The Right Lane: Legislating by guess


“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about passing ObamaCare.

The good old days have returned to the town of Windham. Do you remember the movie about baseball and the motto was “Build it and they will come?” Then there was the passage of Obamacare, which is where the quotation I used came from. Now it’s Windham’s turn and I can only speculate at this point what will or won’t happen, but I will return to that thought later in the column. It’s not that our local government has given me nothing to write about. Unfortunately, I have been busy going to see doctors or taking someone else to their appointments.

I will start by mentioning that the Windham Town Council vice chairperson a few meetings ago gave his own briefing on his thoughts about Tax Increment Financing. I am not sure, but I would rather like to think that someone else with far more real knowledge about TIFs, especially someone from outside the town council like a college professor or the likes, gives a fair and balanced presentation instead of such a lopsided statement of how great a TIF can be for the town while never mentioning the negative side. Not that I expect this town council to be fair and balanced now or in the future. As far as I am concerned, when it comes to a TIF, everyone pays in one manner or another. But have no fear. I have stated in the past that in order to get a sewer system in the North Windham business area, this town would not hesitate to use a TIF to start and then tax dollars to manage such a system. I am also willing to bet that there will be no attempt to receive a grant or grants for that project. But there goes even more money for another study on sewers for North Windham.

So now I can get down to the juice of this column, but only to a point. I didn’t quite see the end of the joint meeting of the town councilors and planning board members that was held on the 27th of September. I have the opinion that nothing much was accomplished but rather that a whole lot of discomfort and dislikes were aired instead by both sides. However, I say “opinion” because like days of old when VHS tapes of town council meetings used to disappear magically, neither the council meeting of the 26th nor the joint meeting on the 27th have appeared on the town’s website. I also learned that CDs of the meetings are no longer given to the Windham Library, which is the ideal place to store them so residents can see what’s happening in our town.

I must state that, in my opinion, the first few minutes of the joint meeting began as well as could be expected. I came to sense there were tensions in the air, not only between the two groups, but within each group as well. I know town councilors have split into two factions, which is really sad for the residents of Windham. As that joint meeting progressed, or even regressed if you will, I came to the conclusion that something must change drastically within the rooms of Windham Town Hall. I also have concluded that the leadership of both groups should attend extensive meetings about how to run a meeting under Robert’s Rules of Order, as I noticed even the person in charge of the meeting interrupted more than anyone else, which is standard procedure.

Much to my surprise some of town councilors agreed to pass the proposed ordinance on private roads and ways in Windham even though they know it has problems. Some stated, “Pass the ordinance and fix it later.” Well, two of town councilors are up for reelection and I say goodbye. The councilors want the new public works bond to pass. Goodbye as well.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham wonders why government is so fractured.