Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Politics of La Puerta

You'll pardon me for once for not using the editorial "we" here, but I'm not 100% sure that the other half of the crack editorial staff agrees with me here.

It occurs to me that I'm writing about this (and have been for a few days now) in the context of a political campaign, and some people have asked me about that. It is, pure and simple, a political campaign. It lost the vestiges of being about zoning long ago.

Political campaigns are about citizen action, and they're about making a statement about the direction in which you want your community, your city, your state, your nation to go.

And that's what this is about, too. States McCarter and the Cedar Creek homeowners association (notice I said the homeowners association, not the homeowners themselves) have drawn the battle lines and have said that they, and they alone, can decide what is right and good and proper for the east side.

To achieve their goal of defeating La Puerta Del Sol, they've made up support numbers that, if the issue weren't as serious as it is, would be ludicrous.

The anti-La Puerta contingent have resorted to mudslinging, accusing Bruno Rubio and his supporters of race-baiting, engaging in "spin", and lobbying the individual Commissioners for their support, even though this is an acceptable, even laudable course of action in a representative democracy.

Most disturbingly, to garner support for their agenda, the anti-LPDS movement, specifically States McCarter and the Cedar Creek Civic Association have resorted to the tactics of misleading the residents of the east side, circulating a petition that so distorted the actual facts that some residents who originally signed the petition opposing LPDS now support the development, after looking into the issue on their own.

To counter these actions, which are frankly unworthy of any elected official or any group which purports to represent a neighborhood, Bruno Rubio, Matt Casey, and the other supporters of LPDS have responded with facts instead of fallacies and have actively sought the input of the community, not only in how to make La Puerta Del Sol more community-friendly, but even in how to gather the full support of the community behind the effort.

Now that the LPDS crew has been successful in getting the vote tabled (a significant victory on its own), the question is clear: How do we win in November?

The answer, as always, is politics. This is a political campaign. Has been for some time, really.

The key to winning this thing on a Commission level is to win it on a community level, and the way to win this on a community level is through a real grassroots campaign.

Notice that I said grassroots. Now, in my mind, what States and the Conservative Citizens Council...I mean, the Cedar Creek Civic Association, are doing is not grassroots. It's, for lack of better jargon, Astroturf. They're creating the appearance of a grassroots movement.

LPDS has the issues and the base to mount a real grassroots campaign. I'm excited to see Matt Casey (props!) posting on here, and even more excited to see him committing to the elements of a grassroots approach. Part of the reason I'm excited is because I'm a real grassroots-head from way back in the days, but also, I'm convinced that a hardcore volunteer-based campaign is going to win this thing.


Jmac said...

Good piece, but I'm really not so optimistic. I just don't think the rest of the commission will have the gumption to defy States on this one. And after reading the letter from Margaret P. Wood to the paper today - full of half-truths and downright lies (what the heck is up with live music every night and late into the night?) - I think you're just arguing with a wall now. There's nothing that's going to change their mind, no matter how compelling the evidence.

It's like arguing with a Bush voter.

RandomThoughts said...

I disagree with Jonathan. I think that all real progress is accomplished "grassroots". And I think that this could be a victory - perhaps a delayed victory but a victory nonetheless. However, for that to happen the principals MUST mount the campaign. All the blogging, all the ranting, even all the letters to the editor and, yes, even emails to commissioners are not going to do it. They are almost worthless coming from the "choir" as it were. But if you convince just one little old lady in Cedar Creek that this is a good thing, really convince her, she will be sure to tell her friends and they will listen to her. That's grassroots action.

I say go for it. And good luck.

Publius said...

Sure the folks like the lady who wrote in to the ABH todays are unconvincable. As I posted before (or maybe I just meant to post it, and edited it out. I can't remember), for many of the anti-LPDS folks, this thing is taking on the overtones of a crusade.

The good thing is, those aren't the folks that need convincing. All of the members of the Commission, save one, have expressed their openess to the idea. In many cases, the major concern is the apparent lack of community support for the project.

One Commissioner, Charles Carter, even said that the majority of folks in his district (which is nearby) support it)

Hopefully the 20 speakers on Tuesday who favored the project (as opposed to five who opposed it) will help them see the level of support out there.

If not, then we've got a month. I know that Matt and Bruno have some good ideas, and I think that taking it to the streets is going to help.

Earlier, I said I was against attempts to poll this thing out for a number of reasons. One that I didn't mention is because, honestly, I imagine that easily 60% of the folks who live on the east side don't know beans about this issue.

Hopefully those are the people Bruno and Matt and the people who support (and will hopefully volunteer) are targeting.

Jmac said...

I don't mean to imply that I'm not in favor of grassroots action to get LPDS passed, I'm just trying to be cautious because I know that many folks have received misinformation concerning the project and it will be a difficult thing to reverse the preconceived notions they have. I want to change their minds, and I agree with the strategies laid out here ... I'm just saying it's going to take some work.

That said ... let's get to it. Let's help Matt and Bruno out by trying educate those folks. If you know folks on the eastside - particularly in Cedar Creek or Spring Lake - then lean on them. And not in a negative, defensive way, but in a logical and rational manner which answers the stated concerns of the opposition.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

Sorry that I have been strangely absent, but I spent all day today with my Dad at the hospital (he had surgery, and he came through fine by the way; but it was major surgery, so he'll be there a few more days). I do agree with the other half of the crack editorial staff that it is a political campaign. It became one when the irrational opposition of States' and his crowd made it so. Until then, it was merely a zoning request. Comm. Dodson expressed dismay and bewilderment at how this could have happened over a simple zoning request; well, that was the reason. Not to excuse any vitriolic language on the part of pro-LPDSers, but mudslinging tends to beget mudslinging.

I really do think there's hope for a grassroots effort to make a difference, given the number of seemingly uncommitted Commissioners. I'm glad to see lpds committing to try.