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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Cease and desist the distortions


By Brian Fleisher

Why is it that when the rules are followed but people don't get what they want it becomes a "mockery of democracy"? The article last week is a classic example of the unfortunate emotional hyperbole and distortion that has come to characterize our current discussions of issues on both the national and local level. I would like to think Waitsfield can be better than that.

The second vote on the water project was substantially changed from the first to provide a no-cost fire protection system and reduce the user costs. That is why it was allowed to be revoted. As I described last week, five percent of the voters had the legal right to call for a revote and did so.

Imagine if the water system had passed on the second vote and five percent of the voters then petitioned for a revote to try to defeat it. Would Mr. Richards still be calling that a "mockery of democracy"? I'm sure he wouldn't.

Would the five percent of voters opposed to the system that "keep forcing a vote on the same issue over and over again (be) unconscionable?" I'm sure not in his eyes. There is no way after September 9 there can be another vote called by either side unless the project is substantially changed. No way "the developers could force five votes on this issue per year." This is totally false.

And speaking of developers, how does Mr. Richards account for the fact that the 60 or more homes in the VerdMont trailer park, Evergreen Place and Mad River Meadows as well as the Waitsfield Elementary School all plan to connect to the water system? As well as many more individual homeowners and businesses who currently have poor water quality or insufficient volume. Only for the developers? Hardly. Yes, some landowners in Irasville will benefit, but so will every home increase in value that has access to the municipal water system.

Is the no-cost hydrant system only for the developers? Of course not. And I don't know how many times this has to be said, but only the users connected to the system will pay for it. There will be no tax increase. This is a legal requirement of the USDA Rural Development funding for the project.

The "challenge to democracy" is coming from Mr. Richards who is completely distorting the issue by appealing to fear, calling due process an assault on democracy and claiming a few people are manipulating the town for their personal benefit. The real issue is whether this project as presented is a reasonable choice to provide a much needed water system in this town.

Vote for or against the system, but please do so based on facts and not on distortions. Attend the informational meetings or come by the Citizens for Water table at the Farmers' Market for an honest discussion.

Brian Fleisher lives in Waitsfield.

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