More Bridgewater Mayor: O’Neill-Flannery

This is cross posted from the Courier News bulletin board:

jersey red wrote:

“Good one Hoofin! If that’s not the funniest thing I’ve read it’s in the top two.”

Wow! Top two. You must not do a lot of reading.

then wrote:

“Most of us were dancing in the street when Dowden’s unlimited expansion mindset was finally gone.”

As I recall, most of the major projects that have so many people upset were due to major pushes by the local Republican Party, well before it became fashionable to be “anti-development”.

When Jim Dowden first ran in 1984, he was actually the anti-mall (that is to say, anti development) candidate. The Republican Council of those days voted 3-2 to approve the mall, on a timetable expansion out to this century. Then they dared Dowden to veto it, and be blamed for all the litigation that would follow.

One soon-to-be Councilman Albano was at the Hahn negotiation that night, flailing his arms about how he had to drive to Plainfield or Edison to shop.

So you may not realize your error, if you just parrot what the GOP cobbled together for selling points around 1999-2000.

Then jerseyred said:

“Dowden not only oversaw but drove the unbridled growth in town which has now resulted in constant trips to the trough for more money.”

No, I think what actually happened is that the pre-99/2000 GOP had a policy of building up Bridgewater. This policy began in the mid 1960’s and continued into the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s.

For Dowden to be relevant and win elections, he ran on the excuse that somehow he had CONTROL of THE TAX BASE, and also the TAX RATE (which he didn’t)—Council determines both of those. He took credit for the early days of the ratables chase, when the Republican Council’s drive to build on every square inch was artificially lowering municipal taxes for a few years.

It helped that the Republicans always ran weak opponents in the earlier Dowden years. (D’Ascensio 1987, Fetzer 1991, I even forget the name of who in 1995). So as long as everything was smooth-running on the administration side, which it always was, Dowden won.

If Dowden had been an obstructionist to the Republican Council’s eternal expansion plans, he would have been eliminated long before he retired.

jerseyred says:

“And I also remember Dowden proudly taking credit for Bridgewater’s ‘development’ each time he scammed the citizens of Bridgewater to vote for him. ”

I remember him taking credit for the low tax rate and for administering or managing Bridgewater’s growth—-which (at least the managing part) Mrs. Flannery also parrots. In the context of the 1980’s or 1990’s voter, we all understood that to mean that Dowden was controlling (seeking to reduce) all the expansion that men like Robert Albano and other Republican notables were trying to shove into our town.

And remember: the mayor of the township simply appoints most of the Planning Board, which produces a plan of development. But the Township Council is the only entity that can authorize specific zoning that allows anything to be built. If the Township Council objected to the Master Plan proposals during the 1980’s or 1990’s, they simply needed to produce an alternative.

The Republicans always had a 5-0 or 4-1 veto proof majority over whatever Mayor Dowden proposed. So they could have always had their way.

The revisionists will be out there again in 2007. We will be here to answer them.