What happened to freedom of speech?
To the Editor:
Townsfolk of Canton: I want to start by pointing something out to the parents of young people in this town.
The old building that is owned by the town located in the intersection of 140 and 108 is an accident waiting to happen. This building is not boarded up allowing complete access to the inside were the roof is either collapsing, or it has built in skylights and there is also a huge beam approximately 3x3 feet that appears to be broken in half and hangs by what looks like a chain and an electrical cord from the aforementioned roof.
I know that I was not going to enter the building and the thought a child going into this unsafe environment sent shivers up my spine. Maybe someone else, like the code enforcement officer, could take a look.
I have brought this up to the board of selectmen twice, but it has fallen on deaf ears and I am very concerned for the health and welfare of all the citizens especially the young ones. I personally feel better warning people and pointing this out to the public so maybe something can be done before tragedy strikes.
As I reported in my letter to the editor a few weeks back, I submitted a petition to the exalted selectpersons of the town to see if people of the town want all meetings to be videoed and placed on the local access channel and the internet. It was at the same meeting I brought attention to the above problem the second time.
I know that I was heard as Jackie asked why I was standing, as I stood waiting to be recognized by the board. At this same meeting, I also submitted to the town clerk the letter that was published in this paper a couple weeks ago, so it could be included in the residents newsletter published by the town.
Last Thursday, I was informed by the town clerk when I went into the town office on other business, that the board of selectmen had decided not to publish my letter. I always thought that the Canton Crier was to inform the town people about important issues that involved them. My thought was there is no better place to inform the townspeople and to open the discussion on what I think is an important issue then the town's own newsletter.
At this time, I am not sure what date people will get the chance to vote as the board had not done the research necessary to find if the date had to be the day before town meeting, voted by the town years ago to speed up the town meeting process, or can it be voted on a previous date.
I went to the selectman’s meeting later and asked what happened to freedom of speech? I also asked why this matter had never discussed in a public forum, but instead behind closed doors and in secret. Also, when were they planning on informing me? All of the 44 people that signed the petition had the opportunity to read this letter as I circulated it with my petition. I was informed that they considered my letter as editorial in content and was not to be included in the Canton Liar.
When I left that meeting I had to check to see if the U.S. flag was flying as I thought I might have entered a time warp and ended up in Nazi Germany. Hitler thought that if you control the press you control the people. I have way more faith in the people of this town to make their own decision on the merits of what I explained in my letter. After I pressed them, Jackie Conant, Lisa Cummings, Don Hutchins, and Shane Gallant all voted on this in public, were it should have been done in the first place, denying the other approximately 900 people in town the opportunity to make their own decision by censoring my letter.
If they were personally affronted by my musing then I think that my letter should have been published with a disclaimer: claiming it may not be the opinion of the town officials.
It was pointed out to me by a selectperson that I was wrong when I stated in my letter that the cable fund was robbed to buy an office computer, she informed that this computer was bought for the access channel. My fault, I recalled, for it being listed as an office computer in the town report I no longer have this report so I concede. This mistake was also due in part to the fact that the local access channel was not operating at the time and had not for many years. I assumed that if there was no use for it, It should not have been bought, but what do I know. One of the things that kept coming up as I circulated the petition was why the town had, since the last town meeting, expended significant money on insulation and boarding in the interior of the building located at the transfer station.
This was after the voters clearly voted the selectman to cut maintenance costs on town building to a minimum in fact appropriating no funds for one building, I was somewhat taken aback because when it was discussed at a selectmen's meeting, held just before the annual town meeting in March, it was pointed out by one selectman that if the total cost of a project is over $5,000, it has to be approved by a town vote.
The plan was to insulate and close it in so it could be heated so the dump attendant could defecate in a warm port-a-potty. I don’t recall anything on the last town meeting warrant that asked the town about this project. I would have no problem but the estimated cost of insulation and installing a furnace in this building was $10,000 to say nothing of the cost of oil every year. It appears to me the board has circumvented the townspeople intention when the $5,000 limit was enacted several years ago.
Do we need to lower the limit to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future? In today’s economy, where many are out of work and really struggling to put food on the table and clothes on their back I believe that this type of expenditure is uncalled for. One of the petition signers, who had attended and graduated from the OSHA course offered at Central Maine Vocational, told me emphatically that OSHA regulations do not permit port-a-potties inside a building. In fact, it is supposed to be set back a minimum distance from any building to prevent sewer gas from entering a building.
At the selectmen's meeting, held just before the last town meeting, the town garbage truck was brought up as a partial reasoning for even considering this project, saying that the hydraulics and brakes are cold when it is started and might cause maintenance problems.
When I served in the Navy in Iceland, which is just a tad colder then here, they used electric block heaters for the motors and hydraulic tank and brake line antifreeze for the air brakes and had no problems. After all, how has the transfer station managed all this time with out a heated stall for the truck.
I did not attend the meeting where the money was appropriated or the contract for this work was approved, so I have no idea who voted for this expenditure. Please ask the individuals involved.