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Letter: Why weren't you at the town annual meeting

To the Editor:

Only 12 citizens attended the Town of Warren annual meeting on April 14, 2009. Of the 12 in attendance, three were town board supervisors, one a plan commission member, one on the groundwater committee and one was the town engineer. Leaving only six in attendance who did not serve the town in some capacity.

The political future of the town was in their hands that night. They could, if they wanted to, raise your taxes, cut services or implement any town program they desired. And you would have to go along with their desires.

These people had this much power because we live in Wisconsin where towns have a direct democracy. The following quote is from the Wisconsin Towns Association. See

"Direct Democracy: Wisconsin's 1,259 towns are among the last vestiges of direct democracy in America (or anyplace else). Did you know that town residents actually get to discuss and then vote on their own municipal property tax levy every year at an annual town budget meeting? Democracy doesn't get much more direct than that. This unique tradition of direct citizen involvement may help explain why towns are so good at keeping spending and property tax levies down. It may also explain why town residents often vigorously fight forced annexations into neighboring cities."

The quote refers to "property tax levy" as an example. Citizens, however, can bring forth any proposed action and have it voted on by the citizens in attendance. For one night a year the citizens at the annual meeting run the town. Their vote is binding upon the town board.

Thomas Jefferson said that citizens need to take an active role in their government to avoid it deteriorating into "rulers of the people."

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories."

Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Va., 1782.

We have an upstanding conscientious town board. However, without active participation by informed citizens it could in the future deteriorate without anyone knowing.

Our town board keeps the citizens informed through postings in the local newspaper, the town newsletter and on the Internet at It is the citizens' responsibility to seek out and stay informed by reading this information and attending town board meetings the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. and especially attending the annual meeting.

Abraham Lincoln said it best; "The people get the government they deserve."

Why weren't you at the annual meeting?

Bob Albright