If you were not aware, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hands out loans and grants for things (link fixed) that have nothing to do with agriculture. Who among you is honestly surprised? Very few in this audience.
Here’s another one. There are town officials in Henniker, NH who have Barack Obama’s “a phone and a pen” mentality when it comes to things they want versus following the law as written. Laws or rules that get in the way of getting things done can be ignored for the sake of progress or in the words of Henniker Town Selectboard Chair Kris Blomback, to move the town forward.
New England College needed a letter from the town showing support for the construction of a new performing arts center on campus. The letter needed to go with an application to the USDA because the USDA hands out loans and grants for performing arts centers at “Community Based non-profit corporations” like New England College.
Could New England College and the town of Henniker benefit from a performing arts center financed with Federal plunder laundered through the Department of Agriculture? Yes, they could. But that’s not the point nor the problem. The issue is that any elected official, for any reason, could ever be so cavalier with any law.
Very few in this audience will be surprised by yet another example of the abuse of office. Neither Congress the President nor the courts, not the state governors the legislatures of the several states or those elected to manage the concerns of taxpayers at the local level can be said to have been particularly good at following the law. But that’s no damn excuse.
If the words mean nothing to them, why should they mean anything to anyone else?
And if we can’t agree to do more to follow the law than less, and demand they use the legal process set up to change the law when needed, the path to tyranny grows shorter.
Henniker, for its part, appears to be run by a small cabal of ruling class douche-bags (only some of them elected) who use the system when it suits them and ignore it when it does not, always to crush opposition to whatever shiny bauble has caught their eye. The voters of Henniker, in whom all power truly lay, seem content to stand by and watch the rule of law pass them by (but for a handful of persistent Patriots) so long as the improvisational theater that is town government does not include them as the antagonist in any future performance.
The problem with this is that the longer you wait, the more likely the play will find you a part, even just as an extra, whether you want it or not.
Hen-pecked voters, or perhaps it is more appropriate here to say Henniker-pecked voters who do not require their local officials to follow the law can expect them not to follow it as often as they are able, even with the best of intentions.
But then, it is always with the best of intentions, even if it is not in your best interest.
Once someone decides to skip a few steps, whether it will move the town forward or not, you have to wonder how many times that has happened before without your knowledge and how many times it will happen in the future? And no, it won’t always be to milk the Feds for cash to build a performing arts center. And no, you can’t take them at their word for any answer they might give either way.
That ship has sailed, and it’s not coming back and not just because Kris Blomback is on the record stating that “If I had to do this all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing…”
They’ll say they can fix it, and by that, they mean the thing that got skipped for this particular situation. But they can’t fix the motivation that led to needing to fix it later in the first place. That will be there as long as those involved are, good intentions or not.
And at some point, they may decide your holding them accountable is the real problem.
That happens quite a bit in local government. Our regular readers know that too. Who can say if the voters in Henniker do; but they’ve had a performing arts center right there in town for years. It’s called the local government.
They’ve been performing a comedy or tragedy more likely both.