Saturday, July 30, 2011

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc *

Residents of the First Ward recently received the quarterly newsletter sent out by Alderman Geeta Cheddie and Supervisor John Musall. In addition to a page from Cheddie and another one from Musall, there is usually also a page from Sarah Sterling, the other First Ward alderman, but Sterling's contribution was absent from the most recent mailing, probably because she's running against Musall for First Ward supervisor. 

Some of the statements in Cheddie's letter are worth sharing. Here's the one that inspired the post's Latin title: "Constituents' complaints about the lone house at Cherry Alley and First Streets [sic] have resulted in the Galvan Partners developing four new townhouses on that lot." Post hoc ergo propter hoc? It's impossible to divine how Eric Galloway decides which of his many projects will be pursued, but it seems unlikely that "constituents' complaints" had much to do with the decision to begin a project originally proposed four years ago, and the current progress on the project doesn't seem to support the idea either. The foundations for two of the new houses have been poured, and the "lone house at Cherry Alley and First Streets," of which Cheddie speaks, is still standing.

As evidence that she takes government seriously, Cheddie reports: "Although I am a member of 3 of the 11 committees created by the City Charter, I am the only alderman who attends all committee meetings each month; I also attend Planning, Zoning and Hudson Preservation Commission meetings." She does; Gossips can attest to it. But later in the newsletter, Cheddie makes a statement that raises doubts that she's paying close attention. Speaking of the "dangerously derelict properties" to be demolished at the corner of Front and Cross streets, Cheddie assures readers that "the Planning and Zoning Boards, as well as Hudson Preservation, are there to review any plans for replacement structures." The owner of the property has twice stated before the Historic Preservation Commission his intention to build nothing there but to restore the original expansive grounds of his house at the corner of Front and Allen streets.       

Cheddie's message to First Ward voters repeats an opinion, oft voiced by Linda Mussmann, that the citizens who are staying actively involved in the LWRP process, reviewing and making comments about the document through its various drafts and revisions, determined to make it a document that reflects, as it is intended to reflect, the vision of the community, are doing the community a disservice. In Cheddie's words: "The LWRP still has not appeared before the Aldermen for a vote. This is largely due to the public comments which have resulted in additional work by the Attorney and Planner at an additional cost of $20,000+--at the taxpayer's expense." Post hoc ergo propter hoc.   

* Post hoc ergo propter hoc--Latin for "after this, therefore because of this"--is a logical fallacy. (NOTE: I'm not showing off my high school Latin with this title so much as betraying my addiction to The West Wing.)

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