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Can Ricketts save Greenfield from its election sticky wicket?

  •  Chris Collins. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo



IN THE ARENA
Sunday, November 25, 2018

It seems like nothing ever comes easy in the city known as the town of Greenfield.

Whether it’s building a new parking garage or library, or banning the use of single-layer plastic bags, there always seems to be a controversy brewing, even when something positive happens.

Take the most recent election, which saw close to 64 percent of the residents take part. In most years, a turnout half that size would be considered a major success.

Instead, that milestone has been marred by the absence of “I voted” stickers at the Greenfield High School polling place.

It may seem hard to imagine that a community as progressive and forward-thinking as Greenfield could allow such a travesty to occur. But, apparently, new Town Clerk Kathy Scott was busy with other less important tasks, like making sure the avalanche of votes coming in were properly counted.

“Honestly, it just wasn’t on my radar,” Scott said. “I know people were upset by it, but we wanted to make sure we were focused on what we were doing.”

That probably isn’t going to sit well with those for whom voting is a task that apparently requires some element of recognition or reward. But I understand people being peeved. I always look to snag a sticker when I vote, which, like thousands of others, I invariably end up incorporating into a social media post, usually seconds after doing my civic duty.

Though the explanation probably won’t satisfy the voters who didn’t get stickers, Scott says there are reasons why the stickers weren’t ordered, and probably won’t be anytime soon.

“First off, they are pretty expensive,” Scott said. “And the last time we handed them out, during the first election at the new high school, some of them wound up stuck to the floor and on some doors, which didn’t make people at the school happy.”

After this election, there were rumors that the GHS administration put the kibosh on the stickers for that very reason. But Scott says there was no formal request from the school not to hand them out, which was confirmed by Greenfield School Superintendent Jordana Harper.

Scott says despite the fallout from her decision, Greenfield voters should not expect to receive stickers during next year’s city election.

“I have no plans to order them at this point,” Scott said. “We may have them for the 2020 presidential election, but I haven’t decided yet.”

One person who may have something to say about that is City Council Vice President Penny Ricketts, who took to social media after the election to promise that she would work to personally see that the stickers were at the polls the next time Greenfield votes.

Scott, meanwhile, remains unapologetic about her decision to focus on tallying what was an unusually high vote count which, for just the second time, included early balloting.

“We had 1,178 people cast ballots in the 10½ days of early balloting,” Scott said. “That accounted for roughly 10 percent of the total vote. ”

“We needed to make sure that was handled properly, and it was,” she added.

File under: A Sticky Situation.

Consensus reached

We may have actually found something that the ideologically split Greenfield City Council can agree on.

Both sides apparently have a healthy disdain for the management style of current Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin, whose ears had to have been burning during this week’s monthly council meeting, which saw His Honor get taken apart, in absentia, on a variety of issues, mostly related to his management of the city’s finances.

One of the council’s major tasks on this night was to set a tax rate, which would ensure that property tax bills would go out on time. State law requires that the city budget be in balance to do that, which Martin proposed to make happen with a series of transfers from the town’s stabilization account – once again drawing the ire of council budget hawks Isaac Mass and Brickett Allis, who made it clear that they don’t believe a word that comes out of Martin’s mouth, especially when there is a number attached to it.

At one point, Mass openly accused Martin of lying, which is the first time I’ve heard that word used in an open floor debate, even though it’s been alluded to plenty.

It got so bad that, at one point, it was suggested that some of the budget shortages in the Health Department be funded from Martin’s mayoral salary – citing language in the charter that holds department heads personally liable for any red ink which shows up on their watch.

“It seems to me that since the mayor fired the health director and didn’t replace him, that makes him the head of that department, and therefore responsible for any shortages,” Mass said. I don’t know how serious that suggestion was, but the fact that it was even raised should give you a pretty good idea how personal this rift has become — and is likely to remain — until this mayor leaves office, which may happen sooner than we think.