Demonizing opposition threatens political process at all levels of politics

“Now watch what you say or they’ll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal”, The Logical Song by Super Tramp

You knew it was going to happen. During a heated discussion on urban planning with Concord’s Downtown Ad Hoc Steering Committee (DAHSC) a frustrated member blurted out that my viewpoint should not be taken seriously because I was like all the other “Tea Baggers” who are opposed to anything progressive.

Welcome to my world of being perceived as a “loose cannon” that is out of touch with the rest of society.

In this particular case I was putting forth my views for developing the area from between the BART Station and Todos Santos along with the surrounding real estate encompassing most of the downtown neighborhood. With respect to mapping the future for this vital area 30 years hence I have consistently advocated.

  1. Make sure any residential or commercial projects provide adequate parking so that those who already live in Concord will have easy access to attending events and frequenting businesses there
  2. Maintain free parking for those who choose to use their cars to reach Todos Santos
  3. Encourage the use of bicycles by building lanes that they can safely travel but not at the expense of clogging major arteries such as Gallindo, Concord Blvd, Willow Pass, and Clayton Road during rush hours.
  4. Be careful not to grant Density Bonuses for developers (in order to achieve social objectives for constructing low income housing) that would restrict movement in the area and cause congestion much like the disaster at Pleasant Hill Bart where businesses are struggling to survive or not opening.
  5. Create a commercial corridor of businesses between BART and Todos Santos to encourage visitors and residents to use public transportation to reach this area. Along with shopping and restaurants, encourage cultural developments to entice people to frequent the district. This could include such attractions as a performing arts center, museum, library, convention center that would enhance the Concord brand.
  6. Maintain as much as possible the rural nature of Concord not desiring to make it a version of Downtown Walnut Creek or “San Francisco Lite.”

If this makes me a tea bagger, then so be it. 

Just because I oppose the One Bay Area Plan and its social engineering schemes of income redistribution through urban planning and mass transit, should this make me some sort of freak or deviate? Is trying to maintain local control in the planning process without the heavy hand of the State of California, a position to be condemned?

At the heart of this debate is job creation. The power brokers in Sacramento, through their surrogates at The Association of Bay Area  Cities (ABAG)  and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) take the “build it, and they will come approach.” This means that by constructing so called affordable, “stack and pack” housing near mass transit hubs, somehow full employment will ensue. Along with this so called green strategy are the highly questionable assumption that people will happily abandon their cars, global warming will be abated, and people will ride their bikes into the sunset?

While this bucolic vision looks great on paper, neither voters or the numbers do agree with such a strategy for mapping California’s future.  Most prefer job creation to come from lower taxes, fewer governmental regulations that stifle small business and more revenues directed to local communities to spend as they see fit.

While the State concerns itself with granting more family leave to workers, raising minimum wages, promoting diversity and fighting perceived racism, jobs are leaving the State to more business friendly locales. This alarming trend is what should really worry Californians.

Currently cities are being strangled by the policies of Sacramento. Less money from property and gas taxes are being allocated to perform needed infrastructure repairs such as fixing pot holes, street lights, and sewer maintenance. In this hot mess, we try maintain our quality of life. In the city of Concord, where I reside, the government struggles to balance their budget, even with the frugality of the City Council watching every dollar.

Because of this said state of affairs, I am advocating the extension of the Measure Q sales tax of .050 which is scheduled to expire in 2016. When the voters passed this measure, I opposed it, because at the time I thought the local government was wasteful and inefficient. A couple years later after sitting on the Measure Q Oversight Committee, my opinion has changed. I have learned that under the capable direction of City Manager Valarie Barone, the city is being well run and not frivolously wasting tax dollars.

Without the $7M+ revenue coming in from Measure Q, the City would not be able to provide even the most basic services its residents are accustomed to receiving. With this being true, comes my endorsement of extending Measure Q beyond 2016. While taking such a stand may detract from my image of being a member of the tea bagger movement, I will have to live with this label. Good government should come from sound policy, not ideology from either side of the political spectrum.

Which brings us to depicting our opponents to be residing on the dark side? All too frequently leftists refer to their foes as tea baggers, fringe players, or George Bush Republicans (whatever that means). Correspondingly the so called “right wing” is certain that all Democrats threaten to turn America into another version of the Soviet Union.

Demonizing opposition threatens political process

Tossing partisan, verbal grenades into the political process does not work at a national level as the gridlock in Washington D.C. might indicate. At least locally, people of differing views are able to find some form of consensus. In the case of the DAHSC, with the committee members being able to express their concerns, a reasonable compromise on how to formulate a plan for the Downtown Concord’s future, will inevitably be worked out.

Government and the political process on all levels would be best served by using this local model to find solutions in dealing with society’s  problems. The closer citizens are to the legislative process, the better the outcome.

This is why the framers of the US Constitution were so concerned with over reach of government on a National and State level from depriving the rights of individuals of basic liberties.  Even the country being a “democracy within a republic” should guarantee such a notion.

~ The author is a member of Concord’s Measure Q Oversight Committee and the Downtown Add Hoc Steering Committees. Any opinions in this article are his own do to represent the views of anyone else.

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