Reality Bites by James A. Norton


The most arrogant of people are the ones who think everyone else is at fault…


For years in this country there was this kind of ambivalent purgatory of political pervasiveness (APPP if you will – look for it on my Urban Dictionary page soon) that just seemed to be everywhere, all the time. There was the far left, the far right and then this huge bunch in the middle where most people stood politically. Not really caring about much outside the bubble in which they lived. Or did they?


It’s so much easier to convey my thoughts on this in a conversation instead of in written form, so bear with me here… I guess what I am getting at is that we are a nation have finally woken up. It took a crooked candidate with fairly good intentions running against a political neophyte with fairly good intentions (who to this day doesn’t know when to keep his opinion to himself) to smash into each other for those of us in between to wake up.


With one candidate you heard a lot of the same old thing – and with the other, you heard some of those things that yeah, sounded kinda good. It was almost like when Ross Perot ran in the early 90’s. A lot of common sense ideas and putting we the people first instead of everyone else on the planet.


So as I have watched the political landscape in Somerville change since I was a little kid in the early 70’s, I have noticed the change that happened kinda slowly at first and then didn’t so much take off, but kept at it, keep on moving forward. People who were ultra liberal at heart started running for office and they got a free pass (like the current mayor and the two before him) because they were from the old neighborhood. They were ‘Villens – so yeah let’s get behind them and watch them protect this city and make it the best place to live, ever.


Except nobody can afford to live here anymore. And it’s not just the cost of living here – the cost to buy a home or rent an apartment – it’s the whole package, my friend – it’s the parking tickets, the ban on plastic bags, it’s the bike racks in the middle of the damned streets, it’s the ridiculous 25mph speed limit citywide. Seriously?


But yet, there’s still sweetheart deals for developers. Waivers on rules and regulations just because. A hide in directly in your faces affordable housing monopoly that is beyond hilarious at this point. It’s the jobs for political hacks who can’t cut in the real world (makes the people who earned their jobs and earn their paychecks every week start to wonder). It’s the whole dark underbelly of business, politics and gangster type behavior that still operates oblivious to what is going on around it, because quite frankly – screw you.


I have had false hope for a long time that things might actually change – that it wouldn’t be just a few people like me banging the gong saying “hey there’s something wrong here.” False hope indeed. Rather than put up with boorish and nasty, often times spiteful behavior, I extracted myself from any kind of spotlight and changed that in which I could – my own life. It’s worked well, I am happy to report.


So now I see people finally catching on about stupid banners, smoke and mirror routines, fake news, old tactics and dirty dealings. Nice. Welcome to the party.


Instead of wishing and hoping a sitting President will be impeached and removed from office (it’s never going to happen) – use that energy to call foul when there’s a shell game going on with affordable housing waivers, for example. Oh sure, the numbers all add up, or do they? I was pleased to see a sizable push-back recently on yet another in a long line of force fed issues that really do impact everyone in this city. Nice work. It was as if national politics seemed a little small for a hot minute, while issues that mean something to Somerville today, ten years from now and long after we are gone are being talked about, questions are being asked and for once – instead of taking what we are being basically force-fed, residents are starting to ask why. Why this developer. Why this zoning. Why is this property still vacant ten years later. Why was that done. Why this mayor.


It’s a good time to get involved. It’s a good time to start breaking away from the same old same old – for the people who live here, who want to live here, who do business here. Who care about Somerville.


I might not live within the city limits today, but I am still a true blue Villen and always will be – nobody can take that away from me. So do what I did – stop letting people take away your identity just because they can. While you’re at it, gear up for the evolution of where real Somerville talk is headed. The Somerville News Weekly’s inaugural podcast/broadcast will be happening within the next week or so and go out on the airwaves/interwebs weekly. Brace yourselves. You too, donkey. #GMK #ABC GTBTP



2 thoughts on “Reality Bites by James A. Norton”

  1. Love it! Thank you for pointing out the obvious.

    Instead of banning plastic bags- how about we start banning the rapid fire development projects for luxury condos.

    Don’t people understand what a Bedroom Community does to our city?

    Gone are the neighborhoods where residents stood together on issues, raised families, supported one another. We are now a city divided– politically — by class, race and power.

    We need to bring it back somehow.

    I urge residents to attend meetings, as often as possible. Share your concerns about how these changes have impacted your life.

    I have been at the podium more than a few times and trust me, it wasn’t easy, but I understand that unless we get our voices out there, we cannot expect positive changes that will benefit us.

    I’m not talking about radical change- I’m talking about helping those who have been negatively impacted by gentrification in our city.

    We need programs to help elders stay in their homes and create real jobs so families can afford to remain.

    I will continue to attend meetings at city hall. I hope to see you there.

    1. Good lord is this chock full of complete misunderstandings of the facts. Really? Plastic bags, bike racks, speed limits? These are “threats” to community sanctity? Please. Weak sauce.

      So now a podcast. Great. LETS DEBATE! I’ll bring facts. You bring whatever the living hell these diatribes consist of.

      And just so we are clear folks, using terms like “bedroom community” to describe Somerville only fortifies the fact that you are not well informed. Mixed use develope is the OPPOSITE of the aspects that creates a “bedroom community”. A vast majority of Somerville residents have been active in the community and it’s evolution on a great many fronts–that isn’t a divided city, that’s democracy.

      Now does that mean cannot be refined? Of course not. Governance is messy. Always has been. And of course our leaders are not beyond reproach. That too is democracy. But at least come to the table with facts behind the position. Conjecture sure stirs the pot but it rarely wins the day.

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