, Salem, MA

December 16, 2013

Letter: Keenan has gone too far

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I’ve reached a new level of disgust for our elected officials. The last straw is the statement in The Salem News of Dec. 5, where state Rep. John Keenan, referring to changes he made to a bill meant to block further challenges to the building of a new gas-powered plant in Salem, states that he “knows this language probably has constitutional problems.”

I have been on the fence about whether I want to see the plant reused for gas power or just put out to green pasture for the city to enjoy. At first, when costs were “about $200 million” to clean up the property, I was in favor of cleaning it up and using it for public space. Then, I had to reconsider due to the potential tax increase it would mean for us property owners.

Now Keenan is scaring us with “rolling brownouts” (a new term he seems to think has struck as particularly scary, as he hadn’t used it until a few weeks ago and now it’s a recurring theme) and a cost of $1 billion!

Hello? Is anyone else out there sick and tired of being threatened with numbers?

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll did the same thing when she tried to ply us with the story about the revenue that big cruise ships could bring to the city — $225,000 a ship! Well, when the numbers were investigated, it turned out to be closer to $2,500 a ship.

I’m tired of Driscoll and Keenan scaring us with numbers, as well as promising this rainbow future with wildly inflated numbers. Enough. I am not an idiot. I know how to investigate. I take the time to do so. I am insulted that they think any of us are sheep being led to slaughter.

I think Mayor Driscoll has done some wonderful things for this city, and I often support her and Rep. Keenan. But really, this new level of bullying is beyond comprehension. For Rep. Keenan, it is grounds for impeachment — to outright admit that language he put into a bill is constitutionally questionable is beyond anything we, as his constituents, should accept! It is reprehensible. And it has opened my eyes wide to the question of just what he stands to lose if this doesn’t go through. There is big money at play here.

Well, the tax thing doesn’t scare me anymore. Taxes will go up, like it or not. I was an opponent of the Community Preservation Act because I know (from the experience of friends who live in cities that have passed the CPA) that the promised “only two bucks a year” ends up being much more. I attended a meeting hosted by the Mack Park Neighborhood Association — one that was well-attended — and one of the opponents said what I was thinking: “You say $2 now, but when tax time comes around, it turns into 20. We’re tired. We can’t pay any more.”

Well, those words rang in my head when I got my new tax bill, and it’s increased by $25 a month! And my property value? It has reduced exponentially compared to five years ago, yet my taxes go up every year.

A few years ago, when news came out that the power plant would shut down, what happened? The city contacted residents to let us know that a city assessor would be by to check out our property values. (The timing was so perfect!) Funny that the city thinks my property is worth $250,000 when a Realtor can only sell it for $150,000.

When I moved here to Massachusetts from Michigan (a big union state!) 27 years ago, I thought it would be full of good Democrats who wanted to do good things. I’m from a working-class family with a lot of union workers! What do I see here? A lot of BMWs, Mercedes, etc. — all driven by the Democrats who claim to support the working class! Who is that 1 percent that the Democrats keeping harping about? They are among them! I am now a registered independent and will never vote for Keenan again unless it’s for impeachment.

Sharon Smith