To the editor:
The surest sign of demagoguery is a small group that refers to itself as the “silent majority.” Spiro Agnew peddled that canard for Richard Nixon and we all know where that got them.
Locally and more recently we have the Citizens For An Open Waterfront (COW) comprised of a scant few out-of-towners who insist against all credible observation that they represent a majority of actual Newburyport taxpayers. In reality, however, they are anything but silent.
As a local businessman who talks at great length with countless Newburyport citizens, I can quite honestly say that, far and away, I rarely come across anyone who thinks that the Redevelopment Authority’s plan to complete the development of our waterfront is the horrible idea that COW maintains in their daily letters to this newspaper. The misinformation and downright falsehoods contained therein slander us all ,yet seldom do I read any attempt at rebuttal.
To the contrary, I encounter near unanimous support for a long overdue face-lift to our beautiful waterfront. On the rare occasion that I do hear any grumble, invariably it turns out to be an ivory tower resident of a gated estate in Byfield, Newbury or West Newbury who considers Newburyport his “urban core.” Do these good folks have a right to express their opinion? Certainly. Do they have a right to control Newburyport’s destiny and our tax base? Certainly not.
We have endured a dust bowl eyesore in the most prime real estate in the central business district for 40 years. Enough is enough. This once blighted property was taken by eminent domain and entrusted per the authority’s mission statement to be redeveloped and not to be left open and, quite frankly, an embarrassment to a city of few embarrassments. One need only stroll a short distance to Cashman Park and the boardwalk traversing our downtown to enjoy an open waterfront that was meant to remain that way.
We should all find it less than amusing that a secret society like COW (Are they really an organization? Do they hold any public meetings that invite opposing views?) should seek to impugn the integrity of the nicest, most open guy in town, authority member James Shanley, and contend that their public meetings are somehow not free exchanges of opinion from all sides. This is an utter falsehood that demeans us all.
Perhaps there really is a true silent majority of sorts in this city and, ironically, it’s all of us who don’t speak up and we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for allowing a small, loud, mostly out-of-town minority claim they speak for our community.