4-16-2007 Patriots

Here‘s the question I posed to two people yesterday afternoon. How many incumbent city council people do you see retaining their council seats? The first person said 4, and the second participant predicted that 3 will return for another tour. As for myself, I’m thinking 3 will be re-elected, possibly 2.

Assuming that only two return, it would prove to be very interesting depending on who the newcomers might be. As we all know, District E will elect a political tenderfoot. After that I see 2 entrenched incumbents looking very formidable, and 3 others in 2 districts looking somewhat vulnerable. With this voting by districts free-for-all, where as little as 300 votes might be all that is required to win, the candidates with the unusually large immediate families might be the favorites, whether they can form a cogent thought or not.

And while that should concern us, unlike some, I do not fear having a city council comprised of predominantly political neophytes. Winning an election and claiming a council seat is only the first step. After that, the victors have to prove to us that we did not make a mistake by electing them in the first place, and they have to make the case that they belong there for an extended tour. And for some, that might prove to be even more difficult than knocking off an incumbent they previously demonized. It’s easy to sit on one side of the council chamber and make accusations, but we’ll just see how easy it is once they are slid under the political microscope.

Why, just a few days ago, one of our higher-profile city council candidates accused me on the internet of writing something I had absolutely nothing to do with. On one hand, I was amazed that anyone could be so ill-informed as to be accusing me of launching anonymous attacks, something I am clearly not known for. On the other hand, I found it well beyond stupefying that a candidate for elected office could be so impulsive and so utterly reckless in such a public forum. Does that sound like someone we should hand the gavel to?

I had another conversation about the endorsement of a city council hopeful right here in this district. The campaigning hasn’t even begun in earnest, but the endorsements are already set in stone? The candidates haven’t even made their pitches yet, but it’s a done deal? That smacks of predicting the final score of the Super Bowl before the NFL season even kicks off.

Yeah, I have a favorite candidate who I steadfastly believe I’m going to vote for, but it’s early yet. What if it comes out in the wash that said hopeful is a Soviet mole lying in wait for the order to attack the nuclear plant with a corrosive-laden bomb? You never know. What if we learn that the candidate in question absolutely abhors the music of Francis Vincent Zappa? What if that candidate is the very same person that stole our Halloween decorations from the front porch? It’s early yet, kiddies. But, the committeemen are telling us who we should vote for before we even get a fleeting glimpse of the candidates. That doesn’t work for me. And especially when the council race up here involves nothing but newcomers to the big political dance.

That, in itself, is a bit interesting. My anonymous detractors incorrectly paint me as a willing lapdog for any and all incumbents. Yet, when presented with the preferred candidate--the preseason favorite--I am insulted by the attempt to pre-ordain the contest still to foment in my own back yard. I don’t really care who serves on council so long as they are reasonable. But don’t tell me who I should vote for.

There’s one thing those anonymous detractors of mine never understood about my railings against the “activists.” It’s not that I don’t see that activism as a healthy and necessary component, it’s just that the current crop of “watchdogs” are an incompetent bunch. We’ve got voting booth protestors. We’ve got frivolous lawsuits offered up as patriotism. We’ve got never to be heard from again Political Action Committees formed for the purposes of building name recognition. We’ve had the unthinkable proposed, that our elected leaders should be reduced to referendum questions being put on the ballot just to spend as little as $10,000 from the city’s coffers. It’s one thing to hate your local government, but it’s another disastrous thing to render it completely impotent by design.

We’ve got the “activists” that actually believe spending $250,000 on a pre-Civil War firehouse is a good use of scant resources. On the other hand, we’ve got a political neophyte proposing that we close a firehouse that was recently upgraded to the tune of $250,000. We’ve got another guy railing against the removal of dead trees on the city’s eastern shore, trees that will be replaced by significantly more trees, and of a much wider variety. This is the same guy that wants to reduce the $52 Emergency Services Tax back to it’s original $10 level, after we used those increased revenues to hire 11 new police officers. So, what next? Layoff the 11 new police officers the voters were noisily clamoring for when last we elected a mayor?

We’ve had this constant drumbeat about the council’s pay and benefits. And I am on the record as saying that our city councilman should not be entitled to any retirement benefits whatsoever, no matter how long they serve. But I’m not into revolutions, silly protests, or referendum questions being thrown all about without much thought being put into them. If we elect a couple of newbies, which we probably will, then one of them simply steps forward and proposes that all of the perks and such be put to an abrupt end. And if no one seconds that bold motion, they are likely going to be called on that inaction during the next election cycle. There’s no need to keep banging that drum for publicity’s sake, for personal political gain. Change can come about quite easily, but proposed changes should not be trumpeted to death as part of somebody’s decade-long “look at me” program.

Consider this voting-by-district gambit. It was presented to us as a way to take back our government from the evil ghouls selling us so short. But, be honest, wasn’t it always just a way for the long-shunned republicans to finally get their feet in the door? They couldn’t win an election if their children’s lives depended on it, so they just set about changing the rules, if not the entire game. And they told us they were doing it all for us. After years of presenting less than viable candidates, they hoodwinked us into giving them a shot at the illusive brass rings they sought.

I have no problem with activism. But is it too much to ask that they know what they are jabbering on and on about every once in a while? They call everyone currently elected a liar, a thief and much worse, but they wrapped one referendum question around yet another and claimed there was nothing confusing about that. If an elected official tried such a convoluted thing, the “activists” would be crying bloody murder, if and when the television cameras suddenly appeared.

And do any of these “activists” even deserve our respect and our votes when they find it so completely easy to turn on the internet and toss bombastic charges and slurs at damn near everyone on the political radar screen? Why is it that 2 of the most noteworthy slanderous bomb-throwers running in District A both quietly pulled the plug on their Web sites right before they launched their campaigns? Well, now that they are pandering for votes, they want to be seen as measured and reasonable, while all along they’ve been anything but measured and reasonable. So, I ask you, do we really want to vote for somebody that has to tone it down, that has to clean up their act in advance of an election? They are not as they are currently presenting themselves, yet, they think nothing of directing pointed and scurrilous attacks in the direction of anyone they deem worthy of such nonsensical attacks. And they think nothing of pretending to be someone they are not. They are phonies. And they want to run your city.

If I may be so bold, I think they should spend far less time biting at my impenetrable ankles, and invest much more time doing some productive soul-searching. You see, lying your way up the political ladder does not a patriot make.

And I do have to chuckle mightily at them for stupidly telling me that I am in somebody’s pocket, or that I do not take action, or that I do not appreciate their selfless acts of heroism, or patriotism, or however it is that they’d like to be portrayed when their stories are one day told on the silver screen. As if.

Many moons ago, I painted a huge glowing target on my back by publicly questioning the competence of my mayor. I once met a guy who recognized me and said, Hey, you’re that guy who blogged his mayor out of office.” There was a lot more going on during those heady days than what I had to offer by way of the internet, but as activism goes, my lone attempt at it sure did help to fan the flames of raging discontent. And I did it all without ever attending a single city council meeting, which some of the activists like to count among their many questionable exploits as being proof of an undying commitment to the people. Big deal, they attend city councils meetings and treat us to an annoyingly predictable redundancy by repeating the same things over and over again. Yawn.

Spare me your lectures. Spare me the two-minute video clips culled from a two-hour council meeting. Spare me the nonstop self-aggrandizement campaign. Spare me the perpetual pontificating, the soapboxes made of cards, the circus stunts, the make-believe PACs, the frivolous lawsuits, the ill-prepared referendum petitions, and spare me the libelous insults that, at least in your incontinent minds, somehow passes as selfless acts of patriotism. Sorry there patriots, but if you have to reinvent yourselves at the very last minute, you are probably guilty of that which you accuse practically everyone else of.

And there is one stark difference between my former attempts at activism and yours. Unlike yourselves, I never stood to gain anything from it, nor did I want to. I did it for us, and not myself. I simply wanted a better city in which to live, and I never presented myself as something I am not. I was not, nor will I ever be a stealthy candidate dressed in activist clothing.

Way back when Wilkes-Barre was actually burning, I went toe-to-toe with the real Nero, while the rest of you were fiddling away. And now you want to chastise me with your meaningless cackle emanating from your puny minds? I chortle at the utter futility of your revisionist inquisition, but it does make for some comedic relief now and again.

I really hate to break it to you, but the last patriot seen in these negative parts was John Hannah. And you’ll never fill his shoes no matter how hard you try to clean up your mostly sorry acts at the last minute.


Can you say ‘delusional?’

I can. As a matter of fact, I just did.

Global warming? Uh-oh! Better get the Quick Joe!