Despite a campaign to label us, the Holyoke Citizens for Open Government is not an anti-privatization group . We are a citizens group trying to get this city to follow accepted, national, professional practices in determining whether to go private or stay public in upgrading our waste water treatment plant. The way anyone would go about redoing their kitchen.
We gave Mayor and city councilors material from AMSA, a national organization of public sewer and water professionals. These were booklets with guidelines and check lists of how to go about it: first, get independent consultants to do a study, and then seek several bids-- for public and private alternatives. One check list booklet, called Evaluation Privation, offers ways to read the private contracts to look for “hidden costs” before the city signs on the bottom line.
Only then, can a city truly professionally decide what is best. As ratepayers who care about future costs and whether the contract will clean up our river, we have the right to have our requests circulated to all the citizens.
However, a small majority of the city council refused to have our letter to the Mayor read out loud so that citizens at home could hear it.. The city also failed to broadcast a February 7th meeting held at the high school, sponsored by the city, where a full auditorium of citizens came up to the mike and asked the city to seek an independent study and public bid before signing with Aquarion. Citizens of Holyoke are rightly skeptical of a one-bid contract with a company owned by a multi-national corporation and no independent consultants guiding us through the process.
The showdown may on the April 5th city council meeting. Citizens need to call those city councilors who still support the one-bid contract and ask them to refuse to vote for funding it until the other conditions have been met. Those who need to be called are At-Large councilors Feyre, Leahy, McDermott, McGiverin, and Lecca (Ward 4), Lopez (Ward 2), Joyce (Ward 7), and Brunelle (Ward 5).
We thank your paper for your service to Holyoke with its consistent, professional coverage of the full facts about Holyoke Citizens for Open Government.
Carolyn Toll Oppenheim