Thursday, June 3

THREE LITTLE WORDS

     There is tremendous power in words. Words can elicit feelings of adoration, or incite vicious acts of hatred. Personally, I believe that people should say what they mean and stand behind what they say. I hold people accountable for what they say. It’s not complicated, their words mean what they mean. A lot of people will not like what I have to say, and that is their prerogative. However, I would ask that if they take issue with what I say that they first ask themselves if what I say is true. Many will say that I am dredging up the past, and I am. They think I should keep these things buried. Well, I have to wonder about their motivation for keeping silent about these issues. No one likes to have their mistakes exposed, but how else can we learn from history? With this in mind I am going to dredge up a bit of Egremont’s history with a mind to learn from our past.

     I will get to the three little words in a moment, but first let me lay a foundation. There is a small group of people in this town who have their own agenda. Their agenda is not in the best interest of the town as a whole, but benefit’s a few at the expense of the many. These people are advancing their agenda at the literal expense of the entire town. We as taxpayers have to pay for their agenda if we allow them to advance it. I hear whispers of dissent coming from people who disagree with what is being done, yet feel powerless to do anything about it. For those people I have three little words, which I will get to in a moment.
     A little more than a decade ago the selectmen, and the finance committee, convinced the town to vote for a water department. They told the voters that if they voted in favor of this agenda item that it would provide clean water to the recipients at an affordable price. They also assured the townspeople that it would not cost the taxpayers anything, for it would be paid for by the people who actually use the water. Now I don’t want to say that the selectmen and finance committee lied to the people, but someone lied to someone and we are paying the price. At the very least the town leaders misinformed the people.
     Before the town voted on this water issue the taxpayers paid a substantial sum of money for a committee to study this issue. This expensive committee then looked at all the facts and came to the conclusion that the water company was a good idea. Based on their study they told the town that there would be no cost to the taxpayers. What did this committee overlook? Based on this study they told the people who were going to receive the water that it would be affordable. What did this committee miss? Again, I don’t want to accuse anyone of lying, but we were grossly misinformed. I bring this up not to beat a dead horse, but to illustrate that this situation can be avoided in the future with three little words, which I will now get to.
     I hope you’re wondering what these three little words are because these three little words are the most powerful words in the world. These three little words formed a nation. These three little words are the first three words in our Constitution, "WE THE PEOPLE". You see my friends, we the people have the power in the town of Egremont. This is a town meeting form of government. We the people have a vote on every issue, and shame on you if you are too lazy or too busy to get involved.
     We do not simply vote for representatives to represent our interests as in a representative form of government we vote for advisors to advise us on the issues that we will be voting on, then to enact the will of the people. The selectmen do not represent us, they are an advisory board. It is the responsibility of this board to study and advise the voters on these issues, but we have the final vote. The finance committee does not represent us, they advise us on the financial aspects of each agenda item that we will be voting on, but "we the people" have to vote.
     These advisors have led us astray in the past. They have misinformed us in regard to the issues that we were voting on. However, we have only ourselves to blame. The fact is, most of "We the people", decided to not even show up to vote on the issues. "We the people" allowed a small group of people with their own agenda to advance this agenda. Now "we the people" have to pay the price for allowing this small group of people to co-opt our towns agenda. This is now in the past and we shall see if we the people will learn from this bit of history.
     From this point forward, I plan to hold our selectmen liable for the words they use to advise us, and I hope you do as well. When the finance committee recommends a vote on any particular issue I plan to hold their feet to the fire, and I hope you do as well. However, when the town meeting barely has enough people to form a quorum, the problem is not the town officials, the problem is not a small group of people with their own agenda, the problem is "WE THE PEOPLE".
KevinZurrin

Thursday, May 27

Guilt By Association

As I learn more about the town meeting behind the town meeting the more frustrated I get. It has come to my attention that while the people who were discussing the water issue in regard to whether the town should vote to either take the money out of free cash or raise and appropriate the money from new taxes, there was another choice that would have resolved the issue without spending any of the taxpayers money.
Frankly I am outraged that during the debate over article 3 none of the selectmen or the finance committee informed the voters that if they were to vote down the entire article there was another article that would have raised the monies from the people who actually use the water. This seems deceptive. I wonder how people would have voted if the issue were presented in total honesty. What ever happened to truth in advertising?
Honestly, I don’t know who we can trust when the people that we elect to advise us on these issues obfuscate such important aspects of the issues. Now I can’t say that they didn’t post the information, but when you consider that you have to vote on article 3 before you can discuss article 4, it seems like a slight of hand to me. They moved on to article 5 by saying that article 4 was moot because article 3 passed. Lets look at this technique that was used to deceive the town and tell me if you aren‘t as offended as I am.
The elected officials, for fear of losing votes, don’t want to tell the water users that they have to pay the full cost of the water they use. They write the article that raises and appropriates the funds from the taxpayers. Then they write the article that raises the funds from the water dept. revenues as a backup plan in case the townspeople figure out that they’re getting hosed. I’m sure they were overjoyed at the fact that the argument became whether to use free cash or raise and appropriate from taxation.
The honest way to have presented it would have been to write one article and offer two options. Option one, raise solely from water dept. revenues. Option two, use free cash or raise and appropriate a 35% portion from new taxes. Now, if these were the choices which one do you think the voters would have passed? So next time this happens, and it will come up next year, lets argue the proper issues. Don’t be fooled by the straw man argument.
This is my opinion, and you can disagree if you like, but there isn’t a person who was on that stage that isn’t guilty of deceiving the voters and anyone up there who kept silent is just as guilty by association.

Guilt by association

Wednesday, May 26

WELFARE WATER FOR EGREMONT

It has come to my attention that all of the people who are connected to the town of Egremont water supply are in dire need of public assistance. According to the town’s board of select, the water commissioner and the finance committee, the people who are receiving water from the town water supply are impoverished to such a degree that they cannot afford to pay their water bill. Therefore, we as a community must come together and meet the needs of the underprivileged. Water is a basic necessity of life. We cannot have our fellow townspeople dying in the streets for lack of such a basic bodily requirement. As a community we must pool our resources and help those in need. I know everyone in the town feels the same way. We are a community that comes together for the general welfare of the whole. Our attitude reflects the caring nurturing spirit of an old New England town. That being said, we must still be accountable. In order to make sure that our welfare dollars are being spent properly we must set up a system to regulate where the money goes and keep an account of the recipients of these public funds. I ask the selectmen to hold a special election to elect an Egremont water welfare committee. The chair of the committee would delegate its members to create an application form for applicants to fill out and a means test to set guidelines for those who apply for the welfare water. Like any welfare system we must set up guards against fraud. For even in a community minded town such as ours, there may be wolves amongst the sheep. I would wholeheartedly support this measure and hope that all of the townspeople will get behind this for the good of the community. After all are we not our brothers keeper?
KevinZurrin

Monday, May 24

Welcome to Eye on Egremont

Welcome to Eye on Egremont. The name of the blog is self explanatory. We need to keep an eye on our own community. We have one of the purest forms of government in the world, the town meeting. We the people have the right to vote on every issue that the town has to make a decision on. The boards and elected officials are placed in an advisory position at the meeting, then they administer what was decided on at the meeting. We the people, or at least those who attend, make the decisions.
The town meeting is where the decisions are actually made by the voters. Unfortunately most people don’t even bother to show up to the town meeting. FYI people, every raise and appropriate article on the warrant means you are giving the elected officials the authority to take your money in the form of taxes and spend it on the things you voted on at the meeting. It’s like co-signing a loan. If you don’t agree with the expenditure then vote against it. If a lot of your friends feel the same way then get them to come out and vote with you.
Someone told me that Egremont is a small town run by a small group of reactionaries who make the decisions for everyone. The only way that this can happen is that far too many people find it too burdensome to actually come to the town meeting. I’ve got a newsflash for you, when you fail to show up for the meeting you have actually voted, for the agenda of that small group of reactionaries. Why? Because that small group of reactionaries are the only ones who actually show up. They make it their business to be at the meetings. So by all means, stay at home and watch TV. Let the reactionaries decide what is going to be done with your money.
My vision for this site is that it would raise the awareness of the citizens of Egremont and motivate them to get involved with running their own town, our town. I hear a lot of people bitching about the way things are run, yet every town meeting is packed to the rafters with empty space. Last town meeting barely pulled enough people to allow a vote on the issues. What I plan to do on this site is post all of the happenings of the town government for all to see and all to discuss. I hope that it will create a buzz around the town and pack the meetings with well informed people who are empowered to vote.
KevinZurrin