Say no to 'Liberty Justice'
Editor of the Reformer:
Thursday, Jan. 14, at 5 p.m., the Rockingham Selectboard will meet to finalize the articles for the March Annual Town Meeting. That includes the Rockingham citizen-requested article to ask the question: "Shall the Voters of the Town of Rockingham allow placement of a detention center within the legal boundaries of Bellows Falls?" As there are forces fighting against this article and the request to exercise our democratic rights as tax-paying Vermont citizens, it would be in the best interests of Rockingham residents to attend this meeting in force to see the question safely placed on the ballot.
In addition, there are concerns with the use of the town attorney, as well as the village attorney, to require a legal opinion on the request prior to the Selectboard vote on the article. On the one hand, the town attorney, paid by tax dollars, is also the registered agent of Island Holdings, LLC, the property-holding company for Bellows Falls Area Development Corporation, the privately owned corporation working within the town hall on the Liberty Mill Justice Center project. The village attorney, on the other hand, is also the attorney for the property owner of the Chemco property. He is paid for his legal opinion through village taxes. The weaving of a significant conflict of interest is clear, once these factors are known.
Although the players may not have intended their multifaceted relationships to seem nefarious, it is the unfortunate result of a local government that is less than open to its citizens. Saying one's door is open does not produce the same effect as presenting the facts voluntarily in open meeting to all concerned residents as statute requires; doing business before the public that they may have appropriate opportunity to comment.
Therefore, if you have the ability to do so, please attend the Rockingham Selectboard Special Meeting in the Bellows Falls Lower Theatre, followed by a Concerned Citizens meeting at 7 p.m. at Windham Antiques Center. The 7 p.m. meeting will provide a safe space for Rockingham residents to give and receive information, that we might move beyond the fear and create a clear citizen-informed dialogue for our community's future. There will also be a follow up meeting Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. (location to be announced) of Concerned Citizens which will invite the Windham County Sheriff and key players to create a clean, cohesive dialogue of the Liberty Mill Justice Center's future.