Transparency in government is something long sought for but seldom found. The Lowell Sun leads the number of requests in this area through the Freedom of Information Act, and even then, they don’t always get the full set of papers. Lately though, both Chelmsford and Lowell have made strides in the right direction.
Chelmsford has changed the way that their town meeting votes. Its now electronic which is more accurate and leads to a voting record of the members. This is an incredible and efficient way to make what can be a somewhat time consuming task. If we did that in Billerica, the amount of time could be up to twenty minutes saved easy. As much as I respect Gil, there have been some close calls and a couple counts were taken to be found for the other side. He is a great moderator and this would help take the pressure of him in that sense as well as save us from having to count actual people.
We have some very talented technical people involved in Town Meeting. The presentations we have seen over the last few years have been impressive. I’m sure we could make something like that happen here. The best part of it all was that it only cost 10,000. I should truly hope that we can find it in our budget to fund that.
In Lowell, after information about the school’s union contracts were leaked, they agreed to have their contract negotiations more public. They reasoned that others did and the whole state of Texas does so why not them. With the way the contracts are set up around here and the fact they’re only released to town meeting a week before the vote and basically threaten you with Union retaliation, it would be refreshing to see the talks in progress. After all, they may be union, but they still work for the town, and as taxpayers we are the ones who ultimately sign their checks so to say. I think it makes total sense for transparency in issues like this. After all, like they always say, if you have nothing to hide, what are you afraid of?
Oh and in comparison, Billerica just got 2 scanners, paid for I believe by a federal grant, they are the scanners that are currently being held up as to their consitutionality in court. The scanners have the capability of scanning up to 5000 cars in an 8 hour shift. The main concern with this is that if every police station had this, then you could be tracked from city to city, violating your right to privacy. The only notice I saw was a small basically one paragraph blurb in the paper.
Between the Sherrif’s Department and the Police Department, we have I don’t know how many deputies in and out of town with the house of corrections and the 76 or so cops. The Sherrif’s Department has the million dollar “Bear” command center. We live in Billerica, and aside from producing a lot of juvenile delinquents and alcoholics, we don’t really have that much crime.
All I can say is, at least this year coming up will be interesting with Town Meeting. Every single one has to run again. I still would love to see who in there works or is related to someone who works in town. Its very convenient how the new school construction contracts we passed this fall went to Chris Duggan, Bernie Duggans son. It was considered not a conflict of interest since Bernie himself won’t be working on the project. Selectman Correnti received funds for his campaign from Linda Calabrese, American Federation of Teachers as well as quite a few unions. No other selectmen received funds from any union. I know it isn’t illegal, but it does seem a conflict of interest as he’s a main voter on things that concern all those. I don’t know why, but in the back of my head, it seems the only way to fix things is a Rico Act. Maybe just wishful thinking.