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Letters: Williamstown Selectmen Playing Games
Letters to the Editor,
05:59PM / Wednesday, April 10, 2013
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To the Editor:

"Hat trick," a term used most commonly in hockey and in the lead sentence of your iBerkshires article, means the achievement of a feat three times or more during one game.  

That is what the Williamstown Selectboard just achieved in their meeting on Monday night, when they voted 4-1 to hold a special town meeting on April 24, in addition to the already scheduled special town meeting on April 24 and the regular town meeting on May 21.

The game they are playing is to defeat the article (now called Article 3) being presented for a vote at the first special town meeting, by a citizens petition of over 300 certified signatures, to designate the Lowry and Burbank properties as permanent conservation land.

To add to the confusion, for the first special town meeting, the Selectboard, two weeks ago, placed two more articles on the agenda, preceding the citizens petition article, one of which (now called Article 2) is directly opposed to the citizens article because it proposes that town-owned conservation land (the Lowry and Burbank properties) be converted to land for building affordable housing.  

Also at the Selectboard meeting two weeks ago, they voted down another article that would have granted the passage of Article 2 by a simple majority, rather than a 2/3 majority. Then, last night, the Selectboard changed its mind and approved (by a 4-1 vote) an article that accomplished what they had voted down two weeks before — that Article 2 required only a simple majority vote, which article in itself, needed only a simple majority vote to pass.  

For this single article, the Selectboard set up a second special town meeting, astoundingly set to take place five minutes before the first special town meeting. Finally, they have placed a repeat of Article 2 on the agenda for the regular town meeting on May 21.

Confused yet? This has to be what the town management and Selectboard hope for in this game they are playing — hoping that people who want to vote on Article 3 can be hornswoggled, will get mixed up and tired, and discouraged from having to attend all these town meetings.

What a travesty this makes of our democratic town meeting system, of which New England is so proud, and what a disservice the Selectboard and town management are doing to us town citizens, by creating a polarized, train-wreck situation instead of promoting town meetings as they are supposed to be — open, unhurried, honest discussion of the issues we face, as citizens and taxpayers.

Tela Zasloff
April 9, 2013

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