To the Editor,
The Selectmen’s public forum Thursday on whether Manchester should join the North Shore Regional Dispatch may have been effective in staging the case for regionalizing public safety dispatch operations, but the public hearing lacked a key ingredient: hearing from the public. I would offer the following points of consideration for the BOS moving forward:
1. The 7:30 p.m. agenda item started over 30 minutes late; the Chair spoke, the Chiefs spoke, Board members spoke, it was nearly 9 p.m. before the public was allowed to speak. There were eight of you, more than 70 of us, and you had more airtime than we did when you closed the discussion. I certainly would like to know what Ray Ozzie would have said … that is a loss. Please place all the correspondence you have received from residents on the website, and identify the location.
2. To begin the forum by chastising Facebook users seemed a delusional extension of your “authority” as a Board, and serves to affirm the fact that this group has an influence and legitimacy that non-users do not. While you may have intended just the opposite, as a non-FBooker, I do wonder what conversations users are having that you don’t like? Please be aware that there is a sizable population in town that you are not hearing from or reaching out to … they are not on Facebook, they are not proficient on a computer, cannot attend ZOOM meetings, can barely use a cell phone, and are intimidated at the prospect of contacting you publicly … a shame.
3. The second caller's question (Anton) re: the reasons for the decline or mismanagement of our safety services, was dismissed out of hand as focusing on the past, not on the future. He deserves an apology. Taxpayers have every right to understand how and why we have come to what Mr. Federspiel describes as this “critical point”, so figure it out. To ignore the question is to ignore accountability and invite recurrence. It rather echoes the refusal of some to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capital, because, “it’s time to move on.”
4. On several occasions, resident opposition to the move has been described by Mr. Federspiel as based on “emotional" factors. The implication is that this opposition is therefore “non-rational” and hence, less worthy of consideration, or less grounded in reality. I disagree. Not only is the label reductionist, and vaguely misogynous, but it attempts to evade the very real management and technical difficulties that STILL plague the Center. Would that our own resident Amesbury official could have given us more of the truth! Furthermore, the “hard sell” we’re getting today, neglects to profile or cost out the future financial implications of these fictionally improved services.
5. Likely, we all pay for fire insurance on our homes for the one time we need it. We don’t view this statistically, and even if we haven't ever used it, thankfully, we don’t cancel it. I want to pay for a 24/7, lights on, graveyard shift in Manchester, because for the one time I need it, it will be there. How can you justify spending $52 million for a new school, and then defend spending a pittance on Police and Fire Safety? The move to Middleton is unencumbered by critical thought.
Sheila P. Hill, Manchester