Social and Political Commentary

Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and our Mount Hood golfers

... Golfers have heard messages like theirs before...the hard way.

by Joe Sullivan

One of The Donald’s first claims to the voters in his quest to be the President of the United States was
that he would build a huge wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it. For all of the
counter claims that the proposal was silly and unworkable they didn’t detract from the appeal of the message
to a large group of people who, because of it, would become Donald’s supporters.

For sure Donald’s claim wasn’t made to the people of Mexico. He didn’t, either, tell them how they would pay
for it. Maybe he will let them pay for it over the next 25 years. That’s what our Mayor and Board of Aldermen
did when they passed the “Special Legislation” that would allow the city to take the “excess money” from the
annual operation of the Mount Hood golf course to fund a “state-of-the-art” (our Mayor’s words) sports complex.

Plan depended on eliminating track and field sports from new High School field.

Whatever you think of the way our elected representatives got the money it would be hard to imagine that the
state-of-the-art sport complex would depend on discontinuing the Middle School and High School Track and Field
programs from participating in this new plan for the High School field. An acceptable accommodation, perhaps,
if the track-team kids would get the same benefits in another location. Unfortunately, they would not, instead
they would have to share whatever they got with Malden since the only place the city could find for them was
Pine Banks Park.


With no locker room runners must roll up sweat suits and stack them together for safekeeping

Everything there must be shared by Malden and Melrose no matter who pays for it. In addition, there would
be considerably less to share. There are no dressing rooms, showers or viewing stands for them at Pine Banks.
The Melrose runners would be lucky if the public restrooms weren’t locked like they were during the track meet
with Wilmington last year. Port-a- pottys had been set up instead. This is what happened, according to a
Melrose grandparent, who had come to watch a grandchild participate in the track meet
.

.With no viewing stands spectators must find a place on a stone wall for seating,

A plan that discriminates.

If this Pine Banks arrangement for the track teams isn’t a clear-cut case of
discrimination it’s hard to mention what would be. The Board of Aldermen voted to implement a clearly outlined
plan, submitted by the mayor, that would split the school sports programs into two groups. One group got
a great, new field the other, Pine Banks.   

Unfortunately, the creation of the new sports-complex plan depended on this monumental screwup. It is typical
of the city’s big-time plans that depend on using Mount Hood Golf Course as the focus of the plan. The last one
was the big-dig dumping fiasco in which revenue from dumping land fill from The Big Dig on Mount Hood. Money
from this was supposed finance the construction of a new soccer field at Mount Hood.The problem with this goofy
deal began to emerge when the realization came that the city had committed to accept an amount of landfill that
Mount Hood did not have the space to accommodate. To fulfill the contract, the landfill was dumped on the 12th
fairway, ruining it for the golf play that the city was depending on to pay off the $1 million-dollar bond for
the course improvements that had significantly increased course revenue.

The fairway wasn’t the only big-dig damage. The environmental damage to the wetlands, vernal pools, and
other parkland damage was so bad that the environmental agency demanded that the city repair them. The cost
would be almost $2 million that the city did not have.

Golfers’ green fees increased to bail out the city
.
The Massachusetts General Law that created Mount Hood said that money raised at Mount Hood must be spent there.
The only revenue producers at Mount Hood were the golfers and their green fees were increased to cover the costs
of a bond that required a payment of $100,000 every year. The Mount Hood golfers were to bail out the city.
Bond payments don’t last forever. The time was reduced when Mike Festa and Richard Tisea secured a $500,000 grant
from the state that would go to the city to help with the payments. The previously mentioned $100,000 bailout
payments were to be completed this year.

To think that the city government will stop taking the $100,000 from the golfers is as naďve as to expect that
the city will tell them, or anybody else, what will be done with this money that the golfers will continue to
pay as part of their green fees. Does this begin to start like Bernie Sanders’ campaign yet? Bernie says our
economic system is rigged, 1% of the population has over 90% of the country’s wealth the rest of us get beans.
Bernie, the operation of the Mount Hood Golf course is rigged. The “Special Legislation” that was passed was not
a way for the city to take money that is left over from the annual operation of the golf course. It is instead a premise
that says the less you spend of the golfers’ money on the golf course
the more you’ll have left over to pay for something that doesn’t have anything to do with the golf course at all.
Bernie also rails about the “Bank Bailout “that took place in 2007-2008 when our whole financial system was on
the verge of breaking down. This bailout money has been paid back by the banks.

City will keep taking bail out money from golfers to pay for some other secret project.  

The bailout money that the city took from the golfers? Not only has it not been paid back but the city keeps
taking it to pay for something else. City will keep taking bail out money to use for yet another secret project
And what are it that the city’s plans that will be paid for with which used to be the bail out money? First, to
make sure the golfers keep paying the $100,000 every year even though need for the bailout doesn’t exist any more.
Doing so will add it to the “excess revenue” of the annual golf course operation.

What the money will be spent on will be kept secret until the morning the mayor announces them and the Board of Aldermen votes to approve them on the same night. At least that’s what happened when the ‘sports complex” and “special legislation” were approved. Doing it this way eliminated any risk of the High School runners’ parents and the Mount Hood golfers knowing what was planned.

They were being denied knowledge of a plan that would directly affect them.Allowing people to know about proposals which will directly affect them is not the way our city government does things. It is far more likely not only to keep these proposals secret, but to take extraordinary steps that involve misrepresentation, manipulating the approval process, and submitting and voting on fake plans to keep them that way.If you doubt this you only have to take a look at the Pine Banks running track to see what this
process produces.

Before we leave Donald Trump it would be appropriate to recognize what many feel and say is the reason for his totally unexpected popularity as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. The reason cited, very frequently, is that people are mad. They are, the contention claims, fed up with the way our government works. The election of Mister Trump, pundits, say would be the end of the Republican party. But all of Trump’s supporters may not be Republicans. His message, the claim goes, has been appealing to many Democrats, too.

Some day we will be fed up, too.

It shouldn’t be totally unexpected that someday Melrose voters, too, will get very angry about the way our city works. The ones who realize they are being discriminated against so that some other group can benefit are sure to feel angry frustration. You can bet that a lot of them will playing golf at Mount Hood.


Joe Sullivan and all of the members of his family have played golf frequently at Mount Hood.


April 1, 2016   


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