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The Earth Moved in Mo'town

More about local politics than the earthquake.

As someone who has lived through a major earthquake, the Northridge, I was in total denial when my house shook last Tuesday.

“This doesn’t happen here,” I said to my son. He was just a baby in 1994, when we hid under the dining room table in California, watching the floor ripple in waves of tectonic fury while books fell from shelves and water pipes cracked invisibly, only to erupt months later at 3 a.m.  My first thought was "Hmmm. Perhaps Chris Christie has jumped into the presidential race! What else could shake the Garden State like this?"

Californians, blasé and oh so smug, have been laughing at our Chicken Little-esque behavior during and after the “insignificant” 5.9 temblor.  People up and down the East Coast had one more “where were you when” moments to sock away, with one eye cautiously tuned to The Weather Channel for blustery updates on Hurricane Irene, the next possible event.

Jim Cantore had already been dispatched to the Outer Banks, so you know The WC was hoping for a big disaster, complete with a theme song and some heartwrenching stories.  Let’s all go out and buy bottled water, shall we?

Natural disasters aside, when I mentioned the earth moving, I was speaking of a local event that I missed because I was working. Last Monday night, I was toiling away in the children’s department of the library.  I believe I was hard at work on some felt owl pillows, a project of great global importance.  I couldn’t ask to swap shifts with anyone because I had already been MIA for two weeks, while hiding out at the SHOE-er. 

The event I missed was the town council meeting in which it seems that Mayor Button FINALLY listened to the people of Mo’town. Holy Hearing Aid, Batman! Five months later and he has awakened from his slumber! I sure hope someone recorded the entire meeting so there’s no backpedaling.

Most of the meeting was spent arguing the latest Mo’town hot topic: the proposed ballot questions .  How hilarious that the PREIT slicksters and their lawmen were able to inject the nonsensical “except for consumption on railroad trains, airplanes and boats” into the ballot questions in order to skirt the five-year moratorium and get the questions on the ballot this year instead of next.

What about dirigibles? And why no mention of buses?

The audience at the last council meeting was treated to a tirade from ex-councilman Seth Broder, who apparently really wants martinis at the Mall and was quite scornful of anyone “in the cheap seats” that disagreed with him.  The grapevine was positively electric with news of Broder’s appearance, since this was the first time he’s attended a TC meeting since his departure last year. 

Isn’t small-town life grand? Rumor has it that Kim Kardashian planned to attend the meeting but mistakenly showed up in Morristown instead.

It turns out that despite assurances to the contrary, there are several scenarios that would permit the sale of hooch anywhere in our fair town. According to sources, the first question could be passed but the second question defeated. Or both questions could pass, only to have the second one due to a failed attempt at special zoning, leaving the first question standing. Huh?

You mean that if we vote to allow mixed drinks at the Mall, we’re opening our town up to widespread booze infestations? Please, say it ain’t so. Please tell us that we, the people, will be able to control where alcohol is served, then wink discreetly and uncross the fingers behind your back as you open the Little Acme as a fine dining establishment selling libations and corn dogs.  Who defines “fine dining” anyway?  Ronald McDonald?

It would be enlightening for all if Mr. Broder and the Tax Relief for Moorestown gang held public information sessions to dispel rumors and clarify exactly what the townsfolk can expect, should the alcohol questions pass. Give John Q. Mo’town all the information and let him decide. As it stands right now, the rumors and misinformation are making it very difficult for the average voter to know which way to vote.

After the vitriolic back and forth between those for booze and those for BYOB, the meeting turned back to the .  Because I couldn’t attend the TC meeting last Monday night, I got my info secondhand on Tuesday.

I have always maintained that if we the voters had been able to vote on the K.I.D.S. Initiative, all the acrimony and divisiveness of the past six months would have been nonexistent. Yes, we want a $2.8 million bond issued or no, we most definitely do not. End of discussion. It has always seemed perfectly logical that we, the voters, should be allowed to vote on the big issues. And apparently, Mayor Button has finally seen the compact fluorescent light. It was suggested that because the mayor agreed that TC place the booze questions on the ballot “so the voters can decide,” the same courtesy should be extended to the Open Space Fund issue.

And guess what, Mo’towners? The mayor agreed! The earth trembled! Buildings swayed! Small rodents danced through Pete’s hardware store with free popcorn in their tiny pink paws! But before you go all jubilant on me, remember one thing: This is small-town politics. Town council will now be required to hold a special meeting in order to get the question on the ballot in a timely manner. So before we join hands and sing “Kumbaya,” let’s hope fervently that town council has gotten the message on Open Space Funding and will let the citizens of Moorestown decide how they want those funds spent.

Lest Open Space supporters get TOO cocky, let me remind them of a very sobering statistic. In our last school budget election, only 3,142 out of 13,973 registered voters actually got out of their LaZ Boy recliners to vote. That means that 10,831 voters were too busy to be bothered. Oh yes!

And then there’s that pesky and vague agreement from the mayor to put the Open Space question on the ballot “if they could find the time.” 

If I didn’t know better, I’d think that town council had something to do with Hurricane Irene!

Carla McIlmail September 09, 2011 at 10:24 AM
Question...if alcohol is permitted within Moorestown, does the town have the right to determine the type of establishment that can receive a licence or is it whomever has the bucks gets the licence? Wondering about the rules here...

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