Magliozzi Boulevard: Dead End

I want to update my friends and neighbors on Arlington on the Town Meeting defeat of my proposal to create Magliozzi Boulevard in Arlington. Here’s my argument as presented in writing to Town Meeting:

An unnamed public way at this busy location is a risk to public safety.
Without a street name, reporting an accident or incident at this location is extremely challenging. Article 19 offers the opportunity to  this problem by naming this public way.

Uncle Sam (Samuel Wilson) was born in Arlington, but he left town as a very young child. He packed his pork in Troy, New York, but he has a big monument in Arlington Center.

Unlike Uncle Sam, who chose to live elsewhere, Tom and Ray Magliozzi are famous and beloved figures who chose to live in Arlington. They have brought joy to their neighbors and the nation with their Car Talk radio program. Article 19 offers the opportunity for Arlington to bring joy to Car Talk fans by renaming this busy little boulevard. GPS devices, which now direct people to turn at an unnamed street, will send people for short, happy trips on Magliozzi Boulevard.

Everyone I talked to thought this was a wonderful idea, and it was amazingly easy to get 10 signatures on the petition to place the article on the warrant for the 2022 Annual Town Meeting. I followed the procedural path to the Select Board, where they held a public hearing on March 7. Here’s the description of the hearing from the official meeting minutes:

Select Board minutes, March 7, 2022

Article Vote/Street Name-“Magliozzi Boulevard”
Mr. Schlichtman appeared before the Board and stated that the Town has an intersection and a stretch of roadway that has no identification. This public way is located between 49 Spring Street and Route 2 Frontage Road. Mr. Schlichtman is proposing that this stretch of roadway be designated at Magliozzi Boulevard. Mr. Schlichtman explained that the Magliozzi’s lived in Arlington and this would be a great way to honor them.
The Board thanked Mr. Schlichtman for his presentation and had some discussion. Mrs. Mahon and Mr. DeCourcey noted that naming a previously undesignated portion of a public way can likely be accomplished by the Select Board without a Town Meeting discussion, and preferred referral to the Town’s Public Memorial Committee. The remaining members of the Board are in favor of the proposed warrant article and the recognition of the national impact of the Magliozzi-hosted program.
Mr. Hurd moved favorable action.
A roll call vote was taken on the motion by Mr. Heim.
Mr. Hurd: yes
Mr. Diggins: yes
Mr. Helmuth: yes
Mrs. Mahon: no
Mr. DeCourcey: no

SO VOTED (3-2)

I worked with Deputy Town Counsel Michael C. Cunningham to write a proposed vote under the article.  Here is what was presented to the Select Board:

ARTICLE 19 VOTE/STREET NAME “MAGLIOZZI BOULEVARD”

VOTED: That the unnamed public way located between 49 Spring Street and Route 2 Frontage Road in Arlington, Massachusetts be designated as Magliozzi Boulevard. It is further voted that the Department of Public Works shall create and install on said road a sign that reads, “Magliozzi Boulevard” consistent with the designation. (3-2) Mrs. Mahon and Mr. DeCourcey voted in the negative.
COMMENT: The majority of the Board requests favorable action on this resident petition article to have the Town designate the unnamed public way that runs between 49 Spring Street and the Route 2 Frontage Road as “Magliozzi Boulevard,” in honor of the Magliozzi brothers, Tom and Ray, one of whom was a longtime Arlington resident. The Magliozzi brothers hosted the nationally broadcast automobile and auto repair radio talk show, “Car Talk” on NPR from approximately 1977 – 2012. The majority supported recognition of the national impact of the Magliozzi-hosted program as appropriate and celebratory. The minority of the Board noted that naming a previously undesignated portion of a public way can likely be accomplished by the Select Board without a Town Meeting discussion, and preferred referral to the Town’s Public Memorial Committee.

We were on our way. When I reviewed the proposed vote, I noted that Tom Magliozzi was a long-time resident of Jason Street, who parked his famous Dodge Dart in front of his house. Mr. Helmuth told me he would seek a revision in the language to make that correction.

Though on the agenda for previous meetings, the Select Board was busy with other warrant articles and the business of the town, and the final vote on the language for the report to Town Meeting was postponed to an unusual Wednesday evening meeting, March 30.

That Wednesday was also the night of a close friend’s birthday, so I couldn’t watch the meeting on Zoom, but these final votes were usually a formality in whin the language for the report was tweaked. Little did I expect a member of the Select Board would switch his vote, reversing a positive 3-2 recommendation to a 3-2 plea for no action. Here’s the minutes from March 30:

Select Board Minutes, March 30, 2022

Article 19 Vote/Street Name – “Magliozzi Boulevard”
Mr. Diggins explained that he would like the Public Memorials Committee to make recommendation back to the Select Board as has been past practice in similar circumstances. Mr. DeCourcey noted that the change in vote by Mr. Diggins changes the outcome of the recommendation to Town Meeting. Mr. Diggins moved to reconsider the vote for warrant article 19.
A roll call vote was taken on the motion by Mr. Heim.
Mr. Hurd: yes
Mr. Diggins: yes
Mr. Helmuth: yes
Mrs. Mahon: yes
Mr. DeCourcey: yes (SO VOTED 5-0)

Mr. Diggins moved no action for warrant article 19.
A roll call vote was taken on the motion by Mr. Heim.
Mr. Hurd: no
Mr. Diggins: yes
Mr. Helmuth: no
Mrs. Mahon: yes
Mr. DeCourcey: yes (SO VOTED 3-2)

I would have expected Mr. Diggins to offer the courtesy of a call, email, or text to indicate he was planning on switching his vote. Similarly, I would have expected some kind of notification that the vote had been reversed. I received none of that, and didn’t know the Select Board had reversed its vote until I saw the text of its final version of its recommendations to Town Meeting.

Let’s make note of the Select Board’s prevailing arguments:
1. This should go to the Public Memorial Committee.  Perhaps. The Select Board could have sent this to the committee at the time the article was submitted. Although the Select Board is charged with making annual appointments to the Public Memorial Committee, terms of members listed on the town’s website expired in 2016, 2017, and 2018. A search of the town website fails to provide any agendas or minutes for meetings dated after May 9, 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screenshot captured May 9, 2022.

2. The Select Board names streets, Town Meeting shouldn’t get involved. There is considerable precedent for Town Meeting naming streets. The most recent was a Town Meeting vote 10 years ago. Under Article 28 of the 2012 Annual Town Meeting, it was voted to standardize the spelling of Albermarle Street, Mt. Vernon Street, and Waverly Street. The article was submitted at the request of the Town Manager, and the Board of Selectmen unanimously recommended favorable action by Town Meeting. Albemarle Street was originally named by a vote in the 1916 Town Meeting, Mt. Vernon Street named by a vote of the 1929 Town Meeting, and Waverly Street was named by votes of the 1950 and 1957 Town Meeting. This article was necessary as different town-maintained lists had different spellings for these street names, and they needed to be consolidated for incorporation into the towns Geographic Information System (GIS).

And so, we went to Zoom Town Meeting. Here’s a pair of accounts of the action on May 23.

YourArlington.com
Article 19, Magliozzi Boulevard street naming fails

[Moderator Greg] Christiana explained that Article 19 originally was on the consent agenda, but was pulled off by Paul Schlichtman (9), who offered a substitute motion to name a public way between 49 Spring St. and Rt. 2 / Frontage Road as Magliozzi Boulevard.

The queue filled up quickly with 14 speakers, including Michael Ruderman (9), who paid tribute to Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the stars of the popular radio show “Car Talk.” He said that the brothers, known as “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” had lived in Arlington.

Midway through Ruderman’s soliloquy, Christiana interrupted to ask, “Is there anything relevant to Article 19 that members could not find off the Wikipedia page for “Car Talk?” Ruderman replied, “No,” before continuing to explain why the duo deserve the street-naming honor.

Schlichtman said that not having a name for the road was a public-safety problem. He also suggested that passing the article would “bring joy to the town, which is much needed after two years of a pandemic.”

An opposing voice was heard in lifelong resident and 30-year-plus meeting member Robert Jefferson (12), who endorsed the no-action recommendation of the “Board of Selectmen.” He said there is a process in place for memorial naming; “you go before the Board of Selectmen, they refer it to the public memorial committee and there’s a process from there. That’s what the Board of Selectmen recommend.”

“Select Board, Mr. Jefferson,” said Christiana.

“My correction,” replied Jefferson, saying that “being around that long, sometimes you make that mistake. I believe this is a worthy naming of that street, but that Town Meeting [shouldn’t] overstep its bounds,” a view echoed by the next speaker, Daniel Jalkut (6).

After 22 minutes and all-male speakers, debate was overwhelmingly terminated (90 percent). The substitute motion failed, 87-143, with two abstentions.

Christian’s Town Meeting Notes
Christian Klein

Article 19 was a proposal to name a short stretch of street in town after Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers.  We started the deliberation last week on the substitute motion presented by TMM Schlichtman to name the street “Magliozzi Boulevard”.  TMM Ruderman introduced the namesake duo and their role in history.  Their show ran for 35 years.  They were very personable, friendly, and very funny.  (The Moderator asked if there was any information being presented that couldn’t be found online.  “No” was the response.)  TMM Ruderman noted that the brothers both lived in Arlington, and since Tom has passed, and given the magnitude of their accomplishments, it is only appropriate that we name the shortest street a Boulevard in their name.

TMM Schlichtman raised a Point of Order, as he was in the process of introducing the substitute motion when the article was tabled.  He asked to be allowed to complete his presentation.  The Moderator apologized, and added him to the top of the speaker list.  TMM Schlichtman noted that it is important that the street has a name.  He addressed the initial comments from the Select Board.  Ten years ago, the Select Board came to Town Meeting to rename streets.  The recommendation to bring this to the public memorials committee is problematic, as the committee does not have a full compliment of members.  The meeting needs to act.

TMM Jefferson asked for a vote against the motion.  There is a process, which goes through the public memorials committee.  We need to follow the process.  It is possible the Select Board asked the meeting to endorse a change in name in the past.  He thinks this is a good naming, but we need to follow the process.  He asked what the proper pronunciation would be.  The Moderator noted it is an Italian name, but the pronunciation may have changed over time and become Americanized.  (The Car Talk website has is as Mawl-yaht-zee.)

TMM Jalkut noted that there could be a strong desire to adopt this article for sentimental reasons, but he does not think this is coming forward in the proper manner.  Doing this could limit the possibility of naming something else more substantial after them in the future.  The joke about the length of the street could be missed or misinterpreted by many people.  He thinks there could be a better memorial.

TMM Palmer moved to terminate debate.  The vote to do so passed 199-23.  The vote on the substitute motion failed 87-143 with two abstentions.  The final vote for no action passed 168-44 with no abstentions.

How did your Town Meeting Member vote? Here’s the tally from the night’s electronic voting (alphabetically, by precinct)

YES (87)
1 KEPKA, JOANNA ASIA
1 KING, MARIAN
1 REVILAK, STEPHEN
2 LOGAN, WILLIAM
3 ELLIS, JOHN
3 WILBUR, CHRISTOPHER
4 DOMINGUEZ, SILVIA
4 FISCHER, EZRA
4 KABA, NAWWAF
4 ZIMMER, ETHAN
5 BADIK, ADAM
5 HANLON, PATRICK
5 JEAN, PHEDJINA
5 PRESTON, JO ANNE
6 BLANDY, CHARLES
7 BARON, SHERI
7 BORGIA, LAURA
7 BORGIA, WILLIAM
7 HOLLAND, RODERICK
7 MALEK-ODOM, MARY
7 SLOTNICK, LAURENCE
8 BAATZ, ERIC
8 LEONE, JOHN
8 LOBEL, JOSHUA
8 PAGLIASOTTI, JANICE
8 PYLE, ELIZABETH
8 WORDEN, JOHN
8 WORDEN, PATRICIA
9 KAEPPLEIN, MARK
9 MANDAL, MONA
9 MELOFCHIK, BETH
9 RUDERMAN, A MICHAEL
9 SCHLICHTMAN, PAUL
9 TANAKA, RIEKO
10 DRAY, ELIZABETH
10 HOWARD, JANE
10 HOWARD, PETER
11 CULVERHOUSE, LYNETTE
11 FULLER, LAURA
11 MILLER, MATTHEW
11 PIERCE, JUDSON
11 SCHWARTZ, CARROLL
11 SCHWARTZ, PAULETTE
12 AMES, BENJAMIN
12 BERGMAN, ROBIN
12 BRAZILE, JULIANA
12 DIERINGER, LARRY
12 HELMUTH, ERIC
12 JAMIESON, GORDON
12 MURRAY, CAROLINE
13 ALLISON-AMPE, KIRSI
13 KERBLE, JOSEPH
13 MARA, NANCY
14 EVANS, WYNELLE
14 ROSENTHAL, MARK
15 BABIARZ, JOSEPHINE
15 CIANO, FRANK
15 FITZGERALD, ANN
15 FRIEDMAN, BETH
15 HEIGHAM, CHRISTOPHER
15 HEIGHAM, LEBA
15 MOZINA, ENGJELLUSHE
15 WAGNER, CARL
16 MCSWEENEY, JAMIE
17 BROWN, MICHAEL JACOBY
17 LEROYER, ANN
17 SLUTZKY, AMY
17 WEBBER, SUSAN
18 BLOOM, NANCY
18 GERSH, JON
18 HURD, JOHN
18 PARSONS, CAROLYN
18 WESCOTT, CHARLES
19 BROWN, MELANIE
19 CROWDER, ELAINE
19 SILVA, MARLENE
19 TREMBLY, EDWARD
19 ZUCKERMAN, INES
20 FULLER, PETER
20 MAY-KLUGHAUPT, MICHAELA
20 TOSI, ROBERT
21 BENEDIKT, ELIZABETH
21 DOCTROW, SUSAN
21 EHLERT, ANNE
21 WEBER, JANICE
21 WEINSTEIN, JORDAN
21 WHITE, DAVID

No (143)
1 BRODER, LEAH
1 DAVIS-CARDEN, REBECCA
1 DENNIS, GREGORY
1 HARTSHORNE, CHARLES
1 MARSHALL, PAUL
1 PERSSON, REBECCA
1 YOUNG, PETER
1 ZHU, EMILY
2 CHHABRA, SAMIT
2 CLARKE-LAUER, ANNE
2 DECOURCEY, STEPHEN
2 FIORE, PETER
2 GAST, PETER
2 HAYNER, BILL
2 LIM-MILLER, AIMEE
2 MCCABE, MARK
2 PALMER, MAXWELL
2 ROSSI, ROBERT
2 SULLIVAN, BRENDAN
3 AUSTER, ADAM
3 DIGGINS, LENARD
3 LITOWSKI, JENNIFER
3 MARLIN, ROBERT
3 MEEKS, AMOS
3 MEWADA, NANDANA
3 SMITH, STACIE
3 STAMPS, SUSAN
3 SUSSE, JENNIFER
3 URICK, COURTNEY
4 ATLAS, ALIA
4 GARBER, JUDITH
4 GIBSON, CHAD
4 KOWALCZUK, MARY
4 PHELAN, MICHELE
4 SAADAT, ALHAM
4 SULLIVAN, CAROLYN
5 BARR, JOSEPH
5 FARRELL, CATHERINE
5 KELLEHER, CHRISTA
5 KELLEHER, KAREN
5 MCMURRAY, BRIAN
5 RUDICK, BENJAMIN
5 SWANSON, DAVID
6 BALLIN, JAMES
6 COLLINS, MARA
6 FRANZOSA, ALEXANDER
6 HENKIN, ANNA
6 JALKUT, DANIEL
6 MACNEILL, ADAM
6 NOAH, CHRISTINE
6 TRACEY, LAURA
6 WAXMAN, LESLEY
7 AAMODT, ELLEN
7 BIONDI, JANE
7 DONNELLY, SUSAN
7 LEFEBVRE, MARC
7 STONE, BETTY
7 YOUNKIN, REBECCA
8 ARONOW, MARY ELLEN
8 BAND, CAROL
8 GROSSMAN, IRWIN
8 GROSSMAN, SHARON
8 WIENER, LAURA
9 BAGNALL, ALEXANDER
9 CARLTON-GYSAN, ELIZABETH
9 MANSFIELD, JENNIFER
10 BENSON, EUGENE
10 ELLIOTT, BETH
10 FOSKETT, CHARLES
10 GRUBER, REBECCA
10 KLEIN, CHRISTIAN
10 NEWTON, SANJAY
10 QUINN, MICHAEL
10 VAROGLU, MUSTAFA
11 ANDERSON, KRISTIN
11 BYRNE, MICHAEL
11 GOODSELL, IAN
11 MIRACCO, EDWARD
11 NATHAN, MICHELE
12 BIELEFELD, LISA
12 DITULLIO, JAMES
12 JEFFERSON, ROBERT
12 THIELMAN, JEFFREY
12 VAKIL, SANJAY
13 ATKINS, BARBARA
13 EXTON, ELIZABETH
13 GOOD, DAVID
13 GRUNKO, ZACHARY
13 LACOURT, ANNIE
13 POAGE, LEE
13 SANKALIA, PRIYA
14 CARR-JONES, ELISABETH
14 GALLAGHER, RICHARD
14 GOLDSTEIN, AMY
14 HAMLIN, GUILLERMO
14 JONES, ALAN
14 MAHER, JOHN
14 MAHON, DIANE
14 MOORE, CHRISTOPHER
14 O’DAY, BRENDAN
14 STERN, MICHAEL
15 BILAFER, MARY
15 CARNEY, CHRISTINE
15 DESMOND, MICHELE
15 SPEARE, AMY
16 GRAHAM, DEANNA
16 HARRELSON, WILLIAM
16 KOCH, KEVIN
16 LEWITON, MARVIN
16 MOSTAJO, SANDRA
16 SAUNDERS, ALYSSA
16 SOLOMON, JOSEPH
16 THORNTON, BARBARA
17 ARNOLD, JOSHUA
17 BERNSTEIN, HILA
17 GITELSON, LAURA
17 O’BRIEN, ELIZABETH
17 OLSZEWSKI, ANGELA
17 PRETZER, XAVID
17 RICHTER, GWENDOLYN
17 TOSTI, ALLAN
18 COOKE, HEATHER
18 FISHER, JAMIE
18 IRIZARRY, GILBERT
18 LEVY, DAVID
18 WHITE, BRIAN
19 CORBO-HUDAK, NEVA
19 DESHLER, CHRISTINE
19 JOHNSON, CLAIRE
19 MONKS, FLYNN
19 OWEN, MATTHEW
19 RYAN-VOLLMAR, SUSAN
20 CARMAN, DEAN
20 CONNORS, CURTIS
20 DUTRA, SAMANTHA
20 GORMLEY, MAUREEN
20 MCKINNON, SARAH
20 PENNARUN, KRISTIN
21 GOLDBERG, MAX
21 GRANUCCI, CARMINE
21 LEAHY, LORI
21 MARTIN, JASON
21 ROWELL, CHRISTOPHER

Abstain (2)
6 MCNINCH, GEORGE
18 CANNIFF, SHIRLEY

Not Voting (17)
1 MILLS, KEVIN
4 ROWE, CLARISSA
5 THOMPSON, PETER
6 SNYDER, JILL
9 FEROLA, ELIZABETH
10 COSTA, BARBARA
13 BISHOP, LYNN
13 KREPELKA, MARIE
16 BOYLE, LAUREN
16 BRODY, ANDREW
16 FRANCIS, MELANIE
18 GREELEY, KRISTIN
19 FLEURANT-HEURTELOU, DORALEE
20 MANN, NORA
20 MULDOON, PATRICIA
20 RADVILLE, KATHARINE
21 DUNN, DANIEL

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