Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Donít pander to faux victims

For some reason, every time I attend a public input meeting, I come away high even though the meeting is slightly stultifying. I finally realized that many hypocrites in the same room exude a gas that is slightly hallucinogenic. The fundamental hypocrisy is usually present residents attempting to limit access to future residents who presumably have the same right to arrive in the Wood River Valley as the present residents did when they arrived. The hypocrites claim to be protecting their "quality of life" when in fact they're running a quasi-extortionist N.I.M.B.Y. shakedown scam and con based on victim status.

The scam goes like this. You attend a public meeting. You project long-suffering indignation. Lower lip trembling, you assert self-evident victim status. The source of your suffering? Usually some plan to build something that symbolizes new economic or infrastructure growth. It really doesn't matter. It could be a cell tower, bridge, road improvement, sign, berm, subdivision, hotel or whatever. They are all fodder for the faux victim's resentment. The bottom line message to elected and appointed officials? Make the world go away or we'll vote you out of office for your insensitivity to our victimization. Chase the evil, money-grubbing developer and the horse he rode in on out of town.

However, if that's impossible we need to be compensated for our self-evident pain and suffering. We need lots of goodies to make our pain go away. We need a new golf course. We need dozens more tennis courts. We need free amenity passes to the new resort for the whole damn neighborhood. This victim status shakedown derives from the civil rights movement of the 1960s and raises victim status to new levels of absurdity. Make no mistake about it; there can be real victims of redevelopment and gentrification of a community. For example, very low income folks living in a trailer park that is sold out from under them. They have no place to go and no money to get there. But by and large most of these middle-class folks complaining at public meetings about their threatened quality of life are pretending to be victims. It's a great scam and more often than not local politicians pander to the people doing the shakedown.

Mickey Garcia


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