2013-12-20 / Letters

Council needs to get ad hoc committee right

To the editor:

Prior to its Dec. 4 meeting, the Town Council held a workshop to address the resounding citizen rejection of their amended animal control ordinance.

I applaud the concept of a workshop, though it would have been more effective if the Councilors had actually engaged with the citizens rather than just themselves.

The outcome of the workshop was the general plan of an ad hoc committee to review options for a revised animal control ordinance and make recommendations to the council.

Again, a nice concept. However, the tentative plan for formation of the committee that emerged was deeply flawed.

The general outline of the plan seemed to call for a small committee, perhaps five members.

Of those five members, one is to be a representative of dog owners. So dog owners get a 20 percent voice in the committee’s recommendations in spite of 73 percent of the special election votes being cast in their favor. How does that make any sense?

The opinions of several councilors expressed at the workshop indicated a strong preference that any revised animal control ordinance comply with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “guidelines.” If those opinions are reflected in the charge given to the ad hoc committee, the whole process of the committee soliciting input and making recommendations is pointless.

While I hope that the ad hoc committee will be appropriately representative of the voters who cast ballots in the special election and that the committee’s stated objective will not force a pre-determined outcome, the council workshop offered little evidence that the councilors really heard the voice of the people on Dec. 3.

Stephen Hanly Scarborough

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