Greg Roach's Berkshires Blog
Saturday, July 02, 2011
  Is The Future Somebody Else's Problem?
It's getting to be time to decide whether I should run for city council again or sit this one out. Until very recently I was pretty sure I was going to toss my hat in the ring. I had begun to map out a strategy and refine a platform. Just like the last time all of my emphasis would be on how to make North Adams a more appealing place for those who might move here to start a business or be moving to area for job. This evolution would also make the city a much more livable place for most of its current residents, whether they believe it, or not. Our future lies in building a middle class. It is the only way to pull ourselves out of the spiral of self reinforcing poverty that has had North Adams in its grips for many years.

Lately, though, the "don't change anything" crowd has been very vocal. I fear that this election cycle may be the most viscous in years. I love the sport of politics, but on the local level, when it is neighbor against neighbor rather than Senator versus Senator, the venom bothers me. The '09 mayoral race and the recent tax override vote reminded me just how angry and petty some people can get in this town when they perceive a threat.

I really have no desire to become a dartboard. My hope is to present ideas and facilitate policies that look forward, not to be yelled at by somebody who thinks that he doesn't need to pay taxes because he "turned out just fine" 40 years ago and "didn't even have any of those newfangled AP courses!" There is a large portion of this city's population that really could care less what the city looks like when they are gone. In their opinions, the future is somebody else's problem. It still amazes me that the most vocal people of this sort will deny that there is any connection between property values and the quality of the public school system. The mind boggles.

Is it worth the trouble to battle this attitude? Should I go out and call 'em like I see 'em;
  • that no shops are going to open and survive,
  • no new jobs are going to be created,
  • no new businesses are going to move to town,
  • no neighborhoods are going to improve,
  • no slumlords with sketchy tenants are going to be driven out,
  • no appreciable numbers of our population living in poverty are going to climb out of their situation,
UNLESS WE BUILD A MIDDLE CLASS IN NORTH ADAMS!!!! Is this so damn hard to understand?

So..... What to do? Run and be castigated, and if I am fortunate enough to win, get stuck in the middle of a fiscal crisis that is a major mess? Or should I sit this one out and let the local Tea-Party candidates inherit the mess they made?

I love the ethic of public service and will continue the efforts that I currently undertake in my various roles. But volunteering (the council's salaries have been eliminated in the current budget) to try and drag a city out of a crisis and self-defeating mindset while dodging arrows and mudpies is not really what I had in mind.

Don't sacrifice more important endeavors for the betterment of your personal life for free. You could be writing a political overview, analysis, and history of North Adams since Mass MoCA and self-publishing it instead, for instance, and probably do more good than be another head on the city council ...
I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you feel the need to make a big deal about how you "turned out just fine!" without all them newfangled gimcracks and whatnots (and while getting spanked/working at age 7/worshiping at the altar of Sprague Electric/not needing any of that fancy-pants "art"), you did not turn out just fine. You're an emotionally-stunted shell of a human being who is upset that someone who isn't you has something nice.

You've certainly hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head. If you've lived in this community most of your life (50 something) as I have, you know this is the mind set. Too many look only in the rear view and unfortunately they have people willing to lead them in the same manner. They don't want to accept change, pay taxes, welcome anyone new into the area with, heaven forbid, new ideas! How could anyone not get a kick out of the Wilco Weekend? I'm no Wilco fan myself, but the town was alive. I took advantage of the 1/2 price Sunday to go see Levon Helm and spent the entire day in North Adams of all places! Dinner and drinks after the concert, enjoying the people. The "Don't Change Crowd" might have been reminded of the "Good Old Days" when the Sprague lunch hour arrived! What these people need to realize is, to paraphrase the nauseating Rick Pitino, "Sprague Electric isn't walking through that door, the Boston Store isn't walking through that door..." Don't let them scare you. They're going the way of the dinasaurs. But this town needs help FAST! And by the way, when will these people give up on this town being a city?
the city council needs forward thinking people who want to live here for the long run. the no salary aspect is unfortunate, but i feel you are right on about building & supporting the middle class. anyone who puts their ideas out there is gonna get mud thrown at them, just part of the territory. it is no reflection on you as a person, or even on the quality of your ideas. haters gonna hate.i hope you run!

I have supported you and your ideas since your first appearance on the scene. I try to comment online in support when I see you being attacked for your point of view. For selfish reasons, I certainly hope that you run again, as the rumor is many spots may be open that will need filling this time around.

One thing that I would like to point out that might change your mind... there are many people out there who believe exactly the way you do and support what you have to say. Unfortunately, those people apparently aren't the type to blog all day or write letters to the editor. You have a lot more to offer this community than any other currently announced candidate for Council.
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greg at gregoryroach dot com

"Livability, not just affordability." - Dick Alcombright

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