The Brattleboro Charter Blues

Indeed, Ms Starr, the flaws are built into the documents. The social contracts we are obliged to accept wherever we live. A close look at how they work will show how they are designed to limit power, the ability to act, to a very small number and force the vast majority to simply react to what they do. For instance, the people are told that they are limited to participating at just certain times and places. Those times and places are then placed under tight control of that very small elite. The elites write the agenda, maintain total control of the meeting process, have one sided comment periods that excuses themselves from accountability and almost never share the full range of information and what little there is rarely appears in a timely manner.

At the invitation of friends I joined them last night in the viewing of the movie “I Am Not Your Negro.” Almost everything I speak of and allude to in the above paragraph is starkly and excruciatingly played out in the history of the US in relation to black and all other color, ethnic and cultural minorities including a big slice of their own indentured white brethren. The same interpretation of democracy that allowed for this history is closely mirrored in state and municipal charters. This interpretation is designed to maintain the status quo. From Jamestown and Plymouth Rock to this moment our formal structure has locked us into oppression. Our social contracts disabled our ability to see and react to reality. Now it has become clear that what our ruling elites told us was best and greatest was fatally flawed. Mother Nature is bringing us the message. She is not afraid of tear gas and tasers and prisons. She doesn’t care if we film and archive every second of everything she does.

She is about to make the correction she ultimately always makes. It is scary. And we are paralyzed with fear. To this point. But most of us are still alive. We can still make different choices.

If there is anyone out there who wants to live under a better social contract please get in touch.

Comments | 1

  • Someone say charter?

    It feels as if this “moment” is our biggest and best opportunity to make necessary changes. COVID has shown us that it is possible to stop doing a lot of the unnecessary extra things, and to focus on the more necessary and basic.

    Watching it slip away as people act selfishly and for the moment is depressing. Those eager to “return to normal” are of limited imagination, and probably can’t conceive of anything “better”.

    Not quite sure how the Charter got into this conversation (I’m guessing this started on the non-local corporate social media platform that even corporations are now boycotting….), but recent boards have not been very interested in looking at it. When Spoon asked them to re-engage a Charter Change Committee, they dismissed him. Not so much for the idea, but because of who he was. They didn’t like the messenger. A week or two later, a state official spoke to the board about their desire for local control – and told them to make changes to the Charter to push the state legislature. Even with that prompting, and a stated desire for a change to local power, the board hasn’t taken it up.

    They also haven’t taken up the social media policy they quite frequently abuse. Offering up opinions on social media sites about town issues is forbidden. Taking private questions during public meetings is not allowed. The Town Manager is supposed to be overseeing everyone’s social media postings. And so on.

    Perhaps the best way to get rid of the “elite” Charter and status quo is open up Town Meeting to everyone. Abolish RTM as a failed experiment. Let everyone participate fully without any barriers to entry. The requirement to be elected is what maintains the status quo. The rabble is kept out. And that rabble includes a lot of people. Most of them. Over 13,000 of them.

    This can be done with a petition and a successful vote. It was voted down before (and the status quo pulled strings to reject that vote and bring it back from the dead.)

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