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OPINION / LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
“Who’s fooling whom?” and “We must win at all costs!” seems to be the name of the game in Bethel lately. And soooo much controversy and soooo much plotting and scheming and secrecy, over soooo many topics. What is happening? We had this quaint little town that is quaint no more.
What happened this past week in a reaction to our story about how a local book store owner chooses which books to promote, and the reality revealed that the owner prefers to push only one side of the hot topic of the gun issue, was very telling about the condition of our community. It is appalling. Instead of discussing the topic at hand, the modus operandi is to blindly tar and feather the messenger in a violent outrage of a tantrum of inaccurate words and regressive behavior. Demeaning your “opponent” or their business with defamation (verbal or written) is more important than discussing the issues at hand intelligently and coming to a solution that appeases all, or giving everyone an equal voice, it seems. What a sad state of affairs. Is this what “freedom of speech” is supposed to mean? That a local business owner can portray herself as neutral when she is not? Nothing illegal with pushing your own personal agenda but then don’t lie about it. Let’s be real here.
You name it, politics, religion, housing, taxes, schools, ensuring information gets to residents properly and in a timely and transparent fashion about government workings, projects or meetings, non-transparency of government (which could spell corruption), these are the present topics. We have it all. The fact that any candidate running for office refuses to interview publicly with anyone at all, or without first having the questions provided to them ahead of time, or that needs to read from a prepared document each time they speak, should immediately eliminate that candidate for consideration of your vote. Period. What kind of game are we playing here? Voters are smarter than having to accept that behavior.
Now we have a person in leadership who, if elected for another term, will most likely push for a mayor/council form of government and more years in a row in office. Right now we have a town meeting form of government where citizens are allowed to make public comment at meetings, and there are hearings and referendums to decide matters, along with your vote regarding various topics of concern throughout the year. In a mayor/council form of government you elect a mayor and council and that’s it, they make the decisions, your power is taken away, even more so in a “strong vs. weak mayor-council” form of government. This is one scary thought especially because our town is a mess even WITH the power citizens have now. What will it be like if all control is handed over to a few? Read: “White: A strong mayor system isn’t the fix for failed leadership” on San Jose Spotlight … “Was this a problem in the form of government or in the people — both appointed and elected — who managed programs, presented recommendations and voted on and/or implemented those recommendations?”
Hold on to your precious vote like gold. Participate in the decision-making process while you can. It has become obvious that there is an invasion of our town like never before, of those seeking power and control with little care for the welfare of citizens, or even of those who aim to destroy our town to push their own agenda. It is happening folks.
How’s it going for you so far? Do you feel your voice is being heard? When you do get a chance to comment on local issues, do you feel the problem is properly addressed, or addressed at all? Are your words recorded properly in the records? Did your letter that you submitted into record recently at a town meeting, mysteriously disappear? (as some have claimed). Are all issues dealt with fairly, or are final decisions leaning towards whichever party has the majority on a commission or committee? Has the political “battle” become all about the win or all about what’s best for the people of Bethel? Are traditions and values being honored? Is our town being developed to it’s best potential for what the people of Bethel want? Or is the greedy green monster of the grasp of money what it’s all about above all else? Do you suddenly feel powerless? Do you suddenly feel poor?
These are all important questions to ask yourself this November when you are in that voting booth, keeping the status quo or chancing a new beginning. Evaluate the candidates properly with research and discussion. Help make Bethel all it can be. Stop this vicious fighting. Elect someone who truly knows the struggles the average family is experiencing and who wants to do something to improve matters. Elect someone who will listen to the people and value their words and include them in the decision-making process on anything.
Are you being given blanket vague statements of how well Bethel is doing, without facts and figures to back those claims? Are you hearing promises without detailed solutions as to exactly how remedies will be enacted? Do the present candidates sound more like snake oil salesmen(women)?
We CAN do better than this. It is time to weed out the troublemakers and strike up the band of truth and justice. It is in your hands. Don’t stand by and be apathetic, it is your quality of life at stake. Be proactive.
Paula Antolini, Editor
BETHEL ADVOCATE News Media