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.


Anonymous said...

I don't get you.

In the title of your post, you call Matt Lesser one of two evils. Immediately following this pronouncement, you declare that he has your vote. Then, you go on to verbally thrash and critique individual phrases and statements he made - which is fine. Then, you turn around and put significant effort into talking about how wonderful his opponent is, Catherine Johnson.

I don't get you. On the one hand you call both him and his opponent evil. Then you turn around and say you're going to vote for the "Lesser evil." But then, rather than justifying your vote, you talk about how great the other "evil" candidate happens to be.

I applaud criticism of aspiring politicians who place themselves in the limelight. My problem is that in this post, you fail to criticize with consistency and legitimacy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Wesleyan student, I do not know Matt Lesser, but I plan on voting for him in the upcoming election.

P.S. I find it disturbing that you moderate comments - maybe that's why there is no discussion in the comments section on any of your posts. Take a risk, live a little, and allow open discussion on your blog. Or are you afraid of what we might say?

Ed McKeon said...

Well, if you knew anything about Middletown politics, you'd know that a student candidate, no matter how naieve, is preferable to an "experiencec" but entrenched political hack.

As for moderating comments, I don't even like anonymous comments. You tell me to free up and take a risk. Why don't you take a risk, and a bit of responsibility and sign your post?

Anonymous postings inevitably lead to sniping, name-calling, racism, homophobia, sexism, and if you don't believe it, read some of the anon posting on Wesleyan blogs.

Hiding behind an anonymous comment may occasionally be necessary to let truth see the light of day, but more typically it's the sign of intellectual cowardice. If you believe in what you're saying, put your name at the end of it. Own it. Take a risk.

Anonymous said...


I thank you for standing up for Catherine Johnson - she will make a great P&Z Commissioner. I am not sold on Matt Lesser though. He should sit down with the "Godfather" of Middletown before he stacks up the Democratic Party's "old white guys" against the Republicans'.

I don't want to be identified with the Middletown Democratic Party as long it has Joe Serra's face on it. I am comfortable with what I have managed to do so far and I would caution Mr. Lesser what he might wake up with when he lays down with the Serra's, Mr. Daley, Mr. Russo, etc...

David Bauer

Anonymous said...

Would you please give me an example of Wesleyan "pouring yards and yards of asphalt" for student parking? I don't believe there has been one yard of asphalt for such purpose poured in the last decade.

Ed McKeon said...

I'm surprised at the Wesleyan supporters who feel they need to comment anonymously. What's the secret?

As for new asphalt, there are relatively new lots on Pine Street, a new lot near the Russell House, a huge new lot across from the Freeman Athletic Center on Church, a new lot on Wyllys Ave adjacent to Fayerweather, a new lot attached to the Cinema Studies building on Washington Street. And maybe, technically these are not labelled, "student lots" but certainly students park there, and there are many yards of asphalt poured there.

Anonymous said...

Common Councilman David Bauer seems to be a huge fan of anonymous insinuations that sound suspiciously like anti-Italian ethnic slurs.

The "Godfather" of Middletown? What the hell is that supposed to mean?

He's a master insinuator, and he seems to be playing some awfully dirty politics. Are you that despearte to win that you're now carictaturing Italians?

Ed McKeon said...

Left, of course, as by an anonymous blog poster.

You don't cite the occasion for Bauer's "slur." But assuming that he said it, maybe it was a compliment. After all, Bauer is in the same party,and everybody loved Brando.