Editor of the Reformer:
In my opinion, the general concept of citizenship and democracy is to elect people to make decisions and establish the rules of the game. Otherwise, we’ll sit locked in a stagnant, conflicted state. Without leaders deciding to protect the environment, protect civil rights, build infrastructure and create safety nets, we as citizens would wallow in petty fiefdoms bickering and fighting over the issues. As citizens of a democracy, we choose live by the decisions of our elected bodies, whether we agree with them or not. That is our social contract.
In Brattleboro we elect a Selectboard to make informed decisions about issues like waste hauling, a new parking garage, fire station repairs and a new sewage treatment plant. To readdress issues after orderly decisions have been made has been very costly to the town and very destructive to the community fabric. I assert that those who chose not to live by elected and appointed board decisions are breaking the social contract.
In the matter of the skatepark, the elected board made the decision to build a skatepark at the Crowell Lot based on the perceived community need for youth to have a place to skate. The Selectboard appointed a committee, BASIC, in 2010 with the specific charge of planning, designing and constructing a skatepark at the Crowell Lot. Each successive board has supported the mission.
Now the current Selectboard is considering reneging on previous boards’ commitments at the behest of vocal neighbors. Such a decision will continue a series of destructive precedents, where previous decisions are damaged or undone by vocal activists.
The continued debate after the completion of the parking garage led to a federal audit, incredible staff time wasted and severe impact to federal funds available to Brattleboro.
The town sold land at Morningside Cemetery, only to buy it back under vocal pressure from the neighbors opposing affordable housing on their street.
The re-hashing of the tortuous pay-as-you-throw decision and subsequent overturning of the ordinance under vocal pressure now seems like a ridiculous waste of time and money, especially since the state will now be mandating pay-as-you-throw.
There seem to be rumblings and discontent about the Police/Fire Renovations.
While a skatepark in the Crowell Lot is relative child’s play, please consider how undoing the effort will cost the town moving forward. The messages will be clear: Any project can be open for debate at any time. Volunteer efforts can be discarded at any time. Commitments from the Selectboard are nonbinding.
As we struggle to move forward from the recession, floods and fires, how do we want to be known? As a town that pulls projects apart or a town that pulls together?
Brattleboro, Oct. 2
Shutdown takes us
down the rabbit hole
Editor of the Reformer:
The House Republicans running this madhouse are trying to create the reality that they profess to be responding to.
They say "Obamacare is killing the economy." Their response? Kill the economy by denying thousands of wage earners a paycheck thereby removing millions of dollars from active use in the consumer markets, devastating tourism at national sites, increasing the ranks of the unemployed (and the ranks of those eligible for unemployment), and ensuring that the financial markets view the U.S. economy as vulnerable and unstable.
They say, "The Senate and the president are rejecting the democratic process." Their response? Reject the democratic process that resulted, after months of negotiations, in a law that was passed by a majority of duly elected members of both chambers of Congress; signed into law by a duly elected president and, after several years of active litigation, upheld by the Supreme Court.
They say "Obamacare is tantamount to fascism." Their response? Engage in a fascist action ("forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism; emphasizing an aggressive nationalism," see Random House Dictionary, 2013) by imposing on all of us the views of a small minority of legislators who lack the ability to increase their ranks at the polls or to sway their colleagues to their view through ordinary legislative processes.
They say, "Obamacare isn’t working." Their response? Despite the law not having yet taken effect and hence it not being possible to deem it a failure, they are trying to gut the individual mandate which is a critical part of what will make the law financially viable: The individual mandate is designed to get all of us (old, young, healthy, sick) into the risk pool, which spreads the risk across the population, thereby capping medical and insurance costs for everyone across all of our lifetimes. If the law fails to live up to expectations, there will be no shortage of people within and without Washington demanding change.
The problem is that they don’t even believe what they’re saying.
In July, Ted Cruz told Sean Hannity that the problem isn’t that they fear that the law won’t work and that people and the country will be harmed by it, but that it will work and that therefore the law will be too popular to repeal. Cruz also came straight out and told Hannity that he and his peers "do not have the votes to [repeal the law]. We don’t have the votes in the Senate, we don’t have the votes in the House, and to be honest, we’re not close right now."
Their decision to cause a government shutdown in order to force a "negotiation" to amend or repeal a constitutionally enacted, constitutional law is an aggressive, undemocratic ploy by a small group of small minded House Republicans who have realized that the only way to win is to burn the rule book to which they pay so much lip service.
And down the rabbit hole we go.
Halifax, Oct. 2