Half Truths And Whole Lies

December 29, 2005 

Who ever thought they would live to see the day when tax-paying citizens became a threat to societal stability by purchasing homes that cost in excess of $300,000? 

These aren’t just any tax-paying citizens...they are the empty-nesters, 55 years of age and older. 

The sprawl of this demographic group must be controlled or it will ruin our neighborhoods...at least in the opinion of some politicians. 

Almost immediately following their victory in the November municipal election, Democrats, in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, “are considering a six-month moratorium on new active adult communities in town to halt what some fear is an influx of housing units for individuals 55 and older”.  Democratic Mayor Tony LaRosa is fretting about “What happens in 20 years when people start passing away and they are no longer living in these homes? Who will be there to replace them?”  

Consequently, LaRosa assures that “We just want to slow things down so we can study it and see what the effect will be on the town”. 

Confirming that when Democrats get elected, even Republicans can go crazy, a Republican member of the town council vouchsafed that “I truly believe we need to maintain a balance in Rocky Hill...I certainly don't want to have our town get out of balance”.   

Balance?  What exactly is a town in “balance”?  Are we talking “quotas”? 

If I’m even partially literate, balance is defined as “a state in which various elements form a satisfying and harmonious whole and nothing is out of proportion or unduly emphasized at the expense of the rest”.  Does this mean that Rocky Hill should consider a moratorium on the growth of its minority population to ensure a “balance”?  Or, perhaps a moratorium on further procreation to ensure a “balance”?    

Rocky Hill is a town that has never previously proposed moratoriums to study the “balance” of anything.  But...all of a sudden there is a pressing need to study the “balance” of active adult communities.  Yet, there was never a moratorium proposed on the approval of subdivisions that provide multiple bedroom housing for young couples in their prime child-bearing years. 

As previously stated, some town officials are worrying what will happen in 20 years from now “when baby boomers die off”.  I was unaware that local officials are this forward-thinking.   

Perhaps they might wonder what will happen to all of the 3 and 4 bedroom homes in town 20 years from now. 

This is a fair question since the Census Bureau projects that, “The number of families with children under 18 is projected to increase minimally from 32.6 million in 1995, peak at 33.2 million in 2001, and then slowly decrease to 32.2 by 2010. At the same time...families with children may steadily fall from almost half (48 percent) in 1995 to 41 percent in 2010.” 

The Chicago Tribune tells us that “The latest Census Bureau figures show that about 18 percent of women between the ages of 40 and 44 say they have never conceived a child. The percentage has grown steadily since 1976, when the figure was 10 percent, suggesting that child-free relationships may be on the rise.” 

But...Rocky Hill’s officials are in a twist about active adult housing. 

Most municipalities view active adult communities as a “get your cake and eat it too” proposition, “Towns get property taxes without getting more children to educate”.  And...future projections predict that while households with children will decrease, households with no children or only a single occupant will increase.  So what’s the problem here? 

Is Rocky Hill using the half truth of “balance” to mask the whole lie of age discrimination?  And if so, why? 

In the blink of an eye, our question is answered when “(Democratic) Councilor Tim Moriarty expressed some reservation that these empty-nesters would unite to defeat school referendums or expenditures”.  Eureka...we are now getting to the whole truth. 

Is this sudden penchant for age-based discrimination just the politicians carrying water for the education lobby? 

With single-family subdivision residences consuming the lion’s share of Rocky Hill’s taxes, town officials seem overly cautious about active adult community housing.  Look at the economics of it.   

Single family homes are money losers for the town.  Each child from these homes costs the town almost $10,000 per year in educational obligations (although this helps to bloat the NEA payroll).  The town must also maintain the public roads the homes are situated on and collect the garbage these homes generate.  Active adult community housing: generates no students for the school system; are situated on private roadways and must pay for private trash collection services.  It should be a no-brainer, BUT...it is a question of “balance”. 

If the politicians of Rocky Hill are sincerely concerned about “balance”, why aren’t they concerned about the town’s Black population? 

3.4% of the town is Black.  9.1% of Connecticut’s population is Black and 12.3% of the nation is Black.  By any definition of “balance”, Rocky Hill has a problem. 

This leaves me wondering about the credibility of the “balance” concerns.  

As a politically active 19 year-old when the 26th Amendment became law on July 1, 1971, I worked hard to bring the franchise and age of majority to Connecticut’s 18 to 21 year-old citizens who were being sent to fight in Viet Nam with no political rights at home. 

The political apathy of the 18 to 21 year-old population struck me as odd.  When I asked a senior Connecticut official about it, he told me that age discrimination would never be an issue because everybody eventually either grew out of it on one end or died on the other. 

Let’s hope that the officials of any community trying to use empty-nesters as political pawns grow out of age-based discrimination tactics.  Hard working taxpayers deserve the golden years they have earned.


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