Published DateTo the editor,
Reading today's issue (January 24) of The Laconia Daily Sun and the article about the Belknap County Commission's response to the meeting held on Monday, January 21, there was a sense that peasants, in the form of the county delegation, had stormed the Bastile as represented by county headquarters. The phrase "appease misguided leadership", for example, typifies the discourse emanating from County Drive.
"Appease" has many meanings which depend upon context for interpretation. The one most apropos in this instance seems to be: to pacify or attempt to pacify an enemy by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle. I am sorry that the commissioners seem a trifle agitated, as does the county administrator, who asks what the problem is, and so I would offer the following points for consideration:
1. The convention followed the letter of the law as we understand it. We did so with the knowledge that many taxpayers in the county are at a low ebb financially and not with the sense that our hard working employees should be punished instead of rewarded. The eighteen representatives who convened on Monday directly respond to about three thousand residents, many of whom have expressed concern with expanding the budget at this time. The people who showed up on Monday to present their frustration with the budget proposed by the commissioners are not subverters of the process of governance nor are the delegates to the convention. I will concede that democracy can be a bit less tidy than commissioners meeting behind closed doors with budgetary figures revealed only to them.
2. While I appreciate the work of the commissioners on various matters, including the budget, my response to the comment "all your planning ends and their planning now starts" is that, wittingly or not, this captures the essence of our problem. The delegation and the people should be involved in the planning process from the beginning. To avoid a hierarchy
condescending from on high and the subsequent backlash from the public and, possibly, the convention, it would be useful to involve the people and their representatives from the beginning of whatever planning takes place.
Neither the delegation nor the people it represents are the enemy nor are we the "other" but rather should we all seek to move the process along in service to the ideals which we seek to uphold. In my experience, it is not possible to serve and to condescend at one and the same time.
Rep. Richard B. Burchell
Belknap County District 5