Letter: Elected leaders have duty to be informed about and decide on issues

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To the editor,

As a voter, I attended the town meeting held on Monday, Sept. 23. The voters of Beacon Falls were called upon to decide and vote on money transfers to pay for two important matters: funding for part-time police officer wages and vital road improvements. Both measures protect our lives and welfare.

With only 20 voters in attendance, the two measures were approved, one by an 18-0 vote with two abstentions and one by an 18-0 vote with one abstention and one person not even voting. All three sitting members of the Board of Selectmen, both Democrat and Republican, First Selectman Christopher Bielik and selectmen Peter Betkoski and Michael Krenesky voted yes, as did the Democrat running for selectman, Kevin McDuffie.

The abstentions and failure to vote were attributed to first selectman candidate Gerard Smith and selectman candidate Shawn Styfco, both unaffiliated voters and petitioning candidates.

Our elected leaders are entrusted with the duty to be informed about and decide upon issues important to the welfare of the citizens of Beacon Falls. The current selectmen and the active voters all did their jobs Sept. 23. Why didn’t the abstainers?

Ned Grace

Beacon Falls

The writer is a member of the Beacon Falls Democratic Town Committee.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Very good everybody. Short, but pointless.

    Wanna do something? How about full disclosure of all expenditures on the road improvements? Including those paid out to so-called “consultants”.

    Print it in the Citizen’s News.

  2. I’m not sure the point of Mr. Krenesky’s above comment, aside from giving us a history of Roberts Rules of Order. The fact of the matter is that elected officials are called upon to make difficult decisions. I’m not saying that abstaining from a vote isn’t an appropriate at times. Obviously, it has it’s place. A person may not feel they have enough information about a specific issue, may have been absent from prior discussions related to a vote, or has a conflict of interest with the topic at hand. I find it funny that Mr. Krenesky, a public servant himself, is so appalled that Mr. Grace would dare express concern that two candidates running for the top elected office in Beacon Falls- Mr. Smith and Mr. Styfco – were the only two individuals at a meeting of 20 people that opted not to vote yes or no on an issue concerning tax payers. We don’t know where they stand on the issue, only that they abstained from voting. Should citizens express concern that candidates for higher office are unwilling to take a public stand on an issue? Or for Mr. Krenesky, are citizen’s concerns, simply going to be dismissed as “political hack jobs”

  3. If you abstain from a vote, what happens?
    By Ann Macfarlane | April 17, 2015 | 61
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    A council member called me recently with one of the most common errors people make about Robert’s Rules of Order.

    She said, “We have a really controversial vote coming up, and if someone abstains, that counts as a ‘yes’ vote, right?”

    vote-hands
    No, it doesn’t.

    Under Robert’s Rules of Order, you can vote “aye” or you can vote “no,” but you can’t vote “abstain.” To abstain is to do nothing. It is not a vote.

    If you abstain, it can have different effects, depending on the situation that pertains.

    Sometimes, to abstain has the effect of supporting the majority position.
    Example: Your 12-member board of directors is unhappy with the executive director and wants to fire him. Six members are in favor and five are opposed. You agree that he has made a mess of things, but you are a personal friend, so you abstain from voting. If you had voted “no,” the vote would have been six to six, a tied vote, and would have failed. Because you abstained, the executive director gets the sack.

    Sometimes, to abstain has the effect of undermining the majority position.
    Example: Your seven-member council is considering a new ordinance. Three members support it and vote “yes,” two oppose it and vote “no,” and two are undecided and abstain. In your state, an ordinance must receive a “yes” vote from a majority of the entire council. Three is a majority of the five votes cast, but it is not a majority of the full seven members, so the ordinance fails.

    Sometimes, to abstain has no effect.
    Example: You serve on a 21-member board of a local housing authority. They are considering a new rule banning pets in the facilities. 15 members vote in favor, five vote against. You abstain because you think that the board is micromanaging. If you had voted “yes” or you had voted “no,” neither vote would have made any difference. Your abstention has no effect.

    People seem to be very confused on what “to abstain” means. Keep this little cheat-sheet handy, and you’ll be able to shed some light amidst the darkness.

    The real question: Why is Mr Grace and the DTC calling out residents for how they vote? Yes it was a public meeting, but when you cannot get people to show up, it’s ‘bad form’ to call out those that do. Why will people go to meetings if someone is going to attempt to embarrass them. Clearly this was just an attempted political hack job.