Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Town Whiner

The "Town Crier" op-ed series in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News are really starting to get on my nerves.

The pieces appear to be predominantly written by professors at WSU and the U of I. Can someone explain to me the Daily News editorial board's fascination with advanced degrees? Is it Ph.D. envy? Personally, I'd like a little more commentary from Main Street and Grand Avenue instead of the ivy-covered halls of academe on College Hill.

Lately, it seems, every "Town Crier" I read has one of these intellectuals whining about how us townies are ruining their little "Athens on the Palouse" with all the buzz about Wal-Mart in Pullman and the zoning controversy in downtown Moscow. Just because someone is an Associate Professor of Serbo-Croatian Numismatics, does that give them the right to pass judgment on an entire region? If they don't get tenure, these guys are here for a few years and then head on down the road. Yet, they presume to tell us what kind of town we should have 30 years from now. There is no consideration for the people that were here before them and that will be here long after they are gone. They view Pullman as some sort of Disneylandesque Lake Wobegon and we full-time residents as the animatronic robots whose job it is to provide them with a folksy, tolerant, inclusive, diverse, physically fit, nutitionally sound, socially progressive, fuel efficient, environmentally sustainable, xeriscaped, planned, neo-urbanized Utopia while they live here.

If we are pro-growth, then we must be supersized pigs, who waste water sprinkling the lawns of our cookie-cutter suburban homes and trampling all over the pristine countryside in our gas-guzzling Durango while munching on a greasy Big Mac.

How absurd, elitist, and demeaning. My family lives in one of those cookie-cutter homes because it is what we can afford. And yes, I water my lawn, because I want my two year old daughter to play in grass, not a dusty gravel and sand pit. People drive SUVs because they want their families to be safe. And we want our businesses to prosper and spend our money where we live. We are pro-growth because we are the common people of Pullman and we want our share of the American dream like anyone else. What's wrong with that? Aren't liberals supposed to be for the working man? If your dream is different, good for you. As the Montgomery Gentry song says: "You do your thing, I'll do mine."

These academics never give any thought either to the fact that all those safe schools, bike paths, 100-year buildings, and tree-lined avenues they want have to be paid for by someone. And since their employer pays no property taxes, the major source of local funding, that someone is the businesses and citizens of Pullman. Sure, WSU contributes around $175-$200 million to the local economy, mostly through its employment payroll. That's great, but it's not enough. We need to diversify our economic base and have more places for those WSU employees to spend their money locally, not in another community.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not down on professors. I admire our mayor, Glenn Johnson, very much and he is a professor. There are many current and retired members of the WSU faculty who support growth in Pullman. I'd just like some of those professors who talk about tolerance and diversity to practice what they preach when it comes to their neighbors in Pullman and quit presuming to know what is best for everyone.

1 comment:

Dale Courtney said...

Referring to them as the Town Whiners is very apropos. I'm amazed at how whiny all of these college professors are!

FYI, the Daily News Advisory Board has discussed this matter (all male, white, PhDs from UI and WSU) with the Publisher and Editors. They plan on fixing this problem when this group of men roll-off the advisory board.