They got food all up in my politics

The town election this year has been odd, to say the least. First we have the two slates of candidates. The SOS which stands for Save Our Silt (Rick Aluise, Paul Taylor, Bryan Fleming, and Dave Moore). And the Sensible Solutions for Silt – or SSS (Meredith Robinson, Bobby Hays, Mark Rinehart, and Bob Shivley). An unfortunate acronym for four people who decided to form a group just because those other guys over there formed a group.

One of the “sensible solutions” that is being recycled by the SSS candidates and their supporters is a food co-op. It was first trotted out at the Candidate Forum last month. Mark Rinehart mentioned it as an alternative to a grocery store. It brought back memories of the food co-op I belonged to in 1979. A dude who called himself Tachaska and his wife Riverbend and their five kids (Summer, Autumn, Spring, Little Feather – and Bob, from a previous marriage) managed the actual store. All of them. Their other home was a teepee. They wiped out the food shelves on a weekly basis and ran up a huge tab until the co-op board couldn’t make overhead anymore and had to close up shop. Good times.

A food co-op is to a grocery store like a thrift shop is to Wal-Mart. I’m not against a food co-op in Silt. I just don’t think it has much to do with town government. It’s not a political issue. Or even a grocery store. But that hasn’t stopped the SSS candidates and their supporters from dusting off an antique notion and floating it out there as their “Here-eat-this-it’s-good-for-you” platform. Silt’s own version of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.

A one Scott Sandblom wrote a letter to the editor in support of the candidates running for “A Sensible Silt” saying in part:

They are not the same old “we need a grocery store” group, but a group that would bring a food coop to Silt that will use local produce …

As if a “food coop” is so 21st century.

The town board can’t actually “bring a food coop to Silt”. Food co-ops spring up as a whole grassroots kind of thing among the local people. They start with a buying club, then they rent a space – insert your own groovy food co-op experience here. I don’t see why anyone would even want the town board involved with a food co-op. They’d just screw it up.

In another letter to the editor mayoral candidate Meredith Robinson asked:

Are you interested in a food co-op … ?

Which begs the question, if people were really interested in a food co-op in Silt, wouldn’t we already have one?

Meredith Robinson also thinks we need to simplify the town code to make the town more business friendly even though no new businesses want to locate in Silt – not even a food co-op. Not because of the town code but because banks aren’t loaning money for small businesses.

A food co-op would be a costly venture. The group which makes up the co-op would need money to buy inventory, plus shelves and bins, and a storefront in a town where commercial rentals start at $800/month plus utilities. And this would help solve the town’s problems how?  

Former Mayor John Evans wrote in his letter supporting the SSS:

Talk to them and listen to some innovative thinking about how to better promote our currently annexed properties in this beautiful and sunny river valley, and some thoughtful ideas about a local food co-op.

Thoughtful? I’m not convinced the SSS candidates have put much thought into any of their ideas, most especially a food co-op. Do these people know there’s a Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers only 16 miles away? Somebody should tell them.

Then there’s trustee candidate Mark Rinehart who seems to have run out of ideas. In his letter to the editor he wrote:

… the soap opera drama which occurs at our town board meetings, must stop.

No way. It’s not soap opera, it’s sitcom. Some of my best material comes from those board meetings.

Rinehart believes the way to stop the current “drama” is to bring in new board members:

A transfusion of new attitudes is critical to restore sensibilities and order necessary for the town staff and board to work together.

But two of his fellow SSS candidates – Meredith Robinson and Bobby Hays – are trustees. So if he’s recommending a “transfusion of new attitudes” he could only mean the three SOS trustee candidates (Aluise, Taylor, and Fleming), all of whom are not on the board.

I don’t think Rinehart meant to say this next part but there it is:

You can’t expect different results from the same thinking that created the problems in the first place.

I’m not sure whether he’s referring to a food co-op or town politics, but he’s right on.

Vote! Remember to fill out your ballots and return them to the town hall by 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 6.

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