Ross, a town in Marin County, is a great place. The houses are gorgeous (I’ve been to a billionaire’s house there once and it was magnificent), the schools are superb, and the people take good care of themselves: exercise, healthy diets, good medical care. In a pre-Obama era, these are boast-worthy things. Not see in Obama’s America, where prosperity is a dangerous attribute that might paint a target on your back:
R. Scot Hunter, a Ross town councilman and former mayor, cringed when his hometown came out on top of the human development index in the controversial “A Portrait of Marin” report commissioned by the Marin Community Foundation.
Essentially, the report said that people in Ross have more money, better educations and live longer than most of the rest of Marin, especially low-income neighborhoods such as the Canal in San Rafael or Hamilton in Novato.
“Ross sometimes, through no fault of its own, gets typecast,” he said, which makes it harder, he believes, for Ross residents to be taken seriously as agents for change in Marin.
Hunter, a real estate investor and developer, has lived in Ross for 30 years, raising three children with his wife, Mary Lee Rybar.
“You almost have to deny your heritage,” he said. “But we have all the problems everybody else has, only they’re hidden. I think 2008 hit a lot of people. There is divorce here. There are difficult things in everybody’s lives. We are not of the very wealthy of Ross. We’re just regular people.”
Hunter, incidentally, is not a crackpot. The report is a political document, intended to phase out many of those attributes that make Marin a prosperous community:
Since “A Portrait of Marin” was released in January, the Independent Journal’s editorial page and letters to the editor have bristled with criticism of it. Columnist Dick Spotswood accused the report of “cherry-picking statistics” to justify the foundation’s “preordained position that Marin County housing is based on racially segregated communities.” He called it “a work of political advocacy rather than professional scholarship,” contending that it’s “a tool toward remaking the very nature of Marin.”
Responding to claims that the foundation is playing “social engineer,” Thomas Peters,
Ross councilman and former mayor Scot Hunter stands outside the post office in Ross, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (IJ photo/Alan Dep) Alan Dep
the foundation’s president and CEO, wrote in a Marin Voice column: “For us, this ‘values’ issue couldn’t be clearer: Our vision for Marin is that it be known as much for its equity as for its prosperity, and as much for its efforts to help people succeed as for its reputation as an enclave for the highly successful.”
One of the most alarming parts of the study for many critics is the section that recommends “setting aside the county’s commitment to preserving open space, agriculture and low-density neighborhoods in order to provide more affordable housing to its workers.”
Hunter could have challenged the report. Instead, he’s trying to assure people that Ross is just as pathetic as anywhere else.