Jack Spillane’s column “When is a City Council gathering public, and who should be able to see and hear it?” inspired readers to give their opinions as well.

“Maybe this type of ‘gathering’ is legal, but it is in any case unwise and unnecessary,” wrote one reader.

The column, as well as stories on the proposed septic regulations, the admission policy at GNB Voc-Tech, and The Chat drew reader responses. Here’s a collection:

Jack Spillane’s column

“Local politics is a toxic business. Members getting together socially to get to know one another isn’t such a bad idea. However, members must be principled and hold one another accountable at the first mention of business. Best to keep these meals short and leave quickly so as to not hang around and be tempted to ‘chat’ about ‘just one thing.’ Are they capable of doing this?”

— David Oliveira

“Maybe this type of ‘gathering’ is legal, but it is in any case unwise and unnecessary. Of course some city issue would come up at those gatherings, and of course it would be near to impossible for those attendees not to express their opinions in some way, thus provoking a discussion, however brief. If city councilors want to show their support of city establishments, they can show that as individuals, not pairs, trios, or groups. And if they want to know what their constituents think about an issue, they can — and should — raise that issue as a point of discussion at neighborhood meetings. Indeed, I encourage attendees of neighborhood meetings to request that that type of exchange become integral to those meetings.”

— Catherine Adamowicz

Who should bear the cost for environmental remedies?

“The recent effort to impose septic system upgrades by private property owners calls to mind a comparable situation whereby underdeveloped nations are being enlisted to participate in environmental and climate mitigation actions at their own expense.

“For low-income property owners, the proposed regulations are devastatingly expensive and would be imposed upon individuals, who through no fault of their own, are being subjected to environmental regulations that mandate compliance with costly improvements or remediation.

“In some ways, on a micro scale, this is similar to the pressure put upon newly developing countries that are being called upon to join the climate-mitigating programs that are beyond their financial capability by more affluent industrialized countries that have caused the environmental crises.

“And so too, the property owners who may have to install newer more efficient septic systems to alleviate a water contamination that they did not cause is being enacted by legislators who, in most cases, can bear the expense if they are affected by this regulation.

“The Bliss Corner property contamination is yet another example of imposing possible responsibility, and great expense, on property owners whose soil may contain dangerous contaminants that were historically dumped on their property, prior to their  ownership, or without their knowledge or permission.

“The universal efforts to counter the life-threatening environmental and climate disasters that are occurring with increasing ferocity and deadly consequences are encouraging, but the expense cannot be borne equally by all nations or individual property owners.

“It is stupendously inequitable to force underdeveloped countries that are blameless, and in many cases previously exploited, to participate by financing, and forgoing  access to necessary resources for development, without greater assistance from the major industrialized nations. And it is similarly unfair to victimize owners  to subsidize mitigating improvements to their property.

“Perhaps it is the nations, regional governing bodies, private industry and polluters who can be identified for causation, that should pay the cost of improving and safeguarding the environment and removing hazardous pollutants from the atmosphere and the water sources.”

– Betty Ussach, Dartmouth

A compromise for voc-tech admissions

“I read with interest the controversy surrounding admission standards at the vocational-technical high school in New Bedford. The implication that standards are not necessary for trade schools, as critics of the current policy claim, according to Colin Hogan’s related article, is, in my opinion, condescending and insulting to all people who work anywhere in trades.

“That said, I have a compromise to offer for discussion. Since one complaint was that the businesses and trades in New Bedford are suffering from lack of employee applications because GNB Voc-Tech sends too many graduates to college, perhaps the GPA requirement could be lowered, but stick to requiring strict adherence to attendance records, behavior and English, all vital skills for anyone in any walk of life to succeed. ESL students should not be prohibited, but they should be required to be fluent in the language by graduation.

“Without those habits and skills, no matter how high your IQ is, you will not succeed in life. It is vital to teach that to our young people, whether it be at vocational schools or college prep schools. GNB Voc-tech has been a model in that regard and should be applauded and followed, not destroyed by woke policies.”

— Julie Rhind, a former resident of South Dartmouth, lives in Westwood.

The Chat

“I watched Jack Spillane’s interview with Mark Fuller and was disappointed. Why didn’t Jack ask the chancellor why the liberal arts are going down the drain at UMD? Fuller noted that the newest office-and-classroom building on campus is the new Business building. Business is what the place is all about. Meanwhile, they put patches on the crumbling Liberal Arts Building and take half the books out of the library. UMD has become, basically, a business school, with auxiliary professional programs in engineering, nursing, law, and marine science. Oh, and maybe a little bit of (digital) art. The liberal arts, however, are pretty much dead. Neither Spillane nor Fuller had anything to say about literature, history, political science, or even physics. Nobody ever thinks about things like that. The guys were too busy talking about sports.

“I realize that it’s all about practicality, dollars and cents. Many students, and certainly the legislature, think only about money, jobs, grants, funding, construction, expansion, and ratings by U.S. News and World Reports. Still, I can’t help wishing that somebody would think about learning, about people getting a good education. I guess this shows how old-fashioned and out-of-touch I am. That’s one of the reasons I took a very early retirement from UMD almost 20 years ago. I could see the direction that the university was heading, and I didn’t want to go there.”

— Jim Hijiya, a Dartmouth resident, taught in the Southeastern Massachusetts University and UMD history department from 1978 to 2003.

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