Opinion: July 30 was not a great day for Massena, town council candidate says
Friday, August 9, 2019 - 5:58 am

Tuesday, 30 July 2019: By now, most of you have either read or heard of what a great day this date will represent in your community’s history. By now, most of you have read or heard the plethora of great news and other proclamations surrounding events on this date. By now, most of you have read or heard about the fantastic and bright future that lies ahead for one of your community’s most cherished institutions.

I say read or heard because, of the 12,000 of you residing in either the Village or Township of Massena, only one of you (three if you count me, myself, and I...) representing John/Jane Q public got to observe this history in the making. On a day that will mark a significant turning point for our beloved Massena Memorial Hospital, the future of its dedicated and compassionate staff, as well as the scope, quantity, and availability of vital healthcare services – less than 0.0001% of you bore witness.

When I say “you,” I am referring to the taxpaying electorate. Not members of the media, lawyers, consultants, or other representatives of hospital or town entities – such as the Massena Hospital Board or Massena Town Board. Nope – just a party of one to witness the great news and congratulatory back-slapping accolades, that lacked only champagne and fireworks. So how did that happen?

Because once again, our elected Town Supervisor Steve O’Shaughnessy and his hand-picked protégés deliberately chose to conduct your business via “special” meeting. With a legally minimum announcement period, Steve O’Shaughnessy once again denied you your right to actively engage and participate, not only in your own governance, but to deprive you your rights to evaluate, question, and dissent on actions that have both immediate and long term ramifications for your quality of life.

Steve O’Shaughnessy’s ego of self-importance is bigger than our beloved St Lawrence River. He yields and administers authority and power, not within the consent of the majority, but by the placid consent of those he can control and manipulate. He is intolerant and contemptuous toward dissent and opposition. He censures and silences opposing viewpoints and criticism. He answers questions incompletely, untruthfully, or not at all. “Special” meetings are his greatest weapon, his greatest shield. There are no checks and balances and this must change.

To be transparent, the notice of “special” meeting met the minimum legal posting requirements – being posted approximately between 1–2 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Due to the late-in-the-day posting, the local media has taken some blame for delay in getting the word out. But, they should never have been placed in this position in the first place.

There was nothing urgent or emergent in the propositions put forward and acted upon. As long as this conversion process has taken, and for as long as it is still estimated to take before it’s final, why not afford another 24-48 hours of notification? Why not give you the fullest opportunity to participate in issues that will impact your lives and those of your loved ones for years to come? Sadly, the simple answer is – Steve O’Shaughnessy didn’t want you to.

As such 99.9999% of you did not get to share or revel in this great news! From this observer’s perspective – Tuesday, 30 July 2019 – was not a great day for you or our community!

Bob Elsner

Massena Town Council candidate