Village has lost transparency, democracy

This letter is in response to the editorial “Village already past ‘decline’ (June 9). When you have the wrong people in control only to promote their own agendas, the whole region goes into decline. So bigger is not always better.

We in small municipalities have more control as to what we need and want, always thinking of cost, that is until five people in the room and the attorney decided it was their duty “to save” the village.

Whether we pay the highest tax or not in the county, that is to be decided by the residents at a public referendum, not by you adding fuel to the fire in your newspaper.

OBSERVER Publisher John D’Agostino and I have debated the issue of our police department on several occasions and he has stated that high taxes and poverty leads to crime. In this article now you say it all comes down to taxes. High taxes lead to less investment from businesses and residents.

Now which is it? I can tell you your first statement is more correct than your second. Taxes are high, we have poverty and now we have crime. The first two and a half weeks the sheriff was in charge, the village park was vandalized three times: “Nice work!”

Now let’s get down to why the department was dissolved. It was not about money. It was about getting even. The police chief had to make decisions and changes in that department when he took over, things that should have been corrected before. One of the changes involved an employee who was not happy with a change even though it reduced the department budget by tens of thousands of dollars; getting even number one. Then there was conflict of interest by board members and employees that affected the police department; getting even number two.

Let’s now look at all three meetings that have been held. One on April 30 at the Town Hall, the room was full. The first person to speak was the one who said he was sick of the village saving taxpayers money. You thought that was humorous, but he was right. This contract is not going to save taxpayers any money.

Everyone who wanted to speak did. There was one person in the whole room who wanted to dissolve the police department. All the rest were in favor of keeping it. The mayor said at that meeting that people should not get excited because no decision was going to be made. I asked if these decisions were going to be transparent and discussed openly at board meetings. The mayor addressed me by name and said they were going to be transparent and above board. So much for the transparency and above board!

The next was addressed at the village board meeting on June 3. The board room was full. Again one after another people spoke in favor of keeping our police department. No one spoke to dissolve it. If you read the criteria for the public to speak, you have to give your name and address and have three minutes to speak. It started out that way but then protocol was not adhered to, especially by the mayor’s relatives. When I asked how long we had to wait to have a public referendum, the mayor said I was “out of line.” Really, who does that sound like!

Meeting number three was held at the regular board meeting. Again, everyone who wanted to speak did and almost all spoke in favor of keeping the police department. Only one spoke to dissolve it. Of the three meetings and all of the numerous people who spoke, they could only find two people to speak to dissolve the police department. Yet this board listened to no one but these two. I guess they can’t count!

They were more interested in watching the timer for your three minutes than listening to concerns of the voters. The decision on dissolving the police department was not transparent or above board. It was done behind closed doors. It was not discussed openly. They could not even tell us the exact cost or savings, if any.

The town of Hanover is in the process of negotiating their contract now. The last contract had to eliminate the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift to keep the cost in line. You talk of decline, you haven’t seen anything yet. We will have no local laws enforced such as unlicensed cars, property maintenance, illegal parking between sidewalk and curb, parking over sidewalks, electronics set on the curb that cannot be picked up with garbage and a host of other infractions that will not be enforced.

Yes, Mr. D’Agostino, taxes will not go down just because the sheriff is in the village. Every year that cost will rise and eventually, instead of having control of the cost, we will be forced to cut necessary village laws and coverage. Then you will see the decline.

In any municipality the police department is the cornerstone that holds a village together. These five people and attorney have denied us the right to vote on whether to keep and pay for our own police department or dissolve it.

Yes, Mr. D’Agostino, you are on the get even list. Shame on you for falling into the same cesspool as the people in charge.

One person said to me on June 19 that if this country had a totalitarian government you would support it because there would only be one individual government, only one and you had better do what they say.

We ask that the board give the taxpayer the right to vote on this issue at a public referendum. I guess they would be afraid of the outcome. Your reporter was absolutely right. This board “rubber stamped” the sheriff’s contract behind closed doors. Yes, these five people should manage the day to day operation of our village on behalf of the people, but even you, Mr. D’Agostino, might agree that a decision of this magnitude that will change our village in many ways, forever, should be made by a majority vote of the whole community, not just five people. This is an example of what public referendums in our democracy are supposed to be for, but the voters have been unjustly denied and dictated to!

Isn’t it infuriating to the public every time an elected official abuses his/her position to engage in a personal vendetta for relatives/friends!

Anna Frederickson is a Silver Creek resident.