Technocrat vs. The Dark Sider

Now usually, putting a title like that on a post – nothing needs more to be said.   

Everyone in their heart likes to see a ‘perfect’ leader – one cunning and wise filled with intuition and a clear vision.  A leader with an ethical and moral compass to do what is right.  And most important, having the wellbeing of the citizens and city at heart.    Even if you disagree with someone like that on any one particular issue, you can basically ‘trust them’ in their position.


But the fact is, contrary to campaign rhetoric, we are not electing heavenly beings but human beings.


You’ve got to look at the track record of a mayoral candidate, look at what they believe in as a vision and then look at what they promise to get done.


As it stands now, even if Councilor Earls succeeds in removing the latter section of my post’s title, we’re not going to get a perfect mayor.


So assuming that we’re stuck with these two choices, we need to examine the ramifications if one of these candidates gets in.


No matter who gets in, we’ve got rough sailing ahead…and the storm clouds will continually keep gathering.


The Technocrat.      This is a leader who wants to create a government controlled by ‘experts’ whether in administration, education, engineering, urban planning, etc.      Intrinsic values such as social interaction, community and family concerns and the grubby work of politicking,  are all sacrificed for a desire for a professional framework of pragmatism.     The technocrat has a vision but it excludes backdoor deals, patronage (unless you’re a technocrat too), and yes, excludes the messy business of democracy in which you have to be in the same room with hair-brained, self-serving and sometimes just plain ignorant people.      

The first thing I noticed about Mayor Holaday’s political brochures was the absence of ‘political promises’ and a heavy stress on her portfolio, the track record for the last four years and an impressive stack of ‘accomplishments’.        But as for what her vision will be for the next four years?    Well, that is strangely missing.      Depending on who is looking at her website, one senses that many in the city may not necessarily like the details of what she is planning for the future.

The Dark Sider.     Dark Siders used to run Newburyport.      As more and more newcomers have begun to move in and so many of the old guard have moved on or passed away; their power has clearly waned.       Not to repeat myself, here under the glossary on

Dark-Sider.      The Dark Side believe that Newburyport’s future lies in industry and not in eco- and heritage tourism.   Therefore, they see no value in aesthetics.     They do not understand equity and care nothing for raising property values – to them it’s only an excuse to raise taxes.      Bringing in buildings that do not fit Newburyport is okay with them – we must build, build, build.   To them, industry and the act of construction means we must build to raise more tax revenue.    To them, open space is wasted space and quality of life is but one thing to them…having a job.     They do not value the old buildings and would love to sweep them away for new – a Dark Sider feels a deep shame that was generated by years of having an inability to replace old houses with the latest “modern” building of the moment.     To live in an old house means you are poor and socially inadequate.    New means you can afford the best materials and the latest fashion.    This explains why Dark Siders see no value in local historic districts or understand the value of preserving past architecture.

Therefore, the construction industry, manufacturing. retail, service industry, and building up your own ‘castle’ should be the main thrust.    Human interaction is very important and long-standing connections as in the business community, historic families and preferred ‘insiders’ have access and ‘outsiders’ are excluded.    ANY obstructions that prevent the well-being of these groups are to be eliminated or minimalized and that includes city planning.     It also includes installation of well-connected ‘insiders’ in places of authority.    


The majority of the city residents are here to enjoy the high quality of life present in Newburyport.     Normally, the dark side have little effect on influencing people at the polls; but candidate Dick Sullivan figures he can overcome that by stressing three perceived weaknesses: the ‘betrayal’ on the Waterfront issue, historic preservation & the LHD issue and the lack of community sensitivity coming from the present administration.     


In future posts, I’ll explore the ramifications if either gets in.

-P. Preservationist

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