At least, that's the conclusion one reaches after reading a recent campaign fundraising letter sent by Vivian to various members of the community. In it, Vivian claims that his opponent in the race, Fitchburg Common Council member Jay Allen, has links to a domestic terrorist group.
Here's what it says:
My opponent, Jay Allen, has introduced legislative action to use the City’s police powers to condemn land owned by the Novation Campus, and threaten 2.5 million dollars of your tax money to interfere in what should be a private matter between current tenants living illegally on Novation property and its owners. The illegal tenants have known ties to an organization identified on the U.S. Federal Government list of domestic terrorist groups.Here's the whole thing:
I caught wind of this particular little work of political art last week, and today Bill Lueders, writing for The Daily Page, has a delightfully snarky piece up about it. You can read it here. When I first read the letter, I couldn't for the life of me figure out what group Vivian was referring to when he claimed terrorist ties. Turns out, it was Food Not Bombs, possibly one of the most innocuous, peacenik organizations around and hardly a candidate for domestic mayhem. They once gave me a nice, warm grilled cheese sandwich while I was at a protest rally in the middle of winter, so I may have some internal bias in their favor, but really--just look at their name. Then look at their website. Then look at their history.
Yeah, not so much down with the violence.
What really seems to be at issue here is how the land at Drumlin Farm gets used. Vivian accuses the current tenants of the land of being there "illegally" - though currently they do have a lease. He also claims that Allen's legislative action to condemn the land would "threaten 2.5 million dollars of your tax money."
Thankfully, Lueders sets the record straight:
Allen explains that he recently introduced a resolution to begin an eminent domain process against Alexander Co., which is developing the Novation Campus. He says the goal was to compel the company to discuss the possible sale of Drumlin Farm, a five-acre community garden that enjoys huge community support.Basically, Vivian's letter is a pile of crap, and an incendiary one at that. The issue of land use rights and specifically what happens with the Drumlin/Novation property is an important one, and deserves a higher degree of debate that that which Vivian appears to be prepared to offer. I can't imagine that someone who would put out a piece of literature as ridiculous as that would make an even remotely good mayor. But, ultimately, that's for the fine folks of Fitchburg to decide.
The stratagem worked: Novation is now in discussions with Fitchburg officials about a possible sale. That led Allen to table his resolution, about three weeks ago. Fitchburg’s current mayor, Tom Clauder, has said he’s been told the land has an appraised value of $2.5 million, the amount cited used by Vivian. But the Alexander Co. hasn’t set an asking price and the city hasn’t agreed to spent any amount ("threaten … your tax money," as Vivian puts it) for its acquisition.
Indeed, the nonprofit Madison Area Community Land Trust has expressed interest in acquiring the site, said to be the birthplace of Wisconsin’s urban agricultural movement. That means it could become a protected community asset at little or no cost to Fitchburg taxpayers – unless, of course, Mark Vivian gets elected.