Thursday, March 30, 2006 7:41 PM
Talking About PoliticsDecember 8, 2005
‘Smart Growth Democrats’
Filed under: General, Raleigh — Carter Wrenn @ 4:28 pm
About a week ago, I got a copy of an email from a group that calls itself ‘Smart Growth Democrats’ urging their supporters to support two candidates – Rev. Renee Bethea and Rev. Paul Anderson - for openings on the Raleigh Planning Commission. The third candidate, according to the ‘Smart Growth Democrats,’ is unqualified because he is a ‘developer and a Republican.’
My suspicion is that ‘Smart Growth’ is a euphemism for ‘the kind of growth we want whether you like it or not and whether you want to pay for it or not’. But that’s not what’s interesting.
What’s interesting is the half a dozen odd page calendar of events the ‘Smart Growth Democrats’ attached to their email. Their ‘calendar’ lists nineteen meetings in ten days by groups they are either allied with – or at least liked enough – to publicize.
The ‘Smart Growth Democrats’ are promoting everything from the “Progressive Democrats of Wake County” to a forum on “Searching for Radical Ideas Series – Reviving Radical Humanism” to “People of Faith Against the Death Penalty” to the “International Human Rights Awards Dinner” (those who desire a vegetarian dinner should request it at the time they make a reservation).
God love them they even have a book club – the “December Liberal/Progressive Book Club Meeting” – and a book discussion group – “God’s Politics: Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get it.”
These folks are as busy as bees and they’re swarming around all these dinners and meetings and book clubs and they’ve still got time to be sure no evil Republicans get appointed to the Planning Commission.
You’ve got to admire their energy. And, agree with them or not, you’ve got to admit they’re a little piece of what Democracy is all about. And though they may be dead wrong on the issues – I wonder where they stand on $20 million downtown hotel subsidies – it seems they have gotten the jump on Republicans as far as the Planning Commission is concerned.
Well, yesterday, I learned a little more about the ‘Smart Growth Democrats.’ It turns out they aren’t new at all – they’re actually former Howard Dean supporters. And their agenda for growth – as you might expect – is a little unusual.
For instance, take their stand on Horseshoe Falls Park. The issue here is whether to include a pool and recreation facility in the park – or just make it a nature park. Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro (a Democrat) says there are a lot of low-income kids living near the park, and adding recreation facilities would help keep them out of the wrong places. The ‘Dean Dems’ say, No. They want a 100% nature park. They say kids need to get back to nature. (Whether they’d rather have a swimming pool or not).
And the ‘Dean Dems’ aren’t shy about attacking people who disagree with them, either. And not just Republicans and ‘evil’ developers. Democrats, too.
They have joined Councilmen Thomas Crowder and Russ Stephenson to push Rev. Renee Bethea for an open seat on the Raleigh Planning Commission, because, they say, the commission needs more African Americans and more women. But that didn’t stop them from attacking the only two women on the City Council – Joyce Kekas and Jessie Taliaferro – when they didn’t jump on board and endorse Rev. Bethea.
That’s City politics. We’ve got liberal Democrats attacking moderate Democrats – over a swimming pool.
2 Comments »
I wonder if the local Dean Dems, and their proposed appointees to the planning commission, are just the starting point for a complete liberal takeover of city hall politics? I also wonder if the Dean Dems, who had the support of the unions in the last city-wide election (in a non-union state, are really concerned about how our city manages growth (hiding behind the smart growth mantra). My gut tells me the Dean Dems want to establish a beachhead to for the unions and other left leaning groups. While Raleigh may be a Democratic city, most folks still consider themselves to be “conservative” in nature. Haven’t we been down this road before?
Comment by Robert — December 11, 2005 @ 1:20 pm
As a relatively “conservative” citizen of Raleigh, I have to take exception to your characterization of the Horseshoe Park issue in this blog. The park in question is Horseshoe Farm, not Horseshoe Falls, and this park has nothing to do with Democrats, or Republicans, or Howard Dean. The issue doesn’t even have anything to do with a pool. The master planning committee for this park worked long and hard to come up with a Draft Master Plan for the park’s future development — and the master plan never included a pool. It did include a variety of nature, arts, and active recreation amenities, including a indoor recreation center, five tennis courts, a dog park, an environmental education and arts center, an amphitheater, canoe launch, trails, play fields, etc.
People of all walks of life and all political persuasions enjoy nature and want to protect particularly valuable and beautiful places for future generations. This park is one of Wake County’s, and the region’s, finest, most precious and unique natural heritage sites. After much public comment expressing concern about developing the site with inappropriate active recreation (a former City Council adopted plan said that this park should not be developed with active recreation, but should be a site to focus on interpretive opportunities for appreciation of our cultural history and natural heritage) the Master Planning Committee responded by removing the active recreation components from the draft plan.
There is a need for active recreation in NE Raleigh — and the City currently has more than enough appropriate land on which to build facilities to keep young people out of trouble other than Horseshoe Farm. Although, can’t it be said that summer camps at an environmental education park can be just as effective at keeping our youth busy and productive as a basketball camp? and isn’t it healthy for different types of kids to have a variety of activities to choose from, including sports, swimming, nature and the arts? The limited access and location of Horseshoe Farm will never allow low-income youth to access it on their own, by foot or by bike — other park sites that are closer to neighborhoods, schools and where the kids are can be developed for swimming, basketball, and athletics.
Horseshoe Farm shouldn’t have to be all things to all people. It will surely fail, and be a waste of public funds, if this is what we require of it. Our parks can focus on different themes, each in its most ideal location, and be a real asset to the community. Why don’t we drop all the politics and get together to support the finest and most cost effective park development possible?
Comment by Mike — December 19, 2005 @ 2:40 pm