“The difference between a Democracy and a Dictatorship is that in a Democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a Dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” Charles Bukowski, underground writer and poet.

Since some elected officials publicly stated that only 20 percent of voters participated in the election defeat of a bond proposal for a new Windham Public Works facility, I wonder if I might be justified in calling for another vote on the RSU 14 school budget or the municipal budget as well. Let’s be fair here, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so if a public official wants another vote then I guess I can ask as well. Just to be honest, the vote for the new facility was 1,110 against to 997 for. As some would say, elections are lost by those people who don’t vote, and it’s sad to state that is absolutely true. The stark truth is that most didn’t vote, which can’t be changed whether someone likes it or not.

The school budget for RSU 14 was just voted on and for the record Windham’s website shows 412 voters approved the school budget while 235 opposed. The total between Windham and Raymond voters shows 621 approved and 347 opposed. Those totals are less than half of those who voted for and against the bond for a new Windham Public Works facility. Then there’s the Windham Town Meeting held on the Saturday after the June elections. I haven’t seen the total amount of voters who attended, but from a couple who did attend I understand the majority of voters there were either elected, appointed or hired people.

I personally believe it’s time to do away with the Windham Town Meeting where the municipal budget is decided by the very few who attend, and instead put it on the same ballot as the RSU 14 budget. First of all, it will allow more voters to cast their ballots. Second, to prevent what in Windham is probably the single, most obvious reason why people don’t attend the town meeting, it would keep Windham’s elected, appointed and hired individuals from knowing how voters voted. Of course those in government love it when they can decide their pay raises and all the other perks that they receive. I must state that I spoke with one Windham town councilor who stated that in a recent survey people wanted the town meeting process to continue. What that town councilor didn’t state was that the survey question asked if people wanted the town meeting discontinued and have the town councilors approve the town manager’s proposed budget. It did not ask if people wanted the town meeting discontinued and having the budget approved by referendum.

The survey I mentioned was conducted by Washington University in St. Louis and 258 Windham residents responded to it. Right now Windham has five less than 12,000 registered voters. One website showed the population of Windham getting closer to 18,000. Since so few Windham residents responded to the survey, I really consider the results as insignificant when it comes to spending taxpayers money or the direction in which the town should move in the future. What I understand is the survey was only sent to the residents with connections to the town’s website and that’s it. I don’t know what kind of slant that would put on the survey’s results but I suspect it would do something.

I have learned a thing or two about surveys because I did my research when doing one in the past. It’s simple: hit the targeted audience that you know will respond to the questions in the manner that gets the results you want. Don’t be shocked by that because have you ever seen government or especially a nonprofit conduct a survey that had results that they didn’t want? We might just have one going on now.

But in the end what really matters is how much money the town and schools are spending or, even worse, are planning on spending. It looks like tens of millions to me.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham realizes his money talks. All it says is goodbye.


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