More from my memo to Bridgewater Dems (or “Part II”):

[Just an aside, folks: you would have a bigger chance getting the Council candidates to discuss something like, I dunno, their favorite Blue movie star in college, than this dry local government charter stuff . . . ]

Township Council basis of representation

Ward-and-at-large

I do not understand why this has not been part of every Democrat Council campaign since the Milltown Road developments went in. Southern Bridgewater has an estimated 50% of the township�s population. This means, at minimum, that neighborhoods south of Route 22 should have one permanent Council seat, and significant influence over at least one other Council seat, and likely two.

– How it makes sense for people north of the highway to lord it over half of the township south of highway is hard for me to understand. Maybe someone can explain it to me. What great political magic arises from living in the same style, attached-garage four bedroom colonial?

– Yet instead of fighting for the votes of all those little dispossessed neighborhoods off a beaten path — throughout Bradley Gardens, Milltown Road, around the Somerville Circle, all up route 202-206 (north of 22), in Green Knoll, and in Finderne, the Democrat campaigns ALWAYS have to look like they are bidding for the SAME votes in the northwest corner of the township and Martinsville. (The votes the Republicans always get.) �Maybe, just maybe if we present ourselves just the right way, they will decide to vote for us and not the G.O.P.!�

– Does anyone who associates with today�s Democrats here actually believe that strategy will ever work?

Let the local Republicans explain WHY the neighborhoods south of Route 22 do not deserve a permanent Council seat. You will probably hear, �Well, Patti lives South of 22!� Except, guess what? Patti is supposed to be an at-large official! So now we would be getting told, that the mayor has a bias for her own neighborhood! (No wonder the soccer fields were going to end up where they did . . . )

You see, certain areas of the town are being dealt a perpetual injustice, written right into the Bridgewater charter. Put that in people�s minds and let them think about it.

Council made up of all at-large should be portrayed as a bad joke. It IS some kind of bad joke. And I see what the result is, from my contact with the local community activist groups.

– The decisions are made years ahead of time, with little notice to those affected.

– The neighborhoods organize late, a few leaders appear, and they get this �rush� from heading up a �movement�.

– Two of the five at-large Council people befriend the group — it�s never three, since that would make a majority and they could take action! It�s always two.

– There are these big appearances at Council or the Planning Board. And the board sits there and intently listens, with great concern, with the bit lower lip and all that.

– Inevitably there is some reason that they can�t do what the organized neighborhood wants. There is demoralization, and all the effort made in organizing is shot.

Maybe the leader of the group is made a committee person, or, in Ed Irving�s case, a Councilman. Brought into the fold where they are more easily controlled.

That was the local G.O.P�s original intent—make the effort feel like it is/was useless. People get pissed off when they have to keep showing up at meetings. They say their position once, and then they have to go back and say it again. They are arguing to an all-at-large Council that can just pick up the votes in somebody else�s neighborhood.

Can anyone counter, that our Council does NOT respond to neighborhood issues that way??