Twilight Zoning

10Apr14

wakefield_center-eastWell, as it stands right now, there will not be a parking garage in downtown Wakefield, Massachusetts and based on recent developments, you might want to hold off on that down payment on an assisted living unit.

It’s been anything but dull in our sleepy little town over the last few weeks.

There’s blame being cast left and right, but in reality what we just witnessed was little more than a good old-fashioned political slugfest. Each side has accused the other of being disingenuous and playing fast and loose with the facts. Are those kinds of charges unusual in a heated political debate?

Hardly.

Both sides may have oversold their messages to some degree. Again, how is that different from any other political campaign?

brothers_insideThe “Vote Yes” side painted the garage/assisted living proposal in the rosiest possible colors. Nothing could possibly go wrong. The assisted living/parking garage proposal would turn the downtown into a boom town, with businesses from far and wide flocking to the square to compete for storefronts. Restaurant cash registers would overflow from feeding residents, workers and visitors of the assisted living facility. There would be hundreds of new jobs for Wakefield residents. Tax dollars would pour into town coffers by the millions for the next hundred years.

Meanwhile, the “No” side would concede no merit whatsoever to anything related to the garage/assisted living project. Every digit, decimal point and comma of the proposal was labeled as dubious, and insinuations were made of backroom deals involving local officials. Even private, side deals between Brightview and two local banks were suspect. What was this “dark money” all about? Brightview was cast as Big Assisted Living and our local bankers were the long lost cousins of the Koch brothers. Brightview would end up stealing all of the town’s parking spaces and the garage would be an unsafe magnet for the homeless and deviants.Garage Petition

In the end, the voters voted. One side won and the other side lost. That’s what happens in politics. You win some and you lose some, as the cliché goes.

But, as another cliché goes, it isn’t over until it’s over and sometimes not even then. And now, we’re starting to see the trailers for Assisted Living II: Beyond the Overlay Zone, and the sequel could be even more action-packed than the original.

One final cliché: don’t touch that dial. All politics may be local, but around here lately, it’s been anything but dull.

[This column originally appeared in the April 10, 2014 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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