COWs know that democracy depends on an informed citizen participation. There seem to be a big inhibitor in our Town; the fear of retaliation. We hear again and again from people who are afraid to let their voices be herd due to fear of retaliation. Our survey results were alarming 141 respondents or 76.2% expressed concern about retaliation if they were to be “outspoken” about Town performance. COWs shouldn’t feel like a bull being forced into a bullfight ring, afraid of losing their ears and tail, if they express their opinions.
At a Council meeting last fall, some were brave enough to tell the Council about their fear of retaliation. The Council directed Town Manager Susan George to hold a series of confidential meetings to assess what the problems and concerns are. Susan had issued an open invitation and stated in the Almanac that she would meet or talk to everyone who wanted to express opinions. She promised to honor anonymity. We hear through the grapevine that some meetings have been held and that she is winding up this process with a “town hall” meeting next Wednesday May 30th at 7:30. Since we do not know who has participated, we are not sure that the invitations did not go to a hand selected few. We do know that many with current building projects were not contacted.
The Town Council and its Town Manager must make sure that dissent is valued, that all points of view are made to feel welcome and that everyone in this Town is treated equally and fairly. But COWs bear some responsibility too. We need to moo loudly enough to be herd. So email Susan at sgeorge_at_woodsidetown.org (just replace _at_ with the @ symbol) to request to attend that meeting or call her at 851-6790 and share your feelings and ideas.