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ABOUT TOWN: Issues

What issues that are weighing on our town right now are the most pressing?

I expect we’ll know after Speak Up. Mark down Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10:30 a.m. in the Weston Public Library Community Room. It’s the place to be at that time.

The League of Women Voters has been offering the people of Weston this annual opportunity to question and direct their government since 1992.

Members of the general public have the edge at this event. The assembled elected and appointed officials can’t speak until someone asks them a question. Furthermore, the league moderator enforces the rules strictly.

I have always thought the best questions are those involving issues that require responses from more than one individual or group. Prospects for well-informed answers will be helped, I suspect, by the fact that in the recent past several boards and commissions have had “tri-board” meetings. One of them involved budgeting for the upcoming fiscal year.

This figures to be a tough year for localities trying to hold the line on spending. The governor and the minority leader of the House agree on this. They have both been quoted as saying the legislature won’t be able to “hold harmless” aid to localities this year, as they had managed to do in the past two years.

In plain language, this means aid from Hartford to towns for roads and bridges may be in peril. No one appears to have mentioned it, yet, but my bet is that Weston and other “wealthy” towns won’t be getting as much money for education, either.

Come to Speak Up and ask those on stage who are closest to these matters what they expect to happen with funding from Hartford.

Could a silver lining, though, perhaps be a reduction in paperwork requirements? Can that save Weston some money in FY 2014?

Security

By the time Speak Up rolls around in a few weeks, will we be further along in developing means of improving school security for children and teachers?

Right here in little Weston, a discussion of gun control at last week’s meeting of the Board of Selectmen attracted attention from far beyond our borders. It was held in a gun-free location on School Road, at the middle school cafeteria.

At all levels of government, task forces, committees, and community meetings on this issue are rampant right now. Based on what I have read, work by a state legislative task force will wrap up by March 1. The governor has his own committee, and the federal government might just be working on this, too.

Committee efforts often don’t leave me feeling secure. But one thing is clear, as I see it. The First Amendment, the Second Amendment, and the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution must be respected as these issues are addressed.

The First Amendment rights of all to express their opinions, in a lawful, non-threatening, and orderly manner, must not be curtailed. Second Amendment rights to own firearms must be respected, as measures to insure public safety are developed. Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure must be kept in mind if we decide to consider an amendment to the 1990 Weston firearms ordinance that would require safe storage. How would the police enforce this?

Ask at Speak Up, on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Weston library.

NOTE: “About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at aboutweston.com. This week’s guest is Dr. Floyd Lapp, executive director of SWRPA.

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