2006/11/20

Underwhelmed

I realize I’ll probably get shot down in flames for this, but I’ll do it anyway.

So, the Democrats have taken the house and the senate at a national level, and the house at the state level, and City Hall at the local level. I should be heartened by this, right?

I went over to Ypsinews.com to have a look at how our new mayor, Democrat Paul Schreiber, is doing.

While the ypsinews crew managed to lose the first 30 minutes of the meeting, the last 43 minutes (actually the last 5 minutes is great viewing)told enough of the story for me to be see pretty much what I expected. Mayor Schreiber looking nervous but affable, Mayor Pro Tem Swanson looking calm and authoritative, Bill Nickels providing a sage voice of reason and the other players taking their usual roles.

Councilman Brian Robb in a suit and tie looked understandably uncomfortable trying to feel his way into his new role, but his comments made it clear that his heart is in the right place and I expect finesse will come with time.

I wish I could be so kind about the Mayor. Oh, I’m sure he will also develop finesse as time goes on, but the heart in the right place is the part that has me concerned.

Paul’s campaign for the democratic nomination was rife with inaccuracies and controversies. When his commitment to free speech was called to question, it was answered with a legal opinion. When the integrity of one of his endorsements was called into question, he remained defiant. He believed he would win regardless, and he was right. He did win without being held to account for any of it.

Now, all of the above can be put down to the thrust and parry of political campaigning, and the man’s work should really be judged by his conduct in office.

Unfortunately, his very first personal proposal in the mayoral office was to do away with the resolution to call an end to a public hearing. He wanted to be able to do this unilaterally himself. The reason cited? To save time. Now I ask you…? One minute to go through the motions of calling an end to a public hearing, yes it’s a drag, but it doesn’t take long. Far more importantly, EVERYBODY knows the hearing is finished, if someone on council has a point to make, they have a final chance to make it.

To take that right of recourse away in the name of chopping a whole minute off a 4 -5 hour council meeting is absolutely ridiculous. Giving any mayor the right to close a public hearing unilaterally at will is a reckless exercise in trust that begs to be misused by any mayor who has had a bad day, or perhaps, would like to avoid having a bad day.

What disturbs me most is that the Mayor did not think through the implications of his proposal, or if he did he assumes the city council members to be a lot dumber than they are.

Thankfully, and rightly, the proposal fell on deaf ears, as did his very clumsy attempt at reorganising the chairs in city hall. I’ve got no idea what he stokes in his pipe, but my goodness that was a lame, farcical beginning for a man who has taken on the Mayors position at one of the toughest junctures in the city’s history.

Now to the point of this post…

I realize that Ypsilanti is not a huge blip on anyone’s political radar outside Washtenaw County, but I wonder how may other positions held by Democrats are filled with guys or gals who are in at least one step over their heads.

Before this election, I saw the Democrats as a powerless bunch who were unable to give the Current Occupant (of the Whitehouse) the “thump’n” he so richly deserved back in 2004.

The election result hasn’t changed my view of the party.

In my opinion, the Democrats didn’t gain anywhere near as much ground as the Republicans lost in this election, and that concerns me greatly.

It concerns me because Democrats everywhere are congratulating themselves for a job well done when they have done nothing of note. They were simply “not Republicans”.

I hope Democrats everywhere, from Mayor Schreiber, to Governor Granholm, and the leaders of the house and senate federally, can pull themselves together and deliver to this great nation a vision it can get behind.

If the Democrats fail to capture the imagination of the people in these next two crucial years, the subsequent “thump’n” at the polls in ’08 would be an embarrassment from which the party should probably never recover.

I hope they can do it, if only to put an end to the burden of this reckless, fascist regime.

Take Care

Rod

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Please be harder and more critical of my performance in the future. In my mind's eye I know what I want to become, but that won't happen without receiving the appropriate feedback.


-Brian Robb, Ward 3

Rod said...

Hi Brian,

I appreciate your willingness to be "tried by fire" and if you have aspirations, that trial will happen all in good time, and on that day I am likely to be chief among your critics.

A dot-point fact sheet is always useful when addressing a public gathering, it makes sure you hit each point in the topic and saves unnecessary repetition.

I'm pretty harsh on people who should know better, or who are showing signs of abuse of their positions.

I'm not inclined to be critical on the basis of presentation style alone. You will notice I hammered the Mayor for what he said rather than how he said it. I gave the same courtesy to his predecessor.

In 6 months, when you've worked out how the pecking order works and what "flies" and what "doesn't work" in terms of presentation, then you can start to look in the mirror about how you can make a better presentation of your points.