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Special Town Meeting

I have written my usual notes about tonight's Special Town Meeting.

Fire Stations Deserve Thought

The Boston Globe quoted Arlington Fire Chief Rich Maimone saying something pretty spectacular today: "Maimone said one large concern is that further delays in rebuilding the station will prompt people to consider downsizing the fire department by closing the station altogether. He pointed out that a study done in May 2002 by the MMA Consulting Group in Boston recommended just that."

Why is he worried that delay will make people downsize? If the town really needs three fire stations, the town will find the money. I think the larger worry is that the town will be rushed into buying a fire station that it doesn't really need.

What I can't figure out is why the town hasn't made use of this fiscally-enforced delay. How many fire stations does Arlington need? The town asked the question once, and the answer was: two. That study was rejected because some of its assumptions were wrong. I think that means we need a new study, not millions of dollars on a third fire station.

We shouldn't downsize the fire department because of a delay. Neither should we super-size the fire department because we can do it quickly. We should choose the size of our fire department based on the needs of our town and the costs we can support.

Romney on Marriage: If He Were to Finish His Logic

Governor Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week opposing gay marriage. He said: "The institution of marriage was not created by government and it should not be redefined by government."

I have some questions for Mr. Romney: If marriage and government are so separate, then why does the government confer special status to wedded couples? To their property rights? To their rights of child custody? To their taxes? To their medical decisions? To their legal standing in tort law?

The answer, I think, is that Mr. Romney would rather have his cake and eat it, too. If two people are in a relationship that he approves of, he wants to pretend that it is something government should be involved in. But if he doesn't approve of the relationship, then it is something that does not "predate our nation by millennia" and not worth his protection.

I disagree. The government should not be conferring special status on anyone.