Wisnewski/My Turn: Answer is compromise
Recent editorials have so distorted the events surrounding mayoral appointments to the Greenfield Planning Board that I feel compelled to provide some facts.
There certainly has been a use of a “litmus test” in the determination of who shall be nominated to the Planning Board. Two different mayors have plainly admitted this. Our first mayor asked applicants one single question about their support of one project. If their answer was even slightly nuanced or thoughtful, they were not nominated. Mayor Martin has simply ensured that these same people are reappointed year after year.
This has resulted in Planning Board members affiliated with the French King project and other major projects (most notably the proposed biomass plant) being dismissive and derisive of public input and failing to provide balanced proceedings which give equal weight to citizens’ concerns and developers’ interests. These concerns have been raised even as most councilors voted to place these members back on the Planning Board again and again.
Yes. That’s right. Members of this current Town Council have repeatedly voted to place members who voted for the French King rezoning back on the Planning Board.
Despite repeated requests and suggestions from the council and members of the public to replace members who act less-than-professional, the mayor has not replaced one single member. Finally, many councilors grew tired of waiting and took action by rejecting a mayoral appointment, not on the basis of one vote but on observation of performance.
The mayor responded by yanking appointees Mr. Touloumtzis and Mr. Roberts who had already been appointed, recommended by the Appointment and Ordinance Committee and placed for a vote on the Town Council agenda. The mayor clearly stated that he withdrew Mr. Touolmtzis and Mr. Roberts due to their suspected positions on the French King rezoning issue. This was not legal, but I and other members of the council decided to seek compromise, rather than pursue a costly court battle that could damage our town.
Next, the mayor recruited a candidate that he knew would vote the way he desired. It is true Mr. Mass is highly qualified but he is no more qualified than Mr. Touloumtzis or Mr. Roberts. Mr. Mass was voted down because a near unanimous number of town councilors were offended by the mayor’s callous treatment of appointees, his distortion of the appointment process and his unwillingness to seek compromise. Don’t take my word for it. Watch our reasoned, polite and thoughtful debate on the GCTV website, www.gctv.org.
Where do we go from here? As I mentioned at the October Town Council Meeting, I propose true compromise. The mayor and I should find, and he should nominate, someone who can judge all projects with professionalism and objectivity then appoint Mr. Mass and either Mr. Touloumtzis or Mr. Roberts to the remaining alternate positions. As with any good compromise, neither side will be completely happy — but the Town of Greenfield will be better off for it.
Mark Wisnewski is Greenfield Town Council president.