The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Answering Norman Pinder

Above, I have posted a letter from Norman Pinder, member of the Centreville Town Council, regarding the town council expansion. Because I've had my letter to the editor recently, I can't respond there - so I'm responding here, and on some Centreville and QAC-oriented websites.

Here it is:

Today, Norman Pinder "stated his position" on expanding the Town Council in the Record Observer. Because I've already had my letter to the editor in, I thought that I would respond to his letter here.

The issue of council expansion is not new. Mr. Pinder says as much when he states that he has discussed this issue over the years with Centreville residents. Those conversations, he says, did not impart a "sense of importance". The fact that these discussions have been ongoing undercuts his stated belief that acting on the current proposal would be a hasty gesture - if, indeed, these conversations have occurred, then there has been plenty of deliberation over the years.

In fact, the reasons why this is important, and important to do now, (and why it was important to do yesterday), have been thoroughly aired: the issues of potential liaiblity for council members, the dangerous situation of having two council members constitute a majority, the growing population and growing responsibilities of council members and how two more sets of eyes and ears would be helpful. Those are substantive issues, and yet Mr. Pinder responds to none of them.

Instead of focusing on the merits, Mr. Pinder tries to tar-and-feather the effort. He talks about this as a possible "attempt to place people on the council" who are part of a "special interest group" trying to derail the wharf development.

Mr. Pinder has no basis on which to make this accusation - it is being done so to play on the fears of some Centreville Residents, and to once again fram an issue as "us versus them". It is part and parcel of the demands made by Council Member Roby in questioning Jerry Schram as to the source of his recommendations: don't talk about the merits, shoot the messenger instead.

I can only assume that the "special interest group" to which he refers is the Citizens for a Greater Centreville, or CGC. Well, as someone who has continuously advocated for this governmental change, written about it, spoken in public about it, taken time out of my schedule to work on it, I can say for certain that when it comes to me, I have no relationship to the CGC. I couldn't even tell you who the CGC is, who's in it, what they do, etc.

Besides, if this were about the Wharf, then the group of individuals working on this would be focusing their efforts on the Wharf instead.

The only issue of substance he raises is that of a perceived fear by some that this would undercut representation, and he again tries to feed this fear by talking about the expansion of the County Commission. This, too, is a red herring.

The problems faced by Queen Anne's County generally when it came to electoral politics was one of balance - balance of population versus a balance of geography, a real issue when you are talking about large areas of land. It's one the founders of our nation recognized as they were organizing our government, which is why we have the House and Senate organized differently, and why we have an electoral college to smooth out those population concentration differences when it comes to electing a president.

But for a town like Centreville, a close-knit community, such risks are, in fact, alleviated by expanding the council. First of all, having more people representing a proportionally lower number of citizens means better representation of those people, not less. Think about it, if you have a school that has 100 students and 4 teachers, and the school then decides to add an additional teacher, are the individual students going to get more attention, or less?
Second, the risks of not being adequately representated (presumably because the person elected doesn't live in whichever neighborhood the concerned citizen lives in) exist already - in fact, they're even greater, considering that each election cycle the voters only get one shot at selecting a council member of their choice.

So, in fact, expanding the council alleviates that risk.

I was honestly surprised by Mr. Pinder's statement that he has had, "many conversations with numerous people... who have expressed concerns with an expansion of the council." In the months that this issue has been discussed and debated in town, in conversations on front lawns and porches, in backyards and over meals, while standing in line at the grocery store, none of us who has been working on this issue have heard such concerns expressed.

In fact, reactions have been largely the opposite, wondering when this will happen, saying what a great idea it is, and asking why it hasn't it happened sooner.

It's too bad Mr. Pinder's letter didn't address more of the substance of the proposal, and instead played on the fears of some Centreville residents. In doing so, Mr. Pinder plays the politics of division (a nasty game) and keeps us wallowing in past conflicts.

This proposal isn't about the past or about division. It's about the future - the future of a united community that deserves better.

- Andrew Langer


Post a Comment

<< Home