We are in the middle of a very dangerous trend in Vernon.
The Town Administrator, the Director of Public Works, and the Executive Assistant to the Mayor have each held elected office in town. Each was hired for their current position with no prior experience.
The Economic Development Coordinator and the new Zoning Enforcement Officer are clients of the Mayor. Neither has prior experience.
The Chairman of the Republican Town Committee is our Town Attorney. And without notice to the Planning & Zoning Commission, the Mayor has retained the law firm of a political crony (the soon-to-be-former Mayor of Manchester) to redraft our zoning regulations.
Look at the current roster of candidates for Town Council and Board of Education. Many, too many, are the same names, moving from commission to commission as the deck get shuffled once again. More and more, the Town Hall is becoming the clubhouse of an exclusive fraternity, whose members play war games against each other at the Town’s expense.
And now they are infiltrating the Town staff, taking over the very jobs that we depend upon to be carried out in a neutral and non-partisan manner.
None of this is a secret – all of these facts have been dutifully reported by the press. So how did it happen? It’s simple: we let it happen.
We’ve stopped paying attention. Little more than a third of registered voters in Town voted in the last mayoral election. There is no longer the annual public debate over the town budget that occurred through the referendum process – and this is thought to be a good thing. And I’m finding more and more intelligent and thoughtful people in town that don’t even bother to follow the local news.
So as we immerse ourselves in the background noise of social media, as we press our noses against our blackberries and iPhones (I own one of each, by the way), as we obsess over trivial events that don’t concern us, we are losing control of our government.
We’ve let ourselves down. And worse, we’ve let down many people with energy and enthusiasm and ideas that are being discouraged and penalized for not being part of the inner circle. When these people finally lose their resolve, we may as well close up shop.
It’s time to hit the reset button, and to become re-engaged in the process of self-government.