Friday, June 8, 2012

Political Overtures - Entry #8

I have a confession to make.  My fountain pen sits atop the stack of writing paper and cards at home.  It does not leave the house.  However, I have been crafting some of my correspondence at work so they are being written with a different instrument, a non-fountain pen writing implement.  Please don’t think less of me.  It’s not like a political flip-flop.

Speaking of politicians…this week’s theme was along political lines.  Politics has always been one of my great interests and passions.  I have been involved in political campaigns since the early 1970’s.  As a high school student, I was knocking on doors in some of the seedier neighborhoods of Camden, New Jersey during the Congressional campaign of Jim Florio, one of the young mavericks swept into office during the post-Watergate era.  In college, I anchored numerous election night broadcasts on WRSU-FM at Rutgers University.  Since turning 18 years of age I believe I have never missed voting in an election—any election.  School board, state legislative races, primaries, national offices—I am always at the polls bright and early to cast my vote.  People that declare no candidate is worth their time or they don’t have time to vote receive a tongue-lashing from me about civic duty and our democratic system.  How many races have you heard where someone running for office lost by one vote?  Did you know that John F. Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in 1960 by only 100,000 votes out of 68 million cast?

My political correspondence this week was grouped into two’s.  First, I sent letters to my town mayor and town manager over a proposal to surplus a small piece of parkland, adjacent to the center of town, so a hotel could be built on the site.  Now, while I support the idea of such lodgings being constructed in the vicinity, I objected to the process.  A few years ago a whole new section of our town was developed.  Where once were two car dealerships was now an upscale area with restaurants and shops.  Part of the selling point for the construction was to create a small oasis of a park within these new boundaries.  Alas, the land just sat there, a grassy, inconspicuous spot.  Fast forward to the present and that space now looks like an ideal place for a hotel.  But, before requests for proposals can go out the town government has to remove, as in officially surplus, the property.   My letters to the two town officials voiced my concern about the entire process and the possible precedent it might set.  What happens, in the future, if an enticing commercial proposition for recreational or park land is dangled in front of the town council?  Will they jump, citing the earlier instance?  I don’t envision my letters bringing the wheels of local government to a grinding halt.  However, instead of sitting on the sidelines, I wanted my voice to be heard.

The second wave of political notes went to two Sunday columnists for The Hartford Courant, the most influential newspaper in Connecticut.  Both individuals focus on state government and its officials.  Over the years, I have found the men to be forthright and straightforward in their reporting.  They have ferreted out questionable policies and practices and highlighted important concerns for state residents.  After scanning the front page headlines of the Sunday newspaper I immediately gravitate to the sections with their weekly output.  I wrote to both reporters to let them know how much I appreciated their unbiased and thorough work.  Readers may grumble, become indignant, or outraged about what they read, but that’s because a good columnist raises critical issues and makes us think even if we sometimes do get a bit hot under the collar.  I wanted them to know I valued their contribution to the Fourth Estate.

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