The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
I hereby issue The Croton Challenge: Go one full week without calling someone racist. The prize is $14,852,036.64.
During this past week, we have seen rudeness and ingratitude by some of our neighbors while our Croton Board of Trustees has been a model of silent cowardice. You can go on Facebook and debate the merits and demerits of displaying the “thin red line” or “thin blue line” flag on Croton fire apparatus, but calling people who you don’t know “racist” because they fly a red line flag is unfair, illogical, and counterproductive. Let us leave that aside for a moment and simply address the cost of continuing this course of attack.
Nobody wants to work in a hostile environment, let alone as an unpaid volunteer. And being called a racist, and having your family called racist, is about as hostile a work environment as can exist these days. The mere charge of being a racist is enough to destroy your professional life.
When we smear the volunteer members of the Croton Fire Department as racists, we create an environment in which any sane person will resign. Some people in Croton are fine with this, and point to the fact that once we get paid firefighters in Croton, the Village Manager and Board of Trustees can “control” the firefighters, including their freedom of speech.
Some years ago, then-Mayor (and Croton Rotary member) Greg Schmidt remarked on the declining rate of volunteerism in our community. His concern was the day when a lack of volunteer firefighters leads to the need for a paid force. He said that Croton property taxes would rise so high that people would not be able to afford to live here, and it turns out that he was correct. READ MORE HERE.