Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hold the Welcome Wagon?

Among the many odd aspects of City Council remarks on the South Avenue Gateway development proposal, some members commented on prospective tenants as having "alternative lifestyles" and maybe being gay.

As happens often lately, notions pop up that make one think there had been a meeting before the public meeting to frame arguments on issues by using words or phrases designed to provoke a reaction. Often these references are based on perceived class or racial distinctions, as in the frequent coded allusions to the Second Ward.

So what is the point of saying one has heard that the proposed apartments might be occupied by people with "alternative lifestyles"? Definitions of that term refer to "living outside the cultural norm" or being "socially unconventional." Are speakers saying there is only one accepted mode of behavior citywide that these newcomers might disrupt?

If there is one thing that distinguishes Plainfield from its neighboring towns, it is diversity. People say they have chosen to live here just for the mix of cultures and the freedom to be oneself.

The hint that the new apartments might attract gays is really a kicker. During the 1980s, gays who were attracted to Plainfield for its eclectic Victorian housing stock became a large part of the driving force for restoration and preservation of those homes. It's not like South Avenue Gateway would start some trend. The gay population has been here for decades and has contributed in many ways to the betterment of the city.

David Rutherford was able to capture about 40 minutes of council remarks on his blog, in addition to what the developer had to say about the project. It might be instructive to review the comments and see what you think.

The project received preliminary and final site plan approval Thursday. The developer still has obtain some other approvals before any ground is broken. Let us hope the discussion involving the governing body proceeds without invoking spurious theories about who might move in.

--Bernice 

14 comments:

  1. One thing that will always amaze me.. .the loudest, most in your face good "Christian", God fearing individuals who point the finger of morality toward anyone who doesn't fit their outward appearance of social norm usually ends up being a adulterer, cheat, thief or simply genuinely morally corrupt.
    I swear, some of those woman on that city council were made for the song "Harper Valley PTA" .

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    1. I could not agree with you more. The council members - the way they talk to the public and one another -the way they talk to the administration - the way they spew bitterness and intolerance - and every one of the them will tell you to "Have a Blessed Day". Not thank you! I really do not want to have one of your "Blessed Days". Mine are filled with tolerance, kindness, and trying to better myself and those to whom I come in contact on a daily basis. If this is what a "Blessed Day" looks like - you can keep it!

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  2. I just listened to most of Gloria Taylor's portion of the discussion, roughly minutes 8 through 18. If you actually listen to what she's saying in context I don't think she's dissing anyone, in code or otherwise. She's talking about the impact of the project on the school population and questions the developer's and administration's contention that there will be minimal impact. I believe that when she says "alternative lifestyles" she's referring to "couples without children". "Gays" is used immediately afterward as an example of that "alternative lifestyle". (Yes, I know all about adoption and fostering). If the vast majority of your friends and neighbors have children then those couples without are indeed "alternative" to your experience.

    Although I hate her speaking style, a string of one trite and meaningless catchphrase after another, I agree with her questioning of the impact on the school system, and I agree with the councilors' contention that they had not been involved in the deliberations about the PILOT. The estimates seem to be that the "incentive" aka "tax forgiveness" aka "bribe" is between 350K and 1,000K per year for 30 years. That's a hell of a pill to swallow without having been involved in the negotiations or at least having been seduced into agreeing.

    Right now, in Frenchtown, a somewhat similar scenario is playing out, the difference being that the council, mayor and developer are meeting to discuss and come to a workable conclusion. Let's hope that we follow their lead and come together to get the deal done.

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    1. There have been public meetings on this and most of the Councilors in question chose not to attend. Last week there was a Planning Board meeting that only Cory Storch attended. Where were Taylor, Toliver, Rivers, and Brown? They have not been shut out, they have chosen to not participate. We pay them for that.

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    2. Anon 9:31 - very honorable of you to give Gloria the benefit of the doubt, but Bernice is right. There's a lot of "code" used at these meetings whether it's to refer to whites, latinos or gays. Since they're not overt and/or explicit statements it's not deemed as hate speech, but the tone and the language is hateful.

      David's video should be shared with LAMBDA and GLAAD. We should invite a representative from each organization to school some members of the council at a future meeting and have them address Gloria's concerns about alternative lifestyles.

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    3. The school system would be better off if no one had children in Plainfield. Then, we wouldn't need the "school" system, if that's what you want to call our education in this town.

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    4. Most young couples don't start out with kids, so I don't see anything 'alternative' about it. What's so disturbing about Councilwoman Taylor's remarks is she doesn't talk much at all about the PILOT agreement. Everything with her is always a "game", "politics", "not counting to four votes", or feeling left out. She even implies that the truth may be that someone is "making some money under the table", which you, Anon 9:31, must have picked up on by referring to the agreement as a bribe. Taylor is in denial about the numerous opportunities the public and the Council have had to weigh in on this project, and already the Council has taken official (and apparently ignorant, if you take their word for it) actions three or four times already to move it along. If she had a problem with the development plan anytime along the way she could have spoken up, but she didn't, because like her compatriots on the Council, she probably didn't pay much attention until a little birdie told them to oppose the PILOT agreement. But if this is really about that agreement, why does she only mention it once? She offers no alternatives, suggestions, or improvements, only her tried and true windbagism that we've heard so many times before when her object is really to pull the rug out from under whatever it is that the Mapp administration is trying to put forward. But real scams, like herding city employees to Legal Shield payroll deductions, or handing over public property to her buddies by using the Housing Authority as willing dupes, that's what she's for.

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  3. It seems we have some people on the City Council who want others to be mindful and accommodating to their life style and race, but don't seem to offer that to others, or perhaps they are just trying to scare people into thinking that the Mapp administration is trying to move undesirables into the city. If that's true, then Mapp is too late. It is funny how prejudiced some of these Council members are, especially when one of the things that makes Plainfield special is that we like diversity and find that it most often makes our city better. Too bad that we may have some closed minded, bigots on the City Council, or are they just playing political games and got together to try to sidetrack this administration from improving Plainfield?

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  4. Some on this council could be poster fodder for reverse discrimination. After years of struggling for equality for all people it is disgraceful that these people would sit in public and advocate bigotry.

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  5. Being LGBT is not a lifestyle. It's an orientation. The entire discussion that evening was coded in outdated phraseology that demonstrated how out of touch some people are with the world outside of Plainfield's (ca. 1980s) borders, to wit "yuppies." My own take on the phrase "alternative lifestyles" as used by the council president was that she was talking about class/income, as in "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous"--again, 1980s lingo. She knows better than to refer to our community that way. It was Taylor who mentioned "gay" people in her commentary about the Plainfield community being involved in deciding who lives here--alterngains if SHE and unnamed people would get to decide on who lives where--perhaps she is not aware of the law against discrimination, the civil rights laws in our country...I don't know. But the commentary was offensive and divisive.

    Rebecca

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  6. If this project goes forward, what is the estimated time of completion and occupation?

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  7. I am a Proud Gay American who owns a home right here in the middle of the "Queen City". Of all the Gays I know in town, most own homes they bought because of their uniqueness and cheapens. One has always been able to acquire wonderful homes here. That is where our value is, in the housing stock. I understand we have more Tutors here than in Capr May who gloats about it and makes money. When the "gays" started their migration to the city they added incredable value, restoring our structures. Think of the Questover projects.
    Where gays go, others follow, in fashion and housing trends especially. I don't see new appartments having the same appeal as an Italian A frame, of a Painted tutor lady, so I woulden't worry to much.It''s not so much the ambiance around town that attracts these unsavery people, its the property itself. You can turn one of these homes into an entertainment oasis, it's little island onto itself, can't do that with an apartment. My opinion is that when you build it, they will not come in the droves you expect, that's my bet, but gloria may be right and we may be over run.
    Alternate lifestyle is also code for not to many children, if any. Those are the exact words used at one of the solaris meetings when they were pushing their 660 units on the Muhlenburg Campus where they project only 50 students will impact the schools. Tell me another story please. It's all the same dance, luxury apartments means section 8, alternate lifestyle means corrupted thinking-
    I've been on the planet a long time and recognize prejudice when I see it and hear it. When it comes at me from someone who, I am sure, has experienced it themselves, I get a little shall we say, a little bit surly.
    If you really want to increase income build a huge gay bar and have sunday afternoon tea dances, you will make a fortune just like any other community that truly supports the diversity of its community.
    Next thing they will refuse to make pizza for our gay marrages, as if anyone of LGBT would have pizza as the main course in celebration of their nuptials, but it's the principle
    Gloria dear, get a grip, give yourself a hard shake and realize at least 1 in 10 of the people looking at you right now are gay. Don't be afraid and kindly don't say stupid stuff that makes us aftaid either.
    Hope everyone has a Blessed day especially the bigots-they need it most

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