Turn on the TV news and what do you see? Politicians snapping and snarling at each other, treating each other, not like opponents in a civilized system, but like blood enemies.
Yes, this is an election year, but it’s also another year of politics as blood sport. Blame the media, blame the 24-hour news cycle, blame the internet, but there it is.
That’s Washington for you. But things are, or at least can be, quite a bit calmer at the local level, where public servants with strong views can argue the issues out with gusto and still remain friends after a contentious city or town council meeting.
Case in point: The late Walter A. Shamock Jr.
Walt Shamock was the dean of the Meriden City Council until his death in December at 89, having served on the council for three decades. He was sometimes called “Mr. No,” frequently putting the brakes on proposals he believed the taxpayer couldn’t afford.
And now the city he served for so long is planning to honor him later this year by planting an oak tree at Hunter Golf Club. The city chose an oak because friends and family believe it symbolizes Shamock's conviction and longevity as a politician.
“And what better tribute could there be?” said Councilor Bruce A. Fontanella. “He was a strong-minded, strong-willed man who did what he thought was the right thing.”
“I know he would be honored. I know I will be,” said Gary Shamock, Walt’s son.
Would Walt Shamock have approved spending money on this tree, and a plaque? Possibly not — but he’s getting it anyway.
As this political year drags on, it would be nice to see, at the national level, just a little bit of the comity and civility that people like Walt Shamock brought, and still bring, to our city.