Letter Box

Friday June 28, 2013

In praise of Father Rich

Editor of the Reformer:

In October of 2008 a staff member came to me and said he knew a priest that wanted to be our chaplain. My first thought was what in the world was I going to do with some priest walking around the fire station and emergency scenes? After thinking about it a little and agreeing to meet with this priest the rest is history.

For the last almost five years we have been truly blessed with Father Rich O’Donnell, the best chaplain a fire department could ask for. He has supported us through thick and thin, was always there when one of us has needed him and has always made us feel special, honoring us with events such as the annual Blue Mass at St. Michael Roman Catholic Church. He also serves as the chaplain for the Brattleboro Police Department and the Professional Firefighter’s of Vermont.

Last month Father Rich told us he has been transferred to Christ of King/St. Anthony Church in Burlington. Even though there was a time I didn’t know what to do with a priest, now I don’t know what it will be like without him. Though he won’t be all that far away, he won’t be just up the road for a cup of coffee or that "Oh, crap" moment.

Father Rich is one of a kind who served the St. Michael’s parish, the Brattleboro Fire Department and the town of Brattleboro with his whole being. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for what he has done for me and the Brattleboro Fire Department. We wish him all the best in his new assignment; he will be missed.

Fire Chief Michael Bucossi,

Brattleboro Fire Department, June 27

A half-hearted news analysis

Editor of the Reformer:

Howard Weiss-Tisman’s story on the question of whether or not Brattleboro should change its form of government ("Should Brattleboro elect a mayor?" June 22-23) teases but leaves us with nothing to chew on. It is merely reflecting comments he has heard that such change is something we ought to do. He reflects the kind of thinking in which a solution is proposed to a problem that has not been identified.

The story quotes what a few are saying but fails to investigate what the quoted persons mean by what they say. That is, some of the quotes, the apparent inspiration for the story, state that Brattleboro has problems. Then we have the follow-up statements that the solution to the problems is a mayoral system of government. However the problems themselves are never revealed. If the illness is unidentifiable the cure is too.

For example, if the problem is a lack of proactive leadership, one must identify where the current leadership is failing. If the problem is that city hall doesn’t pay enough attention to downtown business, then we need to find out if that is true and why. In short, are the causes of our concerns systemic or particular?

It is generally the case that municipalities don’t make major changes in governance until they are under severe threats or in the midst of events that have gotten or are getting out of control. The majority of the 20 to 22 percent slice of the adult citizens of Brattleboro that care enough to vote in local elections and most particularly the majority of the 146 members of Representative Town Meeting have not been showing any inclination to change and probably won’t until there is a clear reason to do so.

There are in fact reasons for changes but Mr. Weiss-Tisman’s article does not provide fodder for that debate. One of the major roles of a newspaper is to seek accountability and one hopes that the effectiveness of government falls under that purview. More serious examination of Brattleboro’s form of government is in order.

Spoon Agave,

Brattleboro, June 24


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