, Salem, MA

January 22, 2014

Letter: Do Hamilton selectmen really represent the town?

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

Is this the Board of Selectmen that represents us? I suggest that they should be impartial in decisions of major consequence to the town. When a public hearing is held, they should listen to the public, not rationalize away when the public disagrees with their approach or opinion.

When people come to them with legitimate concerns and issues, they should listen, investigate and follow up, rather than appoint a handpicked committee that too often represents the opinions and positions of the board. The promulgating of the “good old boy” structure by selecting people to serve on a committee who only agree with the appointees continues to be a disquieting pattern at best.

We have a recreation board that is looking for a variety of different programs to be funded. So, they put out their wish list of programs, and the selectmen and the town manager moved ahead and designed a new pool to accomplish their list? We lack realistic assessments of practical considerations here. The Board of Selectmen has bought into this project and is bending over backward to kill any alternative or to hear that there may be a flaw in their concept. What is the relationship between the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Board? Shouldn’t the Planning Board have been invited to the table to discuss and make recommendations for the pool project and the Patton Homestead development?

We saw what happened with the School Committee when it had all pro-school spending people on the board — eight consecutive years of overrides (taxes going out of sight). When we voted in a different group three years ago, we got no more overrides, level services and more than $4 million given back to the towns. What kind of lessons are the Board of Selectmen and town manager not learning?

How is it possible that the board keeps trying to “sell” the town on development deals and projects that cost considerable funds invested upfront, with no assurances of success other than to tout the mantra that development will keep our taxes down? Anyone who has ever looked at the development model knows that the math does not work.

At the end of the day, shouldn’t the Board of Selectmen represent us and work on our behalf rather than be dictatorial? We have a right to see and hear all sides of the issues, rather than to have projects presented as fait accompli. Does the Board of Selectmen really represent us? Really?

William Dery