Summit or Council?

October 9, 2022

TAPinto Summit

By Nick Giorgi

I am proudly born, raised, and live in Summit with my wife and three young children. I’m third generation. This is not my adopted or transient residence, for which I claim to speak on behalf of its inherent character. I know Summit because I’m a product of it. I’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears in the school system and onto Tatlock Field. It’s with incredulity that I’ve watched the devolvement of Summit’s Common Council and the processes by which they claim to represent our town.  

Like many others within our community, I was disinterested in local politics prior to the pandemic. I had assumed that our good neighbors and colleagues were above the troubling machinations of national discourse. But my interest was piqued with the debate regarding a proposed ban on gas powered leaf blowers. I didn’t have a dog in the fight but was alarmed by the alacrity that our Council had in dismissing the well-meaning constituents that disagreed with them. I watched as a council member laughed as a Summiteer offered questions to the body. I asked rhetorically, our officials realize that these folks vote, don’t they? 

The recent dialogue regarding Broad Street West has illuminated these concerns to a more egregious degree. When I first learned of development in the proposed region I was enthusiastic, and still am. I assumed it would involve beautiful architecture, a meaningful boon to the city financial coffers, and another outlet for downtown entertainment. To me that region represents an impermeable desert that could be so much more for the community. I then began to learn more about the proposals and became alarmed because it doesn’t cure the ills and inexplicably appears to add to the burden. But what’s been more alarming has been the brazen willingness for Council to steamroll public transparency and opposition.

Common Council meetings have turned into “must watch” entertainment. Tune in to watch hundreds of very well-reasoned and educated objections to an otherwise dispassionate slate of stone faced officials.

One particular meeting stood out in highlighting these transgressions. On June 21st the Common Council held a meeting at the Community Rec Center. After four hours and forty-two minutes of near-uniform dissension from the audience, Councilman Danny O’Sullivan read from a written script his introduction of a resolution (ID#9733) to advance a proposed amendment to the Broad Street West Redevelopment Plan to the Planning Board. All council members agreed, with the exception of Councilwoman Lisa Allen. What was striking was that it was revealed that Council did not need to advance an amendment to the plan in order for the Planning Board to opine, as conveyed by their counsel. The current council members were seemingly unaware of this. Councilwoman Allen, to her credit, applied this new information to her decision whereas other members curiously stuck to script. 

Within 72 hours the dissenting council members changed course and the proposal was not advanced. Apparently Bayesian theory work on a lag in some circles. This begs the question for Councilman O’Sullivan and others; were you uninformed or swayed by public sentiment? How are we to trust your judgment when you flip-flop from advancing a proposal to postponing it in such a slight timeframe? Neither is a good look. To pile up the alarms, another council member sold their residence without relinquishing their seat on the council until it was politically advantageous. 

Since adolescence a goal of mine was to prosper in Summit, raise my family in Summit, and inspire them to aspire to raise their families in Summit. I’m onboard with change and I embrace it, but I believe it should be born out of the collective willpower and in the collective good of the people it affects. Some folks claim that there is a silent majority unwilling to face the vitriol of a louder minority. To that I say, welcome to democracy. The truth should ultimately prevail at the ballot. I’ve been supportive across the aisle to various candidates but believe that the current slate in power requires a check to help install the balance that this public deserves from their elected officials. 

Delia Hamlet has stepped up for Summit and our country when it was needed, when it was thankless, and when it was difficult. Given what I’ve seen from her opponent in contrast to her dedication to thankless efforts in opposition, where do I sign?

Nick Giorgi, Summit