Friday, October 4, 2002
The Mosquito has a new assignment for one of our staff members. Starting last week at our weekly Monday morning editorial meeting, we began receiving a report, taken off the Web, of significant issues that were reported in the weekly newspapers of Carlisle's six surrounding towns. If there is an issue that looks important and might affect Carlisle, we will send a reporter to look into it.
We want to make sure that when another development such as the 90-house Robbins Mill development in Acton, just over the Carlisle line, is in the planning stage, we know about it and have time to address the issues that will have an impact on Carlisle.
In Kathleen Coyle's report (see page 4) on the MAGIC (Minuteman Area Group for Interlocal Coordination) meeting of September 12, you will read of Carlisle Selectman Vivian Chaput's attempt to get MAGIC involved in the Robbins Mill development plan. The group was sympathetic to Carlisle's problem with the traffic, water resources, and septic system concerns but weren't sure how their organization could help after Acton Planning Board had given its approval.
With the growth of nearby towns where there is open land to develop, it is essential that neighboring communities communicate with one another. At this moment in Billerica, on the Carlisle line where East Street turns into Treble Cove Road, a new development is going in. Hopefully Carlisle's town boards are keeping an eye on it, and there will be no repeat of Robbins Mill, where it was a "done deal" before anyone in our town could do anything about it.
The true believers
This political season is rushing toward November but I'm still pondering a poignant Primary moment I witnessed as a reporter.
It was that moment after 10 p.m. September 17 when a PT Cruiser drew up in front of the Cambridge VFW Post and Robert Reich emerged for his Last Hurrah at what might have been the first hurrah of his march to the State House. He looked weary and disappointed, but was still smiling. His gray suit was unbuttoned, his red tie slightly askew. He went hand-in-hand with his stately wife into the dim, red-carpeted vestibule smelling faintly of generations of chain-smoking veterans. On this night it was thick with a smokeless gathering of Reich devotees many from the tonier suburbs, like Wellesley. Maybe even Carlisle.
Their hero moved briskly through them, clutching a hand here, bestowing a kiss there, as his aides hustled him toward the main room past a portrait of a soldier named Sullivan killed in Vietnam in 1968.
In that bright main room, the political progeny of 1968 and their children roared to life at the sight of their man. They were prisoners rioting in the penitentiary yard, fanning the old bonfires of lost street rallies and war protests. They were college students, bilingual education teachers, gays, lesbians, doctors stumping for universal health care, a smattering of union types. They chanted, "We want Bob.We want Bob"
"Well, you're not going to get him," quipped the candidate, self-effacing as ever, after making it to the dais and motioning for quiet. The crowd laughed. It was a sad laugh, I thought.
He gave a generous concession speech, thanked everyone profusely, then headed off to Shannon O'Brien's party for a big Democratic unity hug. But not before he had exhorted these diehards to keep alive "a quality of politics that we shall not hear the end of."
Soon the booming strains of Bruce Springsteen "do it all night, do it all night" died abruptly. The crowd dispersed noisily and slowly into the mild outer darkness. I asked a few of them if they, like their candidate, would be supporting Shannon O'Brien.
"Let me get over my disappointment first," said a woman who seemed on the verge of tears. "I was actually thrilled to be able to work for something I believed in. I got energized by his positions on issues in a way I haven't been energized in a really long time." Since 1968, I thought.
"The only way we'll begin to get the state back is to vote for Shannon O'Brien," said another woman. "But it's going to be a hard vote."
"I'm really concerned about the Democratic Party," said her husband. "It's trying to be too many things to too many people and moving too far to the center."
Too far to the center. That summed up this left-of-center crowd of starry-eyed newcomers and gray pony-tailed idealists who think the party should be for them. They are the true believers. Theirs is that "quality of politics we shall not hear the end of," at least in Massachusetts.
And Shannon O'Brien could ignore them only at her peril.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito