Tonight Mayor Bob Hall celebrates what he considers a major accomplishment of his administration – the sale of Charlestown’s water utility to a private, for-profit water company.
Tonight I find myself tongue-tied as I try to express my extreme disappointment with his celebration. How do I find adequate words to describe a person’s elation about his ability to circumvent and adulterate the democratic process upon which our government is founded?
Before you think this is yet another post about why we shouldn’t sell the water, let me stop you and make sure you understand fully the meaning of this post.
My irritation has nothing to do with with whether or not the sale was a good decision or a bad decision. Whether you want the sale or hate the sale is unimportant tonight.
Tonight we should all be united as one mind on this: disgust at the way the current administration ignored democratic principles to force this sale through.
We should have had a vote.
The petition and remonstrance process was completed as allowed by law. Last year’s ballot should have included a referendum asking the simple question, “Shall the City of Charlestown sell its water utility? Yes or No.” Instead Mayor Hall used a legal loophole to deny us that vote.
And this is what Mayor Hall celebrates tonight. Not the solution to Charlestown’s long-term water issue. Not the successful implementation of an election promise. He celebrates complete disregard for our democracy.
For those one-third of the water customers who signed the petition seeking to bring this issue to a vote – I feel your pain tonight.
For those who have supported the sale from the beginning, I hope you will pause and honestly reflect on the process that denied even you the right to vote in favor of the sale. You happen to stand on the winning side tonight, but can you guarantee that you will always do so under the leadership of someone who disregards the fundamental processes that govern our community?
When words fail we have but one option…
We must let our VOTES speak for us.
When you cast your ballots in the elections this year vote in favor of democracy. Vote in favor of leaders who remember that all governmental power is “inherent in the People.”
Words fail me tonight so let me close by borrowing the words of one of my college mentors that most adequately summarize my thoughts:
“Nothing is more vital to democracy than public discussion, spirited and lively debate, and advocacy.”
– E. Culpepper “Cully” Clark