Jan. 28, 2010
ELECTION LETTERS POLICY
Town Meeting and elections will be held on Tuesday, March 2. Please note that on Feb. 25, in the issue just prior to Town Meeting Day, the Observer will not run any Letters to the Editor pertaining to the vote.
All Letters to the Editor written in regards to Town Meeting and the March 2 election MUST be received no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15, and will appear in the next issue of the Observer when it publishes on Feb. 18.
Please be aware that normal guidelines will apply, including a 300-word limit for all letters.
E-mail letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put items on ballot
After reading the article (“Balloting rejected for major issues”) in the last Observer, it’s obvious that the officials that we elected have decided to totally ignore the wishes of the voters of the town of Williston. This is a disgraceful situation. We rejected funding for the ambulance question two years ago, and the Selectboard has taken it on themselves to say yes, we can afford that, and we can do it without a vote. Horrendous!
Secondly, they have taken the roundabout issue on themselves, and said no to voting, maybe to Town Meeting that they well know not many people attend. They say they have the out on that because of the legal opinion given them by our town attorney from Hinesburg that says, according to last week’s article, “State law gives the board the final word on non-budget issues. And even then, state and federal highway officials have the last say because it is a federally funded project on a state highway.” OK, so now we have the obstacle of the local Selectboard and the highway department.
In my opinion, this roundabout makes no sense at all. For one thing, there isn’t room enough for an adequate size one, and I have seen for myself in another state, where there was a huge roundabout, it became too dangerous, and was finally taken out five or six years ago, and stop lights put in instead. Traffic there flows at a much calmer speed, and it’s just so much easier to get through that intersection.
We need to make it known to the state highway department just how we feel about the roundabout, and probably the governor as well. Last I knew it was still a democracy, not a dictatorship, as the Selectboard seems to want.
Hazel Winter, Williston
Editor’s note: The Selectboard decided on Monday night to put the roundabout decision to a ballot vote; the ambulance will remain part of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-2011.
Open letter to the Williston Selectboard
I read with dismay that the Selectboard has decided to rule by fiat on the issue of the latest fire department expansion (the ambulance question). The Selectboard is within its legal rights to exclude the taxpayers and voters in major decisions. As our elected representatives the aforementioned decision is legal. The question is, is it ethical?
I am not aware of any criticism of St. Michael’s Rescue, which has provided efficient service to Williston for years. In 2007, the voters rejected the ambulance proposal by a significant margin. Now, it appears the voters are to be bypassed in yet another fire department expansion.
In times such as these, with 10 percent of the population jobless and the rest of us hard-pressed to meet taxes and living expenses, the town should not incur an additional expense of $231,915. Contrary to the claims of Chief Morton, there are no free rides and the taxpayers will face yet another tax increase. The so-called “escape clause” in case of falling revenues will never be invoked and the six new employees of the original proposal will be added over the next few budget cycles.
In an attempt to lessen this year’s tax increase, the town of Williston has declined to fill openings in the police department, cut after-school programs and reduce overall services. The local school system and the high school have produced minimal growth budgets. The Selectboard appears not to feel the same restraints and with a notable lack of sensitivity has chosen to exclude the voters from the decision-making process.
In our representative form of government, elected officials can legislate as they choose, so long as it is not contrary to the law of the land. Elected officials should not, however, forget that the appearance of propriety is as significant as the law. Issues previously rejected or questioned by the voters should be returned to them for consideration.
Michael Mauss, Williston
Residents deserve a say
While reading through last week’s article (“Balloting rejected for major issues”), I noticed that the Selectboard recently decided to fund an ambulance service through the annual operating budget, so that they can bypass a town-wide vote.
Last time I checked, the ambulance service failed the vote three years ago. This shows that the residents of Williston did not want the ambulance. We are in an economic tough spot, and I’ve seen no data showing that St. Michael’s is incapable of providing this important service.
If it’s a public service addition, it should at least be approved through the public. We should spend our money on supporting our understaffed police department, rather than purchasing the ambulance.
Calvin Benevento, Williston
Help for Haiti
We are encouraged by the President to donate funds to help those struggling in the aftermath of a 7.0 earthquake that has killed many thousands and hurt many more in the Caribbean island nation of Haiti.
At the same time the current administration is considering removing the deductibility of charitable contributions, which will severely restrict just such donations by private citizens.
The U.S. taxpayers will pay out $598 billion dollars, or 22 percent of the UN budget this year. I wonder how much of that mountain of money will ever make it Haiti? Haiti is a welfare nation that has the world’s highest concentration of NGOs giving out aid. Encouraging productivity and freedom can lift people out of poverty, not endless handouts or the forced reintroduction of a socialist dictator like Jean-Bertrand Aristide at U.S. gunpoint.
Shelley Palmer, Williston