Can All Three Barnstable County Commissioners Have a “Brain Burp” at the Same Time?

by Lonnie Brennan

There’s an old saying that you shouldn’t piss on my back then try to tell me it’s rainwater. Vulgar, yes, but you get the point; On Saturday, January 30, 2021, Barnstable County Commissioner Ronald Bergstrom (Chatham) apparently did just that.

Bergstrom, who serves as chair of the all-Democrat three-member Barnstable County Commissioners broke his silence on Saturday, telling radio listeners that he had been working too hard, was under some stress, and had a brain burp when three-days prior, he mistakenly told taxpayers that a letter the board had placed on their agenda and posted online was about “the environment,” and a “shooting range.” It was not.

In fact, the letter was a call-to-arms by a 42-year resident of the Cape, Steve Lipman, petitioning the commissioners to create a forum in which police officials, the district attorney, and the sheriff could be questioned about their allegiance and leanings as regards President Donald J. Trump.

“With the overtness in support of Donald Trump, by the DA and the Sheriff, and the broad support in general by the police of his candidacy, what do we really know in terms of the sentiments of those that hold positions, and not knowing creates mistrust,” Lipman wrote. “Seditious beliefs that the election was stolen cannot be reinforced by those in power and law enforcement attitudes are something that each of us must trust.”

Lipman called for the screening. (What would people do after the law enforcement officials were screened?)

In essence, if a police officer believed that the presidential election was not won by Biden (if they in any way questioned the approximate 45,000 key votes that turned several key states and threw the election to Biden) perhaps they were seditious? Perhaps they should be exposed for their beliefs, or worse, perhaps removed from their jobs? And that’s just a portion of the 1,500+ word “manifesto.”

One commissioner, vice-chair Sheila Lyons (Wellfleet), at the prior meeting had told the board that it was a “very good” letter, written by a 42-year resident. Lyons praised the letter and asked to have it placed on the agenda for the Jan. 27th meeting. She also requested that it be forwarded to the Assembly of Delegates, the legislative branch of Barnstable County government.

Apparently neither Lyons nor Bergstrom expected any blowback. But blowback came their way when the day prior to the commissioner’s meeting, noted WXTK talk show host Ed Lambert attempted to get an answer from the board about their posted letter. The commission clammed up tight, so Lambert shared the content of the publicly-posted letter with his audience.

But it didn’t end there.

The commissioner’s unusual posting of the letter, and then stonewalling also brought it to the attention of listeners beyond the vast audience through Lambert’s WXTK’s online streaming, as well as received extensive coverage by Jeff Kuhner at Boston’s WRKO station. Kuhner’s show boasts one of the largest listener bases around, with routine callers both nationally and internationally.

Instead of taking up the issue of the posted letter at their meeting, Bergstrom said the letter was about something else. And, while Bergstrom was having his “brain burp,” either through complicity (and violation of the Open Meeting Law), or incompetence, his fellow commissioners, Sheila Lyons and Mark Forest (Yarmouth), stayed silent. They said nothing.

Bergstrom introduced the letter following opening the meeting from (apparently) his bedroom (it was an online meeting), just after the Pledge of Allegiance, and a Moment of Silence, and just before approving minutes from the prior meeting.

Let’s repeat this to make it clear: when you watch the video, Bergstrom as chair spend a bit of time talking about a letter, a fictitious letter about the environment and a firing range. You can see on the video Lyons opens her mouth as if to say something, then closes it, pulls back, and the meeting moves on. They skip over THE agenda item, THE letter Lyons asked to be placed on the agenda. Her agenda item. And she either pretends it’s about something else, or else she’s too incompetent to know it’s her agenda item? And NONE of the commissioners corrected the record at any time during the meeting?

The question is, if Bergstrom, Lyons, and Forester, the three-stooges as some are now calling them, can either together lock-in-step lie to the taxpayers, or can together lock-in-step have a brain-burp, what else can they lie or burp about?

“I don’t know about you,” Lambert told listeners during his popular morning show, “but I am telling you this letter from a guy that I know, Steve Lipman, is the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever read in my life.”

Perhaps the most unbelievable thing is that the Barnstable County Commissioners can be so duplicitous, or incompetent.

Bergstrom made his comments (brain burp) to former Barnstable County Commissioner Leo Cokounes on Leo’s Saturday radio show, along with host Steve Dane.  Perhaps expecting a friendly airing with a former commissioner, Bergstrom was not disappointed. Callers, however, saw right through the b.s., and attempted to edge Cokounes back to reality.

The show also featured a strange conversation with the letter writer, Steve Lipman, who soft peddled and back-peddled throughout his time on the air, and the two hosts sweetly praised him for talking to them, opening dialogue. They filled the show with pablum, and barely addressed the letter, explaining that each had to read it many, many times, to realize what it said. Again, we’ve posted the letter online, as has Ed Lambert. A sixth grader might have a bit of difficulty traversing the letter, but a high school student, or a college student, we’re betting they could understand it just fine.

For his part, Lipman shared with readers that he’s not only anti-Trump, but very concerned, perhaps scared, of anyone who is a Trump supporter having a position in law enforcement. Nothing he said on the radio show explained that away, rather, he danced around the main issues of his letter, and received soft-ball questions, with the exception of Cokounes saying he disagreed with infringing on a person’s First Amendment rights of free speech. Lipman had questioned the nature of allowing opposing expressions. In a sophomoric exchange, the hosts and Lipman argued over shouting fire in a crowded room, totally sidestepping the requested Trump-supporter inquiry request.

So, the Commissioners spent Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, ducking WXTK talk host Ed Lambert, as well as other media, then the chair laughs and assures everyone that he was just, ah, you know, busy, stressed, ah, couldn’t read the paper in front of him, didn’t see the attached letter, ah, says he had a “brain burp” and his fellow members burp along with him (most likely hoping the issue will just go away, go away, go away, without more exposure by Lambert).

Let’s hope that next cycle, voters let them all know what they think about this collective brain burp.

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