Something smells rotten in Cambridge. It’s the corrupting stench of career politicians – our city councillors – taking money from developers whose projects they vote on. Most offensive of all is the sanctimony with which they hold up the city’s affordable housing crisis to deflect any criticism or questioning of their motives.

Letter“How could it be a conflict of interest,” they assert, “when we are voting to create more affordable housing?” As if the modest addition to the city’s affordable housing inventory should serve as a blanket excuse for their lack of due diligence or concern about a development’s unintended consequences. If they were so concerned about keeping Cambridge affordable, wouldn’t they show more concern about the consequences of approving large developments that clearly fuel gentrification? Wouldn’t they want to know if a project they approved would displace more Cambridge residents than it could ever house? Wouldn’t they at least ask the question of the city’s development department? Or take time to consider whether they were acting as blind and woeful agents for gentrification and displacement?

And now they’re banding together, not to do the work of the angels, as they profess, but to present a united front – a slate – they hope will help them hold onto their well-paying jobs for another two years. United in this election as united they ever were in approving the Normandy/Twining tower, which brought them more than $12,000 in campaign donations from the developers and their associates over a two-year period.

Cambridge should take only one further gift from these seven career politicians and show unity in rejecting their bid for unquestioned reelection under the guise of a cooperative spirit.

Paul Steven Stone is a novelist and essayist living in Cambridge. He can be reached at [email protected]. Share your own essays by e-mailing [email protected].