Autocrats are in control of the town of Berne government

To the Editor:

The primary responsibility of town government is to promote the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

How then does the law proposed by the town of Berne to allow ATVs and other off-road vehicles to use, by default, all the roads in town, serve that purpose?

It doesn’t. 

Instead, it puts residents and anyone who uses those roads at risk, including the 10-year-old children who would be allowed to ride their unprotected ATVs and dirt bikes on the winding, hilly roads with the same privilege as DMV-registered and safety-inspected steel-skinned cars, trucks, buses, etc., as long as the children are “supervised” by a parent or guardian. It’s not safe for the adults either. 

This is nuts.

How would you feel coming over a blind hill or curve and running into a kid on an ATV? Or anyone? Or driving into a tree or ditch to avoid them? 

Most fatal ATV accidents happen on roads. And I’m not even talking about disruption of a peaceful rural way of life, or degradation of property values, or liability whose cost would be borne by the town residents, or the repair of roads gouged out by these machines.

The New York State Supreme Court has rolled back attempts other towns have made to allow ATVs on public roads, but no amount of legal precedent can substitute for common sense. 

Autocrats are in control of the town of Berne government. They do not hold themselves accountable to the people. Instead, they cynically obstruct public participation with their kangaroo court public hearings, allowing only the echo of their own ideas to prevail. This one takes the cake. Their abuse of power is stunning. 

The whole thing smacks of bullies and mob rule. Wise consideration for the health, safety, and welfare of people is not part of it.

In Aaron Sorkin’s stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” the Atticus Finch character says, “A mob acts out of emotion, absent facts, absent contemplation, mostly absent responsibility. What they get in return is anonymity. Conscience can be exhausting. It’ll keep you up at night. Mob’s a place where people go to take a break from their conscience.”

Facts, conscience, contemplation, responsibility. The Berne Town Board has abandoned them all.

Dianne Sefcik


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