The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 26, 1999


A Tough Choice

The municipal land committee's multi-million-dollar land acquisition proposal will pose a tough dilemma for Carlisle voters who have traditionally supported conservation issues but have also always wanted close control over large capital expenditures.

At the May Town Meeting, the committee will ask for the authority to bond $10 million to purchase municipal land with the intention of controlling the development and use of key undeveloped parcels, when and if they become available. Acquiring such land would optimize opportunities to fulfill residents' frequently expressed desire to maintain scenic vistas, preserve conservation land and extend trail networks. Such land could also serve as insurance for future needs, such as a town water supply, a sewage treatment facility and recreational needs. Lastly, the town might then be able to build senior and affordable housing, rather than being held ransom to a developer's whim.

However, the land committee believes that officials need to be able to negotiate from a position of strength and act quickly when key parcels become available. In order to do so, they believe that they need to shorten the traditional approval process for such large purchases. In order for the committee to proceed, two-thirds of the voters at the upcoming Town Meeting and a majority at the following election will have to support their request for bonding authority. However, when officials return to a future Town Meeting to request expenditure for a specific land purchase, only a simple majority will be required and no election will be necessary. This is a departure from the process which has typically been followed for bonded expenditures.

The committee has a good vision and plan to control development while preserving Carlisle's rural character. Residents will have to consider not only whether they are willing to invest $10 million in future land acquisition, but also whether the town needs to change its traditional decision-making process in order to facilitate such purchases.

Traditional Family Values

The liberal press has succeeded in associating the phrase "traditional family values" with wild, right-wing religious fanatics. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is true that conservative groups tend to use the phrase most oftenprobably because they are not afraid to get out front on this issue. It is a core issue in any discussion of national priorities in general, and specifically the allocation of the budget surplus.

The phrase "traditional family values" is naturally open to many definitions. Nevertheless, I believe most people know in their hearts what it means. The phrase has a very simple meaning to me. It means the protection and propagation of the family unit as the basic building block of society. This definition suggests that all applicable laws, tax and otherwise, should be written and enforced based on their positive impact on the family unit.

Perhaps some would have a problem with my definition and its implication on our laws. The real problem seems to be the definition of a family unit. If we skip the religious view for a moment (a road I would just as soon not travel in this essay), I believe that the definition is very simple. I, and many others, believe that one of society's main responsibilities is the care, both physical and psychological, of the young, so that civilization can advance to the next generation. A time-tested historical model has accomplished this goal through the centuries: marriage and children. By this I mean couples of the opposite sex establish a legally binding union called marriage and have or adopt children whom they are legally required to care for until their maturity.

Sounds simple. It should bebut now the crazies take over. Some believe that people of the same sex can marry. How is that possible? Anything can be called marriage, but that does not make it so. If companionship is the only reason for a marriage then a person should be able to marry the family dog. Is that a marriage? I often hear professional athletes speak proudly of their children. Many are by various mothers, none of whom they have married. It appears to be accepted, and the mothers don't seem to care. Is this a traditional family?

Recently, we received an invitation to a baby shower for the birth of someone's illegitimate child. I'm sure the proud father will be there. Will they marry? No, because no one appears to care. The world has gone mad. I am not taking a moral stand here; my point is that each child has a right to a stable relationship between his or her parents, backed up by the legal system. A child needs that sense of security to develop into a mature person and citizen.

I believe this will continue to be an issue with major consequences for our society. As the traditional family structure is allowed to dissolve, the state will have to play a more important role caring for neglected and abandoned childrenall because some people see the phrase "traditional family values" as meaningless. I am not one of them, and I am not alone. But we need more people who are willing to embrace the phrase "traditional family values".


1999 The Carlisle Mosquito