"Not eating chard. That's what all those weirdos eat at their stupid picnics on the Hungry Ghost lawn." -Nina

January 23, 2008

Reader Mail: Who Is John Galt?

Mary Serreze, host of the Community Radio Hour, and I recently had the Mayor and Bill Dwight on air. We discussed a number of topics, and I imagine Mary will have the very engaging audio from that show up on her blog any day now. [UPDATE:: Audio is here] During the radio show, I broached a topic with the Mayor regarding the lack of municipal boards or committees in Northampton that deals specifically with economic/labor/wage issues facing the residents of Northampton, particularly in light of 100 or so others boards, committees, dept's., sub-committees, etc... dealing with a host of issues and concerns of matter to local residents.

As I wrote in a recent draft for my new boss,

If you work and own a bicycle, you could advocate for bike lanes to ride that bike to work. If you work and are gay, you could advocate to be treated equally under the law, as a gay person. If you work, create art, and live in town, you can receive subsidies and assistance to create your art, as an artist who lives in town. If you own a business, you could advocate for tax breaks, subsidized parking, or special permits to use public space. If you were a tree, you could advocate that someone water and trim you. But apparently in Northampton MA, if you just work, there is no committee for you to advocate for anything.
In response to the show on the Community Radio Hour that aired last Sunday evening, I received an email from a listener and reader.

You and I have spot [sic] a little about a labor issues committee recently, but could you tell me what you'd envision the mission of a labor issues committee being? Why do we need them, what would their purpose be, and what sort of legal standing, if any, would empower them? The relation between an employer/employee is private unless a law has been broken (such as discrimination); government is not empowered to interfere in this relationship and I'd see it as a bad thing for government to get involved.

Who is John Galt?
My quick response was follows. I would like to elaborate further and with more thought, but for now,
haha, who is John Galt.

In a short answer to your questions, I would say the mission would be to afford fair and equitable treatment to all groups. Bikes and trees get a committee, so lets get one where we can talk about employment, labor, and wage issues. I am not advocating that the committee advocate for anything, but just to exist for reasons of fairness and equal treatment.

As well, I would like to answer your questions to me with your own questions, as food for thought, and apply your questions to the 100 or so boards, committees, departments, commission, sub-committees, and ad-hoc committees that currently exist.

I would note that you said, "government is not empowered to interfere in this relationship and I'd see it as a bad thing for government to get involved." I agree with you, and would note that I'm not sure it would be a good idea for municipal gov't to get involved in private issues between employers and employees either.

Lastly, your statement quoted above is not entirely accurate, as EDLHU, a committee on Housing, Land Use, and Economic Dev't is empowered to get involved in these issues in a general, more broad sense, such as giving TIF credits in exchange for commitments to create or retain jobs.


p.p.s. furthering this guessing game, who was linda brown?
I wonder what you readers think about this? Should the City of Northampton establish a municipal board or committee dealing with wage/labor/economic issues facing the residents of town? Not necessarily to advocate or interject in private matters between employees and employers, but at least simply to help facilitate a discussion, and further the discourse? When Sparky's closed suddenly without warning to employees, and with accusations and rumors of unpaid wages, would a municipal Labor Council been a vehicle employees could have utilized to help mitigate or mediate alleged misdeeds between employee and employer?

LABELS: could we should we would we, city government, public policy,