Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Politics: Finding The Sweet Spot Sour?

Somewhere between the lazy liberals and the constipated conservatives, there's got to be a happier middle ground.

Today, an old acquaintance whom I seldom see, chanced upon meeting me at a local business that deals in technical toys, namely cell phones and accessories.
He recognized me from behind before I even saw him, possibly because he does follow local politics, including my wee stint in that arena.
He asked me if I missed being in politics, to which I replied 'yes, like I miss the measles'!
A little strong maybe, but what I meant was I missed being an active part of important decision-making.

With measles, one does develop a certain immunity, but with politics - not!
Once it gets in your blood, it remains there at some tangible concentration.
Somehow, this guy suggested that I was known as more of a 'radical moderate' in his thinking.
And, you know, he was right!
Actually, I was somewhat flattered by that label, because that is also how I choose to see myself.
He did pretty much nail me, for better or worse.

Of course, I did also manage to mention this blog, if he ever wanted to test his perception by things I've bothered to write and stand for, sometimes rather forcefully.

He may do that, or not; either way I do believe he actually got what I like to think is consistently aiming at whatever might be called the 'sweet spot' in deciding issues - particularly the hard ones that set lasting precedents that most folks seem to prefer over the long haul.

I thank him for that!
Recently, our local trusted City officials managed to not find anything close to a sweet spot in their less than admirable decision to pretend to be the Federal Government and purchase the property known as Chuckanut Ridge with money they do not have!

Yes, that's what I said - money they did not actually have to spend, $3.5 Million of it!

They did it because of silly politics and that undeniable urge to become heroes - cheaply, without earning it.
Remember that old E F Hutton Ad; 'We make money the old-fashioned way - we EARN It'!

Lord knows, I've done my best to argue, advise, cajole & reason with our current City Council and current Mayor on this matter, but I have failed - and miserably.
What they can't see themselves, all the king's horses won't lead them to understand, much less do.
That is truly too bad, not just for them, but for every citizen who expects consistent, good & fair decision-making from their elected officials.
So, what else can I do?

Roundly castigate these bums as incompetent laggards?

Continue to request better accountability?

Try to inform people of the unacceptable gap between what has happened and what should have?

Lower my expectations?

Actively campaign for replacing those officials who are so unlucky as to have political opponents?

Actively seek candidates to compete against those with no opposition?

If you think the answer to all the above is 'yes', you'd be correct!

So, let's get started.
  • Pike as Mayor has been a major disappointment who has promised, or seemed to promise, way too many things that he has not been able to deliver. Apparently being Mayor is not one of his 'skill sets'. Imagine a guy who has just waded through almost 4 years of fiscal austerity - including threatening to veto a minimal, routine 1% property tax increase - then sticking the public [us] with an unfunded Greenways purchase of about $3.5 Million - equivalent to a 17% property tax increase! Of course, there are several other beefs that I have with Pike, like the damage he has done to the City's relationships with Whatcom County, the Port of Bellingham, State of Washington, various businesses, etc. Plus, the loss of several very qualified City Department Heads & all their institutional memory and incurring the costs of recruiting replacements; the lack of tangible progress on preserving the Lake Whatcom Reservoir, the gross lack of rapport with valuable City employees, etc. One or two other things, he argues a lot, always seeming to need the last word. And, he likes to be seen leading the parade - never mind there isn't one. Ever noticed that? These things are not merely matters of smarts, but of attitude & judgement - traits that are not readily discernible at first glance, especially with relative newcomers! Is there any wonder that I am strongly supporting Linville, because I know she can do a much better job on all these fronts!
  • Buchanan hasn't impressed me much either, despite his rather ordinary credentials. He seems sleepy & doesn't do much to attract sincere plaudits; but maybe that's more of a strategy to keep a low profile and stay off the radar, except when the urge to pander becomes overwhelming? Its often a winning formula around here; not to create controversy, even when it might be the right thing to do. His opponent, Cathy Lehman, is the real thing, and deserves a chance to demonstrate it. Her work ethic, energy, knowledge of important issues, true caring and effective pursuit of key endorsements and voters, earn her my unqualified support, and I hope, yours!
  • Fleetwood, unfortunately, has turned out to be essentially, a nebbish-like cipher. Despite good credentials and visibility in the community, he very often fails to develop positions that are well-defined or compelling. Worse, he seems to suffer from a lack of self-confidence, backbone & energy, but an overabundance of a sense of elite entitlement - a bad combination for anyone seeking to earn the public trust. His opponent, Larry Farr, is a straight shooter, has the ability and served this community in a number of volunteer capacities, though none elective, so far. [pun intended] From observing his years serving with the Transportation Commission and its predecessors, it is obvious he can do the job well and is deserving of public support, including mine.
  • Two Council Members, Knutson & Weiss, have no opponents and will skate through the elections for another term. That's particularly too bad for Knutson, who relies on simple populism way to often; you know always against raising the money to pay for all the stuff he votes for, that kind of thing - Chuckanut Ridge is only the latest example. Also, his tendency to say one thing and do another is off-putting, as is his periodic grandstanding, at which he has clear ability. And, as one of the 4 co-conspirators who almost killed Greenways back in 2005/06, he participated in an illegal connivance that he finally owned up to - 3 years later - when most folks who might have known had forgotten. Knutson should have excused himself from even voting on the CR purchase! [as should have Bornemann, who never confessed] Think about it; with two recusals, the CR vote would have been 3 to 2, not enough for passage.
  • Two years hence, the positions occupied by Bornemann, Lilliquist, Fleetwood [only if reelected] & Snapp [probably not running again] will need to be filled again. The first two need opponents if they run, as does Fleetwood if he's still there. And, also time for a new face in Ward 4. That makes four good candidates are needed. Anyone game?
That's about it from here for now, but stay tuned for a little reprise to Tuesday's Herald story on the decision made Monday night to 'kick the can down the road' on actually paying for their purchase of the entire, discounted pricey CR property.

Cool, leave the $3.5 Million mess for others to clean up later; and maybe the stupid public won't even notice!

Is it any wonder this country got so deep in debt?
Hey, you know this crap has to start somewhere; this is just an example at the local level - Bellingham, the City of subdued something. Accountability?

On that cheery note, as Bugs Bunny used to say, that's all folks....