Letter to the Editor: Park Board should replace Jones as president after attack during Wednesday meeting
“I’m just here trying to educate people.”
This is a line I have heard, stated with conviction by Jarid Jones, on several occasions with regards to the riverfront development project.
He believes he has a wealth of knowledge to share about the inner workings of the various governing entities in Quincy with regards to funding, taxation, TIF and all things riverfront. The problem, from my perspective, is that he doesn’t.
Jones has demonstrated not only is he befuddled on many of the matters pertaining to city governance, but when pressed, he will resort to personal, vitriolic attacks on anyone who questions the narrative he seeks to advance.
This was apparent at the Oct. 11 Park Board meeting.
Jones used his position as president of the board to attack every Quincyan who disagrees with the riverfront committee’s demands for over $1 million dollars of mostly taxpayer’s monies to fund their vision.
I sat in attendance at the Oct. 11 meeting with my daughter, who I had brought along as a lesson in the workings of government. Jones verbally attacked me and others who had gathered to speak against the proposed expenditures. Looking directly at myself, Adam Booth, Brittany Boll and our daughter, he said, “The people who don’t support the riverfront don’t give a s**t about the community.”
Our jaws dropped. This was the president of the Park Board using his position and freedom to speak at will to launch a divisive and unbelievably small-minded attack on what I consider to be the majority of Quincyans.
Discourse is the cornerstone of a strong democracy. More and more, it seems that the same scenario plays out in Quincy. A vocal, popular minority comes together to develop an area of town — not with their own dollars but by asking for the hard-earned tax dollars of their fellow Quincyans. A state grant usually is in the mix. The ask is predicated on the idea that, unless we act now, the grant will be lost. Some people speak out against the expenditure, and they are met with the same tired playbook of responses:
- You are ignorant of the workings of government. The money allotted for infrastructure is separate from that allotted for (insert thing they are asking for).
- If you don’t volunteer your time, you shouldn’t have a voice.
- If you don’t back this project, then you don’t want Quincy to succeed.
- If we don’t take this state money, someone else will.
Most Quincyans can agree development is a good thing. But in recent years, these development projects are arriving in scores, hands out for heaping scoops of public funds and responding to anyone who speaks out against their asks with hatred, social exclusion and verbal attacks.
It is a very effective strategy.
No one in a town of 40,000 people wants to be excluded from social functions, made to feel unwelcome at local watering hole or to be trashed online (or at Park Board meetings). To stand against the vocal minorities takes grit and a willingness to weather the storm that comes with it.
I, for one, am tired of it.
Anyone who asks for a bigger share of the community resources should expect for some to say no. This doesn’t mean they hate Quincy. Quite the opposite. The fact they are putting themselves in such an uncomfortable, and possibly socially condemnable, situation means they love it very much.
I remember looking at the riverfront committee people as they walked in that night at the Park Board, realizing I knew them all and liked them all. Some I had grown up with, spending innumerable hours with them and their families. Some I had shared beers and countless laughs with at local bars. Some I had taught with in the public school system. Some I just respected as storied and well-tempered citizens who were always doing what they thought to be the right thing.
My feelings about these people have not changed because they have a vision for Quincy that I don’t share. I know in their hearts they believe it to be right, and so they have my respect. I simply ask for the same.
While my feelings of those gathered to speak on behalf of the riverfront project have not changed, my opinion of Jones is irreparably damaged.
Attacking my love for this place I have lived in and plan to die in is an unforgivable sin. Attacking my friends, my family and my daughter is unacceptable and reprehensible.
While all the other members of the Park Board gathered to conduct the evening’s meeting could not have been more respectable and gracious, they would be well served to replace Jones in his capacity as president until he develops the wisdom and self-control that such a prestigious position demands — and honestly only comes with age.
Further, my words to the Riverfront Committee are the same. I respect you. I know your hearts are in the right place. But we disagree.
Having Jones act as a mouthpiece for the organization is a mistake that will only work against you in the long run.
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