To the editor:
On Feb. 13, the Westport Fishermen’s Association (WFA) obtained Community Preservation Committee (CPC) funds authorizing them to administer a contract between the town and UMass Dartmouth.
This cooperation between CPC, Westport River Watershed Association (WRWA) and WFA reinstitutes control of our town’s water-related issues to special interests, a control lost in 2012 when for the first time since the early 1970’s, three selectmen had the backbone to appoint a truly representative committee to deal with all water-related issues.
This Westport Water Resources Management Committee (WWRMC) involved north end voters in decisions that would affect their lives and finances. All precincts are represented including Board of Health (BOH), WRWA, Highway Department (who would be involved in implementing solutions) and Agricultural Commission (AC). This insures consensus agreement rather than the previous long line of roughshod special interests’ imperious dictates imposed on all town citizens — dictates prioritized to bring money to special interest coffers instead of dealing with the total town welfare. The three selectmen who appointed the WWRMC were Sullivan, Vieira and Spirlet.
This CPC action is another of myriad examples showing close association between crucial town boards and special interests. In this case, the love affair between the CPC and the Estuaries Committee became apparent in 2006. The Estuaries Committee was and is under WRWA domination, membership has involved paid WRWA employees and staff, directors, president and numerous members, while CPC members had family relations with Estuaries Committee leadership including WRWA dominance.
Paid employees of WRWA on the Estuaries Committee support and take part in negotiations on town contracts funded by CPC that are of direct benefit to WRWA and employees. Since 2006, all town water related issues and dictates have originated with local special interests; WRWA, EC, and WFA usually aided by external special interests — Buzzards Bay Coalition associated with WRWA for 22 years, Buzzards Bay Project, and others including legal help as needed.
The danger with this type of action is that removing citizen consensus from decision making opens the door to repeats of one-sided decisions by select elitist groups. For example, present members of the Estuaries Committee, CPC and now WWRMC, as well as a selectman were prime movers of the 2004 water and sewer proposal foisted on north end residents by the then Board of Selectmen, development interests and acquiescent special interests. Another example is the Westport Fishermen’s Association proposal to destroy the Forge Dam. One standout example was the combination of WFA, BBC, WRWA and phantom special interests uniting to destroy one of our farmers during the early part of this century. The real scare is that, as mentioned in a press release, the Fishermen’s Association (and WRWA?) are planning to implement their own solutions.
Contracts between the town and UMass Dartmouth; funded by CPC, originated by the Estuaries Committee including WRWA as one of the funds’ recipients, have been under control of special interests, local and external. These contracts amounting to hundreds of thousands of over-2 ½ tax cap funds give a false semblance of town control by funds issued from CPC to the Estuaries Committee. In fact there is no town control. Among other shortcomings, the town is excluded from review of the data it funded, a privilege reserved to WRWA, the paid data samplers.
Now, the veil has been lifted, special interests are now fronting for town committees they control instead of the former way around.
As expected , the Fishermen’s Association is a surrogate of the Estuaries Committee and WRWA. The application to CPC was filed by a member of the present EC, CPC and WRWA; it is an exact copy of a recent Estuaries Committee model. The application includes portions of WRWA’s latest newsletter verbatim.
The reason given for this action that there was an urgent need to complete the analysis has no merit. Nor is the $10,000 WFA funding share crucial, CPC has about $1.2 million allowable for spending in fiscal 2014 and more than needed available for fiscal 2013.
Let’s hope our town can return control of decision making from a private office at 1151 Main Road to 816 Main Road and restore representative government.
Claude A. Ledoux