Friday, August 2

THE POWER OF THE PURSE


          The finance committee meeting was if nothing else informative. If you want to know what goes on in this town then follow the money. The FC meeting is where all the money issues are discussed. There were a lot of boring details that aren't worth writing about so I’ll just get to what I thought was interesting.
          One of the subjects of course was the water company. As you may know the BoS voted to rehire Jack Muskrat on a part time bases. The vote was two to one with Charlie being the only one to stand against keeping the guy who lost literally hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars. Charlie argued that this is a perfect time to give the water company a fresh start. Bruce and Mary would have nothing to do with that; they want to keep things the way they are. After all Jack has done such a great job.
You may recall that Jack couldn't touch any of the monies because he could not be bonded. This is why the water customers had to take their payments to Mary at the town hall. Now, because Jack can't be trusted to do the billing, that task had to be given over to the town hall. Charlie was right; why do we even need Jack? The irony is that jack will now be paid more to do less. I have to wonder what power Jack has over Bruce and Mary.
One of the FC members was so horrified that they brought Jack back that he was visible angered. He asked when the BoS voted this in. Well it was on the agenda the night of the Chiefs hearing on July 22nd. Perhaps if the crowd that came for the police issue put the same passion into the rest of the meeting Bruce and Mary may have balked at rehiring jack as well. They say that democracy is rule by angry mob. Sometimes the angry mob is right.
 Then the discussion turned to the town voting to defund Jacks position, which is a good segue into the Special Town Meeting, (STM) scheduled for Sept. 16th. I think we citizens are going to have to start taking a more active role in running our town. So in that spirit let’s go over some key issues on the draft warrant for that STM.
Article 1 wants to take an undetermined amount of our money for water company wages. The FC recommends this action but I say lets hold out on giving the WC any more money until they listen to Charlie and start fresh. The town will still have to kick in whatever is needed to balance the WC books but it’s a way to tell the BoS to get in line.
Article 2 asks the town to put more money into the interim chief’s budget. I hate to tell you I told you so, but when we were asked to put up 15k to pay an acting chief at the last (STM) I opposed it. The BoS said the money was to be used to fund a 20 hour per week position at 25 dollars per hour. At this rate the 15k would last for seven and a half months. This should have taken us through the end of the year. I guess the BoS is telling us that this fiasco will go far beyond the end of this year. It seems to me that on July 8th the BoS made a deal to end this by Dec. 31st. I have an idea, let’s take away the funding for the interim chief and force the BoS to deal with the issue. Why should we have to pay another dime for the BoS’s stupidity. 
Articles 4 &5 deal with the police department budget as well. Why on earth should we put any more money into a police department that is so dysfunctional? If we don’t vote to fund the police budget the BoS can’t spend the money. Perhaps if the police dept. feared that the town would defund the entire dept, they would be a little more agreeable in negotiating their collective bargaining agreement. They might even think twice about refusing to work with their Chief.
We the people have the power of the purse I can’t understand why we don’t use it. I know a lot of the townspeople agree with these positions but if they don’t get out and vote it doesn't matter. There are going to be a lot of crucial issues voted on at this upcoming Special Town Meeting. The only way to change what’s wrong with the town is to participate. So if you’re not registered to vote then please register. If you are registered to vote then pry yourself away from the prime time lineup for one night and get out and vote.

KevinZurrin

14 comments:

  1. Close the PD and outsource

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    1. I don't know if it's a good or bad idea but we may be left with no other choice if things keep going the way they are.

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  2. Egremont the only town around without a PD? Outsource to whom, State Police? Lots of luck with the ordinary everyday things that a small town PD does, that make a community safe and desirable to buy and live in.
    If you were to take a town vote on eliminating the PD, you would find a very large majority very intense on keeping the PD.

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  3. Mary Brazie is just as respponsible for the Water Company problems as Jack Muskrat. After all, Mary received all the payments at the Town Hall. So what did she do when months went by and there were no payments? SHE SAT ON HER ASS AND DIDN'T DO ANYTHING. That's Mary Brazie for you!! She's a disgrace. It's time to put her out to pasture.

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  4. i said it before and I'll say it again: sign your name when you make a comment. #2: no matter what you have to share, do it in a respectfull way. The only disgrace in this town are the disrespectfull and, of course anonymus comments people make. And as for consequences: I made a comment on the last blog and signed it with my name. So far, no bricks flying through the window, no slashed tires and the phone is still ringing and people want me to work for them. What else is there?
    Tom Sierau

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    1. Tom
      I agree Tom; but don't expect that people will lose their fear or stop making disrespectful comments anonymously. As much as I believe that people should boldly post their opinion I know that it's not likely. Many people don't realize the personal freedom and strength that comes by openly opining.

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  5. Oh well if you leave all those disrespectfull posts on you are just hurting yourself and you loose a lot of credibility.
    And for all the people who want to outsource the PD, keep your fingers crossed that you never have an accident, never have a burglary, or never have to place a 911call for medical help. The PD takes care of all of the above and some more. If you want to wait for an hour or two in an emergency and wait for the State Police, be my guest, I don't.
    Tom Sierau

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  6. In regard to censoring posts, your damned if you do and damned if you don't. I'll err on the side of the freedom of speech. I believe that a person has the right to express their opinion regardless of how ignorant it may sound. You're right about outsourcing the policing of the town. The State police are not able to police the town as well as the locals. However, that doesn't mean we should let the EPD think they have us over a barrel. There are no irreplaceable police officers; including the Chief of Police.

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    Replies
    1. What about outsourcing to GB or Sheffield.

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  7. Many hill towns have chosen not to have the expense of their own PD and it works. As far as Toms comments about anonymous , Your posting on Anonymous! It's the only way I can post. Mary Brazie has mismanaged many things including monies of the water company and since she feels a need to have a foot into so many pies, the town needs to remove her from all town business due to Lack of Confidence. Sounds familiar? The best for our town and to repair our public disgrace, the best thing for Egremont is a clean sweep and try to repair the damage. It is sad to see that the problems with big government has dribbled down to ground level right here.

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  8. Tom,

    I am not fond of anonymous posts either, but I think Kevin is right to leave them up as part of the record. I do not think having a one-person police force as Alford does will put us all at great risk. The reasons you cite for having a local PD are interesting: Accident, Medical Help, Burglary. If I am injured in an accident or need medical help, I want paramedics, not cops. A burglary is not an emergency.

    Nevertheless, a town police force would be a good thing, and we can afford it: Egremont has relatively low taxes, and I don't hear a lot of complaints about taxes. The reason I am doubtful about having a local force is that I don't see good civilian oversight of that force. That is not an attack on our current selectboard, but a comment on the nature of small-town government. As Bruce Turner said at a SB meeting earlier this year, the selectmen are part-timers and cannot be expected to monitor closely the activities of the police force or even its chief. Fair enough.

    But I would prefer the hiring, training, and supervision of full-time, 24/7 armed force, including the Chief, to be done by full-time elected officials, who have both the responsibility and the time that select boards lack by their very nature.

    What Egremont most needs, and seems to have, is first-rate emergency services. I have never heard any criticism of our fire department in its execution of its duties, nor have I heard anything negative about our ambulance services. I would rather be vigilant and invest in improving those services when it is appropriate to do so.

    I also think the town would be very foolish to do anything other than allow Chief Bucknell to return on the terms discussed on July 8, and retire as Chief at the end of December this year as she wishes.

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  9. Do not forget one of the important things the PD does (and should do better), monitor speeding. Walkers and hikers and children are imperiled, not just main roads but Jug End, Blunt and other roads are subject to this danger. I don't know about hill towns that do without a PD, but they are presumably not located on busy roads, connecting GB, Sheffield, Hillsdale.

    Re Mary Brazie: she does not have responsibility to check on billing accuracy. She makes sure that the commissioners sign a sheet each month, prepared by Jack Muskrat, whose competence is beyond dismal, attesting to the amount to be billed. There are plenty of more culpable blame targets - how about the auditors? and the 3 elected commissioners? and for that matter how about the voters who turned down a proposal to replace the commissioners in favor of oversight by the BOS? In a better world the commissioners should be impeached, and Muskrat put out to pasture, not re-hired on a part time basis.

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  10. Re Mary Brazie: Mary has said emphatically that it is SHE and only SHE who collects ALL the water company payments. She said this at a BoS meeting on Feb 4th 2013. Is it your contention that Mary should not have known that for two to three months per year there were no water payments coming in? You are either protecting Mary beyond reason; or you are a very gullible person. Either way, Mary cannot escape responsibility for what happens on her watch.

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