Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Down-East Democracy Deals with Culverts

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Down-East Democracy Deals with Culverts

Article excerpt

SOMEBODY running for office admonished us the other day with, "The voters will remember!"

I think not. I happen to have experience in that direction, and while I wish they would, I believe the voters have the finest forgetter in the world.

I was moderator for our down-Maine town meeting for many memorable years, and I don't recall that our voters ever remembered anything from even a year ago. The White Queen told Alice it is a poor sort of memory that only works backward; sometimes I think it's a pretty good memory if it works at all. As an example, I recall something that happened on my maiden flight as Mr. Moderator; we took care of a culvert on the Beech Hill Road.

Just before annual town meeting, the Board of Selectmen must prepare the warrant. This is an agenda of numbered "articles," and the meeting can't take any action that isn't provided for in this warrant. So if you look at the warrant and decide not to involve yourself, you can safely stay home and know nothing will be sneaked in. Also, forewarning gives a chance to ponder and be ready.

So that town meeting day we came to the article about a culvert on the Beech Hill Road. Just the article before, the town had voted without any debate and nary a nay to appropriate $78,000 for new fire equipment, a sizable generosity in those days, and the serenity that prevailed proved misleading. This culvert, quite on the other hand, would involve a half-day's work for two men, and $10 for hackmatack planks.

Sime Balkers arose.

"Mr. Moderator," said he. "I direct a question to the chair. Is this culbert to be in the public way or on private property?"

Moderator: "Will somebody answer the gentleman?"

Selectman Roberts: "We don't know. Depends on what we find when we start to dig. Probably in the town way, but if it extends farther we'll ask for an easement. The situation here is really bad, and something needs to be done. …

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