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Re: SG-W:/AANews Editorial re new Pittsfield administration


I can't speak to the first issue because I'm not familiar with either of the Walters -
maybe one of the local officials can address that.

To your second issue - I think you've oversimplified the issue.  First, it shouldn't be
surprising that a change of administration results in the change of appointed officials -
it happens all the time.  Watch the massive turnover in positions that will occur in
Washington DC when they Republicans come into town after the Ignaguration.  There are
thousands of appointed officials who will be replaced without any regard to their
competency simply because they were appointed by a Democrat and now there is a Republican
administration taking over.

Second, I think there would be some dispute with your characterization of the position of
the Planning Commissioners.  As a Planning Commissioner myself, I appreciate the need for a
level of independence between the Commission and the elected Board.  I'm not a rubberstamp
for anyone and I wouldn't expect any other Planning Commissioner to act likewise.  However,
the Commission should also reflect the values of the community and properly conduct
themselves to protect the interests of the community.

Clearly, those Planning Commissioners were out-of-touch with the values of the community.
When the Chair of the Commission mocks the value of Woodlands and Wetlands ordinances even
when the Township Master Plan highlights the importance of preserving them, something is
out-of-synch.  The Commission was also out-of-touch with the Community with its Central
Area plan amendments. By all accounts, the Commission disregarded public input and pushed
through amendments that appeared only to promote the interests of particular developers. In
this case, the Commission was acting as a rubberstamp to a Township Board that had lost
touch with the citizenry - the election results and the successful petition drive against
Newmarket clearly illustrate that.

Finally, the Commission has a duty to protect the interests of the community and the
legality of the Master Plan.  The new Township Board appeared to have serious reservations
about whether these planning commissioners could fulfill those obligations.  This new
Township Board was clearly elected on the basis of their opposition to the Newmarket Plan.
However, the Planning Commission's extraordinary efforts to muscle through the Plan
demonstrated to the Board that they could not count on the Commission to reflect the
community's position on this issue  A Planning Commission can destroy the legal defenses of
a community simply by acting contrary to the actions of the Board.

Again, no one should act as a rubberstamp.  However, the Planning Commission also needs to
be mindful that they are appointed to represent the interests of the entire community, not
just developers.  When they have shown that they act in ways that will damage the whole of
the community to promote the interests of special interests, they have no one but
themselves to blame when the Board acts, and properly in my view, to replace them.  To
paint those actions as simply differences of opinions ignores the serious legal and ethical
issues involved.

Andrew Mutch

"Kristen A. Gibbs" wrote:

> Seriously, though, I would have some strong criticism for a government
> official that appointed his wife to the second in command after himself.
> Which is, as far as I can tell, what Jim Walter did.
> Is there such a derth of qualified people in the township that he was
> forced to do this? Can anyone address why this is okay?
> The removal of the planning commissioners is a bit troublesome, too, if
> only becuase it sounds like they were unceremoniously kicked out for
> holding a different opinion than the current powers that be on one
> particular issue. That, too, sounds like far too shady a reason to remove
> someone from their position when they have been effective and efficient in
> every other way.
> What is the story behind the editorial, for those who don't live in the
> township?
> -kg

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