The Farce of Meier’s “Rising Star” Award
By: Susan M. Halpern
(Addison councilmember 1992 – 99)
Addison is about to experience another Meier-orchestrated farce. This week, the Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce is expected to name David Heape as Addison’s “Rising Star.”
Except that it wasn’t the Metrocrest Chamber that chose Heape. It was Meier.
You heard that right. These are the facts: the award has no criteria, there is no process by which members of the public can apply, and there is no process by which the award winner is chosen. It is classic Meier: he and he alone decides it all, a reality that is becoming all too familiar in Addison, and increasingly problematic.
Heape is presumably happy to accept this farce of an “award,” which is not so much an award as it is a reward for Heape’s loyalty to Meier. Meier helped Heape get elected in the divisive and controversial 2014 election, contributing $500 to Heape’s campaign and actively campaigning for him as a part of Meier’s plan to unseat the independent-thinking, Meier-challenging Neil Resnik and Margie Gunther. For his part, Heape appears to have embraced his role as another pawn in the Meier-led chess game that Addison has become, by and large toting the Meier line and voting for Meier’s agenda. Meier now returns the favor to Heape. Other potential “Rising Stars” in Addison need not apply.
Let me be clear about this: the Metrocrest Chamber does remarkable and admirable work in the communities comprising the Metrocrest, relying on a dedicated professional staff and an extraordinary network of volunteers. They haven’t done anything wrong. They simply weren’t prepared for someone like Meier to politicize what was, at base, an innocent effort to provide recognition to a deserving Addison resident. As well, the Chamber faces the uncomfortable reality that Meier controls the Addison Council, and the Council controls Addison’s funding to the Metrocrest Chamber. Nonetheless, it is time for the Chamber to deal with the reality of Meier’s misuse of this award, and institute a process before lending its good name to more of Meier’s political maneuverings.
As for Addison, expect to hear from Meier about Heape being Addison’s “Rising Star” with no mention of the lack of process. We’ve seen it before. Last year, Meier named Janelle Moore as his “Rising Star,” and then used the opportunity to tout her qualifications in Addison’s Town-owned and taxpayer-funded newsletter. This was done at a time when Moore was one of six candidates for Council and was, in the opinion of many of us, a blatantly improper use of taxpayer resources.
The Metrocrest Chamber of Commerce deserves better and so does Addison.