|No Compromising with a Bully||Monday, December 3, 2007|
Mediation with SMOC would be a mistake for the town of Framingham and play right into the agencies hand. The certainty of financial pain and the uncertainty of the legal outcome are powerful incentives for the town to abandon its attempt to rein in the unchecked growth of an industry that strains town services but it should be resisted. SMOC’s accusation of a “town wide conspiracy to rid the town of its disabled and disadvantaged population”, makes for an ominous threat that plays well in the papers but should be considered absurd by a court that will consider the following facts.
In comparison to neighboring towns and in comparison to municipalities of equivalent size, Framingham is host to far more social service programs and facilities than any other community in the state. In the past three years Framingham has witnessed a 300% growth in agency owned property in town.%nbsp; Given the town’s size and urban character, it is not surprising that we play host to more than our neighbors, what’s alarming is the recent, rapid growth and the consequences of that growth. This unprecedented growth has prompted the agencies in town, like SMOC and Wayside, to move outside of the areas in town where they have traditionally operated and site their new programs in neighborhoods of single family homes. This new policy has sparked legitimate opposition in town from officials and individuals concerned with how Framingham will be affected by this change. Reason dictates that one community can host a finite number of programs before they change the character of the town. What that number is, is open for debate but if SMOC is successful in silencing those who oppose their expansion, they will be able to dictate that number to the town. And, that is the aim of threatening the town with a suit.
A court of law can tell the difference between a consensus of concerned citizens and a “conspiracy” and it can differentiate between opposing expansion and “ridding the town of it’s disadvantaged and disabled”. The town should be eager to have SMOC defend such ludicrous accusations before a judge. SMOC has a project seeking approval before the town, exchanging approvals for a dismissal will not be seen as mediation, it will be rightly seen as appeasement. In suing the town, SMOC’s Director, Jim Cuddy, has confirmed the thought that he cares little of the towns concerns and that he is willing to go to great lengths to silence those that stand in his agencies way.
Last year a columnist from the Middlesex News chided the opponents of social service expansion that “they woke up one morning thinking they we’re in Wellesley”.&nsbp; If we don’t make a stand now, we might wake up one morning and find we’re in Brockton.
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