The complaints sound entirely too familiar to me: a project framed by big business that would forever affect the livability of a residential neighborhood; public concerns dismissed without full exploration by independent analysis; cronyism and developer-driven permit decisions; disrespect for those who dare disagree; political appointments used to “expedite” approval; even open meeting violations.
In this case, we are talking about Roseanne Greco’s harsh criticism of the South Burlington City Council over its failure to uphold public opposition to the F-35 siting; but the way she characterizes the political culture over there in Chittenden County, certainly sounds a whole lot like what’s going on right now in St. Albans with regard to redevelopment of the Smith Homestead and reconfiguration of Maiden Lane.
How can members of a legislative body choose to remain uninformed?” Greco asked. “Educating oneself before making a decision should be an obligation.”
Tell me about it, Roseanne!
Whether we’re talking about environmental, health or traffic impacts, it’s getting to the point where no one wants to hear the bad news if its going to disallow some project upon which the business establishment hangs its hopes for a bonanza.
No argument is allowed to trump the economic one, even if that economic one is extremely weak, short-sighted and captive to private enterprise.
Those who persist in voicing concerns over unanswered questions eventually find themselves shut out entirely.
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy task to galvanize the aggrieved into an effective political force to challenge a fouled process. The machinations have become so familiar that most people just shrug and say “What can you do?”
What you can do is vote in every single election and on every single ballot item.
If you don’t like or trust anyone whose name is on the ballot, write-in the name of someone you do trust. Not “Daffy Duck” or “Your Aunt Fanny,” but a real person from your neighborhood. That way, your vote becomes a statement of protest, not merely a prank.
If we could just get all qualified voters to the polls to exercise this opportunity for protest, the poor choices we are given on the ballot would be shown for what they are in the final tally.
No more allowing the unprincipled to claim a “landslide” victory when all they’ve managed to capture is support from less than 10% of the population, as actually happened last September in St. Albans with the parking garage bond vote.
At least on the local level, it remains true that we get the government that we deserve.