Greetings from the warm and breezy World of Welly, where I am once again enjoying the colourful antics of the local population. Yesterday was the municipal election, and what a doozie it was. You think the republican primaries are a slag-fest? Those mild-mannered conservative good fellahs can’t hold a candle to the creators of the shit storm that has so completely consumed Wellington that if you asked anyone around here what they thought of the presidential election these past weeks, the most likely response would have been: “what presidential election?”
Here is a photo of what Wellington’s streets have looked like over the past few weeks.
And here are a few samples of what’s been stuffed into residents’ mailboxes:
I don’t think there are enough words listed in the thesaurus entry for ‘vicious’ to cover the outrageous campaigning that has been going on in this place. As it turns out, Jeremy did back the right horse, and Bob Margolis swept into the mayor’s seat with 58% of the vote, 16 points ahead of Mr. Bowen. I don’t want to bore you with details, so if you are one of the people who cares about this election, you can read all about it here. I was at the Player’s Club for dinner with my usual suspects last night so that we could be in the thick of at least one campaign’s victory or loss. The mood was more than a wee bit jovial, since it was the Margolis team celebrating there.
It would be bordering on gross understatement to say there has been a mood of hysteria about this election, hysteria whose roots can be found beneath the new Global Dressage Festival and impending Equestrian Village. I was touched to find myself on Mark Bellissimo’s email list (okay, I wasn’t touched – I was amused) when a message appeared in my inbox with the subject line ‘Please vote in Support of Darrell Bowen,Al Paglia, and Shauna Hostetler on Tuesday March 13th’. The message contained the following text:
“Tomorrow is election day in Wellington.
Despite difficult times, our community has accomplished a great deal over the last 4 years.
With the right vision and leadership, I am confident the next four years can be an amazing time for Wellington.
This is a very important election. Every vote is critical so please join us in supporting the following candidates who are committed to building a stronger community and creating new jobs.
Now do you believe me about the hysteria? Surely it is nothing short of that which compels a local business man to send out a message that asks people to vote a certain way. I think there might even be a law against it…
As I anticipated, my post of a few weeks ago entitled War of the Worlds was not loved by all my friends. When I got down here this week I was set straight on a couple of things that had escaped my notice when I wrote that post. The first is that beneath the material issues of the proposed commercial development, there seems to be a swirling cesspool of alphagetti filled with words like ‘corruption’, ‘patronage’, and ‘palm-greasing’. Many of the opponents would have been right on board if there had been open consultation with the community and some due process on the part of Town Council. As was pointed out to me, residents sometimes wait a year for approval for applications to build covered rings in their back yards, and yet the enormous (Ginormous, really) covered ring at the GDF had already been BUILT within a few months of the application.
Another bit of clarification on the choice of location for the proposed hotel and retail space. When I talked to Michael Stone about the choice of locations, I mistakenly thought the alternate piece of land I asked him about was a couple hundred metres down the street from the dressage venue. Michael did not bother disabusing me of that notion when we discussed it. In fact, the large, commercially zoned lot WEP has for sale is directly across the street from the new dressage show. Here are the photos to prove it. I pulled over on the perennially busy South Shore just north of Pierson Road and snapped two pictures – one out of the driver’s window and the other out of the passenger side.
Obviously, when emotion outruns reason the truth goes from being solid like an ice cube to fluid like the water it becomes when it melts. But it still beggars my belief that a bunch of intelligent, accomplished individuals can so easily be sucked into pre-pubescent playground warfare. Now that the election is over, will things go back to normal, whatever Welly World’s version of ‘normal’ is? Of course not. This fight may outlive some of its warriors.
Tonight I will be guest judging ‘Dressage Under the Stars‘, a volunteer gig I enjoyed doing last year, though the venue has changed – yet another after-shock of the GDF/Equestrian Village fracas. As soon as I recover from that little bit of fun I will tell you all about the USEF ‘state of the show jumping nation’ meeting I attended yesterday. Words were not minced, I can assure you.