Fredonia: An unacceptable abstention

Fredonia village Trustee Michael Barris had no vested interest in the alcohol law that was recently approved June 25 by the Village Board. He was not going to gain financially whether the law was passed, yet he abstained from the decision.

His reasoning? He doesn’t believe he should be making decisions involving control of any ingested chemical substance.

Well, he was not. He would have been approving a village policy, not an individual’s decision.

His choice on declining to vote almost seemed dishonest. Abstentions from board members — elected and at non-profits — happen whenever an individual has an interest in the outcome that directly affects him or her personally, or monetarily, in a manner not shared by the other members of the group.

Abstaining for any other reason is an absolute cop out — and, in this case, calculated. Bottom line: he’s against alcohol and any policy associated with it. By abstaining, he assured his Democratic party the law would pass. With a 2-2 tie, the mayor would have voted yes. If he voted no, the law had a possibility of failing.

Voting for laws is going to come with unease at certain times for elected officials. Those laws are going to impact friends and neighbors.

Many Chautauqua County legislators were uncomfortable — especially in this area — voting on the future of the County Home in 2014. To their credit, they all voted. Correctly, none abstained.

Trustees are elected to be decision makers. That is what is required. It should not come as a surprise.

Do the job.

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