Letter: Reject this bad idea
Over the years we've lived in places that have had mayors (Burlington, New York City and Northport, N.Y.); a board of supervisors and a town manager (Bennington); a town council without a town manager (Scituate, Rhode Island); and no local government at all (Washington, D.C. in the early '70s). Except for that last, all had their pluses and minuses, although for a time in Northport the two top candidates for election were diner owners and the main issue seemed to be who served the better coffee and scrambled eggs. Eventually both were elected and the voters learned that a talent for hash slinging didn't necessarily prepare someone for running a government.
The issue facing Bennington voters on March 6 isn't just whether to switch from a town manager to a mayor but whether to switch to a mayor who would have the power to veto any action of the select board. This would give him or her a veto-proof authority over every aspect of town government, which is something like they had in Haiti for many years. It's a system with no checks and balances, which is a bad idea.
No one can serve in any job for 26 years without making some mistakes and ruffling some feathers, and that's true of the current town manager, Stu Hurd. But we've also had a government that's been free of any hint of self-dealing or any other form of corruption, and that was remarkably efficient during and after Tropical Storm Irene. In our view, the current system works and for the most part it works well.
Mike Bethel, a chief proponent of this plan to install a veto-proof mayor, has had many bad ideas concerning town government over the years, and the voters, in their wisdom, have rejected most of them. Hopefully they'll reject this one as well.
Tony and Jackie Marro
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