Here's a guest post from Peter Kavanagh:
To begin, I’d like to say thank you for putting the effort into this blog and providing this platform. Many of us check this often. It is especially valuable because of the way you have moderated it – opinions on all sides are expressed here but most of them are expressed with respect (the ones you post anyway). We’d be a lot further ahead if everyone communicated this way in person.
The second all candidates evening was certainly an experience! Some of the questions, as you point out, were clearly motivated by nasty vindictiveness and nothing else – they backfired if the motivation was some kind of political damage. Those questions said far more about the people asking them, than they did about any of the candidates. But most of the questions, if perhaps difficult, were fair and deserved fair answers.
I don’t know how anyone could still maintain that this is not a divided community. And it isn’t just a divide represented by a small group of malcontents vs. some core Council supporters. Most of the residents in this township are disgusted by what has been going on these past couple of years and sympathize with one side or the other (election day will show us which side predominates).
I agree with one of the posters here who cautions us not to paint every member of a group with the same brush. I believe that most of our fire fighters simply want to serve and contribute to this community vice owning and controlling it and I also believe that most MRA associated people are only interested in open and transparent government with equal treatment for all residents. I understand why some of our fire fighters feel outraged and I also understand why some residents feel intimidated – to the point of fearing for their safety.
Set aside for a moment who caused what. Or whether or not there were/are real reasons for fire fighters to be outraged or whether or not there were/are real reasons for residents to never travel alone, write down license plates every time a vehicle slows down in front of their house etc etc
The fact is, that this is the reality in Montague. And our current Council has done nothing to try and solve it. And that is, in the final analysis, an utter failure in leadership. We will not fix this and move on until that is rectified. Which means we need change.
At the end of the meeting the other night, I met many residents who came to shake my hand, or ask questions about some of the issues I had talked about. Two of those people were associated with fire fighters (a wife and a mother I believe). We talked for a good ten minutes about the divide, the lawsuit, fire fighters and the MRA. I don’t believe I have their support and it was clear that there were some things we were not going to convince each other about. But throughout the entire conversation, I felt I was being listened to and treated with utmost respect and I certainly tried to give it right back. And I learned a thing or two which allows me to continue to increase my understanding of where everyone is coming from.
So, to those two ladies who took the time to engage in dialogue, I say thank you. This mess isn’t going to be repaired with a group hug and a sing-along. We have work to do. But you guys reinforced my belief that we can fix this.