I am writing this letter to the editor in response to the editor's "Bad Practice" editorial and the report by Pierre Comtois called "Bitter Divide over Conservation Appointments."

There were so many inaccuracies and missing information in the two articles I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps the biggest issue is the lack of responsible investigation on the part of the Townsend Times, and the resultant irresponsible reporting and editorializing.

Good reporters and editors should interview all parties involved before reporting "facts" and deciding opinions. For the report and the editorial, the newspaper never interviewed the commissioner who had taken a leave of absence about the causes of her absence and the timing of her return to the commission. No one from the Townsend Times did any research to learn that, indeed, there are many examples of conservation commissioners and members of other town boards taking leaves of absence for various reasons and then returning to their service positions once able. No one from the Townsend Times asked the Conservation Commission applicants about their motivation for serving on the commission.

As for me, I have been asked repeatedly over the past five years to apply to the Conservation Commission. The timing of my recent application was triggered by the gas pipeline threat and had nothing to do with the personality conflicts, differing philosophies and squabbling of the current Conservation Commission.


In fact, those conflicts are reason for me NOT to apply to the Conservation Commission. I often ask myself why I am insisting on jumping into that hornet's nest. However, as soon as I learned about the TGP pipeline, I worked hard to educate my town and protect it from the harm the pipeline might do. As I found activists to work with in neighboring towns, I learned that most of them are either conservation commissioners or members of their towns' land trusts. I realized it was time for me to offer my services to the Townsend Conservation Commission, working to protect the environment not merely during a crisis, but on a regular basis.

I feel that the Townsend Times should consider an apology to their readers for their "bad practice" of inaccurate reporting.

Emily Norton

West Townsend