2018-05-03 / Editorial

Decision for joint bond is bad policy, insulting to voters

ANOTHER VIEW
BY BLAKE DICKINSON

Taking away people’s ability to choose an up-or-down vote on individual bond referendums is not good policy.

By now, everyone is not only talking about consolidating the library, schools and clubhouse into a single no-choice bond question, but they also have coordinated a petition drive to influence the government into reconsidering the referendum by placing the three questions separately on the November ballot.

Quite frankly, I figured Jamestown voters would be somewhat put off by the town council taking away their rights to choose between three separate issues in November. I underestimated the level of dissatisfaction from voters to having their intelligence insulted and by the arrogance shown toward them for not knowing what’s best for them because the rate of borrowing may go up. The choice they have been given is you’ll get all or nothing.

I took the time to participate in the signature collection initiative. I cannot speak for the many others collecting signatures, but I will say that I collected more than 100 in a short time. Only three voters avoided my solicitation. That is telling. The feedback I received described the single bond effort as not transparent, shady and underhanded.

Even without this trickery, one still would have to question each issue on its own merits.

For example, why is it the care and custody of the school buildings, which every budget year is described as exemplary, are on the verge of catastrophe now that Providence needs new schools?

It is unfortunate the same special interest groups are obsessed with reconstituting the proposed community center, which initially was planned at the Portuguese American Citizens Club community center, to the golf course — oh, and by the way, at the expense of the taxpayers of Jamestown.

We have a community center; it’s called the recreation center. It is crystal clear that without attaching the golf course clubhouse onto the backs of the children at the schools and the friends at the library, the initiative was doomed to be rejected.

On the positive side, in the interest of taxpayers, it seems like an appropriate time to look at the utilization of the recreation center; a beautiful waterfront property that has much market value to the citizens of Jamestown. Why has this facility been overlooked? If there is a need for a multi-purpose facility in town, why is the building we own not sufficient? If there is no need, or if it does not provide adequate space, why do we have the facility? Nostalgia is not a justification.

There is no amount of government accounting that makes removing one’s ability to vote for an issue based upon its merits.

In the realm of ideas, support for these issues have challenges of their own. However, each issue deserves individual scrutiny and voter approval. To take that away is not appropriate, particularly in this community.

Like other voters in Jamestown, I think I am smart enough — and think it’s my right — to exercise the ability on whether to approve each individual bond item in the voting booth in November.

Blake Dickinson is a member of the town council.

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