To the editor:
Mary Lou Daxland claims to be a member of the Westport Community Preservation Committee. And so she is, on paper. But consider this: Of the committee’s last eight meetings, Ms.Daxland attended one and missed seven! Specifically, she was not present for the meeting during which the CPC voted unanimously to approve a recommendation made at the public hearing to fund the second phase of the water-monitoring study. She roundly condemns that vote and, indeed, that entire project. Yet she does not even know how much funding was requested! The correct figure is $20,000, not (as she states) $30,000. What else does she not know? Yet she blasts members of the CPC who actually attended the meeting by stating that “they voted to give away taxpayer funds …”
In addition, Ms. Daxland has stated over and over again — in the press and at various public gatherings — that she is opposed to the very existence of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Westport. I ask three obvious questions: Given such feelings, why was Ms. Daxland appointed to the CPC in the first place? Why is she still on the committee after missing seven straight meetings? And why isn’t her appointment an affront to the people of Westport who voted overwhelmingly to keep CPA alive and thriving in our town?
Ms. Daxland further states (imprecisely, I might add) that “other towns and cities across the Commonwealth in 2012 have voted to dissolve their Community Preservation Committee, voted not to form a CPC, or at least to roll back the surtax to a lower level.” I think she is talking about revoking or failing to adopt CPA, and reducing the CPA surcharge. As a CPC member, one would think that she would at least be able to express herself correctly, but perhaps she has not attended enough meetings to know such basic information.
Her “skewing” (a word she uses to describe what others do with data) of the statistics she gives about CPA becomes obvious when one considers the correct and full record on CPA in Massachusetts. Since she refers to 2012 only, we will look only at that year. (Readers are invited to consult the Community Preservation Coalition website for data on other years at http://www.communitypreservation.org/.) Ms. Daxland states that in 2012 “towns and cities across the Commonwealth have voted to dissolve their Community Preservation Committee.” Not true! The reality is that no town or city in Massachusetts — of the 155 communities which have adopted CPA — has ever voted to revoke it. Not one. (Looking at 2012, in Sturbridge, the one revocation attempt failed.)
Ms. Daxland further states that “other towns” voted “not to form a CPC” or “at least to roll back the surtax to a lower level.” In 2012, seven towns/cities voted to adopt CPA. Four towns tried but failed to adopt CPA. Canton voted “no” in the spring and “yes” in the fall. Also in 2012, three towns voted to reduce the surcharge rate. An attempt to reduce the rate in West Newbury failed. West Springfield modified its exemptions. Of the total of 155 communities which have adopted CPA, 151 did not vote to reduce their surcharge rate. Who is “skewing” what here?
Finally, with great audacity Ms. Daxland states that “the town of Norton voted at their town meeting last May to reduce CPC funding from three percent to one percent.” This sentence makes no sense as it stands, but she might be trying to say that Norton voted to reduce its CPA surcharge from three percent to one percent. But the truth is that Norton has never even adopted CPA! That’s not “skewing.” It’s fiction!
Earlier in her letter, Ms. Daxland states that, “All conservatives are aware that water testing can be skewed to whatever the interest group wants the results to be.” From how she handles the truth in her letter, I might add that “everyone should be aware that data on CPA or — just to pick something out of the blue — on peoples’ opinions on sewers, can be skewed to whatever her so-called ‘conservative’ interest group wants the results to be. And furthermore, that the same interest group can repeat and repeat the same message, knowing it is not true, to make their special-interest point -— as Ms. Daxland does in stating that “the goal here [of the CPA grant] is to prove that anything in Westport that is water has to be polluted and therefore We Need Sewers.” What total nonsense! What a total non sequitur! But what a headline!
In her letter, Ms. Daxland fails to provide unbiased or correct data (or should I say that she “skews” the data, as she so blithely accuses others of doing) to push her and her special-interest group’s agenda — which includes the revocation of CPA in Westport, the “skewering” of anyone who gets in their way, and, of course, scaring everyone in Westport with claims that we will be forced from our homes because of sewer systems!
Given the evidence, the assertions in her malicious letter must surely be questioned.
Dr. Betty F. Slade
Former CPC member