Monday, November 1, 2010

Secessionist Candidate's Lament: A Bridge Too Far?

Ripton resident and secessionist blowhard, Robert Wagner, took a stand Saturday against local solutions to local problems in Middlebury.

As a would be Vermont senate representative for Addison County, recruited by Second Vermont Republic's Thomas Naylor, it would seem, even for a flake like Wagner, to be an odd position to take.

As reported on WCAX:
"Traffic has always been an issue in downtown Middlebury. Now a new 16-million dollar bridge spanning the width of Otter Creek gives drivers a few more options...

It took the joint effort of Middlebury College and the town to (resolve the traffic issue)...

"The money came from the community. The hard work came from the community. The need for a second bridge came from the community. And the community got it done."

"Easing traffic through Middlebury's downtown is one goal of this project. The plan started with the addition of this rotary a couple of months ago and will culminate with the bridge's grand opening tomorrow."

"I think this is going to take a great deal of traffic away from downtown and make Middlebury the quaint little town little village it really wants to be."
WPTZ covered the opening of the bridge on Saturday. It sounded like any community success story and played like a puff piece for that sort of thing, that is, right up to the very end where they interviewed the Tin Foil Hat, er, independent candidate for the state Senate, Robert Wagner of Ripton, Vermont:

"It doesn't cause any net change in the traffic flows," said Robert Wagner. "It doesn't really benefit anybody outside of a few tourists. And I'm against retooling the basic infrastructure of the sake of cars."
All in all, something of a principled position except for the fact that just around a month ago Wagner said something quite different about traffic concerns when he was talking about his town just 8 miles away.

You see, the state of Vermont's Agency of Transportation is to replace an aging state highway bridge on Rte. 125 in the small village of Ripton, VT, and Wagner doesn't like that one bit. It seems that he'd have to take one of two available detours around the project that his community will benefit from, although its share of the cost is the same as to you and me - it'll be funded by stimilus money. No, Wagner wants to "retool" the project at significant additional cost to his neighbors and fellow Vermonters, all for the sake of his convenience. He's under the impression that there's some kind of transportation repository of temporary bridges to draw from. Sorry to have to be the one to disabuse Wagner of that myth but they're leased, as well as entangled with federal monies.

Although there is no record of a complaint from public safety agencies, Wagner's invoked the specter of peril to the public safety. Such agencies are more than capable of, as well as accustomed to, dealing with temporary detours while maintaining their capacity to provide needed services.

But no, he's set up a petition that no one's really interested in and made the closure a kind of issue in his community. Nothing like a little fear mongering to get out the vote.

Perhaps the reason for his ire about the new Middlebury Bridge can best be discerned in the Free Vermont listserv where he's written about his neighbors and people at Middlebury College:
"I'm now hometeading in Ripton, building topsoil in a beautiful spot that keeps me broke with $5,800/year property taxes but no usable local services or public transport --- everyone just drives. A bedroom community where somehow the contradiction between affluenza and liberal-left environmentalism has been resolved into the Church of Global Warming. There is no pollution but CO2, thou savest the planet by buying new hybrid SUVs and lots of green products. Bill McKibben lives here, tried to talk to him but he wouldn't give me the time of day." (Oct. 2009, pg. 17)

"This is one of the affluent lawyers in my son('s)... school. We're already known as the only parents in the school who aren't affluent, and are treated accordingly..." (July 2010, pg. 1)
Something tells me that Wagner's "principles," vis a vis the new Middlebury bridge, are a bit more driven by his self-esteem issues and sour grapes than anything else.

Perhaps Middlebury Selectboard member (and a damned Middlebury College professor to boot, eh Robert?!) Vicor Nuova said it best in his Op-Ed in the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times-Argus of October 31 (no link, paywall),
"Nor would I want to ally myself with those ill wishers of state and federal governments and cite our achievement as proof that we can get along without them. I still like Middlebury being in Vermont and Vermont being one of the United States."
There's little surprise in the irony that unlike Middlebury's bridge, Wagner's ill thought out traffic solution for "the sake of cars" can't occur without help from the state and the Feds, with virtually no local financial input.

Update: 5:04 PM A few hours after publication of this post, Robert Wagner posted at the secessionist propaganda website that he intends, whether elected to the General Assembly or not, "to write and introduce legislation." Foil wrapped, no doubt.

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For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.

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