TRURO — The Truro Select Board had one topic on the agenda for its April 9 meeting: to discuss and respond to two articles in the April 2 edition of the Provincetown Independent.
In one article the newspaper reported that Truro had lagged behind other Outer Cape towns in making regulatory board meetings accessible to the public. The second was an opinion column by the editor, criticizing town officials for a March 27 message on the town website warning of “an influx of people fleeing urban centers” and advising such people to stay away.
The meeting concluded with the board voting to send a letter to the editor of the Independent, which was posted on the town website that same day. The letter said, “Resort communities nationwide are struggling with this same issue.” It also said, “The statement followed the governor’s guidance to avoid unnecessary travel.”
Editor Edward Miller of the Independent responded to the select board on April 9, explaining that the board’s letter was more than twice as long as the newspaper’s word limit for letters and offering to help craft a shorter response for publication. No one had responded to the offer by this week’s deadline.
At the board’s meeting, member Susan Areson proposed meeting with the editor to “clear the air here and see if there is something going on.”
Board Chair Jan Worthington, Vice Chair Robert Weinstein, and member Stephanie Rein dismissed Areson’s idea.
“We are dealing with, and I use the term loosely, a ‘local press,’ ” said Weinstein. “I don’t think it would be productive to meet with them.”
Areson said the newspaper was correct “in pointing out that we have lagged behind other communities” in providing access to meetings during the pandemic.
“I won’t even give [the Independent] credence for the fact that other towns are doing a better job,” said Weinstein. “I have no evidence of that.”
At the time, Provincetown, Wellfleet, and Eastham had all had directions for accessing and participating in meetings on their town websites for several weeks. The following week, a notice appeared on the Truro website announcing the live-streaming of Truro Select Board meetings beginning on April 14.