For those who were unable to read Dennis Martinek’s Letter to the Editor in Monday’s Southbridge Evening News, he has been good enough to provide a copy for O’Zone readers.
To the Editor:
First off, I would like to offer my belated thanks to all who came out to vote in our recent election, regardless of who you voted for. It was an outstanding and impressive turnout, and although I didn't win, I was able to have an enjoyable day with all the candidates and their supporters...it was somewhat of a party atmosphere, that proved to me that no matter how much we may disagree, we can do it politely, and even laugh, when we face each other face to face and just talk.
There are two things that I would love to point out that have occurred, post-election, that give me pause for both concern, as well as hope.
The School Committee has seen a very dramatic change, with the election of two new faces. Since I travel frequently for work, it is often difficult to catch a meeting live, so I have to rely on re-runs, or, using technology, I can see a meeting live using a device called Slingbox, if I'm available to view it live. I watched a re-run of the most recent meeting, and was dumbfounded at the unprofessional manner in which Dr. O'Leary conducted himself towards Kara Donovan.
I know Kara and think highly of her. She made some talking points, which Dr. O'Leary took upon himself to criticize her for, both verbally, and using his hands, visually, appearing in the latter case looking like he was having a seizure. He looked childish as he counted off on his fingers while Kara spoke, and sounded like an imbecile when he criticized her for mentioning her children. Her points were both fair and reasonable. His actions were not.
To the Town Council, I have this request: not everyone has the time to come to subcommittee meetings, so reviewing what's transpired, or, even showing ALL meetings live, would be a benefit to the people watching Town Council meetings. Stating that it's been discussed in subcommittee is nice, but it doesn't address the issue:
Do the people of Southbridge deserve a transparent government, or one that continues to act in such a manner that gives the appearance of wanting to hide something?
The reason I mentioned Slingbox and technology is simple: in today's paper, the headline talks about how Charlton is going to stream meetings on the Internet. My question is, why isn't Southbridge looking to do this? Why don't we stream all meetings and archive them, since not all people have cable?
When a Town Council approves raiding the Cable Committee, to pay $120,000 for...well, they don't even seem sure (my first thought was a backhoe for the School's Technology department, since that figure has an ominous ring to it). How do you budget for something you won't be forthcoming on?
The appearance is given that local cable access will hold less and less of an impact for the citizens that these funds are targeted for, and when you reduce cable's impact, you also serve to reduce the transparency of government. Transparent government isn't showing less, it's showing more. When a sitting councilor asks for copies of all Executive Session meetings, she's entitled to ALL of the information. Why?
Either a) she's going to be involved in it if it's still pending, or b) if it's dealt with, it's the law to make it available to all.
My hope is that as citizens of this town, that our School Committee and Town Council can put their personal issues aside to actually serve the people. This first month, post-election, hasn't shown that yet, but I'll keep my fingers crossed that this behavior changes very quickly.
After all, that's what many of us, myself and the winners, ran on. Please deliver on your promises.
Dennis J. Martinek