Editorial: Our stance on the two ballot questions

  • STAFF ILLUSTRATION/ANDY CASTILLO

Published: 11/2/2019 7:44:10 AM

A city’s laws reflect the values of its people. Speed limits dictate how fast vehicles can traverse roads — slower in densely populated areas, faster in open spaces. Local ordinances dictate what residents can and cannot do. Zoning maps define a city’s economic vision and create a guideline for future urban planning.

For this reason, we support the Safe City ordinance that’s on the Nov. 5 ballot in Greenfield.

If passed, the ordinance would prohibit city officials from asking about a person’s immigration status, targeting someone or discriminating against an institution that’s providing refuge to immigrants and their families. Additionally, it would prevent anyone from taking law enforcement action against another person on the basis of perceived immigration status.

The measure has a history. In 2017, a Sanctuary City ordinance was defeated in the City Council by a vote of four in favor and six opposed. These years later, however, it continues to be debated without a resolution. Because of that, we’re glad it’s on the ballot — let the people decide.

Notably, our stance on this issue is not a reflection on the city’s police department, which we feel operates in a respectful and morally upright manner toward immigrants. Likewise, it’s not a commentary on the city as a whole. Rather, it’s a political statement to our leaders in Washington, some of whom have set a precedent of enacting policies against those most vulnerable among us — undocumented immigrants and refugees fleeing persecution from home nations.

In some ways, the ordinance is somewhat redundant.

Mayor William Martin issued an executive order prohibiting local police from working with federal immigration authorities without the express permission of the mayor. It's important to distinguish that, if Tuesday’s vote fails, the mayor’s executive order will remain in place. The measure would take the issue a step further, codifying these statements into municipal law for all city employees.

America has always been a nation of immigrants. Its power lies in diversity. Locally, everyone who lives in Greenfield knows that it’s a welcoming place. This ordinance is an extension of the city’s good will. In that vein, we hope Greenfield’s residents will join us in voting in favor of the safe city ordinance.

Support for a new library

Temporary solutions won’t solve the Greenfield Public Library’s problems.

Besides the glaring safety issues — it doesn’t comply with the state’s safety code — there are many other reasons why Greenfield deserves a better library.

First, the building is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a recent interview, Edward Jarvis, a candidate for the City Council, recalled that, when he was a fire prevention officer at the Greenfield Fire Department, firefighters would sometimes be asked to assist handicapped patrons maneuver their wheelchairs down the ramp. Notably, these and other concerns prompted Mayor Martin to issue an executive order in August and then amend it this month, further restricting the building’s use.

A vibrant library is the mark of a thriving city.

That’s why we support a new library for Greenfield — one that reflects the community and provides sufficient resources for the needs of the city.

While their function in the community has evolved in this digital era, libraries continue to serve an important role by hosting programs for youth and adults; providing meeting space for public gatherings; and promoting literacy and assisting with research. It’s also a place where those who don’t have access to the internet can connect. In many ways, a library is the centerpiece of a city or town.

Of course, this endeavor will cost money. If Tuesday’s vote passes, constituents will be expected to pay $8.6 million, with the state contributing another $9.4 million to augment constructing a new building and demolishing the existing fire station, which needs to be replaced as well. Additionally, there’s a substantial effort to fundraise $2 million locally for the project.

Fixing the current building would be a temporary solution that could cost taxpayers more in the long run. Meanwhile, the problems and challenges caused by the dilapidated building will persist.

There’s no time for hesitancy. If this vote doesn’t pass, the city could lose out on an opportunity that may not come up again for another decade.


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