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Rain Barrels

In a few weeks we will be going to the polls to elect several members of the School Committee and a Select Board member. Unfortunately, these elections turn out to be popularity contests, with very little biographical data provided to help us make a wise selection. What do I mean by that? Having the wrong people in positions of authority can create havoc. For instance, at the start of fiscal '08 our Town Manager introduced us to an "ascending rate" water/sewer program. What a fiasco that was! Then mid-way through '08 she came to the town for an additional $2.1 million to be able to get through the balance of the year. Excellent fiscal planning! For fiscal '09 her proposed budget is up eight percent over '08 when almost every major city in the country is reducing their spending in the face of an imminent recession. They have also stated they will recoup any lost funds due to the water/sewer rebate by raising those rates 30 percent in '09. Does that mean the rebate was not for real if we give back the money at a later date? By now we know our adversaries, and that sort of an action can be expected. And, yes, I used the term adversary to describe the feeling between the citizens and our current managers. I wonder what new plans, programs or systems our management team is investigating now? I didn't have to wait very long as on page B2 of the April 23 edition of the Republican was the announcement of a revolutionary, dynamic plan by the town of Longmeadow to "help residents conserve water, save money, and reduce storm water runoff." They have a "rain barrel" program. Why hadn't we thought of that before? Perhaps it was due to the fact that people tend to look forward, into the future where rain barrels are an anachronism, and not back to the 19th century when rain barrels were, in fact, an essential part of early survival. Right on, Longmeadow! Keep that think tank working. Given enough time maybe we'll reinvent the wheel. Sam Altman Longmeadow
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