2013 in review

By Sonja Sleeper | Jan 16, 2014

Now that the heart of winter is here and the holiday season has passed it is time to hunker down and wait for spring. I find it a good time for reflection, indoor projects, and the odd afternoon nap, don't you? 2013 was a busy year for me, I did some volunteering, became the secretary for a local political group, and attended a lot of meetings and public events. For example, I went to the wreath laying ceremony at General Knox's grave,  marched in the Thomaston 4th of July Parade with another organization, very hot and I attended and spoke up at a couple public forums, one on school closures for RSU 13 and another was hosted by our local state representatives regarding the state budget. I even made a school board meeting, and the RSU13 budget referendums, both of them.

The public forums and meetings are far more interesting than one would think.  For example, at one selectboard meeting, the code officer spoke up about the new landing ordinance, "Thanks, I'll have to sleep with a gun under my pillow now."  Apparently a lot of people were not happy about the ordinance. I have noticed that the derelict boats are gone from the public landing, which was the main reason for passing an ordinace, but a lot of rules came with it.  I also notice that some boats are still tied up at the pier and float.  I suspect some compromise there and so far, no gunfights.  The two new selectpersons, Dianne Darling and Dorothy Meriwether, seem to be preoccupied with developing job descriptions and new reporting standards all this so the departments can chart or graph thier hours. I guess this is so and we get in line with other communities and make it easier for grant applications. I see the staff getting confused and frustrated with the process and wonder if it is all that productive, I mean most of the departments are volunteers after all.  I don't see any sort of community building/development ideas being discussed, maybe that happens in the committees.

At the state budget forum, we got the "one bad clam" argument from State Representative Kruger of Thomaston. Apparently the State cannot absorb any more cuts and those employees are doing the jobs of others. So are employees in the private sector.  A question from the audience, "Why do we need marine biologists to take water samples?" yielded the, "It only takes one bad clam," response. What dire consequences would these be?  Would the entire clamming industry collapse?  I have a hard time picturing that.   We were also treated to a discourse from Representative Dickerson, who mused on the experience of a recent hearing on elvers, feeling awed about the need to make a descision on rules for elver fishing based on testimony presented.  She also mentioned how great a thing the 5pm Friday meet in the capitol rotunda was, people exchanging experiences and news. Not to the point on budget cuts but I guess we should be glad she is living the dream.

The school board, of all public offices this one is the toughest and one which eager people sign up for thinking to make a difference only to find administrative gridlock. If you want to learn how to give people bad news that will cost them more every year this is the place for you. All this in a correographed presentation, from the eager student gushing thanks to the expert plant ready to call the vote if the discussion goes on too long or the argument goes astray.  If one actually succeeds in reforming the school board and system we know we can achieve world peace.

 I come away from these experiences convinced that we need new people in the system and so what if they are not familiar with ordinances or how things are done. That's the point. I would say the only criteria would be they need to be able to speak well and present a good argument. I would like to see system and tax reforms.  It is not to late to see office this year, nomination papers available at the city or town office near you.  At the very least get out and about and do not be afraid to speak up.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.