Morale surrounding the new sheriff. The fatal rooming house fire. Book banning. And the much talked about nonbinding questions proposed for the November election. Those were the issues New Bedford Light readers weighed in on.

What a difference a new sheriff makes

Having been afforded the opportunity to tour the Bristol County House of Correction on Faunce Corner Road in Dartmouth, the members of the Bristol County for Correctional Justice (BCCJ) were able to visit the facilities and to dialogue with staff members. Without limitations to what areas could be accessed and what questions could be answered, the members were able to assess the actual and proposed changes that are in process.

The newly elected sheriff, Paul Heroux, is analyzing and cautiously pursuing the changes that he envisioned during the months of campaigning.

Most encouraging was the enthusiasm and excitement expressed by several longtime staff members who unreservedly spoke about the respect and accessibility Sheriff Heroux is affording them. One employee described the positive attitude and transparency the sheriff has exhibited towards the staff.

They say they feel as though, after so many years, with newly instituted programs and improved conditions for the incarcerated, their jobs will be made easier and more productive.

It was particularly encouraging to the members of BCCJ to see the actualization of so many of their proposals and the improvement in morale amongst the staff.

BCCJ has always declared the importance of a well-trained, merit-based promotion system for the correctional staff. A respected and motivated staff is essential for the promotion of a rehabilitative system that lowers recidivism and prepares the incarcerated for a successful re-entry into the community.

And any employee inclined to abusive conduct or a counterproductive attitude will not be tolerated, promoted or allowed to sabotage the process of improvement in the work environment of the staff, and the establishment of a real correctional system.

— Betty Ussach, Dartmouth resident

Rooming house fire

Municipal and county jurisdictions must take action to enforce building and fire code regulations, even when adopted for existing buildings such as in this case, especially when the code compliance deadline has expired or has been ignored by the property owner. …This situation will continue to repeat itself if we don’t change course in the way we conduct our code enforcement efforts, and if we allow occupants to continue residing in buildings posing an imminent threat to life safety. Code officials should not risk their own integrity and career in order to accommodate these situations. Our responsibility is to ensure fire and life safety, not to allow dangerous conditions to exist based on practical or financial hardship.

— Ted G. Panagiotopoulos

Alternative compliance options can always be found that can serve to meet the intent of the code, or at least minimize the fire risk level, while still providing some flexibility to the property owner and allowing for occupants to be safeguarded. Like the lead paint laws, the regulation for sprinklers in rooming houses can be prohibitive. There should be a low interest rate loan to assist landlords with complying. Officials regulate without funds to implement. The mayor’s comment about if you cannot afford it, maybe you are in the wrong business is out of line with reality, when landlords are fighting to comply with the many rules that someone who does not walk in the shoes of the owner promulgates.

— A former landlord

Book banning: No one should have that right

Book banning is not the way to go. If you don’t want your child to read a book, that’s your choice. Don’t make it everyone’s choice. No one has the right to tell someone what they can and cannot read.

— Mark Ledoux

Non-binding ballot questions

Rent control is a hard sell, which does not mean it is not worthwhile. The way to address Mitchell’s claim that rent control will scare away developers is to do it as California did: Rent control can only apply to housing built before 1995. And now there is statewide rent control in California: No increase over 5% per year. Now that I’m back in Mass., I would love to see rent control. The rents in places come close to Silicon Valley where salaries, even nonprofit salaries, are higher, and heating/cooling bills are much lower. (The purchase price of real estate is hugely higher, though.) NB property owners might find that asking rents that are akin to monthly mortgage payments in the city will bring them only folks with bad credit who could not purchase anything.

— Carol Steinfeld

Not many years ago, we voted in the change for the mayoral term from two to four years. That recent decision should not be challenged so soon because someone dislikes the current mayor.

— Catherine Adamowicz

New Bedford limiting rent increases is wrong, just like allowing property owners to own a maximum number of properties. America is a capitalist society. You want rent control, and price controls on everything, then find a socialist country and move there.

— Jay Nichols

I am disappointed that you have not mentioned the most concerning part of the proposed referenda and the subsequent vetoes: the mayor vetoed a motion for a nonbinding referendum question to return to a two-year mayoral term. I can’t be the only one who sees this as a conflict of interest, and very muddy ethical waters! The mayor should not have vetoed that motion since a change in the length of his term affects his personal finances.

— Anonoymous

 Linda Morad was on local radio recently. When asked about term limits for the City Council, she stated that this is just an attempt to remove the City Council. I would just like to clarify my views on the subject. Putting a question on the ballot is not a guarantee of having my views adopted. A ballot question is a way to get the views of the majority of the 56,000 plus voters in New Bedford adopted. The City Council is attempting to place other ballot questions on the ballot in order to gauge the public opinion. Because the council has a conflict of interest is not an acceptable reason to discourage voter input. Voting is a right guaranteed to me, not a privilege granted by the City Council. All questions of interest to the public should be placed on the ballot. No exceptions. 

Paul Hankins

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