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".