Rememer the good old days, when neighbors helped neighbors? When your fellow man was there to help you or to be helped by you? When we all pulled together as communities, to rally around causes that were just, fair and good for all? There's a reason why they are called the "good old days" - because they don't exist anymore in America. This was proven recently in Santa Clara California.
The city of Santa Clara is part of the heart of Silicon Valley. With thousands of high tech firms, startup companies, and small businesses, the city is known for its vibrant communities, easy going -yet- fast paced lifestyle, and a penchant for attracting highly educated workers and their families. But there is a dark side to this city - a side which, led by mayor Patricia Mahan, has focused on using the city and its technology lineage, as a means of generating huge tax revenues - all at the expense of its own citizens.
In past years, the city and its council have selfishly sold out parts of its north city region (a part of Santa Clara situated north of bayshore highway 101) to big businesses and developers.
In one instance, construction of a new housing development forced nearby residents who had lived there for over 20 years, to buy mandatory flood insurance because the development had erased so much flood plain that nearby neighborhoods were brought at risk.
In another instance, the north city, which had been without a simple grocery store for more than ten years, saw a plan for a walking bridge that would allow citizens to safely cross over a busy 4 lane road to reach a newly built food shopping mall. Instead of the walking bridge, a large hotel was built instead - a hotel which now sits, mostly vacant, in the middle of a food shopping mall (hows that for planning?)... because financiers would tell you that hotels generate way more taxes than walking bridges ever did.
Its a well known fact that the mayor and her council-partners generally live in nice, quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods (picture the opening sequence to the TV show "Leave It To Beaver"), with white picket fences, flowers, and clean streets. Its also known that these neighborhoods are on the south side of town. Meanwhile, the north city region is strewn with industrial buildings, warehouses, machine shops, chemical plants, cement factories, and high tech firms. For many years, the north city wasn't even considered part of Santa Clara - it was bundled in with nearby Alviso Ca, a small, rundown,bayside town with old boat docks, beat up shacks for houses, dirt roads and gravel sidewalks. The obvious message here being that since city officers live on the south side of town, then it makes sense to use the opposite side of town to generate tons of tax revenues [along with noise, traffic, and dirty air].
So, this week, with the city's obvious drug-habit-like mindset of using the "industrial" side of Santa Clara as a tax money machine, came the ultimate insult... a football stadium. The deal was financed by the 49'er football team and the city council, as a means of getting a brand new, $1 Billion dollar football stadium for the low price of ~ $507 million dollars, with the other half being covered by a city "plan". In the city's effort to convince citizens of the benefits, the city unwittingly called the measure a "stadium vote" or a "vote for the schools" when, in fact, it was actually a city bond measure to borrow over $493 million dollars to help pay for the project, cutting the 49'ers cost in half. This, from a city suffering financial shortfalls and teacher layoffs. Add to this, that the plan includes diverting over $67 million dollars AWAY from the citys general fund [which pays for our police, fire and library services] just to help foot the bill for this great new stadium.
With all this comes the "in-your-face" reality that those in power will use those powers to stomp on their neighbors and citizens. The politics of generating more tax dollars has become the new priority in city government, and of course, politicians feel the need to bite the hand that feeds them.
The question of morality for me lies in the cost of giving it up. Morals are free after all, so what is the cost of giving them up? In my mind, I see the cost of giving up morality is the loss of something that was free to begin with. But more importantly, the "cost behind the curtain" is the myriad of people, places, and communities that you allow to suffer for your decision. It's as easy as saying "oops, sucks to be you!".
The other side of the moral battle occurs when the side giving up their morals attempts to create "fake morals" to garner support. Like an interview candidate who answers a question like "what irritates you the most?" with "what irritates me is when flowers don't bloom, or when I see puppies crying". Pulling at heartstrings, with promises of "jobs" or "money for schools" never ceases to sway even the most consumate voter, whether the statements are true or lies.
Whats so unfortunate is that this has happened in so many cities.
And it all happens when politicians put tax revenues over quality of life for its citizens. This might be the case in third world industrial countries like Peru or China, but its not supposed to happen in Santa Clara California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
So am I angry at what Santa Clarans have done to other Santa Clarans? Hell yeah, I'm angry.
Apparently, in todays dog-eat-dog world, the concept of "neighborhood cooperation" has given way to "he who has the most money wins - morals or no morals".
What used to be "love thy neighbor" is now "watch your back!". I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.
This explains to me why the days of caring for your neighbor are called "the good old days"... because those days are long gone...
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