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Public Participation Requires The Public



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To the Editor:

The right of the people to be heard by our public officials on matters of public importance is a critical component of a successful democracy.

Civil discourse is the lifeblood of our democratic system. We settle our differences peacefully, with a fair process that respects the rights of the majority, and the minority. However, if an environment exists where differing viewpoints are not respected, and expressing them becomes a risk to peace, safety and prosperity, then democracy fails.

That is what has happened here in Newtown.

In response to the results of our most recent municipal election, activists in town have employed tactics that have suppressed the participation of anyone who differs from their views. The public participation portion of Board of Education meetings has degenerated into political rallies designed to intimidate the public at large and, for those few who have been brave enough to express their thoughts, the repercussions have been swift through social media and personal attacks.

Public officials have a responsibility to maintain an environment in their meetings that invites differing views and respect for all participants. But the Board of Education, and our school administrators, have failed to employ the law in order to conduct public meetings in a way that safeguards the rights of the public and their fellow Board members. And further, despite the abhorrent behavior of a number of students, staff and adults, the shameful praise bestowed upon them only serves to guarantee the continued assault on our community.

As a result, two dedicated volunteer public servants have resigned.

Given this toxic environment, who, but the people who create these conditions, would want to serve in their place?

This is how democracy dies.

Andrew Buzzi, Jr


Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. phydeaux says:

    Hear Hear

  2. bw.reloconsult@snet.net says:

    This is a bunch of baloney, trying to switch the issue from book banning to a energized audience.

  3. acinct says:

    What’s more intimidating than being called a ‘groomer’ or ‘pervert’ for speaking in support of the books in question? Yet in vast numbers, an overwhelming majority of people did just that and wrote letters to the editor in opposition to these book challenges. An overwhelming majority of people spoke up because it was the right thing to do. There’s been two months’ worth of public participation, for one side to say they were just too intimidated to speak when they have been accusing people of the worst, is just a bad excuse.

  4. qstorm says:

    We witnessed bullying at these meetings. What lesson did that teach prospective public servants about Newtown? Nicer? Not so much.

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