Turning the Ship

82

We are accused from time to time of seeing only the dark side of Town government, but that’s part of our role as a public watchdog. We are acutely aware that we see more of Town government than anyone not employed by the Town. In 10 years, we have never missed covering a Town Council or Local Planning Agency meeting, and we hit about 95% of Fire Board and Library Board meetings. We see and hear a lot more than the average citizen. That brings with it, the responsibility to call out problems where we see them.

On the other hand, we also have the chance to notice when something is going well, or turning in the right direction, and the responsibility to mention that when we see it.

Such is the Town’s recent efforts to clean up some of the Town’s really old and some would say questionable, code enforcement fines. They got a good start recently addressing Beach Baptist’s liens, reducing them and closing a long chapter of unproductive conflict.

At that same meeting council instructed Town Manager Roger Hernstadt to work with another case where years’ worth of fines and liens, often questionable, have accumulated, tying up properties that could be under renovation. We need more of that. Nobody is getting off without paying something, and no one is being given carte blanche to do whatever they want. It’s time to move forward. Code Enforcement fines have quadrupled in the past three years and Council is acutely aware of residents’ dissatisfaction with the Town in this area. Clearing up some of these old fines is a good place to start to turn this ship around.

We applaud Town Council’s efforts to begin a new chapter in town Code Enforcement and hope they continue this process.

Anonymous

Anyone who reads this space regularly knows how we feel about anonymity.

If someone won’t own their words, then their words aren’t worth very much. We don’t accept unsigned letters, and we get some doozies. But apparently, some in our community, despite previous public outcry against anonymous Political Action Committees and their “interference” in our small town elections, are now doing that very same thing. Quite a 180. So anonymous PACs are ok, but only if they support your views.

The 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision allowed unlimited political spending so long as it wasn’t “coordinated” with a candidate or campaign. PAC money is nearly impossible to trace to a human being, which is just how they like it. PACs move money from one PAC to another and then 5-6 more.

The bottom line is, a PAC can send out mailers and postcards without getting the permission of the candidate they mention. In fact, if they coordinate with that candidate, the candidate must declare the support as a campaign contribution. So usually, or at least officially, the PAC stays far away from the candidate to protect them. All the candidate can do is let people know they weren’t consulted and state whether they agree with the aims of the PAC or not, and the aims of the PAC currently infesting our local election are pretty clear.