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Letter to the editor: Editorial wrong on Salisbury meeting

In an editorial published in the March 7 edition of the Addison Independent, Angelo Lynn offered an inaccurate and unfair characterization of the Salisbury Town Meeting on March 2 and the Salisbury citizens who exercised their right to participate in it. We, the selectboard of the Town of Salisbury, are writing to set the record straight.
Mr. Lynn described our meeting as a “slugfest.” He called our citizens “combatants” in a “bruising hour-long discussion” about whether or not Salisbury should participate in funding a controversial decision by the Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen, Pittsford Insect Control District (BLSG) to incur certain legal costs. Mr. Lynn asserted “…60 residents behaved, at times in a manner unbecoming of Town Meeting”.
Our discussion regarding the BLSG Insect Control District was spirited, yes, a slugfest, no. In a time-honored Vermont tradition, the purpose of Town Meeting is to let citizens have a voice. That is why the selectboard listened to the concerns of a number of citizens and the Town’s representatives on the BLSG board. We were unified in our decision to make funding of the BLSG legal expenses an article for consideration on our Town Meeting warrant.
Mr. Lynn claimed “by several accounts, the audience behaved like Trump supporters — self-righteous with an animosity toward others with contrary evidence” (What?) and “Most of the folks would be of a politically liberal persuasion.”(How on earth could you possibly know that, Mr. Lynn?) See here’s the thing — Mr. Lynn was not at our Town Meeting. To the best of our knowledge, Mr. Lynn also has not attended any recent meeting of the BLSG Board.
This is a prime example of how divisiveness is created in our society. To be perfectly clear, Dr. Ben Lawton, the BLSG Chair, was not on our agenda for Town Meeting. He showed up on his own accord. He approached the podium to speak without invitation. Our very professional and cordial moderator Wayne Smith, asked the townspeople of Salisbury if we wished to hear from Dr. Lawton. He was given a specific time limit and told to speak to the issue at hand.
Contrary to Mr. Lynn’s point of view, our residents behaved like well-informed citizens who had educated themselves on the issue at hand. Of the 80 or so in attendance, approximately 15 spoke, not the untruly mob of 60 as reported by Mr. Lynn. We had spirited exchanges, both for and against choosing to support the funding of the BLSG lawsuit. Our Town Meeting was, in fact, the very epitome of what a Vermont Town Meeting ought to be. I’m sure Mr. Lynn would have been proud of us, if only he had been there.
We were distressed and dismayed then, by Mr. Lynn’s destructive editorial. His words were carefully chosen and are a prime example of the kind of divisiveness Mr. Lynn customarily claims to eschew. As members of the selectboard, we speak for all of Salisbury when we say we are insulted by your name-calling and lack of respect for the concerned citizens we represent.
Thankfully, Mr. Lynn’s editorial ended on a more positive note. Like him, we believe there is strong consensus at the heart of this issue. No one in Salisbury wants to be chewed alive by mosquitoes and no one wants to be poisoned by efforts to control them.
We, as a Selectboard, and as a town, recognize the importance of the BLSG and the extremely vital role it plays in the health, safety and enjoyment of our region. We do not oppose its operation. Salisbury is, in fact, a founding member of the BLSG and continues to be a major source of funding for that municipal entity. We believe that Salisbury’s discussion will only enhance more compliant, transparent, and safe operations of the BLSG. We are confident the spotlight our discussion has shone on the BLSG will lead to positive change for all members of the District and ensure its survival.
So, you see Mr. Lynn, there is no slugfest in Salisbury. On behalf of the citizens of Salisbury, we invite your apology. We also invite you to join us, the BLSG, and concerned citizens throughout the District to work together toward achieving the goals we all share.
Respectfully,
The Salisbury Selectboard
Paul Vaczy
Pedie O’Brien
Patrick Dunn
Johnathan Blake
Sheila Conroy
Tom Scanlon
Ken Tichacek

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