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Integrity

Dear Editor:

In the past, town board and council meetings were efficient. Ross Aragon ran a tight, fair meeting. There were usually no attorneys there, and if so, they only answered questions directed to them.

Now I read that Ross doesn’t want to talk about decisions he and some town council members made regarding development of Reservoir Hill. He said he doesn’t, “feel comfortable, when we have a legal issue and people trying to sue us, saying something that I will be accountable for.” Ross has lawyered-up. What started all this was someone questioning why five town council members filed a conflicting petition on the Reservoir Hill issue, acted like they knew nothing about the petition or its backers, and directed the town’s attorney to determine if the petitioners are safe from prosecution.

This whole second petition incident is bizarre. I am ashamed that my town councilors would act this way. Ross said, “the opposition to the town board was going around soliciting signatures on the basis that we were going to have a Ferris wheel and roller coaster … It’s not just an embarrassment, it’s a flat-out lie.” I think it is Ross that is lying. The alpine coaster proposed for Reservoir Hill is a roller coaster. That’s how the company that makes it describes it, that’s how the places that have them describe them, that’s how the state regulatory board defines them. As for the Ferris wheel reference, I have attended every meeting held where the public could provide input and I never heard anyone say a Ferris wheel would be part of the project. When I say I have attended every meeting that was held on the project I do not include the seventy-some meetings David Mitchem and Ross keep referring to. I don’t consider regular meetings of the Town Tourism Committee where the Reservoir Hill project was discussed as meetings for concerned citizens to voice their opinions. Another lie we keep hearing from Ross and Mr. Mitchem.

The biggest lie being told is by town councilors who drafted a petition, submitted it and allowed it to affect their vote on a matter before the council. Don Volger made a motion to set an election later than it should have been because, “I think there are more reasons to try and hold one election, and because of the constraints it places on staff to hold the election as early as March 12.” The fact Don was one of the sponsors of the conflicting petition didn’t seem to be important enough to mention as one of the “primary reasons.” Now that people are questioning this decision, Don was the first to call in the lawyers.

What is happening with town government? Why can’t we get back to civil discussion, transparent decision-making, integrity and honesty in doing the people’s business? This isn’t a complex problem that requires manipulation and deceit. It is a simple question of whether town residents should have the chance to vote on commercial development of our most valuable town park. I ask the mayor and town trustees who sponsored the conflicting petition to withdraw it. I ask that council revisit the timing of the election for the original petition, set it as close to March 12 as practical, and allow their neighbors to vote. I ask our town councilors to commit to reestablishing honesty and integrity on our town council. I applaud David Schanzenbaker and Clint Alley for standing against collusion and deceit and I implore the rest of the council to follow their example.

John Steinert

This story was posted on January 17, 2013.