Windows – not walls! Bridges – not barricades!

My first coherent thought upon awakening this morning was: “I wonder how the auction went?” By ‘the auction’, I mean the Town’s power purchase auction which will ultimately determine Berlin’s electric rates for the next eighteen or twenty-four months. Surely critical information for all of us. At last hearing, this online auction, with assistance from consultants -World Energy/APPI (Affiliated Power Purchasers International) was scheduled to take place last week or perhaps early this week or even next week – who knows?

Because, or due to the Town’s current plan to dissolve the citizen-based Berlin Utility Commission (of which I am/was a member) at the regular Mayor and Council meeting next Monday evening (March 28th) I have no answer to my question…nor the questions often posed to me by other economically stressed Berlin friends, neighbors and fellow ratepayers.

The lines of communication have been cut off! Somehow this summary decision feels wrong – really wrong!

Perhaps simplistically, I view government here in America as a sort of consumer service organization – a provider of services – hired and supported by us. Certainly, when I think about it – that’s what Berlin government does – provides service; including trash pick-up; street repair, utilities – including electric, water and wastewater, police and fire protection with us paying for all through our annual taxes, monthly rate payments and donations.

Yet, more and more it seems our Berlin ‘consumer service provider’ has become its own entity, a group of self rule – no longer seeking ‘customer’ opinion. The Town of Berlin Maryland will, except for an ever dwindling few, no longer include the very citizens it was created to serve, in everyday decisions – or, most vexing to me (and many, many others), see the need to keep the public informed of its day to day operation of these service duties.

Instead of windows through which to view organizational performance, we have walls; instead of bridges to allow normal discourse, including shared ideas, between the service organization and consumer, more barricades are being erected.

I will be the first (or second) to admit that all was not well between the Berlin Utility Commission and the Town administration due to those aforementioned, ever growing walls – however, to dismiss a group of interested citizen liaisons (those bridges), out of hand, rather than seek common ground and repair that bridge and lower the wall, is a mistake!

If you agree, please plan to attend the meeting (March 28th, 7pm – Town Hall) and let your thoughts be known.

Note: One of my fellow Berlin Utility Commission Members, Jason Walters sent me this yesterday…with his permission I will post.

“I was cleaning out some files this afternoon and coincidentally came across my BUC letter from Gee;

“On behalf of the Mayor and Council of the Town of Berlin and the citizens of our community thank you for your willingness to serve on the Berlin Utilities Commission.”

“The dedication and involvement of citizens volunteering their experience and expertise is greatly beneficial and important to the future of our town.”

I guess he changed his mind.”