Last week’s editorial about the election laments “the din threatens to overwhelm common sense.” It sets a goal of “civil discourse.” Unfortunately, right alongside it is a commentary from Sam Chase which starts with the false claim that I have “added 60 percent of the Chelmsford Town Meeting body... to [my] list of ‘hopelessly corrupt’ town volunteers.” The second sentence claims that I wrote that Town Meeting “voted to give a chunk of (Oak Hill) land away for development.”
Online at Wicked Local there’s a link to the e-mail in question, and anyone can see that the word “corrupt” does not even appear in it at all, never mind regarding TM reps.
Here is what I actually wrote:
I would like to thank the hundreds of people who signed the citizens petition to protect the 66 acres at Oak Hill. I am disappointed and disgusted that the BOS ignored the petition, and I am appalled that so many Town Meeting reps simply voted in lockstep the way they were told by the Town Manager and the BOS. As a result, Oak Hill is not protected and a redundant study is being funded with your tax dollars to try and justify giving a chunk of this land away for development.
What I wrote doesn’t even come close to those statements put forth by Sam Chase. He nevertheless uses them to justify his next sentence:
“[Van Liew’s] inaccurate characterization of what occurred at the fall Town Meeting is a disservice to Chelmsford residents and an affront to the many who thoughtfully and dutifully serve the town as a Town Meeting representative.”
That characterization that I did NOT make is, indeed, “inaccurate” and he goes on from there. This is a well-known technique where you start with false premises and apply sophist (seemingly reasonable but knowingly false) logic to present misinformation as truth and insult your opponent for things he didn’t say.
I have never written or even inferred that Town Meeting members are “hopelessly corrupt.” Nor have I ever written anything that could be remotely interpreted to mean that they “voted to give a chunk of (Oak Hill) land away for development.”
Do you see how this works? It has taken a lot of space to start on even the first three sentences in Sam Chase’s sophist piece. It’s an effective way for him and other proxies defending graft and malfeasance in town hall to produce chaos and confusion in public discourse, and make sure it cannot be well-reasoned, dispassionate, accurate – or civil.
In response to calls from many quarters including Better Not Bigger, residents have been pulling papers to run for Town Meeting. This appears to have special interests in Town Hall worried. Proxies online continue to call me a “coward,” a “cancer,” an “evil within the town,” etc. A different proxy attacks me in the press each week, usually with fabrications and falsehoods.
Sam Chase claims he and others just want to study the best use of the Oak Hill parcel. But there’s already been a comprehensive study by Mass Housing, a HOUSING ADVOCACY AGENCY, which concludes that the site is very problematic for housing.
Wasting $15,000 on another study is indefensible, especially given that we know the site contains a capped landfill and building anywhere near a landfill is foolish.
Mr. Chase has a history of bad judgment in such matters. As a selectman, he was a sponsor of the “friendly” 40B project called Hillside Gardens (along with Bill Dalton and Phil Eliopoulos) that was to be built on a commercially zoned lot next to heavy industrial businesses including a crane operator. That 40B was so friendly that it’s still tied up in court five years later.
As I wrote in the message referenced by Mr. Chase, there are already scores of reps who are well intentioned and well informed. They are simply outnumbered at this time. We only need to elect a couple of well-intentioned challengers in each precinct to change the status quo.
Chase goes on to deride me in his editorial as “a one-dimensional candidate.” Which dimension would that be? I have addressed dozens of major issues that need attention and that the BOS historically ignores. Many are listed on the campaign web site, which he could have visited before making such a statement: http://www.vanliewforselectman.com/platform.php.
When attack proxies are allowed to get the facts wrong, as they have in Chelmsford for years, it is impossible to adequately respond. For example, stating that “no one did anything wrong” regarding the Center Park/9 North Road scandal takes five words. It takes ten pages to document some of the ways that statement is false.
Mr. Chase does not deal with the central issues and – just as proxies are supposed to – deflects attention away from the real problem, which is that development interests have successfully influenced the Affordable Housing Plan to morph it into a multi-million dollar asset giveaway at the expense of the community and the environment.
The Plan, rubber stamped by the Planning Board, includes a $10 million giveaway of publicly owned open space, plus another $70 million to $80 million in taxpayer funded construction – also known as “pork.” The only sanity check on this and other unwise moves will be Town Meeting, which has to approve any giveaway of town assets. Pull your nomination papers and run!