Forum, May 16: It took a village to restore Croydon budget

Published: 5/16/2022 6:02:00 AM
Modified: 5/16/2022 10:26:43 AM
It took a village to restore Croydon budget

The turnout at the Saturday, May 7, special school budget meeting in Croydon overwhelmed me. It was gratifying, humbling and more than I expected, as a member of We Stand Up for Croydon Students, who had been campaigning to both get out the vote and raise awareness about issues surrounding the budget cut. Croydon showed up like never before and voted to support our students, public education and a fully funded school choice program.

Between the March and May meetings, countless people reached out to members of We Stand Up for Croydon Students as well as to local officials, representatives, the Attorney General’s office, the media and beyond. People demonstrated that, despite years of low meeting attendance, which culminated with March’s meeting, they care, believe in democracy and support a model of education that, despite many challenges, has worked for generations.

I want to thank (personally and on behalf of We Stand Up for Croydon Students) those involved in Croydon’s special meeting, which restored the originally proposed budget of roughly $1.7 million for the 2022-2023 school year.

Thank you to voters who actively participated in the democratic process; town officials who helped this meeting run, especially Bruce Jasper, our newly elected town and school moderator; Croydon students who attended and even spoke in defense of their own education; and the Croydon school teachers, support staff and administration.

Thank you to state troopers who attended the meeting and to community members of neighboring towns who expressed and offered support by posting We Stand Up for Croydon Students signs and also by babysitting, providing refreshments, standing by in case rides were needed and attending the meeting itself to demonstrate solidarity.

Thank you to all who submitted letters to local publications, decrying the move to defund public education; the many journalists who reported and continue to report on this story; those who offered legal and campaigning advice, as well as advice and training on rules related to town meetings.

Thank you to Camp Coniston for hosting.

My final thought to share is a call to action for you: participate. Get informed, attend meetings and vote. It makes all the difference. You, your beliefs and your actions matter, as Croydon just demonstrated.

Amanda Leslie

Croydon

Voter turnout is crucial

In her speech to the National Union of Townswomen’s Guilds Conference on May 20, 1965, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

Hats off to Cindy Conroy, Susan Hastings and Heidi North, who defeated, along with 649 others, the proposed Newport Community Center. They worked hard, got out the vote and prevailed. If only we could harness their energy for every election.

1,298 people voted, 60 of them registering for the first time. I am compelled to ask where the other 2,101 voters were who chose not to/could not/or otherwise didn’t vote. We now relegate our youth, our teens, our middle-aged volleyball players and our senior citizens to a crumbling, non-ADA compliant, moldy, leaking facility with one toilet for the many people who participate in programs offered by the Newport Recreation Department.

Democracy works when people participate. We need only look to Croydon and now the efforts of these folks. This was a non-partisan issue but an important one. I surmise that people voted with their pocketbooks and voted for food, fuel and not fitness.

Now we look forward to September and the midyear election in November when it will be partisan. For women, a lot is at stake regarding their reproductive and health care rights. We need everyone to vote in these elections and we need strong women to lead the way and get out the vote. I hope these three women will once again rise up and make the primary and the midyear elections a huge turnout, as we all should.

Biddy Irwin

Newport

Hannaford attempts to silence customers

On Sunday, May 1, local consumers in New London, New Hampshire, were distributing handbills to fellow customers at the Hannaford market regarding the dire housing and working conditions of dairy workers in New England. They were told to stop or face being cited with a Notice of Trespass. This would lead to their arrest by the police on the premises of any Hannaford store.

The consumers who were threatened were providing information about the Milk with Dignity program that seeks to improve the working and housing conditions of dairy workers. This organization of farmworkers and supporters has documented 13-hour work days, 75-hour work weeks and substandard housing imposed upon workers in the New England dairy industry. Similar educational efforts happened at 30 Hannaford stores.

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream has signed on to the Milk with Dignity program, in which participating dairies agree to provide housing and working conditions that comply with standards of basic decency. With its hundreds of stores in New England, Hannaford — which is owned by a Dutch multinational corporation — could make a commitment to this effort. However, they have resisted taking notice of these problems for three years, demonstrating that their priority is not corporate responsibility to the communities where they do business, but only to maximize profit.

For more information, please visit www.migrantjustice.net.

Thomas M. Trent

New London




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