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Dissent should be tolerated

Oak Lodge Sanitary District Board President Terry Gibson’s personal attacks on me are not well founded.

What we talk about in meetings is open to the public, and there should be public discourse on issues as they are being considered and not after a governmental body has decided to take action.

I support the decision of the Oak Lodge Water District Board to cooperate with the study initiated by OLSD. That does not mean I support the merger. No decision has been made by either the OLWD or the OLSD boards whether or not the districts should merge, therefore the issue is certainly open to discussion in the public forum. Even though Mr. Gibson may think that those opposed to an idea should remain silent, there is nothing in law or ethics that requires silence when anyone opposes a particular viewpoint. Should the OLWD Board decide to advance and approve the merger, it does not necessarily mean that I must actively support the merger.

Mr. Gibson obviously didn’t consider the arguments I proposed in opposition to a merger of OLWD and OLSD but rather chose to attack me personally. Mr. Gibson’s wife, Nancy, was elected to OLWD Board in 2013 adding a new perspective on issues facing OLWD. I find it hard to believe that there is impartiality by the two of them on the merger.

Some current OLSD Board members have made their views known to favor a merger. For Mr. Gibson to say that the OLSD Board is impartial cannot be further from the truth. The OLSD Board’s newest member has frequently proposed support for a merger between the districts.

If the OLSD Board is neutral, why is there a merger proposal? As far as consultants are concerned, they will provide the outcomes that are envisioned by their sponsors, in this case OLSD. This is a truism as old and as long as consultants have been in existence.

Mr. Gibson and others may say that they are making an objective judgment, but at the OLSD meeting on April 9, he and the OLSD Board were already discussing how to sell the public on the benefits of the merger when the OLWD and OLSD complete their work. OLSD General Manager J. Michael Read already is arranging for a consulting public-relations firm to sell the idea of a merger. Doesn’t Mr. Gibson think this is a little premature? It indicates to me that he has a desired outcome but is reluctant to express it publicly.

Myron Martwick is the chairman of the Oak Lodge Water District Board of Directors.




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