In case we don’t have enough firebombs aimed at this office

My no-good demmerkrat office mate Fudrucker has penned his own op-ed in the Greenwich Time (only posted now or I’d have written about it earlier. As a lawyer, there isn’t much I’m unwilling to do but paying for the Greenwich Time is one of them) pointing out that the Representative Town Meeting is a useless collection of bored citizens disenfranchised and led by the nose by a handful of semi-professional bloviators.

This is news to no one who has ever served on the RTM or had to deal with that body but every time someone of either party – Jim Lash was the latest one to try – suggests cutting it down to a workable size, he’s shut down, crucified and set afire. Why? Because, as Fudrucker points out, a tiny handful of people run the thing – he claims 40, I’d guess 30 – and the road to charter revision runs through them. Or doesn’t, in this case.

A few days ago the same paper looked at the attendance record of RTM members and discovered, not surprisingly, that many members had full lives and little time to hang around on Monday nights rubber-stamping decisions already made for them by their “leaders”. And, while no one among us does not love Chris Von Keyserling, are there minds strong enough to stay alert and attentive through four hours of his monologues? I suspect not. Von Keseryling’s perfect attendance record, and that of Carl Carlson, tell you all you need to know about both men and the RTM.

The annual town meeting in East Holden, Maine, was a different animal. Seventy-five voters might show up and they’d discuss and vote on every item in the budget. Did our constable Eugene Winchenbach really need a new cruiser? He was the only law in town and surely we appreciated that, but that car had just 350,000 miles on it and it was, after all, an Oldsmobile – should be good for another couple of years, at least.

So Eugene had to wait for a new car. Real voters, real power. Not so in the configuration down here, where 2,179 stupefied citizens sweat in uncomfortable chairs and pretend to know what’s going on and pretend to care. Time for a change.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “In case we don’t have enough firebombs aimed at this office

  1. The Duke of Deceptiom

    Is East Holden near Bangor?

    Bangor? The Duke hardly knows her!

  2. Chimney

    You forgot to mention Franklin Bloomer along with those other two stalwarts- would Mr von Keyserling be the same person who used to be just plain Keyserling when we were growing up? What a phony!

  3. Old School von Grump

    Chimney at 5:06 — While I must confess my brain is stuffed with vast tracts of questionable information , I think this one is pertinent: If you legally change your name in this country, you cannot change your surname to a “von.” I guess some distaste for German nobility manifested itself in our legal codes somewhere between … uh … 1914 and 1944, perhaps?

    So perhaps M Keyserling was initially downplaying his actual family name (undoubtedly a wise thing to do for many decades) but now finds it handy to revive it (nothing like an authentic escutcheon on the gates to bump up the value of a property). OR, perhaps it is a faux claim. OR, perhaps it is a typo. In any case, sounds like an interesting avenue to pursue.

    • christopherfountain

      Well if Chris can do it, maybe I’ll go back to de la Fontaine and win back my ex countryman readers I’ve offended.

  4. Greenwich Gal

    Well that is very funny indeed but why not move on to the more pertinent topic of this thread which is changing the town charter. I moved here from MUCH less “chic” environs – can’t say where, would give away my identity, but let’s just say I am regularly teased about it. Nevertheless – I never thought that GREENWICH would be such a backwards place. A place where they tear down the marvelous structures that would otherwise be assets (The former mansion at Tod’s Point for example. ) A place where some schools are allowed to rot. Truly – there is no town sewer practically, no cell phone reception, bad cable hookups, no town trash pick up and the place is run like a medieval town hall – the star court or something. I am waiting for them to burn some witches at the stake! Greenwich is a great place but just think how much better it could be with smart and forward thinking leadership. Unfortunately, because off the RTM and 17th century business model, the leaders can’t lead! For God’s sake let’s change the town charter and get some progress around here.

  5. Stanwich

    Oooooo, Greenwich Gal, you have no idea what you are talking about. Most of the things you cite are not controlled by the town, especially cable hook-ups (we already have one inept bureaucracy taking care of that).

    I hate to agree with Frank Farricker but he is right on one point — the RTM is lead by a small group of actively involved people. That is not to say that anyone who wanted to be actively involved wouldn’t be afforded the same opportunity . But this is where I stop agreeing with Frankie. The slow, monlithic nature of the RTM serves a very important organizational purpose — it prevents (or retards) the growth of spending in town.

    First Selectman is elected every 2 years. Same with the RTM. And local elections don’t always lend themselves to the most qualified candidates because it is an even smaller and more provincial group of characters that nominate the candidates — the dreaded Republican and Demoncratic Town Committees. If you thought the RTM was an insular group, just go to one of the RTC meetings and be prepared to be blown away.

    The point being, the “aparatus” of government is merely a tool used by the RTC and DTC. Everything is in essence controlled by them.

  6. Old School Grump

    Greenwich Gal at 8:23 –

    The cell phone reception is no mystery; when town residents have a real NIMBY attitude towards cell phone towers, then — voila! — you don’t have very good cell phone service.

    As to the trash pick-up thing, I don’t know that a town-run operation would ultimately be less expensive per household than the private carters, given how spread out the town is. (Plus you can always save a few bucks and expand your horizons by frequenting Le Transfer Station yourself.)

    Cable hook-ups and sewer lines also probably suffer from the way the town is so spread out. Ditto road maintenance and snowplowing.

    I think it is the combo of low taxes plus low population density that add up to the low level of services that you observe.

    The other end of the spectrum in high-end commuter suburbs on the MetroNorth lines would be Bronxville, NY: teeny town (one square mile) teeny population (one school building serves K-12), zero diversity of any type (makes Greenwich look like the United Nations) and killer taxes.

    • christopherfountain

      Thanks, Grump. I was going to make those points but you spared me the labor. I’m all for private garbage pick up, by the way, especially since the Mafia seems to have lost its grip and territories are no longer assigned to one, and only one trucker. The town would only do worse, at greater expense.

  7. Greenwich Gal

    Hey – I know this – but this is also stuff we readily had in my previous community. Imagine my surprise to come to the fabled Greenwich and find that most great properties have crapy septic systems. Yuck, I say. Besides, it is fun to rail a bit, no? I just think that the town structure could use updating and we could do better in many areas, don’t you agree?

  8. Old School Grump

    Speaking of the crappy septic systems Greenwich Gal just referred to, here’s a question for CF I’ve always been curious about …

    is Greenwich like some other municipalities in that people or developers who create a “private” street have to pay out of their own pockets to bring town sewer to their street? I’m not just talking about hook-up from the house to the main, but getting the main there in the first place.

    Same deal for road paving and maintenance, and for snowplowing, and for any streetlights?

    That would explain a lot of the crummy septic systems.

    Me, I was such an urban doofus that it never occurred to me to even ask if the houses we were looking at had town water and sewer, I just assumed they all did.