Development and politics

Dear Editor:
Much new development in Hoboken was justified by the lie that increased ratables would stabilize taxes. We would get all kinds of wonderful benefits like a community pool, etc. There were sham public meetings about a community development plan. Developers got variances, rezoning and tax breaks worth multiple millions of dollars. Concerns about increased traffic, escalating costs for an expanding workforce, infrastructural upgrades and so on were ignored. Historic buildings were torn down to make way for squat dark cubes.
Community activists forced some concessions but not enough to meet the needs of an increasing population. Much of the promised open space turned out to be the rooftops of buildings and other scams that would be funny if this were a sitcom, but not when your kid is looking for a place to play ball.
I have no problem with new residents. I was one about 25 years ago. At that time local terrorists were on a binge of ethnic cleansing. Around 50 people were killed and thousands made homeless by arson. None of the perpetrators were caught, so these murders are still amongst us.
The style of corruption has changed. Our local pols pay themselves a lot better. Large sums are channeled through the legal bribery of campaign contributions. And who knows what else. The benefits of new construction go to developers and the politicians they own, not to the residents.
Despite this “reform” candidates have made little progress because they fail to address the legitimate needs that corrupt politicians exploit. The greater good of the community is an abstraction that will always take second place to losing your home, your job and feeding your family.
If you’re being forced out of town, why should you care about long term viability? Then again, what’s the long term commitment of someone who plans on moving to the suburbs when their kids turn five?
There are some who say that anyone who hasn’t got the dough should just shove aside. But there are real, if less easily quantifiable values that can’t be determined by supply and demand. If you followed “free market” ideology to its logical conclusion, we’d be tearing down churches to build sky scrapers.
Are my ideas as muddled as the people who run our banking system? Whatever the case, there are a lot of people in my situation. Politicians take note.

Greg Ribot