Blogs | Ethan Shorey

The politics of complaining

The longer I'm in this news business the more I question the motives behind criticism.

Let me explain. Without people criticizing public officials and the decisions they make, my job would be a lot more boring, and local communities would be a lot less healthy, but what I'm discovering more often than not is that the criticism is either political or personal.

Take, for example, last year's barrage of criticism from residents during the North Providence mayoral race about the glut of vacant commercial buildings along Mineral Spring Avenue. Since the election, many of those buildings have been filled up or torn down for other purposes. There's a new Verizon store, an e-cigarette store, a planned new Cumberland Farms, a new O'Reilly Auto Parts, a new parking lot replacing the old Brand's Hobby Store in front of the new Tumblesalt's Cafe, and a planned new Honey Dew Donuts across from Stop & Shop, to name a few.

But now, of course, the criticism has turned to traffic. What is North Providence going to do with all the new cars that are coming to the shops that are filling the vacant buildings?

This isn't to say traffic isn't a valid concern along Mineral Spring Avenue. I've written a number of times about efforts to improve traffic light timing and keep cars moving, and there's very real concern about how long it can take to get down the state's busiest two-lane street.

But at what point do the people who were so upset about the vacant buildings last year, and are now outraged about the fact that North Providence is being "overrun with traffic," look at themselves and wonder what happened to their intellectual honesty? At what point do they stop blaming others for their own lack of credibility?

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