Alternate Reality; are we there yet?

The world has turned, or so it has been reported.  Those that follow their horoscope may have discovered inaccuracies.  Since the bands of the Zodiac were determined the axis of the world has changed as we have been traveling through space these past 2,400 years. Many Aquarians are now Pisces, Many Pisces are now Aries, and so it goes through the signs of the zodiac.

As I contemplated this momentous news I wondered if our turning world has led us into a zone of alternative fact and alternative news.  I thought, “I may have been wrong.  Perhaps it was not the aliens from Area 51.  Perhaps our inability to impartially review fact, our demand that our way is the only way, is the result of passing into an alternative universe and fact is now viewed as fiction and fiction has become fact.

Forget the crowds at the Inauguration; forget the 3,000 Massachusetts citizens who covertly entered New Hampshire to cast fraudulent ballots, look at the news from Newton.  Newton is rebuilding its city.  Akin to the Oklahoma land rush, there will be new apartments everywhere for everyone.  Nine Hundred in Upper Falls, another Three Hundred in Newtonville, more in West Newton and best of all, those that say we should be concerned about our increasing traffic problems, the lack of sufficient classroom space, the loss of a commercial tax base or other municipal problems brought about by this uncontrolled growth can be labeled racist and their pleas discarded.

This is a real problem facing our city

We need to decide if we are going to continue to be a residential city with a good location, that has quick access to Boston, Worcester and points north & south with very high taxes;

we need to decide how we will establish and maintain a commercial tax base to help support our schools and municipal services;

we need to decide how we will accommodate a new and larger school population;

we need to decide how we are going to deal with our growing municipal debt, now over one billion dollars, with an approaching Due Date.

These issues need serious discussion.  We need an overview, not address them on a case by case study.

Our present Comprehensive Plan has mountains of reassuring words seeming to insure that residential neighbors will be protected, that local village residents will have a significant say in projects affecting their village.  In practice, these assurances are disregarded.  Our municipal zoning plan is disrupted.  The prodevelopment community is surging ahead with minimal consideration of the issues cited above.

What should we do about it?

We need to ask City Councilors and candidates for City Council to explain their vision and their plans to meet their goals.

We need to look at our municipal budget to determine if there is any responsible plan to pay our mounting debt.

We need to discover the relationship of the proposed Charter change to reduce voter representation and participation in government by the elimination of all 8 Ward Councilors and half or the Ward Councilors at large and replace them with 4 Councilors at large with no ties to any ward; a recipe for creating a “professional” government that has limited responsibility to the voters.

Peter F. Harrington

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