I should know better than to post something over a long, lazy July 4th weekend, but I have procrastinated long enough and this week's developments deserve commemoration by all.
We have finally begun to appreciate the effects of the hubris and overreaching of career politicians, ordinary hangers-on and the rest of the permanent office-occupying class. The revelation of the mayor's ham-handed, stealth attack on the will of New Rochelle's citizens by covertly and furtively seeking additional "home-rule" powers from the state and the reflexive and almost instantaneous signing-on by the "bobble-headed" Democratic party regulars of the local legislative delegation gives the Sound Shore community a rare peek into the workings of a genuine political machine.
As soon as the too-clever-by-half plot was revealed, the band of permanent office-holding poseurs began their immediate, feckless retreat. It is not clear precisely where the four usual suspects stand on the issue of the Armory and the questions surrounding New Rochelle's downtown redevelopment. They may have something intelligent to say on the matter. They may have nothing to say, but only the potential to give the weight of their political support to the best plans that eventually result. But for them to place special powers in the hands of a local politician without consulting constituents, stakeholders or even just reliably Democrat local citizens if only for their opinions, shows just how selfish and mercurial they are in their modes of operation.
They vote on their whims, distracted only occasionally by the interruptions of other people's concerns; and even then, only if the other people are in positions of local power with something of value to offer in return. Rarely are they troubled by matters of affordability or feasibility (else why would our state be in its present bankrupt position of facing a $9.2 billion shortfall?). When they are needed to make decisions of real import (such as deciding which programs must be cut in order to put our NYS budget in balance), we get nothing from them other than token cuts in their pay or office stipends (Latimer). Others make believe nothing is wrong and continue to cite their work on behalf of downtrodden youth or small domestic animal-victims of abuse (Paulin). Still others make believe the state's financial ship-of-state is just fine and continue to deliver counterfeit and bogus (and quite probably illegal) over-sized state-issued checks to local senior citizen and ethnic clubs (Klein). You don't believe me? Just see any week's edition of the NR Sound Report or the NR Review.
New Rochelle has lately become a "sandbox" for the infantile enjoyment and craven private nourishment of the incumbent political class. And just as with juveniles and adolescents; we, the adult, tax-paying public have become accustomed to picking up after the mess, paying the bills, and finally bailing the miscreants (and sometimes, ourselves) out of the legal and financial entanglements that are the ordinary and necessary result of their puerile ways. Well, the stage has been set for a change in perspective, and a clearer view of the opportunities and responsibilities of area voters and citizens may now be at hand.
The publication of the mayor's conspiracy and the comical actions of the state legislators have energized a local Armory preservation group, and given new publicity to the important causes of local historical preservation and conservation. What was previously thought (however incorrectly) as solely a veterans' and conservatives' campaign has now been revealed as truly non-partisan for all to see.
Remembering our veterans, respecting history, repairing worthy public facilities for the benefit of local sportspeople and youth, improving public spaces for commercial and community-based exhibitions, preserving public park-like access, affording all classes views of Long Island Sound, denying special favors to favored political classes; these are the values being protected by the Save Our Armory group, and these are the values being attacked by the permanent political class and its coterie of favor-seekers, banking and lawyering interests and private developers. And these are not Republican, Democratic, liberal or conservative issues. They are issues for the community; and now a community united by opposition to political favoritism and selfish private betterment.
And out of this whole controversy, perhaps New Rochelle has found its new downtown. Only time will tell. But what a dramatic start.