The most important goal of public discourse should be to have real conversations about real issues. If we cannot adequately discuss items like housing, zoning, tax rates, and growth we will never be able to arrive at good solutions.
The goal of this column is to encourage debate and create constructive discourse. It’s safe to say my last post accomplished that. I know some in our town found the tone of the content a bit offensive, and while that wasn’t my intent, my tongue-in-
cheek approach was an attempt at addressing a real problem we have in our society.
If you were offended, I do apologize. But I also will challenge you to ask yourself
this: why did so many people agree with what was written? Calling someone a NIMBY is not offensive and perhaps not politically correct, it is factual. But I digress. NIMBYs are passionate, and they are involved, and that is a good thing.
There is another group in our society, however, that deserves more ire than any other: The Not In My Term Of Office people. These folks, without question, are the most frustrating to work with. A NIMTOO is an official, elected or appointed, who lacks the courage, interest, and ability to work on hard problems while they are in office.
There are many symptoms of a NIMTOO. And they’re all too familiar. Perhaps they run for office for the attention-seeking goal of being popular and well liked. They likely are discouraged, either internally or via social pressure, from discussing controversial topics. And big changes during their term of office are as frightening as a rotary.
Political correctness curtails a NIMTOO’s effectiveness as a public official, but the
problem lies with them, not their surroundings. Serving the public is a serious endeavor, and it requires those who choose to serve to work hard on important issues. Sticking our head in the sand, ignoring opportunities, and refusing to pay attention to real problems is a dereliction of our duty.
Currently in our community, housing is unaffordable, seniors are on the verge of
being taxed out of their homes, our commercial development has been flat and declining since the completion of the mall (sorry, Shoppes), and we have infrastructure needs that seem to be never ending.
All of this is avoidable. We can properly address each of those problems and more, but it requires leadership who is willing to do what is right. What is right can be at times be in contrast with what is popular, which is when the NIMTOO’s fail at jobs. My digressions aside, I must say my colleagues on the Board of Selectmen have shown a willingness to take on hard problems. We’ve changed Town Managers, debated developments like Clearview, and currently are taking on the job of weighing on the largest residential development in our towns history. That’s not easy work, and my colleagues have answered that bell every time.
Beyond those items, we must elect leaders who are unafraid of difficult challenges, are willing to change the status quo when necessary, and from time to time make decisions they feel are right no matter their popularity. Anything short of that is NIMTOO paradise but a community in peril.
And what is the opposite of a NIMTOO? Leaders who speak their mind and do what is right, not popular.
Chris Naff is a member of the Select Board in Millbury. Reach him at email@example.com