Great Barrington needs reasoned governance, not divisive agendas

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By Monday, May 5 Viewpoints  2 Comments

Ah…the good ole days in Great Barrington. Some of us must miss it, because we are trying so hard to bring ‘em back. Remember those days of yore at Select Board meetings? Selectmen yelling at citizens, sarcasm, elected officials with their own agendas, the lovely Housatonic community talking secession? While it may be true that little got accomplished, Monday nights at Town Hall was the most entertaining place to be.

Our current board is boring! They don’t scream and yell at each other, and seem to actually have a bit of respect for the town’s citizens and each other, even when there’s disagreement. By the way, our current board has made and probably will make decisions that I don’t like. Starting the downtown project just as the summer season hits, not making a stand or statement on gun violence, and making a silly decision (in my opinion) over e-cigarettes that have absolutely no second-hand residual affects on others, are just a few. So…should I vote for smart, reasoned governance or entertainment?

I’ve been pondering whom to vote for amongst our two candidates for the Select Board. I have met Ed Abrahams who seems to be an intelligent, thoughtful citizen. I’ve read what he has to say, and it seems to make sense.

I don’t, admittedly, know Mr. John Beebe. I understand that he has recently returned to Great Barrington, and at first thought, I’d be more comfortable voting for him next year — if he decides to run, once he’s re-integrated. I do know a bit of the family, and while it isn’t a sure thing that “a chip off the old block” applies here, I will say that IF it does, Select Board meetings will once again be far more entertaining. After all, isn’t it amusing to scream about meddling big government, sounding very much like the Tea Party extremes, at the same time that one receives huge government subsidies? What’s a voter to do?

Sadly, I think common sense and a desire for our town to move forward may win out, even though it’s less fun…and I like fun. I can’t help but notice that a vast majority of the letters to the editor supporting Mr. Beebe frame the conversation in “us” against “them” terms. I feel left out, because I’m positive that I’m not one of “us” and I don’t know who “them” is.

I do know that the cost of governance…like everything else…is rising. I do know that we now have a Town Manager who can get things done, has a knack for listening to all sides of an issue, and can actually communicate effectively with others.

I do know that state assistance continues to decrease and that our federal government is in trouble and certainly can’t be counted on to assist anyone at a community level.

I do know that our issues are far too important and complicated to split our town into “us” and “them.” Regardless of disagreements, “WE” have to figure it out, calmly, rationally, and reminding ourselves that most of us, regardless of our opinions, are well-meaning. I’d rather tune into Fox News or MSNBC to listen to the extremes. That’s entertainment! However, here at home, where I work and live and socialize, I suppose I’ll be more prudent and vote for smart and empathetic government, and that’s clearly Ed Abrahams. Damn it! It will be more boring, though.


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  1. Ed Abrahams says:

    You hit several nails on the head, especially your assessment of the revenue problem with respect to reduced State and Federal help. Also, 2/3 of our land is owned by the State, nonprofits or farmers who pay less or no taxes. That doesn’t help our tax base but it makes this a beautiful place to live. Our tax issues have little (not nothing, but little) to do with budget waste.

    Thanks for the endorsement. If elected I’ll try not to be too boring at meetings. I won’t yell at anyone but I can juggle and play the harmonica if you think that will help.

    1. Art Ames says:

      Thanks Ed. I think juggling and perhaps wearing an occasional silly hat would help immensely.

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