Ken Brown's Dilemma

Posted on March 29, 2013 by Submitted

Editor: People are angling to know what Ken’s vote would be on the Chateau Hotel. Maybe he is a pragmatist in an ideological world. Yet still, votes are important to know as you only need three to pass anything. And it is reasonable for voters to think a politician would have a well-defined stance on an issue. Not many politicians say of oil pipelines, fracking, minimum wage, unchecked development or any host of issues, that they have to wait to see. Voters are used to politicians being positional and not pragmatic. In the case of the hotel, the plans are indeed changing and it could conceivably end up as a Ledson type place, in which case Ken would be right, wait and see how it unfolds.

The reason the Preserving Sonoma movement is taking off is because the risk of three votes in favor of a large hotel is too great. Fred’s forecast sees two votes already for the hotel and only one solid against. It may seem to Ken that voters don’t trust him, but in an issue as big as the future of the Plaza and ability to drive through town and in the absence of a well-defined position, concerned citizens don’t want it to come down to the last minute. This is not unreasonable. This is pragmatism from a citizens angle. Pragmatism cuts all ways.

I agree with Ken that city planners are to be trusted to come up with reasonable solutions. Yet planners are routinely over-ridden by ideological politicians. This is known and demonstrated nationwide, particularly in issues concerning rational policy and development (planning) vs. a laissez faire free for all (Napa).

Ken’s dilemma as I see it: Trying to be pragmatic in an ideological world satisfies no one; the middle path is the most reasonable yet the least compelling on hot button issues.

Fred Allebach