This opinion piece appeared in the Townsman, September 18 edition
Well excuse me, but I am a little offended by the American Public's beady eye looking down its long nose at what it considers to be the meager qualifications of Sarah Palin to be vice-president of the United States. "She was only a mayor of a small city," is the scornful cry.
Don't get me wrong, as a card-carrying member of the Save The Moose Society, and one who barely can distinguish the barrel from the stock of a rifle, not to mention one who believes our country's first positive step toward energy independence would be to ban NASCAR, I dwell in a severely depopulated community of views with Ms Palin. In fact, our only real agreement may be the proposition that Kids Are Nice, and Ms. Palin's passel is as fine as any. In just about every other policy issue, including basketball, she frightens me as much as the Press apparently frightens her.
But after serving for two terms as mayor of a "city," even one smaller than Woodstock I have no doubt Sarah Palin has the gumption, the fortitude, the wherewithal and above all the experience to be vice-president, and even president if, God forbid, John McCain's arthritis makes it impossible for him to veto pork barrel spending bills.
On the issue of pork, it appears Mayor Palin secured nearly $27 million dollars worth of the detested grease during her scant six years in office, including $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project. $15 million for a "city" of 5500 souls! Forget Woodstock, all of Ulster County never wallowed in such tubs of fat. I can absolutely assure you that if Washington had offered me $15 million in grease while I was "mayor" it would have stopped my heart. Rather than look down on the woman it might be better to look over her shoulder and try to find out what is her magic.
But seriously, who better to face down a defense secretary in a lather over budget cuts than someone who's faced down a highway superintendent in the same high dudgeon? Senators and governors, our high and mighty class of politician from which we generally select the next Leader of the Free World, are always surrounded by aides and assistants and aides to the assistants and assistant aides, and they dwell in big office buildings that requires opening at least ten doors to get at them. So fat chance of you ever getting to holler at them. Not so with small town mayors; if it weren't for their noses there would be nothing separating a mayor's brains from a fist. And forget the defense secretary, how about Putin? He's a wiry fella, but up against a mayor who bit her own mother-in-law and shoots wolves from airplanes? Not a chance.
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Don't you hate it when somebody quotes you without attribution? Councilwoman Liz Simonson said at the town board meeting that "a previous town board member" called the proposed comprehensive plan "so poorly written" that he wouldn't support it.
Hey, that was ME!
And I wasn't the only one who thought so. So did the committee that produced that ill-fated document. The document was so garbled when it was delivered to them that they had special meetings comparing notes on how poorly written it was, and then put one of their members up to the task of communicating their critiques to the company that wrote it. Problem was that member at that point was so bored with the mess he never sent the comments on. The committee, what remained of it, then sulked for three years before finally fobbing the gobble-de-gook off on the town board.
The comprehensive plan, in case you're interested, conjured tens of thousands of words, and pages and pages of maps to describe this vision for Woodstock; Cram development into the area roughly described as that between Plochmann Lane and the Bear Café (because water and sewer are either in place or feasible to extend in such area), and make the rest of the town a park. Okay, I simplify, but I defy anyone to come up with a better description in seventeen words or less.
I won't tell you the plan is necessarily a bad one, as it does adhere to principals of Smart Growth, which basically say develop where you have available infrastructure and try to leave the rest of our blessed earth as peaceful and undisturbed as possible. But go ahead, read the document yourself and tell me how many oceans of molasses you've had to wade through before making port on that simple idea.
I just wouldn't put my name to it. Period. No regrets, either.