Published January 13. 2013 4:00AM
It is not elected individuals or the appointed elite who alone manage our great society, but rather the ordinary citizens who contribute extraordinary ideas, commitment and ideology. Yet in the case of trying to block the planned sale of Thames Valley Communications until more could be learned about its disastrous financial performance, ordinary citizens were ignored.
A Jan. 2 commentary by Groton city attorney Matthew Shafner took to task citizens for being too harsh in their criticisms of paid government employees and elected and appointed volunteer officials. He praised volunteers who oversee the city's water company and electric company.
As a volunteer for many years as a Groton city councilor, Conservation/Inland Wetlands commissioner, former Groton City Democratic vice chairperson and treasurer, and Town of Groton RTM member, I know. Let's face it - sometimes you're loved for your decisions, and sometimes you're not.
Mr. Shafner should know better. His criticism of those who challenge or question an institution's policies or practices, by implying that the critics think that those in charge have evil intent, showed poor analysis and an attempt to divert attention from the real issue.
In the case of TVC, some officials' continual repetitive or concealing behavior must be examined to see why information about a municipally owned company's poor performance (aside from trade agreements) was not brought forward in a timely manner. To suggest that something of this magnitude should not be questioned vigorously is arrogant and negligent. This is a problem.
Citizens believed they had the right to challenge the TVC sale through the petition process. They were unfairly ignored, ostensibly because of fears of a lowered bond rating should the sale be held up.
If information had been brought to the public years sooner, then millions of dollars could have perhaps been saved. We will now pay for something from which we get nothing in return - a bad investment.
The democratic process through referendum should have been the road taken for a decision of this magnitude. Some of us feel that an outside agency should look into the TVC dealings.
Conflicts of interest? Nepotism? Lack of disclosure? Improper company management? Malfeasance?
The services of the elected, appointed and volunteers are appreciated and always should be. Deities and gods, however, we can keep in our religious institutions.
Volunteers are crucial to a democracy's success, as are ethics, humility, and prudence. These themes have guided the city for decades. Why stop now?
Volunteers from the past such as Michael Boucher, Betsy Gibson and others have offered time and energy to give objective advice. The question remains, are those currently in power listening?
When millions of tax dollars is not getting the citizens their properly deserved due, then maybe it is time for a change. Let the people decide.
Andrew Parrella is a former City of Groton councilor.