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May 25, 2018

5/11/2018 7:29:00 AM
Boulder Junction hijacked - A call for action

To the Editor:

There are few topics in politics - even local politics - that are universally agreed upon. In fact, I cannot think of even two. But one that I will argue is inarguable is the need for safeguards regarding financial matters, as well as reasonable checks and balances. These well-known structures protect everyone involved - including the clerks, the treasurers, the deputies, the town board members, the chairmen - and ultimately the taxpayers.

This letter is a call for action.

Following through with financial safeguards was the major topic at the May 1 Boulder Junction town meeting, but for at least half of the 20 or so people that attended this adjourned annual meeting, we witnessed what felt to be a parallel universe where reasonable agreements to protect everybody - already signed, sealed and delivered by the board - ultimately meant nothing.

You see, back in December of 2017 the Boulder Junction Town Board moved and approved adoption of an Investment Policy wherein they agreed to implement seven (7) financial internal safeguards in order to obtain a good interest rate on the $5 million bond they obtained for road maintenance.

That's a good decision, you would think- "a no brainer," exclaimed supervisor Wes Johnson back in December when the clerk presented the paperwork to him at the board meeting. I agree - it was an excellent idea - except that they seemingly had no intention of following through with said safeguards. They just took the low interest rate and dropped the matter.

The seven (7) safeguards were to be put in place before the $5 million arrived in the town treasury. The Investment Policy listing these safeguards was approved by the board in December 2017; the $5 million arrived in March 2018; this meeting of the electors was in May 2018. OK, so the money's here; yet no agreed-to safeguards are in place nor have they even been discussed.

Do we citizens have to do everything? This is getting quite tiresome.

From their reactions at the meeting, one could not help but think that none of our elected officials had even read the four-page document, this Investment Policy. They just passed a motion agreeing to it hearing "lower interest rate." They got the interest rate they wanted with a quick and swift motion - or so they thought. And no mention had ever been made that implementing the safeguards should be placed on a board member or clerk's plate, on any future agenda or any to-do list.

Five months passed by with no action or follow through. Now just frantic questions and blank stares.

You must be thinking that's quite "the story." Oh, no, it gets worse. The worst of the worst.

At this same May 1 electors meeting - after everyone involved confirmed that the agreement had been passed by board vote in December and that it was all a very good idea - a motion was made by an elector to have the town board finally begin implementing those seven (7) financial safeguards, checks and balances, as it were, and then simply report back to the people at a special meeting of the electors.

A second was made to the motion, and much discussion ensued. Electors asked to see the specifics of the Investment Policy. Such information was provided. All questions were answered. Board members nodded agreeably and exclaimed that safeguards were now a top priority.

With all this head nodding and everyone being on board, how did the motion then fail to pass? This "no-brainer" resulted in a tie vote of 10-10 when - at the end of the hand count so they had to be aware that their votes were the deciding votes - supervisors Johnson and McGann and clerk Moraczewski all three voted no; and - last to vote - chairman Reuss chose to abstain. Had Reuss voted yes, the motion would have carried. He knew that tied votes kill motions - and that's just what he did - Reuss killed the motion at 10-10.

Our four elected officials had just voted down the very action that the very same elected officials had agreed to do (last December); and then also, on this same night, had agreed that it should be done.

Huh? I'd rewind it for you if I could. It's a puzzler.

When questioned as to why he voted down what he supported doing during discussion, supervisor McGann angrily proclaimed, If you don't like the way I vote, then don't vote for me in next April's election.

Well, maybe I will, maybe I won't vote for you - but for right now, you are my elected town official and you have a job to do. I would ask that you do it honorably and straightforwardly. Stop the nonsense.

This call for action is to get more people involved. Show up. Vote when it counts. Run for an elected position.

The bigger the vote count, the broader the perspectives are in decision making, ultimately resulting in very good things for the community.

And that is, after all, the end game. Good things for our community.

Sign up to receive notifications of meetings at clerk@boulderjunction.

org or 715-385-2220 or townofboulderjunction.org. The notifications come via email.

Barbara Boston

Boulder Junction

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