The events of the last few months has me confused… perplexed… even somewhat baffled one could say.
What events are those? The republican presidential primary battle? The recallWalkerefforts? The occupy movement?
Nope.. what has me at nearly a loss for words is the complete and total regression in the village leadership for Weston. That community that I used to use as model for how municipal government is supposed to work… That community that “got it”… That community that I used to consider the best governed in the state… That community that has basically mastered the art of stakeholder input… well THAT community has completely lost touch.
Weston’s “LEADER”-ship has de-volved into Weston’s dictatorship. They have become yet one more unit of government that knows what’s best for their citizens and taxpayers. They no longer need to listen to other opinions, or even ask for the thoughts of those whom they govern. You either agree with the Weston leadership, or you are in the way.
These are some pretty strong words coming from me. I tend to be fairly objective when I criticize… but alas so great is my level of disappointment with the leaders of Weston that I have no choice but to say what I really think.
This entire thing comes from the bus/public transportation issue. Weston has always been a very good steward of tax dollars. So, when they originally were going to cut public transportation because the Village simply couldn’t afford to spend $100,000 on something very few people use. Well… I get that. As a tax payer, I don’t necessarily disagree with the fiscal argument. (How I feel about the social argument may be a different matter, but that I have already blogged about.)
However, the more this situation evolves… I can’t help but think that this is not a fiscal issue at all… but it smells a lot like a social issue. It smells a lot like theVillageofWestondoesn’t want the “kind of people” who use public transportation, and the Village can eliminate even having those people there by just eliminating the bus. The Village wants the young professionals. They don’t want the disabled, or the elderly, or those on a fixed income.
How can I draw such a conclusion… well let’s look at how this situation evolved.
– Weston announces very early this year they are ending bus service as of 2012 because the $100,000 doesn’t make sense based on the number of people who use this service.
– Transit system officials come back with a proposal cutting drastically the number of runs the bus makes, cutting the total cost by nearly two-thirds. Weston had originally said they would not revisit the issue unless there was some drastic changes in what it cost. Well, cutting the cost to well under half was not “drastic” enough and Weston refused to re-visit the issue.
– Weston was going to make keeping bus service the taxpayer question of the month on their website, but then decided there was no reason to get input from the public and it informed staff to not make it a question.
– Bus riders unite, organize, and get a significant number of signatures on a petition that would force the Village to make bus service a referendum item.
– Even with the large number of signers (who are Village residents and taxpayers), the Village decides not to revisit bus service for 2012, but will instead let it go to referendum so that citizens can decide if bus service should return in 2013.
– The most recent development is that Weston’s Attorney had deemed the referendum illegal. What I think happened, is that Weston’s leadership didn’t want this referendum to happen and tasked their attorney with trying to find some loop-hole to justify NOT putting this question up to referendum.
If this was about the money, you had me. It is becoming very clear this has absolutely nothing to do about the money. The cost was cut drastically, and still Weston would not reconsider. A petition was signed by thousands, and still Weston would not reconsider.
What is the harm in the referendum? If the vast majority of Weston residents don’t feel the bus service is worth spending tax money on, let it go to a vote and let the people decide. Village leaders will then be vindicated. The public will have spoken and the bus service will justifiably end.
But… the only reason I can see for Weston to try so hard to keep this off the ballot is because they fear that the general public DOES understand the role that public transportation plays. And if the electorate decides that bus service stays… then of course that undesirable population that comes with bus service also stays.
That is the conclusion I draw from all of this… I don’t see how a different conclusion can be drawn. If it is about the money, why not put it to a vote? After all, law freezes how much in property taxes can be charged unless an increase is put to voters in a referendum, and that is exactly what this is.
So… once again.. the government knows what’s better for the people than the people they govern. I expect this from those idiots in congress… I expect this from those idiots inMadison. It doesn’t surprise when this happens inWausau. But… for Weston to decide to get on that bandwagon – well.. there goes the neighborhood…