To the Editor:
This is not a letter about the preservation of Thurman EMS. That fight has been lost, and I cannot place that much hope behind the well-meaning statement of the squad president that they are selling the ambulance so as to regroup and be back in a year.
No. Here I am writing about something broader than that fight — about accountability and loyalty of town officials to the people they are sworn to serve. It is also about the importance of symbolism.
Consider these recent happenings: Our town supervisor comments disapprovingly that few people attend board meeting, but does so at a meeting with a record number in attendance; a first-term board member launches into a diatribe about how she must protect town residents from themselves; it is revealed after much protest that the town’s LED sign was paid for with occupancy tax money, so town residents should not complain (of course, there remains the issue of responsible spending by a board that wanted to cut occupancy funds to the Maple tour event that draws people from all over, while promoting a sign — in the hopes that people will flock here to watch the lights flicker announcements of a meeting?)
What these events have in common is that they clarify why there is a public sense that the board (with one notable exception) is disconnected from the people they serve, that they function independent of any sense of obligation to those people, and that they do so with arrogance.
This is a forgiving town. It is not too late to turn things around, if not in the preservation of EMS, then by assuring the citizenry that we have meaningful, caring, and responsive representation.
Here is how easy it can be: Respectfully acknowledge that our concerns are real; give them serious consideration, listen respectfully to our pleas, then respond accordingly; most important, arrange to hold a public meeting where you demonstrate this change of attitude. At that meeting, hold back on the childish jokes, the buffoonery (one board member in particular), paternal monologues, and especially the attitudes of superiority (because you are not).
Do that, and I am confident you will receive all of it returned to you in kind, and you will have demonstrated that you are capable of practicing true leadership, the kind that has been so lacking in recent months. We will respect you for it, because we are desperately seeking a reason to respect our town leadership and to trust them.
Irv West, Thurman