Thursday, March 17, 2011

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

Earlier this month, I did something I haven't done in a really long time....I missed attending a Board of Supervisors' meeting in person. Oh, I know, it shouldn't be a biggie, because we can usually catch the broadcast later, at home (I say "usually" because lately our community broadcast channel has, more often than not, experienced technical difficulties). Nevertheless, sometimes life gets in the way of the things we want to do with our free time, and I had to work late. In this economy, that's a good problem to have.

I don't know if he was emboldened because I wasn't present, but I heard that Audubon resident Tom Borai decided this was a good opportunity to criticize me and this blog on camera, and some of the topics I've chosen to write about.

 I respect his right to his opinion. of course. If you don't know Tom, he's not only a former supervisor and former-and-recycled ZHB member. He's also a frequent "letter to the editor" writer and self-described 'town watchman". He's also someone who befriended me when I could be useful to him back in 2002 when plans were submitted to build the Walgreen's in Trooper, and he was going door to door trying to get neighbors on my street stirred up to fight it. And he did get me involved. I credit him with being the guy who got me attending BOS meetings regularly for the first time since the mid-90's. Ever since, though, he's decided I'm the enemy. Why? Who knows. My guess is that it's most likely because during the course of my political involvement I have not always agreed with him or his associates on the BOS.

I think he's a little bit of a loose cannon, and frequently misguided, but generally harmless...I think he means well, most of the time, although sometimes some of the things he'd say during public hearings during ZHB meetings were things that made me cringe because they could create liability for the Township (or himself). It appears to me that those in power like to use him from time to time as an audience plant at BOS meetings to bring up issues in which they themselves do not want to get their own hands dirty, but hey, who am I to judge if he likes playing that role?

I realize politics on every level is full of players like this. Still, it's amazing to me how many people - people you've had in your house, worked on a project with, had a beer with or talked to in your front lawn - once they realize you can't be controlled by them, and that you think for yourself and educate yourself instead of relying solely on their prepackaged brand of gossip, viciously turn on you. Or if you, heaven forbid, commit the mortal sin of disagreeing with them.

I grew up part of a large, extended Irish-American family. Somebody is always disagreeing with someone about something. I learned pretty quickly that people can think differently without being 'bad' or 'wrong' and that you don't have to toss an entire relationship with someone in the trash just because you disagree in one or two areas. I don't know about you, but I appreciate differing perspectives - have often learned from them - and am very much an 'agree to disagree' kind of person. What wisdom I've been able to assemble in my years on this planet has taught me that most hills just aren't worth dying on. I wish that people like Tom, and others, shared the same value. 

I’ve had to tolerate several forms of harassment from a few local residents over the years because I dare not walk in lockstep with the powers that be. The details of that are a story for another day, but suffice it to say I found out through a highly placed, credible source that Tom was the driving force behind one of the harassment campaigns. Disagreement, I'm fine with; harrassing someone (usually anonymously) because of it shouldn't be acceptable.

I'm a big girl. I realize that if one is opinionated and outspoken and candid, and especially if you tend to point out an issue or disagree with the public spin that's put out for public consumption by those in power, or call out a discrepancy - some people - usually those people with an agenda, or something to hide - aren't going to like it. How often throughout the annals of history have we seen those in power going to extremes to silence opposition, to crush resistance, to disenfranchise some portion of the population (usually folks who disagree with those in power)? To thwart efforts to shed light? I have learned to expect nothing different from some of those running the show in LP. That's just how the world works.

Last I heard, the First Amendment was alive and well. I realize my style isn't for everyone, and some people are just plain uncomfortable with assertive women in general. That's each his own.  Like it or not, you'll always know where I stand, and where you stand with me. Most people tell me that's refreshing, especially in politics. One only has to look at the surging popularity of politicians such as NJ Gov. Chris Christie to illustrate the point. The guy is the closest thing to a rock star the Republicans have going at the moment, largely due to his incredible candor and willingness to go after his detractors. I wonder how Tom feels about him?

What I do with this blog is not all that uncommon anymore in local politics. There are many local bloggers reporting on politically charged situations and people in their communities, as I do. There are now a number of us in Montgomery County, PA alone. Some have even gone on to elected office. A good friend of mine, a prominent local blogger, was just endorsed by her municipality's Republican Committee. Blogging has become an acceptable way to bring to light and discuss issues our local papers don’t have the time, resources, or interest to cover.

One of my favorite quotes is this: “The art of life is to show your hand. There is no diplomacy like candor. You may lose by it now and then, but it will be a loss well gained if you do. Nothing is so boring as having to keep up a deception." - E.V. Lucas, English author and critic, 1868-1938

And, as the quote on my profile says “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something in your life." ~ Winston Churchill. I think Winston is onto something.

If standing up for something – a concept, an issue, a principle – and being candid in talking about it – means making a few enemies out of people who may have a less-than-above-board agenda, well, I guess that's the price that has to be paid, but the upside is that so many more people value candor than despise it.