Friday, September 7, 2007

And Coming in at Number 23 ...

This year Money Magazine’s list of 100 Best Places to Live for small towns included Hillsborough at number 23.

It’s fun to be included in this group, to look through the winning towns’ descriptions, and to see what the magazine has to say about Hillsborough and compare us to the other 99 choices.

Notice that I have used the word “fun.” It’s important to understand that these choices are not objective scientific studies designed by mathematicians and sociologists at recognized universities or research companies.

These largely subjective choices are made by the editors and writers of the magazine’s staff. The 100 change from year to year and are relatively evenly scattered in locations across the United States.

The main reason for the existence of this apparently popular annual feature article is to sell copies of Money Magazine by entertaining its readers with some general information while garnering free advertising for itself. [What a concept!]

Hillsborough puts a moving banner across its website with the Money Magazine name, the magazine's name and logo appear in our online e-news, and a wooden plaque publicizing the list hangs in front of the mayor during the televised meetings. More magazines are sold in the area, its name gets repeated over and over, and reprints are ordered. The same thing is happening in the other 99 towns.

Most of the adults who read the article are realists [or cynics] and understand what is being offered, but there some residents who are acting as though this is a serious scholarly study and are attempting to use the article politically.

With Hillsborough voting on a possible change of government in November, there are those opposing the change who are actually making the argument [ad nauseum] that our citizens should vote to keep our current form of government based on Hillsborough’s rating in Money Magazine. I can’t judge if they are serious or just funnin’ us. It’s scary and pathetic if they’re serious, so I’ll try to believe it’s all in fun.

I believe. I believe. I believe…

In 2005 the list’s top 25 contained Moorestown, Chatham, and Princeton and in 2006 it contained Parsippany-Troy Hills. None of them are on this year. So just have fun with this, let our township officials do some light-hearted boasting, and enjoy the 15 minutes of fame.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Wards...just June, Wally, and the Beav

Unfortunately no matter which way Hillsborough’s change-of-government vote goes in November, wards will not be part of the result.

I say “unfortunately” because I was a little disappointed when Hillsborough’s residents voted two years ago against a change that, among other things, would have created ward representatives on the township committee.

Why did I support wards?

First, Hillsborough is physically large – 54 square miles – with several very different regions with different needs. Each area would have had its own representative on the township committee. The problems of the Sourland Mountain region can be very different from those of the PUD area.

Second, wards would have given residents who were willing to try government service a manageable way to dip their toes into the political pool. They only would have needed a few hundred signatures to run and could have started off slowly, gaining knowledge and confidence while serving the people of their own district.

Third, the current members of our committee seem to be residentially clustered in one area of the township giving the perception that other areas are underrepresented.

Those honest people who supported the continuation of the township committee form without wards because they sincerely thought it was best for Hillsborough had to have been disappointed that their victory was tainted by a “win” based on an anonymous groups use of an organized misinformation campaign to convince uninformed voters to vote against wards. They would have felt more vindicated if voters who clearly understood both choices voted to continue the current form. Their feeling of accomplishment had to have been tempered by the knowledge that it was not an entirely honestly won fight.

For those of us who liked the ward concept, it would have been easier to accept the “no” vote if the decision had been made by educated voters after careful deliberation based on their knowledge of the true merits and weaknesses of the two forms of government.

But, that is now a moot point. The attack on wards was so devious and thorough that the water in that well has been poisoned and wards are not included in the upcoming Charter Study Commission recommendation.


“There is a right kind and wrong kind of victory, just as there are wars for the right thing and wars that are wrong from every standpoint…” - Harry S. Truman (1884-1972)