Letter: Kill the town meeting?

Bill Davidson’s proposal to eliminate any meaningful activity by the town meeting (Letters, May 23) is puzzling, disturbing, and seemingly uninformed on the history of the town and state we call home. The Fundamental Orders for Connecticut of 1639 was possibly the first written constitution ever. Ridgefield has a 300-year history of town meetings making decisions that affect its people. Now he wishes to throw this proud tradition of democracy on the ash heap of expediency.

He seems discomfited over the possibility that 108 people at the town meeting might modify the preferences of only 14 people — the combined memberships of the Board of Education and the Board of Finance. He ascribes to those 14 people “extensive analysis and careful deliberation,” as though the rest of us could not and did not do the same.

This thinking reflects Woodrow Wilson’s attempt to corrupt American democracy by importing the German “professional” model of governance, substituting the “expert” preferences of the “enlightened few” for the determinations by the people. When it comes to budgets, the people as a whole are the only experts. It is our money that is being taken. It does not belong to the politicians and bureaucrats. We, and only we, should decide how much government may compel us to surrender and for what purposes it can be spent.

If larger numbers are the objective, then I have a counterproposal. Just eliminate the town meeting. But require a majority of registered voters to approve any spending increase. Better yet, require a majority of resident citizens over age 18 to approve any spending increase. Still better, require a 2/3s majority. If a substantial majority of the affected people will not agree to pay more money, then government should not be permitted to take it from us.

— John Early

Fieldcrest Drive, May 29

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