By Town of Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann
Thomas Jefferson once stated that “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” That very thought perfectly captures what I observed over the past few months as the Town Board—in consultation with the residents of Clarkstown—discussed and debated a proposed local law related to adopting a Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return (“TNVR”) policy for feral cats within our town. I won’t delve into the specifics of the issue here, but the manner by which the proposed law winnowed its way through the process is illustrative of the transparency my administration stands for and the many ways we seek public input in the formation of town policy.
Most public policy ideas are rooted in and carried forward by people with only the best of intentions. That was the case with advocates of TNR, who presented an idea that a small number of municipalities in the state adopted to handle population control of feral cats in their community. Working with those advocates, the Town Board began to put together a local law that worked for those who would trap cats, get them “fixed” and return them to the place where they were found, as opposed to euthanizing them. The potential outcome was laudable and seemingly a “no-brainer” when presented with one side of the facts.
But then a cacophony of various voices rushed in. Some held an alternative view on whether the practice was humane. Some described experiences of their own cat being trapped and returned, and then subsequently passing. Other voices raised concerns about whether the cats should be microchipped, whether the trappers should be registered with the town and what kind of funding and liability issues might arise from the passage of the law.
It got complicated.
For nearly a year, town staff met with interested parties and wrote a draft law that was discussed in a public hearing that was held on two occasions, totaling five hours in all.
Ultimately, the Town Board decided not to act on the issue. Not because the merits of the issue were good or bad, but because getting it right was more important than doing just something. In the end, the public’s input mattered greatly because it proved to be so informative.
Do you have an idea, thought or concern that you would like to share? Contact my office (845-639-2050), email me ([email protected]) or send me a message on Facebook.