YESeleven disappointed with ‘Rooftop Highway' supporter's tactics
Monday, January 14, 2013 - 12:41 pm

To The Editor:

In recent weeks, there have been a number of editorials and media statements made by Jason Clark, an economic development consultant and lobbyist working in the Massena area. I am writing to express YESeleven’s disappointment at the unprofessional tone that Mr. Clark is striking in his attempts to bully and silence those who disagree with his clients’ aims.  Civil disagreement is fine, but Mr. Clark’s sudden turn to bellicose name-calling and condescension has taken the discussion to an unacceptable place.

For several years now, Mr. Clark has served as the hired representative for a consortium of politicians, unelected bureaucrats, organized labor interests and publicly funded agencies, who have stubbornly clung to what many people see as a distracting and wasteful push to build an interstate highway across the North Country region. This has not been a pressing issue in many people’s minds in the past because of the improbability of such a concept ever finding roots in reality. Dire economic conditions have persisted and promise to continue at all levels of our government for years to come. To many, common sense suggests that debt-financing billions of dollars on a dubious interstate highway concept is irrational.

The relentless political cheerleading by the “Rooftop Highway” proponents to advance this issue has caused increasing concern to folks about the real-world consequences of such an undertaking, no matter how improbable. People increasingly question the vague abstractions being constantly repeated by the ‘Roof-toppers’: “ ... ‘27,000 jobs’ ... ‘4-billion dollars’ ... ‘transformational’, ‘build it and they will come,’ ‘It was in a GAO report’, etc.” The highway proponents throw around these and many other so-called-facts, like so much Jello at the walls, to see what will stick. People who haven’t thought previously about the highway issue now have serious questions about the effects of what might be imposed on them by a well-connected political elite.

Out of this growing sense of unease, a group of people formed YESeleven two years ago, with the purpose of creating a counterweight to this one-sided discussion that had previously taken place largely behind closed doors. From these discussions, ever-increasing numbers of citizens, localities and organizations have reexamined their past views of the interstate highway concept. They are concerned about having their homes, businesses, farms and lands taken, their communities disrupted, bypassed and divided, thousands of acres taken off the tax rolls, negative environmental impacts, adverse economic impacts and more.

Government should encourage an enlightened and involved citizenry. Instead, what we are getting is a series of statements from Mr. Clark and his clients accusing people and organizations with views contrary to theirs of being ‘irresponsible’, ‘liars’, ‘misrepresenters of facts’, and so on. YESeleven applauds those people and organizations for seeking information, thinking, re-thinking and speaking up for themselves and the future of their communities.

John Danis, YESeleven spokesman, Canton