Guest Columnist David Ball: Warfield Place and the Upcoming Elections

Posted: 8/27/2021 09:30:50 AM You may have read enough about the downed cherry trees in Warfield Place already, but this article doe...

Posted: 8/27/2021 09:30:50 AM

You may have read enough about the downed cherry trees in Warfield Place already, but this article doesn’t really talk about that – it’s a principle of government.

Do we want a local government that listens to the local people who are directly involved in what it does, or a government that does whatever the head of a department wants?

First of all, remember that Warfield is not a very busy thoroughfare that is used by many. If the Department of Public Works decided to fix all the potholes on South Street / Route 10 (which is still quite bumpy) and a group of citizens living on the street protested the inconvenience, the public good would pass. first. Warfield Place is different. It is a very short street used almost exclusively by the people who live there. They loved their trees.

So we just witnessed the DPW show bringing “improvements” to a small street, “improvements” that no one who lived there had ever asked for and most experienced as an act of violence in the place where they lived. .

There was no public hearing before the event. Residents were informed shortly before the start of the work. There is a big difference between “informed” (the word of DPW director Donna LaScaleia in her public statement) and “consulted”. A resident’s account in the Gazette underscored the neighborhood’s shock at the news. The ensuing uproar delayed the work: 2,000 people signed the petition to wait, something for a city of 30,000! It was ignored.

The city moved in with a shocking show of force, as if facing dangerous terrorists. Here’s how a neighbor experienced it: “We at Warfield Place are sickened by the violence of what was essentially an armed attack by the town on its citizens – nearly half of Northampton’s police force descended on the town. street, fully armed and wearing the flak jackets. There were state police, patrol cars, and a fleet of bucket trucks. Ms LaScaleia’s first act was to tear religious clothing from the trees – surely a show of anger at the opposition.

And all this in violation of a temporary restraining order that the residents’ lawyer filed in court and was signed by a judge. Why the rush? Why the force? To discourage citizen participation in decisions that affect their streets, homes and well-being?

But the DPW knows best! Say something. (Not people on Warfield.) George Orwell illuminated this attitude years ago, using Edward Lear’s poem “The Pobble Who Has No Toes”. While the Pobble is in the water, some creatures eat its toes. When he comes home, his aunt says, “It’s a fact the whole world knows / That Pobbles are happier without their toes.” Orwell concludes: “The whole theory of authoritarian governments is summed up in the statement that the Pobbles were happier without their toes. Replace cherry trees with “toes” and people with “Pobbles” and you have it.

Marc Warner’s letter in the Gazette illustrates this theory perfectly. He “fully supports” the paving of the city on Warfield Place and adds: “The city cannot be anarchic, the municipal government yielding to every loud voice. So if a group of citizens stand up for something or oppose something that directly affects them, it will be “anarchy” and they will just be “a” loud voice “. This mayoral candidate actually promises not to listen to us!

He adds another revealing statement: “Someone has to be in charge.” Of course, Marc, it’s you who decides and it doesn’t matter what the people who elected you want. Then he turns to demagoguery: “this person must act for the good of the city and with equity for all”.

One is supposed to believe that “the good of the city” demanded that a small street used only by its inhabitants be repaved and its trees destroyed because the “in charge” said it? He ends with an interesting redefinition of “fairness for all”: it means “whatever my unelected officials and I decide”.

Is this the kind of government we want?

Communities are linked by mutual interest and respect. Neither was shown in the horror of Warfield Place. This, while the city council was doing and saying… what? We need a change in the charter so that the DPW cannot do things like this. We need a city council that doesn’t just make lofty statements about “big issues”, but pays attention to the concerns of those directly affected by city actions. We need a mayor who takes these concerns seriously. Think about it when you vote in the next municipal election. Ask tough questions and demand answers.

David Ball lives in Northampton.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guest Columnist David Ball: Warfield Place and the Upcoming Elections
Guest Columnist David Ball: Warfield Place and the Upcoming Elections
Newsrust - US Top News
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