To the Editor:
I listened intently to the Town Council meeting on the evening of July 20th and heard more of the same old same old. Several good initiatives moved forward that will be on the November ballot, whose purpose is to protect the will of the people, were met by opposition by Town Council members Rick Lema and Jill Lawler, who took the opportunity to once again distort the facts and vowed to campaign against them. The initiatives, centered on activities around the continuing library debate, are a direct result of their attempt to sabotage and sell the Town-owned IGA/Belmont building in secrecy last year. See items 6 through 9 at: https://www.narragansettri.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3026
Then came the scare tactics by Councilman Lema, that property taxes will go through the roof for a library on the IGA/Belmont site, even when confronted with actual estimates presented by Councilman Murray, who knows the numbers better than anyone by now, that prove otherwise, and in fact are minimal. Mr. Lema and Ms. Lawler ignored any property tax implications put forth by Mr. Murray, other than the same old comeback, it will cost too much, without providing any evidence of their own.
Then Mr. Lema fell back on his same old disingenuous talking point, “I want a state of the art library!” for which he has yet to present the RFP he promised more than a year and a half ago. If we had a dollar for every time Mr. Lema stated he wanted to build a state of the art library, we could have built one by now for free on this empty promise. This was followed by yet another distraction and stall tactic, the possibility of renovating the current library, which had been addressed in the past as not feasible. No one talked about the fact that it would require shutting down the library for an extended period of time, further eroding the will of the people. In light of the cruel and unusual budget cuts to the library this year, this gesture is just another red herring.
There was more of the same by the same old, loyal, anti-library crowd who peddled misinformation about driving Pier Liquor out of business, which is not true. In my opinion, no one would be talking about Pier Liquor if not for the fact that they were lured into a sweetheart deal to buy the current liquor store space plus an additional amount of square footage that would have impacted the space required for a new library. Why else would a business jump at the opportunity to buy highly desirable commercial real estate space without any real estate appraisal?
In the end, it dawned on me that it’s a lot easier to campaign on what you are against, rather than what you are for. The latter takes more creativity and initiative. It’s also a lot easier to scare people than to inspire them. The latter takes more heart and more community. In my opinion, and it’s just an opinion, a vote for Lema and Lawler is a vote for the past, like a pair of old worn out shoes.
Steven Belaus is a candidate in the Narragansett Town Council race.