Vol. V No. 3 2/1/2024
Editorial: In The Know
Waterworks, a novel by E. L. Doctorow, is about a newspaper editor and his freelance. At one point in the story, the editor quits his newspaper to protest the paper's refusal to publish a fact-based, well-sourced article exposing Boss Tweed.
The editor muses, "Deprived of my ability to report it — our life and times — I imagined myself at the mercy of it."
It is more than an individual being at the mercy of forces he cannot describe or understand. Absent an informed electorate, democracy is impossible. If you doubt that, look at the growing number accepting an autocrat, and ask if it is not for lack of accurate information. Support for autocracy may be as simple as not being privy to the facts, not understanding the choices and how different choices serve or thwart our interests.
Stockbridge Updates was founded to keep voters informed. It was in direct response to the belief that the power of the vote is diminished if the voters don't understand the issues. One motivation for SU was the suspicion that the public at large did not know to what General Electric (GE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Rest of River Committee (ROR) were agreeing.
Our representatives on ROR did not report to the Select Boards that appointed them or the public. Years were lost as the public was ignorant and plans were laid. Finally, ten years later, the public was informed of a fait accompli. The public was horrified but told it was time for implementation, too late for negotiation. Was that true?
Nope. The permit and the settlement agreement DO NOT REQUIRE that all material must go to the disposal site in Lee. It only requires that "a minimum of 10 percent" of PCBs go off-site. With respect to the balance, the Appeals Board stated, "We take no position on the ultimate resolution of that issue." Permit and settlement DO NOT take a position on truck versus train transport.
Information is a tool; facts are necessary tools. Please, make no mistake, disposal/disposition of the PCBs is not the only issue affecting us, and with every issue, information empowers us.
Do not accept the word of the "trusted leader" or worse the charismatic leader. These matters affect us, our children, and the quality of our lives. Democracy is a participatory government - bone up, show up, and speak up.
Photo: Jay Rhind.