To the Editor:
It is amazing to me that many people who tout the tenets of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution do not seem to have read these documents. For instance, the preamble to the Constitution begins with the words “We the People…” But did the Riverhead Town Planning Board know this is the rule when they rejected the people’s strong opposition to approving the Ciderhouse’s post-construction application for permits to legalize changes to its facility? Three members of the board voted yes, including the newest member, who admitted he really had not studied the issue.
The Declaration of Independence also grants great authority to “the People” in the formation of the new nation. Yes, these documents declare ideals, but that is what our country was built on, ideals — not a sloppy course of prejudicial tradition, meaning it should not give in to the rich and power-seekers whose only interests are their own. This need for the people’s voice is presently being ignored by some of the most important local issues: EPCAL, warehouses, battery energy storage projects, etc.
We often hear references to the “intent of the Founding Fathers” to justify major decisions. John Adams, definitely a Founding Father, ambassador for the Revolution, first vice president, second president (pretty good credentials!) defined “the People” this way: “We do not mean by the word ‘people’ the vile populace or rabble of a country, nor the cabal of small meetings of factitious people, but the greater and more judicious part of all ranks.” Surely the townspeople of Riverhead who present strong, logical, and rational statements against these personal projects which will destroy forever our local ambiance are the “greater and more judicious people.” I assign a different Adams category to the officials who are supposed to represent the people yet have voted against the needs and wants of the people.
We must hope that democracy…the vote…will restore the role of the people.
Barbara D. Ripel
Professor Emerita, American History
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