Ever since the Mayor’s scheme to adulterate Croton’s highly touted water with chemical additives was put forward, Crotonblog has been hoping someone would come forward with a solution. Suddenly it dawned on us! There is an uncomplicated way to give village residents a voice in their own future.
A Questionnaire Is the Answer
New York State law rules out a referendum in this case. But a questionnaire would be an entirely legal way to ascertain residents’ attitudes toward additives—one with plenty of precedent, and an eminently fair method of measuring public opinion.
As we all know, Croton is comfortable with questionnaires—in fact, Croton loves questionnaires. Consider these examples: To find out whether residents wanted changes in the Zoning Ordinance, Croton sent out a questionnaire that told the village what it wanted to know. To find out whether residents wanted a Community Center, and what facilities it should offer, Croton sent out a questionnaire and gathered the desired information.
But did Croton’s officials make any effort to ascertain residents’ opinions about injecting chemical additives into Croton’s water? No, Mayor Schmidt made absolutely no attempt to discover residents’ feelings. His actions say plainly, “Who gives a damn about what the people want?” To this we say, “Just a minute, Mr. Mayor. You work for us—not the other way around.”
Croton residents are understandably concerned about the long-term effects of a decision that is obviously being hastily pushed through at the behest of appointed officials who do not even live in Croton (the Village Manager, Village Engineer, and the head of the Water Department) and a contractor with a vested interest in the outcome.
These same officials won’t have to cook with, prepare infant formula with, or bathe or shower in Croton’s adulterated water. If the resolution were passed, we wouldn’t be surprised to see bottles of Evian or Poland Spring water begin to appear on their desks.
A Decision Too Important to Be Made in Haste
Crotonblog suggests that this proposed change to Croton’s world-famous water is much too important to be made hastily. It is also too crucial to be left to what may be a majority of one—a lone swing vote among the five persons elected to serve the people of Croton. Please note that we said “five persons elected to serve the people of Croton”—not “five persons elected to decide what—in their opinion—is best for the people of Croton.”
One could hardly call a three-to-two vote in favor of additives an example of participatory democracy at work. A quick and simple way for Croton’s five elected officials to gauge the sentiment of residents would be through an inexpensive questionnaire.
Mailed to residents who are registered voters and also available at the Village offices, it need only contain a single question: “Do you want zinc orthophosphate or any other chemical additive injected into Croton’s water?” with a place to mark “Yes” or “No” in ink. To avoid repeat voting, ballots should be signed by voters with their names and addresses. These can be checked for validity by comparison with voter registration records. It would be as simple as that.
Speak Up Now!
This country is spending trillions of our hard-earned tax dollars to bring democracy to the people of Iraq. But democracy, like charity, should begin at home. How about a little old-fashioned democracy for the people of Croton through the medium of a questionnaire?
Residents! Make your voices heard by mail, in e-mails to Trustees, comments to Crotonblog and letters to The Gazette, as well as at the next Village Board meeting, Monday, Oct. 15, 2007.
Demand that the Village Board refrain from voting on any resolution affecting the quality of Croton’s water until the people have spoken through a questionnaire. A list of the e-mail addresses of elected officials follows.
Left to right:
Crotonblog’s advice to residents is to speak now to stop questionable additives from being forced on you, or forever hold your peace. Oops, we could also have said: Speak now to stop questionable additives from being forced on you, or forever hold your nose as you drink Croton’s water.