Reclaim civility in debating civic affairs
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Frank DiConzo's recent letter, in which he accused certain selectpersons of dragging their feet on the wind development issue, and asserted that they are arrogantly abusing their offices and are essentially "beholden to" or "in the pocket of" the powerful local anti-wind interests.
Although it is my belief that local selectpersons need not worry too much about filling their coffers for the next high-stakes election campaign, or currying favor in order to secure lucrative positions in some Rumford version of K Street when they leave office, I do suppose they could, theoretically, be taking good, old-fashioned bribes.
And perhaps these bribes are coming from an uber-powerful Rumford anti-wind cabal, similar to one Mr. DiConzo might imagine.
There is, however, an alternate explanation for the present wind moratorium and deliberate pace the board has taken concerning wind turbines: that they want to do a good, thorough job on an important issue that will have profound and lasting consequences for this town.
And I think that, whatever decision is eventually made concerning wind turbines, the people who will inevitably disagree with that decision will at least feel less bitter about it if they cannot dismiss the process that produced it as cavalier and rushed.
I would encourage Mr. DiConzo to mull over this second explanation. If he has any actual evidence that the damning alternate picture of the situation he painted is valid, he did not share a single shred of it in his letter.
And, in light of his own infamous Congress Street tree-felling debacle, I would think that Mr. DiConzo of all people would be particularly aware of the need for residents to view our selectpersons' behavior with open minds and patient understanding. After all, at first blush I can think of nothing that betterdemonstrates a woeful lack of judgement and arrogant disregard for proper procedure than a selectman running out early one morning and whacking down trees on the main artery of the town's business district before the appropriate town employees are duly informed or prepared to deal with the debris.
Of course, Mr. DiConzo has explained that very same incident in an entirely different manner, and I truly do believe that the truth of it lies somewhere between the two extremes.
And that is my point. We need can dig ourselves in at two extremes -- like grim soldiers engaged in trench warfare, hanging out with our allies far from the enemy on the other side, pessimistic that much progress will ever be made, regarding the middle ground as the place people go to die -- or we can start the talks.
I'm for talking -- talking to the "other side" with respect, dignity, and understanding -- even more than we feel they deserve.
Doing so will raise both sides up, and raises up the debate itself. Who can deny this is what we need?
Today our political rhetoric, from the national to the local levels, has gotten out of hand. National leaders are placing politicians in crosshairs; a state governor off-handedly tells people "kiss my butt;" locals accuse selectpersons of arrogance and being beholden to certain unnamed special interests without providing evidence. It is all out of hand. Let's all take a deep breath, and reclaim civility in debating civic affairs.