Wind: 5 mph
To The Editor:
So another page in the strange tale of the new Waitsfield Town Office has been turned and, in the words of Alice (of Wonderland fame), the story is becoming "curiouser and curiouser."
For a community-minded citizen to contribute a sizeable amount of money to support one side of the vote is strange and for the select board to accept the donation, with strings attached, before the next vote is taken, is even stranger. Most Vermonters would agree that money can swamp the democratic process and while $100,000 is not a huge amount in terms of a national election, it is a significant amount when imposed on a vote in a small village like Waitsfield.
While it is admirable that a wealthy individual wants to contribute to the cost of a new town office, why would it matter to that person where it is built? Do they stand to gain something in return if a particular location is chosen? Is this a cynical attempt to sway the upcoming vote? And why would the select board accept the money and publicize it before the vote? Are they already certain of the outcome? Do we need to have independent observers present as the votes are counted?
Common sense and a bit of life experience would indicate that there's something fishy here that is giving off an increasingly foul odor. It is not easy to describe the scent, though I'm pretty sure it is not that of a freshly baked apple pie. Instead, I detect a hint of old, stale cronyism, the subtle stench of a conflict of interest or two and maybe, and I'm not sure about this, just a whiff of an attempt to buy votes, all of this combined with the aroma of cigar smoke and an overflowing chamber pot.