy to me via email.
You may also drop off a signed hard copy at the Barrington Town Clerk’s Office, if you prefer.
For those of you that may be new to our event, I have also attached a map of the standard parade route. As in previous years, we will line up at Barrington High School at 8:00 AM and participate in a brief wreath laying ceremony at Memorial Gate at 8:30 AM before the parade commences on Monday morning (30 MAY 2022).
If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
Look forward to seeing you all on Memorial Day –
Dr. Paul Dulchinos
President, Barrington United Veterans Council
Dulchinos tells me that he had no word from the town that the Veterans Council role would be changed prior to a March 7, 2022, Town Council meeting.
In preparation for that meeting, in a Town Manager’s Memorandum that was dated March 7, but appears it may have been drafted in part on March 2, notice was given that the parade would be on the agenda. No mention is made of replacing the Veterans Council, and it is clearly acknowledged that the group had filed for a permit, which was placed on hold by the town, with the issue being added to the council agenda by Carroll (underscoring added):
AGENDA ITEM #20: Discuss and Act on Memorial Day Parade
TM Comment: This has been placed on the agenda at the request of President Carroll. The Town has received a RIDOT Parade/Event Permit application for the May 30th parade from the Barrington United Veterans Council, which has organized past Memorial Day parades. In early February the UVC sent out an email announcing the parade. However, the permit paperwork, which would be sent on behalf of the UVC and the Town Council and requires Town approval, has been put on hold pending the outcome of the Town Council’s discussion. The parade has not been held the past two years. Past practice is for the Council to approve the parade as a Consent Agenda item.
Motion: No motion provided.
March 7 – Town Council Votes To Strip Veterans Council and Dulchinos of Parade Oversight
At the March 7, 2022, Town Council meeting, Carroll indicated that he had the prior agreement of Douglas to serve as Master of Ceremonies, and had already instructed the Town Manager to organize the event, and he sought Town Council approval. The entire meeting video is here (discussion of the parade starts at 1:50:45).
The video excerpt of the parade segment of the meeting is below, and the full transcript of that discussion is here. Here are the pertinent comments by Carroll and objections by Dulchinos (underscoring added):
Michael Carroll, President, Town Council
Moving on to the next item on our agenda, that is to discuss and act on the Memorial Day parade. Sadly, the Memorial Day parade has fallen victim to our COVID pandemic. And we haven’t had a chance to do this in the past couple of years. And I’m hopeful that we are turning around and turning that corner. We could still face some variant that comes up and changes things, but I’d like for us to be preparing to hold the Memorial Day parade, so that we can celebrate, as a community, hopefully the end of this pandemic. And that’s been traditionally the beginning of summer, the solemn day that we honor those who’ve fallen for our country, but also a day to celebrate the beginning of summer.
What I’m going to be asking the council is to direct our town manager to start taking steps to prepare for those things, prepare for the parade. And I’ve also reached out already to Scott Douglas, a commander in the Navy, and a resident, and he’s agreed to be our master of ceremonies for the couple of ceremonies that we can hold. All I’m asking for from the council tonight is to direct our town manager to begin that process and take steps necessary to hold the parade, hold those ceremonies, so that we can hopefully celebrate the end of this pandemic and move on….
* * *
Paul Dulchinos, President, Town of Barrington United Veterans Council:
Yeah, the Barrington United Veterans Council was prepared to execute Memorial Day activities as we have for the last 68 years, since our founding in 1954, excluding the two years of COVID, having postponed it. I’ve already sent out an invitation on the 8th of February to all the past participants to let them know of our intent. I’ve already turned in an RI.parade request to the clerk’s office in the second week of February. And I’ve already requested four military units and have heard from 10 participating groups that have already RSVP’d to participate. In addition, we’re in communication with two potential keynote speakers. I appreciate if Mr. Douglas is interested in supporting us that he attend our meetings and join our organization, which he is welcome to do. Our intent was to do it as we’ve always done. Assemble at Victory Gate at eight in the morning, do a wreath laying at 8:30, step off at 9:00 AM, reach the town hall at 10:45, and commence patriotic activities afterwards from 11 to 12.
So, I guess I find it a little bit strange that suddenly this town council appears like you’re trying to sidestep our support and our leadership in this particular endeavor. And I guess I need to know whether we need to cease and desist and back off, but we’ve already taken the lead on this action like we’ve had from all previous years. If the town council does not want us to run this event, then maybe you need to hold a vote and and strip us of this responsibility.
Michael Carroll, President, Town Council
Well, we will be holding a vote. Paul, thank you. And I certainly don’t think that we are asking to remove responsibility from the United Veterans Coalition or Council, whichever committee that is. This would really just be run by our town manager to make sure that it’s coordinated….
The formal motion was made by council member Annelise Conway:
I make a motion that the town council direct the town manager to begin planning and take all steps necessary to effectuate the Memorial Day festivities, including the ceremony at Victory Gate, the parade, and the ceremony following. And I don’t know if I need to make two motions, but I would then also [motion] that the council would appoint Commander Scott Douglas as the master of ceremonies for all ceremonies.
Veterans Council: Retaliation
In an email to Veterans Council members shortly after the Town Council vote, Dulchinos wrote (emphasis added):
The Barrington Town Council tonight voted to strip the Barrington United Veterans Council from running its annual Memorial Day Parade this year. The BUVC has been running the parade in Barrington since its formation in 1954 – rain or shine to honor those men of its ranks that made the ultimate sacrifice. This appears to be retribution for the BUVC having previously taken a stance against flying a BLM flag over its Veterans Memorial. The Town Council has now decided to politicize this solemn event which they characterized as “kicking off the Summer Season”. They passed a motion instructing the Town Manager to run the parade and then specified that their own hand picked Master of Ceremonies be placed in charge. Whose wife happens to be a local School Committee Member of their same political party. Although he is a Veteran, he has never been a member of our organization nor has he ever participated in any of our previous activities. This was a slap in the face for all those who have faithfully served this community from our organization over the last 68 years.
This move was an insult to the BUVC and further exposes that the Barrington Town Council desires to continue its War on our Veteran Community. This is a very dark day in the history of Barrington.
Thank You for all your past support –
Barrington United Veterans Council and Coalition President
The ouster for the Veterans Council from its seven-decade long role has made local headlines, The Barrington Times reported:
The Barrington United Veterans Council has organized the Memorial Day parade in Barrington for nearly 70 years.
But not any more.
On Monday night, March 7, members of the Barrington Town Council stripped the Barrington UVC of its role as parade organizer and instructed the town manager to handle that task.
The council also assigned parade master of ceremonies duties to Scott Douglas, a Barrington resident and veteran. Mr. Douglas is the husband of Barrington School Committee member Megan Douglas.
Paul Dulchinos, the president of the Barrington United Veterans Council, sent an email to his organization’s members last night following the council’s vote.
He wrote that the council’s move appeared to be retribution for the group’s stance against the town flying the Black Lives Matter flag over the veterans memorial outside the town hall….
Barrington Town Council Vice President Rob Humm said there is nothing stopping the town manager, Phil Hervey, from working with the Barrington United Veterans Council on the parade.
The Providence Journal further reported (emphasis added):
The United Veterans Council, whose members say the group was formed in 1954 to plan such commemorations, says the town has stripped them of that honor over their objections to a Black Lives Matter flag being flown near the town’s veterans memorial.
The town says last year the veterans council indicated that it would not participate in the Memorial Day parade — and says it has morphed into a veterans “coalition” engaged in political advocacy.
“Given the lack of response last year and the emergence of a new, different veterans group,” the Town Council voted unanimously Monday to have Town Manager Philip Hervey organize a parade and ceremonies for Memorial Day, Town Council President Michael Carroll said in a statement. “This year, we look forward to continuing to honor those who have died in service to our country in a respectful, apolitical way.”
Carroll said that, in addition to appointing Hervey to organize the event, the Town Council also selected a Naval Reserve officer,
Commander Frank “Scott” Douglas, who teaches at the Naval War College to serve as master of ceremonies.
“Our manager is forming a parade committee and will be inviting interested members of the community, including local veterans, to be part of that committee,” Carroll said.
Local TV news has covered it as well, including on WPRI 12:
Dulchinos said that was shocking, because part of the reason his organization exists is to plan events honoring the town’s veterans, including the parade.
“I’ve been personally organizing and running the parade for the last seven years, and I’ve been involved with the veterans group for the last nine years,” he said. “The last seven years, we’ve worked autonomously.”
The organization has been running the parade since 1954, and Dulchinos said he doesn’t understand the sudden change in plans.
Neither do some of the group’s members.
“We believe that Memorial Day is a solemn holiday and it’s to honor those who gave the last full measure, they gave their life for this country,” member Frank Santoro said. “I have a son who is a Marine. He’s deployed over in Europe right now … This is important.”
Santoro said their concern is that, if the event isn’t run by veterans, it won’t be done in a respectful or appropriate manner.
Some of those worries were made clear to the Barrington Town Council meeting on Monday night.
“I certainly don’t think that we are asking to remove responsibility from the United Veterans Council, this would really just be run by our town manager to make sure that it’s coordinated,” Carroll explained.
The veterans tell 12 News they plan on running their own events on Memorial Day to pay respects to the local men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
WJAR 10 also covered it (emphasis added):
“The whole thing has kind of left a bad taste for many of veterans, they’re really disappointed,” said UVC president Paul Dulchinos. “I can’t explain it any other way.”
Dulchinos told NBC 10 News he was the parade’s master of ceremonies for the last seven years. On Monday, the council decided the Barrington town manager will orchestrate this year’s event. A veteran not associated with the UVC was selected as the parade’s new Master of Ceremonies.
“I think I’m just disappointed that they had the lack of trust that we would do the right thing,” Dulchinos said.
He called the town council’s decision “retribution” for when his group opposed a Black Lives Matter flag flying above the veteran’s memorial located outside of Town Hall.
“We were vocal about that,” he said. “We were against political partisan flags being flown underneath the U.S. flag in violation of the flag code. And, being over veterans’ memorial, we thought that was inappropriate.”
NBC 10 reached out to town council president Michael Carroll and vice president Bob Humm, who both declined on-camera interviews, but provided statements.
Humm’s statement read in part: “Memorial Day in Barrington has always been a partnership between the Town and our veterans. Unless the Barrington United Veterans Coalition is unwilling to work with the Town, it will be a partnership this year too.”
Carroll’s statement said the town manager now in charge of the parade has invited UVC members to join its parade committee.
Town Council Response [updated]
I reached out for comment to each of the Town Council members and to Douglas, but as of this writing only Jacob Brier and Rob Humm responded.
Brier responded as follows (my numbered questions followed by his answers)(emphasis added):
1. Why was the decision made to replace the Barrington United Veterans Council as the organizer of the parade?
I do not know the reason why President Carroll proposed that the Town maintain the lead in planning. However, in 2021, Paul Dulchinos, on behalf of his organizations, refused to work with the town, and without notice, planned a separate Memorial Day ceremony. This year, I supported the motion to direct the Manager to ensure the event happens because I believe the town is well suited to ensure an appropriate observance is planned, with veterans of any and all affiliations, that can be welcoming to all of Barrington and its neighbors.
Paul, and the BUVC, are invited to organize this year’s parade, with the town. If they aren’t involved, it’s because they continue to chose to separate themselves from Barrington.
2. Did you ever reach out to or have communications with Paul Dulchinos or anyone else from Barrington United Veterans Council about the 2022 parade prior to the March 7, 2022, Town Council meeting, and if so, when and what was the substance of the communications?
Over the past year and a half, I’ve had a few conversations/email exchanges with Paul on a variety of related topics. On multiple occasions I have requested to meet with him, directly and through respected third-parties, to discuss resolutions to his continued lobbying against the town. He has never accept an offer.
3. Paul Dulchinos wrote to the United Veterans Council membership that “This appears to be retribution for the BUVC having previously taken a stance against flying a BLM flag over its Veterans Memorial.” What is your response to that?
His assumption is wrong; my vote was not retribution.
4. If there is anything else you would like to say about this, please feel free to add it.
https://jacobbrier.com/20220307-memorial-day [waj – archived link here]
Humm responded to the same set of questions as follows:
Thank you for your email. Here is my statement that I have sent to any news outlet that has reached out to me:
Memorial Day in Barrington has always been a partnership between the Town and our veterans. Unless the Barrington United Veterans Coalition is unwilling to work with the Town, it will be a partnership this year too. Phil Hervey, as the Town Manager, is in charge of running the Memorial Day event for the Town and is putting together a committee to organize the events of the day to honor our fallen veterans. Mr. Hervey is inviting the chair of the Coalition to be an integral member of the committee, to bring the knowledge and expertise of the Coalition’s members to help run this important event. We encourage and hope all members of the Coalition, and all veterans in town, participate in the event and play a role in making this a special Memorial Day after a two-year hiatus from the parade.
UPDATE 3-14-2022 – I received a response this morning from Town Council Board member Carl Kustell:
I have been on vacation with my wife and kids in Florida the last two days and will be back by midweek. I’ll be able to respond further at a later time if that would be helpful.
This will be the first normal Memorial Day since I was elected to the Council. I expected the item to be fairly routine and I had not spoken to my colleagues about it in preparing for the TC meeting.
At the Council meeting. I did not interpret the language of the motion made as “stripping” the BUVC of anything. I expected that the TM’s office would work with the BUVC, along with relevant departments (Parks & Rec, Police, DPW, Fire). That would normally be the case with any parade or major public event on local streets and it made sense that the TM would be directed to go forward given that the pandemic had changed the nature of sone public events and had suspended others over the past two years.
Given the reaction of BUVC Chair Paul Dulchinos, I reached out to him the next day to see if I was missing any context or history. He responded with an excellent summary of both.
I think Col Dulchinos and I are now on the same page and both of us are working to remedy the situation. I am somewhat limited by the OMA [waj – Open Meetings Act] from brokering an agreement with my colleagues outside of a TC meeting, which is frustrating.
Whether an arrangement is reached or not this year, I will work to restore BUVC to its pre-pandemic role going forward.
UPDATE NO. 2 3-14-2022 – At 6:29 p.m. I received a response from Town Council President Michael Carroll with his explanation linking the decision to the Veterans Council’s alleged expression of displeasure over the BLM flag issue at a 2020 Veterans Day event (which was soon after the BLM flag controversy erupted). That’s interesting because the Town Council led by Carroll divided the town by flying the BLM flag over the Veterans Memorial. The explanation is significant because it provides a link from Carroll’s actions to the BLM flag views of Dulchinos and the Veterans Council. One has to wonder if Dulchinos or the Veterans Council held a BLM flag at the event if it would have been stripped of its role considering the BLM flag was flying at the time on the town flagpole above the Veterans Memorial before and after Veterans Day (it apparently was taken down for one day). It’s also interesting because none of what follows was given by Carroll or anyone else as the explanation at the March 7, 2022 Town Council meeting:
I was not able to make your deadline yesterday, but I can provide the following comment:
The council’s unanimous decision to entrust the Town Manager with organizing this year’s parade and ceremonies is not related to Mr. Dulchinos’ opposition to Black Lives Matter. Rather, it reflects our desire for broader community participation in this important event, as well as well as consideration of Mr. Dulchinos’ decision not to participate in the 2021 Memorial Day events. I also have concerns about the judgement he’s displayed surrounding previous events. For instance, at a 2020 Veteran’s Day ceremony, his group placed signs about their opposition to Black Lives Matter in front of Victory Gate at the High School. While this may be their right under the First Amendment, it raised questions on our part about his judgement, and willingness to observe Memorial Day in an appropriately solemn, respectful and apolitical way.
Are The Viewpoint-Neutral Explanations Tenable?
As reflected above, some Town Council members, in statements to media, have asserted purportedly neutral bases for its decision to remove the Veterans Council and Dulchinos.
Those viewpoint-neutral claims are, among other things, that the Veterans Council expressed an interest in not participating, and there was a “new, different veterans group” that necessitated the Town Manager coordinating the parade. None of those hold up to simple scrutiny because the documentary evidence shows the Veterans Council applying for a permit in February before the Town Council took any action, and sending invitations and other organizing activity, which contradicts the claim of lack of interest or need for coordination. Additionally, the supposedly “new, different veterans group” is misleading. The Veterans Council remained unchanged as the town-recognized veterans group. A second group, the United Veterans Coalition was formed around the flag controversy as an advocacy group, but in no way supplanted the official Veterans Council according to Dulchinos. It was the Council, not the Coalition, that had a 68-year history of organizing the parade and it was the Council not the Coalition that applied for the permit.
No one, that I’ve seen, has offered an explanation as to why it was necessary to replace BLM flag opponent Dulchinos with BLM flag supporter Douglas. Maybe there is a reason unrelated to the BLM flag issue, but I haven’t seen it. The agreement to replace Dulchinos as Master of Ceremonies even before the Town Council meeting seems to contradict the claim of no intent to sideline Dulchinos.
This all reeks of viewpoint discrimination. Whether there is such a claim, and whether it could be prosecuted successfully, remains to be seen, but asserting untenable viewpoint-neutral reasons against the backdrop of a viewpoint dispute regarding the BLM flag may not help the town.
There also is a non-legal, political and culture side to the dispute, and that will continue to drive the headlines no matter what.
[Featured Image: Barrington Memorial Day Parade 2015, via YouTube]DONATE
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