Published 1:06 am, Friday, November 13, 2009
Now that Westport's torrid -- I mean, tepid -- election campaign is over, it's time to turn to what is commonly called "the business of governing." That would not be my phrase of choice -- evoking as it does images of crooked politicians in New Jersey, Louisiana and former Gov. John G. Rowland -- but you catch my drift.
Governing Westport is serious business, not left to amateurs. Although we rely almost entirely on volunteers, whom we expect to toil long hours after their regular jobs as, um, businessmen. Westport's leaders sit through endless meetings, field countless phone calls and e-mails, balance the competing interests of neighbors and friends -- and (except for the first selectman), they do it all gratis. (Or, gratuitously, for a few hundred bucks.)
We need lights on the football field! we shout. What kind of a community are we if we don't have Friday night games?!
No, we don't need lights! we counter. They will shine in my back yard! The noise will keep me up at 9 p.m. four times a year! We are a community that cherishes peace and quiet!
Then another issue arises, and we re-form our alliances.
The Y must move to Mahackeno! we shriek. A community needs a resource that is big and bold and fresh and modern and easily accessible via the Merritt Parkway!
No, the Y must stay downtown! we yell. A community must have its Y at its vibrant, pulsating heart, and by the way that heart is atrophying as we speak, so we simply cannot lose the Y. If it moves away the traffic will be terrible, and I and all my friends will not go, and then where will the Y be?
Speaking of downtown, we demand of our duly-elected-by-40-percent-of-us representatives, what are you going to do?
All we have are women's clothing stores and chains, and no one goes downtown anymore, except maybe to the Y. Everyone used to love our downtown, and now they love Fairfield's downtown more. You must save our downtown!
How you save downtown is up to you, we say. We do not have any answers. But save it you must!
And by the way, we tell our boards and commissions and RTM representatives (if we know who they are): zoning changes!
We need zoning changes to preserve the character of Westport. There are too many McMansions. Everyone hates McMansions, except the people who build them and sell them and live in them and profit from the increased property values that they bring. So save us from McMansions, please, we plead.
But wait! We want to put a third floor on our own home. And add a non-conforming garage. And, oh yes, can we please, pretty please, build right to the property line? So do not, whatever you do, change the zoning regulations, except in this one very exceptional case, which we promise will not happen ever again. Thank you very much.
And if you don't change the regulations, we will sue you so fast your head will fly off your shoulders.
Now that we have our very special regulations, we can concentrate on other things, such as taxes.
Our taxes are way too high, we yammer. Don't you know there is a Great Recession going on? Everyone is unemployed, and our taxes are so ridiculously expensive that everyone laughs at us, except the people who live in Fairfield and Weston and Darien and New Canaan and the rest of Fairfield County, and especially neighboring Westchester County, where the taxes are even way higher.
Oh, and by the way, we continue, just this teeny-tiny little request: Please add a teacher's aide to our daughter's classroom. She really, really needs it. It won't cost that much, and we are sure you understand this is a very, very important request, which we would not make unless we were convinced it is absolutely the right thing to do for the future of our child, and our nation as a whole.
Wait! No! That money should go to the middle school music program! we interject.
Uh-uh! The robotics program! Special education! Extra-special education!
Anything except maintenance. Maintenance can wait! Except for our son's school, which has ongoing problems. And if we defer maintenance today, we will pay for it tomorrow. We know, because we run a multijillion-dollar company, and we do not defer maintenance. Instead, we cut positions. We don't want to, but we have to.
So cut positions, please! We know there is fat in our schools. We can tell you exactly where. It is in all the other schools in town besides the one our own very special children attend!
And on an on we go. We talk about sewer hookups and shellfish beds. We discuss plastic bags and community gardens. We want more athletic fields, but they cannot be artificial turf. Or they must be artificial turf. And they should be near our house. But not too near. And we should all have access to them all the time, except when we shouldn't.
All this talk about talk gives us a headache. Perhaps we have swine flu. Is Westport prepared for an epidemic? What have our leaders done to get us ready?
Have we had an emergency drill? We must have an emergency drill! We should do it soon. Today! This very moment!
But it cannot interrupt our routine. We have errands to run, things to do. We are going shopping. Downtown.
Which reminds us: What are our leaders doing about Main Street?
We think we will call them and ask.
Better yet, we will tell them what to do. After all, they work for us.