Council Member Bentley: Yet Another Promise Broken

(Trigger Warning:  I realize that some readers may find my blog harsh, although I prefer the descriptor “hard-hitting.”  However, I urge you to invest the time to read and understand my perspective.  I invested the better part of 2+ years of my life for the cause of good governance in Milton.  I partnered with Laura Bentley to achieve good governance in Milton; I know Laura (politically) better than probably anyone in Milton.  I have paid a very high price for my involvement in local politics, including spending over $10,000 on an attorney.  And I certainly deeply regret my support for certain politicians.  However, if you are in the I’ve-made-up-my-mind-so-don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts camp, feel free to unsubscribe from my blog.  Conversely, if you care about Milton and can handle the truth, I believe you will find my future blog posts enlightening.  I will be publishing 2-5 posts each week. Feel free to reach out to me with comments and questions or even suggestions for blog topics.)

Upon being elected to City Council, Laura Bentley stated to me and others:  “I intend to serve only one term.  Beginning day one, I am going to find a successor.”

Yesterday, the City of Milton posted the names of candidates who qualified for the Mayorship and for City Council seats.  (Two City Council seats will be competitive.  That is good; the community benefits from competitive local races.)  Surprise of surprises (tongue in cheek), Council Member Bentley paid her fees and qualified for re-election.  Laura’s reversal on re-election was predictable, following in the wake of so many other broken promises. 

Very early in her term, Ms. Bentley demonstrated a singular lack of integrity in the conduct of her office.  And I suppose at some point when engaging in deception, you cross a sort of Rubicon, where political dishonesty just becomes routine.  (See below passage from Dante’s Purgatorio.)  Frankly, I do not think Laura gave a second thought to breaking her promise to serve only one term.  As Laura’s longest and strongest supporter, I was shocked by Laura’s behavior during her first few months in office.  Many of her strongest supporters were similarly shocked.  The foundation of my and supporters’ political bond (and friendship) with Laura was our dedication to shared political principlesstrict adherence to zoning laws and practices (and more generally to the rule of law); improved transparency; shifting power to citizens (through structural changes to city government); enhanced accountability; improved government competence; reform of the zoning process; the end of cronyism; honesty; fairness; a level playing field for citizens (vs. developers); strong deference to residents most impacted by Council decisions;  and the highest ethical standards for conduct of our government.  Within a few short months after taking her oath of office, Laura had abandoned most/all of these principles; the Matilda’s debacle is Milton’s poster child for poor governance (as I will explain in future posts).  Sadly, our City has gone backwards over the last 4 years.  Many of Laura’s strongest supporters have disengaged in disgust . . . another victory of cynicism about politics and politicians.  I myself eventually went into quasi political exile, no longer actively engaged but still watching the terrible dysfunction at City Hall.  However, with election season upon us, I feel compelled to re-engage.  Voters need to understand the problems at Council and with City staff and the resulting ill effects on Milton’s quality of life.

I believe integrity (and more generally political ethics) will be a key issue in the upcoming District 2 election.  For me personally, professional integrity is a litmus test for politicians.  No integrity, no support.  Applying this standard, I will not be supporting Ms. Bentley for a second term.  

For those of you with a more literary bent, I end this blog post with a favorite passage from Dante’s Purgatorio:

He sank so low that all means

for his salvation were gone,

except showing him the lost people.

For this I visited the region of the dead . . .

Advocating For Integrity in Politics,

Tim