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Some thoughts on a range of topics

Let me comment on a few loose ends:Open governmentI believe that government, especially local government, needs to be open about everything, with only the few exceptions permitted by state statute (and those exceptions should not be abused). Pretty much every document that enters Town Hall becomes a public document (and thanks to technology, this now includes “virtual” documents and email messages).In legal terms, the town is a public corporation, and you, the residents, are the shareholders. You deserve to know what goes on at Town Hall, without the obfuscation that afflicts other levels of government.Sometimes, this openness is more than people desire. For example, the wages, benefits and contracts of town employees are public information (my annual salary is $84,589). The town’s web site enables anyone in the world with Internet access to examine property tax records, which are public documents. What are commonly referred to as “sunshine” laws vary from state to state, but all attempt to promote accessibility and openness to government.General inquiries and commentsOn many occasions, I hear second- or third-hand comments or questions. The best way to get information is to simply contact Town Hall, and you will be directed to the appropriate person to handle the issue.Sometimes I think that the reason people do not contact Town Hall directly is they already know the answer to their question, but it’s not the answer that they want to hear. They’ll hope that someone will intervene on their behalf to give them the answer that they want.If you have a question or comment, call or write me, or even better, stop by and introduce yourself to me (plenty of you already have, and I enjoy the opportunity to greet you by name).BudgetI continue to work with department supervisors to craft the town budget for next year (July 1). Although more detailed information will be included when I present the budget to the Board of Selectmen, several key projects are being considered, such as additional generators for emergency shelters, road improvements and public safety components.It is critical that you participate in the budget process, and, as indicated above, I will share as much information with you as possible. I want you to have sufficient information to make an informed decision when the time comes to vote on the budget.SnowJust out of curiosity, for those that enjoy winter sports, what have you been doing to keep yourself busy this season? At times, I miss the snow, but, honestly, most of the time I do not. I’ve never been a skier or ice fisherman.My brother, who took a job in Greenwich shortly before I arrived here last year, has taken another job in Florida. He won’t have to worry about snow, and I’ll have a nice place to retreat to if I have to. It’s been nice having him close after nearly two decades of being a continent apart, but I wish him well (he does computer animation for movies).HockeyYep, it’s almost time to consider another foray to the city for a Red Wings game. This time, though, it would be to Madison Square Garden to watch the Wings and Rangers.As much as I want to go to the game, the price of tickets is incredible. In this instance, it is over $100 per ticket. The cost of professional sports has pretty much eliminated those activities as family entertainment. I remember going to several ball games each year as a family, but it’s just too expensive now.I’ve often wondered if franchises would fare as well by charging a lower general admission price to simply fill their arenas rather than have a half-filled arena of higher fees. Maybe that’s why minor league games or less traditional sports attract fans.OmeletThanks for your order, Ms. Southergill. I’m glad that at least one person reads my efforts. Your ingredients represent what is truly needed for a gourmet meal. I hope that I can meet your standards and serve you (and the rest of the community) well.Dale Martin is the town manager of Winchester.

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