December 19, 2018

“Our Leaders Have Put the Municipal Budget Ahead of the Comity of Friends and Neighbors”

To the Editor:

Three thoughts about the metergate issue roiling our little town, summarized as: 1. Thank you; 2. Please explain; 3. Watch out.

Thank you: I am grateful to our friends and neighbors who serve on our municipal boards and commissions and committees. While they are spending their evenings on folding chairs in brightly lighted meeting rooms to grapple with civic matters great and small, I am enjoying a book and glass of wine in my favorite chair in front of the fire. Theirs is largely thankless work, and so I thank them now.

Please explain: I learned long ago, when confronted with seemingly inexplicable decisions by others, to assume rationality. That is, what appears stupefying to me is almost certainly very logical and sensible to the other party. My first responsibility is to understand (that is, to stand under) their thinking, before I make a final judgment about it. To that end, I believe that we citizens are entitled to a very clear “white paper” about this decision: why the change was necessary, what alternatives were considered, why the new plan was selected, and how it will play out for the community. This should be mailed to all citizens, since many are out of town for significant amounts of the year and cannot be expected to follow coverage of such matters in the local press.

Watch out: There may be an unlovely contamination of loyalties that has been evidenced in this entire matter —namely, that our leaders have put the municipal budget ahead of the comity of their friends and neighbors. How else to explain the truly breathtaking decision to confiscate the monies we had placed in escrow with the municipality on our parking cards? I can imagine someone proposing that as a joke, with a good laugh going around the room. But no, the initial decision was to just take something that belonged to someone else. And the grudging correction, forced only by the outcry of enraged citizens, is only marginally better — you can have your money, but we’ll take a 35 percent service fee off the top to let you have it back. This is worrisome. Whatever enabled this thinking may have difficulty passing the “assume rationality” test, but I’ll be eager to hear it.

Again, my thanks to those who work behind the scenes to make our community a community, and to make it ever more welcoming to the stranger (which, surely, enabling the use of a regular credit card for parking does do).  Please help us to more fully appreciate what you’re doing on our behalf.

Eliot Daley

Dorann Avenue