News That Matters - July 23, 2013 - The Day After Edition

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Jeff Green

Jul 23, 2013, 9:14:27 AM7/23/13
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I'd like to take this opportunity to once again thank the Putnam County, NY community for banding together to protect our Rail Trail from commercial desecration by a county government that has lost direction and the support of the people it's supposed to represent. That we even had to fight at all could have been avoided had our representatives bothered to ask us our opinion on the matter. But the Legislature and the County Executive, Maryellen Odell, had other ideas and those were to deny our democracy and undo our republic and instead reward their political allies and friends in a crony system that has existed in this county for decades.

Hundreds of you sent emails or made phone calls and signed petitions and scores more came out to meetings to let the county know they were making the wrong decision and in the end, faced with overwhelming opposition, they backed down.

It proves that when the public reaches a critical mass that can change the outcome of an election the government, regardless how corrupt, will listen.

The basic problem in Putnam County is that we're a one-party town. The Legislature and our County Executive are relatively secure from any existing electoral opposition and have been in power for so long that they are able to do as they please. I cannot stress enough how bad this is for any community and one only needs to go back just a little bit in history, to Nassau County in the 1980s, to see how ultimately destructive this is.

Our county legislative chair is resigning to run for town-wide office. Will there be an election to fill the seat? No. The County legislature will select a crony as his replacement and you don't have a voice.

A member of the Kent Town Board is running for re-election with the full knowledge that come January 1st, 2014 he may very well be the one to sit in the open Legislative seat. Should this man run for re-election knowing that he will not serve a day in that capacity for which the people elected him? No. Because the town board will select his replacement and again, you do not have a voice.

In both these instances the trust of the electorate is injured and in both these instances the strangle-hold the status quo has on our community is fortified and in both these instances our democracy dies just a little more. And yet, it's just the way things are in Putnam County, New York and everyone seems just fine with it. Well, I'm not fine with it.

Just because we've won this battle does not mean you can rest! What you must do is to stay just as active and just as adamant in our collective desire to *be* our government, for that's what we are. We either take our democracy seriously or we lose it and in Putnam County it's almost lost. Are we willing to do what's necessary to save it or should we just pack up and ask the person to leave to turn the light out?

You decide. Me? I'm fighting.

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