Saturday, April 21, 2012

* Gutting the New England Town Meeting

Letters to the Editor
The Valley News

Dear Editor:

As a life-long Yankee  and a 27-year Vermonter, allow me to translate  into blunt English the  “report” of the Hartford Charter  Revision Committee at the  4/9/12 televised meeting.

What the Charter Revision Committee did for the last three years  was  to gut (eviscerate) the 300-year-old New England Town Meeting  and replace it with a polite debating society.

The reason five or six  hundred residents used to  show up at Town Meeting is because something real, vital, and immediate was at stake: their voices and votes counted on that very day.  One could see and hear in person all the town characters who had thorny opinions,  and watch them clash as they voiced those opinions in  person, and one could embrace and celebrate the fact that real juices of anger and passion and frustration were flowing in people’s veins because real votes were about to be taken, at that very moment.

Now what we have instead, at the  pleasure of the Hartford Charter Revision Committee, is a town meeting without a heart or intestines, a gutted deer, a kind of  dissected corpse lying on a table with the innards taken out.

I say, bring back the 300-year old New England Town Meeting. Put the heart and intestines back in the corpse and resurrect the Vermont democracy we have been trying to kill for the last three-years  with bureaucratic twaddle, streamlined procedure, and closed-curtain secrecy, all under  the name of “Charter Revision”

What was good enough for  Vermont and New England for the last 300 years is good enough for the next 300 years.  Send the Australian ballot back to Australia and the polite debating society back to the thumb-twiddling bureaucrats. 

Let Vermonters be Vermonters.

Paul D. Keane

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