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Barbara Fink: Council not elected to rule on all issues

Northampton City Hall is shown.


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To the editor:

Unless I missed the City Council’s outreach to the citizens of Northampton to assess their approval level, the council’s resolution to chastise the federal government for its domestic and international drone policy seems to represent its personal opinion.

Perhaps that is what is meant by “the official position.” If this is so, and “we, at the grassroots level” refers largely to the council members and not to the people of Northampton, the inescapable question — for me — is why the councilors should have the right, without a public referendum, to authorize any resolution in the city’s name that is not local in nature.

Respectfully, they were not elected to rule on national and international issues. While some of the city councilors say they are troubled and chilled by the government’s definition of navigable space and its use of drones, I in turn am really troubled by their assumption that they can speak for all of us in Northampton.

Where are the “guidelines” to protect us from what some might interpret as unwarranted representation?

Barbara Fink



Reader Forum: Should local City Councils make resolutions on national issues?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Some readers say a city’s top board should tackle issues beyond the traditional realm of municipal government.  Others, though, say the council should stick to close-to-home topics. Several recent resolutions voted on by the Northampton City Council prompted readers to write in. Read those letters below:  …

Legacy Comments5


(suesox) Barbara- Your sentiments reflect mine. Exactly. This is not an issue of how the citizens of Northampton feel about the "drone issue," but rather how the duties of the City Council are defined. I think those who chastise us for not attending meetings is unfair. There are many reasons why people do not or cannot attend them. And I, for one, am eager to get back to the ballot box.

The City Council is not required (thank God) to reach out to citizens with a referendum on every issue they make decisions about. This is how representative democracy works. If you don't like what your elected officials do, than it's your right (and responsibility) to work to replace them. The expansion of the definition of "airspace" to further limit the privacy of their constituents, is clearly an area where our council has both a right and an obligation to make their voice heard. If you don't like it, your recourse (like the rest of us) is the democratic process. Just be aware that the casualties, when the votes are tallied, may well be those who did not support the resolution.

So, by your letter, I assume that you are in favor of drone flying over your backyard and taking pictures. Local government is supposed to be the step ladder to the federal government. If you support the use of drones without privacy questions, you had the chance to attend the city council meeting and voice your concerns. I have been to a lot of city council meetings and was astonished at the lack of citizens that do not attend the meetings. Do you?

Municipal gov't is not the step ladder to the Fed's, that is the role of our representatives & senator's. While I do concede my voice in local administrative matters to the municipal gov't, I do not concede that voice in any other matters. They do not and should not attempt to speak for me.

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