We must protect
our children

Editor of the Reformer:

Your editorial on the importance of child immunization, and the role schools can play, is very timely and much appreciated.

On May 30 the New York Times reported "Largely because of resistance to vaccination, cases of measles have reached a 20-year high in the United States, federal health officials said on Thursday. As of May 23, there were 288 confirmed cases in the United States -- more than in all of 2013, and more than in the equivalent period of any year since 1994. The number is expected to increase during the summer travel season."

All parents with children in school, and anyone concerned about controlling measles and other diseases, should contact their state representative and senator to ask for their action on this. A bill that was enacted in 2012 allowed for parental exemptions. That law is inadequate to protect our children.

Tom Murray,

Brattleboro, June 6

The will of the people
not represented

Editor of the Reformer:

For that last few years, town government has voted too often against the people. In 2010 there was a referendum on pay-as-you-throw trash collection. The police-fire project and the parking garage were approved during Representative Town Meeting after being rejected by the people. In April, the people rejected the 2015 budget by referendum because of high taxes and the police-fire project, and on Monday, June 2, the Selectboard and the Representative Town Meeting adopted it. (Well, the budget had been approximately $16 million and now it’s almost $16 million.) After the budget referendum Selectboard Chairman David Gartenstein admitted that the referendum was largely about the police-fire project, but at recent hearings and at the Representative Town Meeting on Monday the board threatened that anyone discussing the police-fire project would be declared out-of-order. There were votes and revotes until town government got what it wanted. You’d think if people want the police-fire project in the budget, they would have passed a resolution about it. They can’t. In 2011 the Representative Town Meeting adopted charter amendments that made it illegal for the people to make resolutions except in March. Representative Town Meeting to people: be quiet. Town government is not listening to the people.

Of course there is room for disagreement about the budget at Representative Town Meeting, but the reasons do not address the people’s concerns: "We’ve worked hard," "Let’s put this behind us." The reps want to feel united. So, there will be no referendum from them. Sure enough, the budget is a million dollars higher than the 2014 budget, which was already too high. And there is no end of bad news about the police-fire project: it includes $184,500 of new furniture. The people will start the referendum, but it’s not just about the money. The spirit of democracy is endangered in my hometown of Brattleboro.

Kurt Daims,

Brattleboro, June 6

Elected officials
need to listen

Editor of the Reformer:

Once again we read in an article ("Brattleboro Selectboard inches police-fire project forward," June 5) a comment by Selectman John Allen that the referendum vote against the original budget only represented a small number of Brattleboro residents, apparently implying that it therefore need not be taken seriously. He is not the first, and probably not the last, politician to make such a comment. Other members of the Selectboard have said as much before. It is offensive at best, a threat to democracy at worst. Yes, it is true that only some 10 percent of the registered voters voted against the budget, but that was almost twice as many as voted for it. If the vote had gone the other way, would Mr. Allen be telling us that only 10 percent of the registered voters voted in favor of the budget, therefore we should proceed slowly? I suspect not.

Many continually decry the low turnout of voters, especially on the March town votes. Comments such as Mr. Allen’s only serve to decrease that turnout. If our elected representatives are going to do whatever they like, regardless of a democratic referendum, because of low turnout, why bother to vote at all? Comments by Mr. Allen and others are counterproductive to increasing citizen involvement in local issues. ("Others" includes a Reformer editorial singing the same song a few weeks ago.) As I cannot remember when there was last a significant voter turnout for local elections, I can only wonder, just what percent of the voters actually elected Mr. Allen? Just what percent of the voters elected each of our other elected officials? Selectboard? Town School Board? Town Constable? And whatever else? What percent of the voters actually elect Town Meeting Representatives? Five people running for 15 seats? The percent in each case is low, but, for those who do show up to vote, the vote should be taken seriously. Otherwise, the voter turnout may well decrease and the influence of those in office may well increase. No. Power to the people. Our elected representatives should listen to us.

Ken McCaffrey,

Brattleboro, June 5

Always wear a helmet

Editor of the Reformer:

Today while watching the "Strolling of the Heifer’s" parade with my family, we noticed that the majority of the horseback riders were riding without helmets. This is dangerous for even an experienced rider.

It should be mandatory for participants riding any equine during the parade and other Strolling of the Heifers’ events to wear ASTM-SEI approved English or Western helmets. Riders can choose not to wear helmets when on their own but this is a public event and you should want them to be setting a good example for the many children, adolescents, and parents attending the parade.

Riding without helmets causes a great risk. Even if people think their horse is docile and completely safe to ride, accidents can still happen. A bee sting, tractor back firing or even a child yelling can cause an animal to buck, rear or spook and result in a rider falling off their horse. All horseback riders know there’s a risk involved with this sport but the simple act of wearing a helmet can protect against permanent damage or even death.

I would hope in the future this piece of equipment will become a requirement. For more information, visit www.riders4helmets.com.

Wendy Creager,

Brattleboro, June 7

Think about it ...

Editor of the Reformer:

While driving in Brattleboro in Veterans Day, I noticed that almost every store was open for business, including the two supermarkets. All, that is, expect Aldi’s, and they are from Germany. How strange. Or is "sad" a better word?

Robert Riccio,

Brattleboro, June 6