Sunday, October 21, 2007
The Lesser of two evils
Okay. I should never say anything to discourage young, college-age students from being actively involved in local politics, or from voting.
So, Matthew Lesser, Wesleyan student and candidate for the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission, you have my vote.
And Wesleyan students, heed Matthews advice to vote in local elections.
But Matthew, as a student you are, temporarily, a professional learner. So think about some of the things you've said, and learn.
Diversity -- the Republicans as usual are a bunch of old white guys. We're not.
Well, you would have to waterboard me before I voted Republican at a state or federal level, but the local Democrats, are the entrenched political machine in Middletown. You should check their voting record before you begin to brag. They have voted in reckless development plans, loss of wildlife and environment (Maromas), and destruction of historic properties. Catherine Johnson, on the other hand, a woman, a white woman to be sure, is running against you on the Republican ticket because the Democrats wouldn't have her. She is a nationally known and respected consultant on urban and Main Street development, a fine architect, and a campaigner for historic preservation in Middletown. She has worked tirelessly against bad development and developers, and can be credited with helping to save more than one eighteenth or nineteenth century building from the wrecking ball. She has logged hundreds of hours at committee and commission meetings, some of which I've attended as well, and I've never seen you there. In addition, the current mayor, a Republican, helped fight the development of a big box store downtown, ended the reign of an ineffectual police chief, and helped fire an indicted developer who a Democratic mayor had hired to build the high school.
There's a referendum on the ballot to raise $4 million to buy open space in Middletown to protect it from the WalMarts of the World.
Supported, BTW, across the board, by Democratic and Republican candidates, and put on the ballot by a bunch of aging, middle-class white people.
Every developer who wants to buy, build or tear down anything in this city has to come to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval. When I'm on the Commission, I will look very hard at the impact of development on the environment, on working families and on Wesleyan students.
Good. Good, but remember most development plans have been pushed by a Democratic machine at the Economic Development, Zoning and Redevelopment level, and passed by the majority on a Democratic council. And unfortunately, Wesleyan University is the most egregious example of the 400 lb. gorilla developer, taking down old houses, demolishing historic academic and municipal buildings, pouring yards and yards of asphalt so students like you can park close to class. So, as the saying goes, charity begins at home. Convince your school to be more environmentally, historically and community-conscious, and you'll go a long way towards making Middletown a better place.
We may have activist students, but if the city government is dominated by right wing fanatics hostile to Wesleyan, your activism will get a lot less done.
As a community activist, I've meet a lot of people in city government, many of who I don't like or respect, and I've met a lot of right wing fanatics, but in Middletown I have never met anyone in government who is a right-wing fanatic hostile to Wesleyan. I have met members of the Democratic town committee who supported right-wing fanatic, independent, Republican-lite, candidate Joe Lieberman instead of the progressive, sanctioned candidate Ned Lamont in the Senatorial election last year.
So, Matt, don't grow up and be a typical politician who speaks before he knows what he's speaking about.