Thursday night, May 12, at 7 p.m. is the Atlantic Highlands Council meeting and there’s nothing on the agenda about acting on a resolution to let the people vote.
It’s hard to believe, but a question as vital and necessary as whether the town wants to save money on educating its next generation and do it to the best of their ability with the best possible use of funds to accomplish this still has not been answered by the Mayor and Council…make that Council, since the Mayor has already asked for it to be put to the vote of the people.
What, people of Atlantic Highlands, are you so frightened of? Why, governing body, do you not want the people to decide what’s best for their town? Why can’t the public have the right to vote on what is best both for the folks paying the bills and the folks being educated?
That study by the boards of education of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands that was supposed to be done in March, then April, then May, still has not surfaced. Has it been finished, released to the boards of education and still not released to the people? Cynic though I am….and 65 years as a reporter does tend to make one cynical……might the report from the tri-district be back, be read, and whoa…maybe not be as great, beneficial, pro-better education or not economically feasible than some people have been hoping for? Might it not missing some positive features like better education at a cheaper price? Might it show the only answer for regionalization is to join with Sea Bright? Or did it not even consider joining with Sea Bright? Or joining with Middletown and becoming Middletown East at Henry Hudson? These are just questions, in the absence of seeing any report, we simply don’t know what it shows.
Yet we wait. We wait for a report that’s already been promised and delayed twice. We wait to see whether this report really contacted outside sources to get complete results.
And while we wait, the clock keeps ticking. The state still requires any questions for the November ballot be intact, approved, and on their official plate by Aug. 15. Delays mean this might not happen. And wouldn’t that be ironic? We all agree the questions of education and cost should be in the hands of the people. But whoops, we made that decision too late, and missed the opportunity. So don’t worry, folks at the state level, where they don’t even know the charm, the beauty, the camaraderie, the smart kids, the cost of living or anything else about our great little corner of Monmouth County, will be the ones making the ultimate decision.
I don’t really know Tracy Abby-White. I remember writing a feature story on her and her husband decades ago when they adopted not one, but three infants and we were all thrilled, not only for the new family, but for these precious babies who found a new life. Bit I’ve read up on her in recent years. Now I know how brilliant she is, how open-minded she is, how reasonable, intelligent, and far-reaching she is in her thinking and ideas. I know she is a strong and active member of the Brookdale Board of Education, I know she’s successful in her professional life, and I know she’s been both a member of a governing body and a board of education. She doesn’t seem like a lady with any personal axes to grind, but rather, someone who loves her family, her town, her county and her country. She isn’t a quitter, she doesn’t walk about from tough decisions, nor does she linger in the background and let others speak or vote for her.
So maybe people should listen to Tracy Abby-White. Maybe people should delve deeper into why she is her urging people to attend council meetings, speak up, suggest, ask, demand, that they be given the right to express their own opinions.
Everyone cannot speak out with such conviction and powerful voice to make something better. But everyone can use that conviction and power inside a ballot box. Trace is simply asking people to let the governing body know they want that right to express their opinions in the privacy and assurance of the ballot box. It doesn’t appear the governing body is going to take any action at Thursday’s meeting to get the question on the ballot. But with some urging from residents, from questioning by voters who are up on timelines and deadlines, perhaps convincing Council at Thursday’s meeting they really want to be heard in the ballot box is enough to get action at the final May meeting to get all the "i's" dotted and "t’s" crossed in time to make it to the November ballot.
Listen to Tracy Abby-White. Tell the Council. Then learn more about the options. And in November, feel good about yourself as you go into the ballot box and in the privacy and security of your secret ballot, do whatever you think is right for the future of education in the Bayshore.
But it still requires that first step of getting the question on the ballot. Before Aug. 15. Time’s a’wastin.