letter to the editor

Balance in Power

Sat, 05/28/2022 - 9:15pm

 What is it that happens to regular people when they are elected to local office?  In general, such individuals could have only dreamed of seeing a salary of $97,000 a year, as in the case of the City of Rockland's push for a Sustainability Coordinator.  Or, RSU 13's School Board's continual support of increases?
Or, (she said, contemplatively), is it that most not, in reality, do they have resources beyond those apparent, and are they cut from the same cloth as the mega-politicians?  How else could they conceivably approve the expenditures that they do, even as they, themselves, will be paying the increases.
Is it an aberrant arrogance that spending money on what they decide is "visionary," and, hence, for "the public good," becomes the norm?  At what point, after being elected, or appointed, does something occur that causes, in their minds, an elevation in status and wisdom above the general populace? 
Are there pressures exerted upon them which only conspiracy theorists could conjure?   Is there an atomic beam to which the appointed and elected are exposed that alters them in ways in which prior to being elected or appointed would make them unrecognizable even to themselves?  Is it the raised dais?
With all the altruistic talk —or rather, rhetoric — concerning housing, paying for utilities, food, and all those essentials, the ongoing disservice to the general public, the electorate, is breathtaking.
Of course, when "education" enters the rhetoric, and the ballot, the general public will pass any budget, even as doing so drops an anvil on the parents and caregivers of students, creating or increasing the crisis of daily sustenance and shelter.  They use all available resources before asking for help, and many will not ask.  
Why is the same not demanded of the elected and appointed?  City Charters can be changed to grant the populace a direct "vote" on expenditures, even as there is great reluctance to "tamper" with what is "on the books," more, I believe, to do with fear of losing power than causing confusion and "nothing" getting accomplished.
And demands can be made to exert greater direct oversight of school districts.  A vote against a school budget is not a vote against education.  (And the time to vote is now at city offices, and in person at the polls on June 14).  It is for, at the very least, administrators and school board members to check their own baggage, for unions to remember that whatever they back has far-reaching effects that diminish overall gains.  (Teachers continue to purchase supplies out-of-pocket).
Officials are elected or hired with the belief that they will always be mindful that they are, like it or not, part of the general populace. Proposing changes in local and state rules may seem onerous. Voting may seem futile. But both are within the power of every registered voter.  Meanwhile, the elected, the appointed, and the hired, need to remember that their position, their status, is but a gift.
Maggie Trout lives in Rockland