Prospect of in-person meetings sparks vaccine tiff

Former Chilmark Police Chief Tim Rich posed questions about vaccinations to Jim Malkin. -Rich Saltzberg

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Chilmark select board agreed to hold meetings in person. The board will meet in town hall starting July 6, with the stipulation the meeting will also be available to viewers remotely. The board agreed to the change Tuesday night without taking a vote. 

“I’ve noticed that West Tisbury has already started meeting in person, and I think a lot of other boards are going to be meeting in person,” select board member Warren Doty said, “and I think it’s time for us to do that also. So I would be glad to have our July meetings in person in the town hall.”

Select board member Bill Rossi agreed, though he suggested meetings go forward in hybrid fashion. 

Chair Jim Malkin supported a hybrid model, though he made it clear it was his wish for attendees to be vaccinated, and for there to be adequate distancing. 

Former Chilmark Police Chief Tim Rich took issue with Malkin’s stance on vaccinations, framing it more as a decree than a request. 

“I said I would be much more comfortable if people were vaccinated who were in the room, yes,” Malkin said.

“So is that going to be a requirement, or is that just your comfort level, personally?”

“I don’t know how legally to make it a requirement, Tim. So I guess that it’s my preference that people who attend are vaccinated,” Malkin said.

“It’s a recommendation, Tim,” Rossi said. 

Malkin went on to say the town cannot “legally force people to be vaccinated,” and that it was his opinion the select board shouldn’t “preclude people or do testing of people” relative to vaccination status.

“And you’re the chairman of the board, and you don’t think that carries any weight other than your personal opinion, by saying that?” Rich asked.

“It doesn’t carry any legal weight,” Malkin said. Malkin said he cannot inquire about vaccination status or require people who attend select board meetings to be vaccinated. 

Rich appeared unsatisfied with Malkin’s responses.

“So can you ask someone if they’re on birth control if they came in a meeting, or if they have AIDS?” Rich asked.

“I just said I can’t ask them if they’re vaccinated, so I’m certainly not going to ask them if they’re on birth control,” Malkin replied.

In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve road closures for the return of the Chilmark Road Race on August 14. The race was virtual for 2020. The vote also granted parking permission at the police station and at the Tabor House Road lot. 


  1. Comparing vaccinations to birth control or HIV is honestly insulting and shows a total lack of anything resembling common sense.

    • And that was after being told people couldn’t legally be asked about vaccination status or be required to be vaccinated in order to attend select board meetings. Those who carry on over their vaccine paranoia, pick fights, mishear statements of fact, simply cannot reason appropriately. What a ridiculous display from the former police chief.

  2. Former Chilmark Police Chief and Abject Moron Tim Rich

    His commentary as outlined here displays a frighteningly low level of intelligence. Glad he is no longer on the force.

  3. Tim Rich has been listening to too much right wing media.
    The convoluted logic of the right wing pundits is so far out of whack, that I think Mr. Rich could be somewhat concerned that his wife could become infertile if a woman who is taking some kind of birth control is in the same room with him.
    it is that crazy out there, folks—
    For you liberals who may think I am joking, I suggest you tune in to wxtk ( 95.1) and listen to the nut cases on there once in a while– also– please, step up and watch an episode of Tucker Carlson once in a while–
    I know too many liberals who are willfully ignorant about the dangers of the hate media.
    Please– I know it is painful, but ignoring the lies, the disinformation and the hate will not make it go away. We can not fight an enemy we do not know.

    • I think many of us know the enemy pretty well. As for myself, listening to or watching the ravings of disturbed right-wingers is not something I want to subject myself to any longer. My reservoir of outrage is pretty well drained after four years of Trump. The Reich wing media echo chamber is there to feed the insatiable need of their mentally impaired followers for grievance outrage, but moreover to destroy democracy any way way they can. There’s no mystery to any of this. We know what we have to do.

  4. He is not comparing but simply asking if medical inquiry of people is appropriate. It is not. We dont ask people about birth control or Aids and we shouldnt about vaccinations. Its no ones business unless one wants a totalitarian state.

    • Uh, ENGELMAN, pay attention. Rich was told, in English, that no one can be questioned regarding their vaccination status, nor can anyone be required to be vaccinated to attend select board meeting.

      • Children cannot attend school unless they’ve been vaccinated against a whole host of viruses — polio, measles, mumps, etc. Why can’t we require vaccination for this virus?

        • We can. It was established by the Supreme Court in 1905 in Jacobsen versus Massachusettes due to a small pox break out in Cambridge.

          • I don’t think anyone can be legally required to take a shot that has does not have full FDA approval.
            Biden has stated that the federal govt cannot legally require this. But he has kind of given free hand to businesses to make their own requirements.
            Not sure where this leaves local govt and schools, legally. Will probably be legally tested at some point in the near future.

    • Andrew– should we ask people who are applying to work in day care centers if they have ever been convicted, or for that matter, ever been accused of child molestation ?
      Lets make no mistake — UNVACCINATED PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. Responsible citizens should have a right to know who to avoid.

      • Unvaccinated people are in danger themselves. 99.2% of all covid deaths in the U.S. are now unvaccinated people. Why isn’t the religious right passionately advocating for everyone to get vaccinated?

    • We do require children to be vaccinated against measles, mumps, diptheria, tetanus and typhoid in order to attend school.

    • And it was already established before he asked his ridiculous and pointless question that a) vaccinations could not be legally required and b) no one would be asking if people are vaccinated. It was needless commentary meant to stir the pot.

  5. I’d say the remark by Rich was idiotic. Why those two countervailing examples. What was Rich implying? Although he is in no official position to be removed he fails the test of common human decency.

  6. Living in the USA 🇺🇸 allows us many freedoms that we can’t take for granted. Having said that, we need to accept the responsibilities too. Getting the vaccine makes you a responsible community member by protecting yourself, your family and community. By protecting your community against Covid and its connected strains, you are lessening the work load on our medical professionals and hospital resources which in
    turn lower the cost to all of us!….and by cost I mean missed work days, missed family visits (both for pleasure and necessity), and and income. It doesn’t matter how far “left” or “right” your political beliefs are …. just get the vaccine and be a responsible American!

  7. Consistency would require the anti-vaxers like Mr. Rich and Mr. Engelman, to defend the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy. After all, “its no one’s business unless one wants a totalitarian state.” Yet I would suspect that they would scream, NOT! They would likely insist that the rights of the “unborn Child” are paramount. This is a legitimate argument that surrounds the exercise of all Constitutional rights. In this case, in my opinion, the rights of the World’s population to be free of a disease that kills thousands and severely damages economies outweighs the rights of folks who have been deluded into believing that they have the right to ignore public safety and spread infection. Mr. Malkin was only exercising his first amendment rights in expressing his opinion on vaccines. In so doing, he was also raising an issue that effects all Constitutional freedoms. No freedom is absolute. All may be regulated in the interests of preventing harm a particular instance of their exercise might inflict on others. Hardly the slippery slope leading to totalitarianism. On the other hand, Mr. Rich, in trying to bully Mr. Malkin was challenging his first amendment right to free speech, a common tactic of the totalitarian.

  8. Mr Magid your post is an illogical juxtaposition. If you want to argue that the worlds population should be free of disease hence one needs to vaccinate then please be consistent and tell us that pregnancies should not be terminated due to the murder of an unborn. Yes some of us do scream ”NOT” as you say. Your problem Mr Magid is you choose to selectively determine what death is unacceptable and what death is not. Soft totalitarianism has already arrived in the USA in shutting down speech in universities and now in public forums. One can get fired for saying the wrong thing dont you know?

  9. I would hope that if you were having sex with someone, you would first discuss birth control, sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV risk/status) and the many other issues which surround consent. If you were donating, receiving blood, resuscitating a distressed individual, or cleaning up a blood spill, HIV risk and status are important parts of the discussion.
    We are in a respirator-transmitted viral pandemic where many lives have been lost, many long term consequences physically, mentally and socially will disrupt our neighbor’s lives. We know the risk of transmission is higher in enclosed spaces with contact >15 minutes. Why wouldn’t we ask or attendees volunteer their vaccine and COVID risk status? That’s being safe, kind, neighborly and thoughtful.

  10. What an absurd comment. How do either of these relate to being vaccinated against a pandemic. Honestly makes me question your ability to serve competently on this, or any other board.

  11. Memo to Katherine Scott: Biden did not “kind of give free hand to businesses to make their own requirements”. Our democracy did that. I do agree with the first 3 words of your comment, though.

  12. Don Keller,
    I have never responded to people’s comments about me, I make this first exception.
    You got a issue with me, that’s fine
    Leave my wife out of it, period!
    If you have a problem understand this, my phone numbers in the phone book.

    • You misunderstood Don’s comment. He used hyperbole for effect. It’s called figurative language. He is not speaking literally. No one thought he was actually speaking about your wife. Reread his comment with that understanding.

Comments are closed.