In Gaines town politics, community would be better served with toned-down rhetoric

Posted 21 December 2018 at 7:47 am


I read Mr. Grabowski’s recent letter, “Gaines ZBA chairman questions town supervisor’s actions with steering committee, push to revise zoning.” It reads like the latest chapter of  “The Sour Grapes of Wrath,”  and shows the sad state of political affairs in Gaines.

The fact that I don’t have a horse in the political infighting in Gaines should make the back and forth less annoying, but since I have a mailbox in Gaines, I have been subjected to anonymous mailers filled with personal and overblown attacks, both before and after the last local election. Even if the complaints may have some merit, it’s pretty hard to discern right from wrong when you don’t have a source of information.

In Mr. Grabowski’s case, he is at least willing to put his name to his letter, unlike many of the faceless attacks against Joe Grube, but the tenor is so angry and disjointed (what does a Carlton water bill have to do with zoning?) that it’s impossible to draw a conclusion as to who is right or wrong. The only thing that is transparent is that Mr. Grabowski clearly doesn’t like Mr. Grube on a personal level.

Some of the criticism that Mr. Grabowski levels at Mr. Grube is simply unfair. There is no legal requirement to use Robert’s Rules of Order, and just because they are not followed doesn’t mean any “disorder” has been created, so why should he be held “accountable” for not following Roberts?

And as far as “hand picking” committee members – if I had been attacked the way Mr. Grube has been attacked I would insist on working with people I trust – that’s fairly common in politics at all levels.

I also think stating that Mr. Grube has “verbally assaulted” Mr. Grabowski is a bit much. Political discussions can get heated, and if it really did rise to the level of verbal “assault” then Mr. Grabowski should press charges. If not, he should tone down the rhetoric.

I do know this, the national political discourse is already ugly, but the main difference is that in Gaines we are all neighbors and have to live with each other. Mr. Grube and I come from polar opposite sides of the political spectrum, but I have tons of friends who don’t share my political philosophy and we have all learned to respect our differences.

Letters to the editor questioning a person’s integrity, and loaded with words spelled out in all capital letters, don’t solve issues, they add fuel to an already angry discourse. Everyone involved should be embarrassed for how petty it makes our town look to outsiders.

If the citizens of Gaines don’t like the job Mr. Grube is doing, then they can run someone against him when he is up for re-election. In the meantime, people need to start acting like neighbors and base disagreements on facts, not personal attacks or vendettas. It’s OK to have differences of opinion, it’s not OK to engage in character assassination. The right thing to do at this stage is to offer Mr. Grube an apology and figure out a way to work together to find some common ground and start acting more like neighbors and less like political foes.

Thom Jennings