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Sun., Oct. 4
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City zoning change offensive to the poor


This is a message for every worker who struggles and does the right thing day after day, someone who can see the dream of a nice home in a safe neighborhood, but needs a little help. This is for every decent, compassionate person who opens their home to a friend in a time of need. This is for every parent who finally found a partner to be a role model for their children. This is most definitely for any couple or any family who had to fight to have the government recognize their dignity.

If you are poor, if you are unwed, if you believe in the right of privacy, then the Watertown City Council does not represent you. Their action in amending the city zoning law has demonstrated better than any words could that they believe you are a nuisance, that your very presence is repulsive, that you are not the right sort, and that you are a threat to the moral order.

Where is the rampant plague of boarding houses? Where are the illegal tenements with families living in squalid and cramped conditions? We have adequate laws to address such potential hazards. This change to the zoning law is not about protecting public welfare, it is about segregating those perceived to be on welfare. This new measure is about money, and some of us don’t measure up.

Members of the council have sworn no offense was intended. Nevertheless, an offense was taken. How then is this to be rectified? Through the action of the council its members have acknowledged the whim of a single citizen at the expense of the many. Now, through their inaction they have made us all out to be as Damocles with the lingering threat of prosecution.

Why in the council’s wisdom did it pass a law with no intention of enforcing it, begging the question why will they not repeal it if they will never use it? Is it within the council’s power to make such a promise? Is it within their power to put that promise in writing? Perhaps the legislation was passed to “throw a bone” as it were to a constituent. If only we could all be so fortunate. Is it not the purpose of the council to serve the public interest? Therefore, is it unreasonable to believe that the only influence which should matter to the council is the one wielded by the voting public and not influence held by an unelected oligarch?

Ryan Henry-Wilkinson


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