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January 11, 2009 - Ray Hall (Archive)

FREWSBURG, NEW YORK:  Frewsburg is not a Village in the sense that it does not have a Village Government.  Frewsburg functions without a Mayor or Village Council or a Village Clerk.  There is no code enforcement officer, no Village Street Department, not even a Village snow plow and no Village tax bill.  Yet streets are plowed and paved, houses are built and a stranger will have a hard time finding an abandoned or boarded up house.  The Town and County provide what government services are required and the people do the rest.

Frewsburg does not fit the definition of a village.  Frewsburg is a group of people living in a particular area, a settlement within the Town of Carroll---a community. There are Churches and Banks and an outstanding school smack in the middle of the settlement. There are stores and restaurants—good restaurants---that serve every thing from fish fries to pizza to prime rib and steaks.  There is one restaurant that griddles a pancake that drapes over the sides of a large dinner plate.

To the point; Frewsburg functions splendidly without a Village Government---it is operated seamlessly by the Town of Carroll.  Frewsburg is an example of how we can make government smaller and the people do not seem to mind.

ASHLAND, OREGON:  It remains hard to argue that the most important problem facing our economy and the future well being of our nation lies in a deep and growing mistrust in our government and the lack of confidence in our public and private institutions.  From Main Street to Wall Street, the American people are left reeling from one astonishing disclosure after another. 

The underlying problem has always been that government approaches a problem or implementation of public policy with an absolute assumption of finality.   That attitude is apparant in the Board of Public Utilities’ scoping sessions for the power plant.  Attend any state run environmental meeting regarding a local government project; the meeting is so narrowly focused that it is useless for public consumption.   

That is why an Associated Press story in Saturday’s Post-Journal was encouraging for those rightly weighted down with cynicism that government will ever change.  The article is about the government being willing to pay parents in this small Oregon town just to listen why so many refuse to vaccinate their children for school   About 80 people will get $50 each to tell federal researchers what worries them about childhood vaccinations.

This town of 20,000 situated in the mountains of southwest Oregon ranks highest in the nation in vaccine exemptions for school aged children—28% and rising for kindergarten compared to 4% for the rest of the state.   In one alternative school 67% of the children are exempt from vaccinations.   A similar meeting was held in Alabama and another one is scheduled for Indianapolis.

Nationally vaccine exemptions are increasing to the point where the Center for Disease Control believes it is cause for a sharp increase in measles cases.    The county health officer for Jackson County where Ashland is located would like to see all the children immunized.  Dr. James Shames said Ashland has some whooping cough which can be devastating to babies but he has not seen measles. 

An Ashland parent explained that it was her mistrust in government and pharmaceuticals that prompted her action and said she remained uncertain about the safety of vaccines.  Regardless of the $50 payments, the government is on the right path.   Instead of spending millions of dollars on studies that are shelved the CDC is going directly to the people raising the ruckus.  The CDC may not change its policy, but they are going with the expressed purpose to listen to the people and that can’t be all bad.

Instead of paying from $50,000 to $500,000 for a study on this, that or the other, the City of Jamestown ought to pay 200 citizens $50.00 each to sit down and discuss the problem or project.  I’d bet on the citizens. 

CONSOLIDATIONS:     During a conversation with Jim Walton last week ( a man who knows County Government as well as anyone) Jim agreed with Legislator Keith Ahlstrom’s suggestion of having the county assume governance for our Villages, Towns and Cities.  Jim did Legislator Ahlstrom one better:  He suggested that school districts consolidate.  Jim suggested that Westfield, Ripley, Clymer and Sherman could be bussed to Chautauqua Lake in Mayville.   Jim said in other states children are bussed even greater distances and some small children are on a bus 30 or 40 minutes in Jamestown.  He also allowed that it would take a “burning bush” experience from someone to descend from Albany with the move etched in stone tablets.  Jim’s point was that we know the solutions but lack the will. 

CLEAN UP WALL STREET:  Men headquartered in Manhattan skyscrapers and wearing expensive shoes and shirts and accustomed to having lunch in private dining rooms or aboard luxury jets pilfered, plundered and squandered the treasure of innocent investors before Bernie Madoff stole the headlines.  Consumers have lost confidence in the markets, in our economy.

Congress, regulators, the Security and Exchange Commission were either complicit or turned their heads.  The new Administration and the new Congress insist they will clean up Wall Street and restore consumer confidence.   My confidence would get a big boost and I would believe they were serious about reform if they appointed former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer as a Special Council to scour Wall Street.  He once brought fear and trembling to the Street and I am not sure he has prostituted himself any more than some members of Congress and their lobbyist cronies. 



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