CITIZEN ACTION: Attend the Kingston Public Safety/General Government Committee Meeting TUESDAY, MAY 26th at 6:30pm at Kingston City Hall (Conference Room #1) where a Public Referendum will be discussed on Including the Common Council in Municipal Water Sales Outside of Kingston’s City Limits. VIEW FACEBOOK INVITATION and please share.
By Rebecca Martin
In the news now for a couple of months, it has been reported that members of the Common Council led by the Public Safety/General Government Committee that is chaired by Alderman Bill Carey of Ward 5, wish to explore options to include the Common Council in sales of municipal water outside of Kingston’s boundaries.
In this week’s Kingston Times, our own Mayor is called a ‘formidable opponent’ against the work of creating a referendum.
“…the charter change would need approval from State Lawmakers, since they passed the enabling legislation to create the water department. Such approval is unlikely to be granted.” Said Gallo.
He also shares the concerns of the water department’s founders about political interference with a vital resource.
“They may be well-intended,” said Gallo. “But it would do nothing but politicize the issue, which is what the state legislature was trying to avoid when the created a separate system.”
Kingston Times READ ARTICLE.
What the Mayor is referring to, is how the Water Department was set up in 1895 to protect the public. 120 years ago – and long before water bottling and other enormous water uses that may or may not benefit the people was in their purview.
We’re not asking that a referendum be placed on the ballot to change the organization of the Water Department/Water Board of Commissioners. We are requesting that a referendum be moved forth that simply includes the Kingston Common Council in sales of the PEOPLE OF KINGSTON’S PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY outside of the City of Kingston. In essence, to allow the residents of Kingston to have a say in how its municipal water is used outside of the community. Reform that would protect the public, in line with adhering to what those long ago intended.
By implementing better checks and balances in this way, that we have all learned are necessary thanks to the Niagara Bottling proposal (a project that wanted to set up in the Town of Ulster using Kingston’s municipal water source from its reservoir located in the Town of Woodstock to bottle and to sell in the NE), the public would have an important seat at the table.
As to politicizing the issue, do some of our elected officials not trust the public to choose what is right for their community? We don’t agree with the Mayor’s take here. His opinion is but one, and although it is important, it should not trump all else. Lets get the language right, and let the people decide. That is democratic.
It is disingenuous for the Mayor to suggest that the process isn’t already political. What about appointees to the Water Board of Commissioners? Did you know that the Mayor has the sole discretion to appoint members without any oversight? Not only could the Mayor’s appointments be considered political, without full fair and open discussions about the appointments with the public, the lack of transparency and direct Democratic accountability could also be viewed as unethical.
Please see the Niagara Bottling TIMELINE for a refresher on exactly how politics in this case were used to work against the public good in our opinion. Thankfully, we learned our rights and implemented them. We will do the very same thing in this case.
You can also view a video from early in the Niagara effort where the Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley gives an Oscar winning performance. (No politics at work here)
In ‘Revising City Charters in NYS’ it lays out the requirements for ‘Charter Revision by Initiative and Referendum’. You can read the document by clicking on this LINK.
On Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00pm (Kingston City Hall, Conference Room #1) the Public Safety/General Government Committee will meet to discuss such a referendum. Members of the council have requested our Corporation Council to be prepared with information on the steps the Council must take.
This is another one of those moments where we are asking the public to attend and witness. Committee meetings do not have a public comment period like the council meeting does. Your presence next Tuesday will be meaningful in support of our council members as they work to move the referendum out of committee and on to the next step.
ADDITIONAL READING FROM KINGSTONCITIZENS.ORG