, Newburyport, MA

November 1, 2013

Funny thing about that NRA brochure

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Anybody who believes the recently mailed NRA brochure, coming as it did just weeks before the mayoral election, was not timed with just that in mind, is out in left field without a glove (like the Tigers). What a joke to think otherwise.

Additionally, the mayor’s denial of Councilor Sullivan’s suggestion that the brochure and her campaign are linked deserves an Oscar. “The NRA an independent body,” how could she possibly exert any influence over its doings? Another joke. Who appoints members? The mayor. Who has had ample opportunities to replace “development fanatics” with people with a more rounded point of view? The major. Who on that board have contributed significant funds to the mayor’s campaign? Three of its five members. I would love to see the mayor’s phone records, wouldn’t that be interesting?

It’s a fact that Holaday was fully on board with the development package as presented by Union Studios. The mayor was vociferous in approving it and rude to the opposition. Now we see backpedaling galore. Now she says “no” to condos, “no” to underground parking, “no” to private ownership of the waterfront. Yet the NRA’s own consultant stated unequivocally that no condos means red ink for any developer. This would seem to mean that the mayor currently opposes the NRA’s plans more or less in their entirety. Or are we being set up here, like a bunch of immigrants fresh off the boat, for another flip-flop after the election?

What a cute game. Holaday says, like Sullivan, that the NRA should disband but she doesn’t specify when. Sullivan says now, the mayor says nothing about a timeline. The only implication is that she means when their “work is done,” when the condos are built. Then they can disband. She must take us for fools.

She and others who are waffling on this issue — Cameron, Connell and the Port Pride cheerleader — better watch out. They may win seats, but the whiff of bait-and-switch rhetoric will linger to stain their reputations.

It is amazing to me that we continue to argue over the waterfront. I had thought when Foster’s project went up in smoke, followed by several years of incremental progress in resolving this issue, that we were at least as a community united in what we wanted down there. It is not my definition of leadership to see a mayor deliberately revive a worn-out development plan that can only lead to one outcome, a rebellious and divided city. I have even heard, straight from the mouth of a candidate for the Ward 2 seat, that he will lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent waterfront construction. At 68 years of age, I’m prepared to join him. That fun day will be a couple of decades from now, after the lawsuits are over.

The mayor’s re-ignition of the waterfront brouhaha is the equivalent of throwing a grenade into a room loaded with people. And some of us think Washington is out of its mind?

James Charles Roy