From City Slickers, Palance to Crystal: "You City Folk, You Worry About A Lot of S---, Don't Ya?" ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Sunday, November 1, 2009

From City Slickers, Palance to Crystal: "You City Folk, You Worry About A Lot of S---, Don't Ya?"

"That's Great But What's The One Thing?"

"That's What You've Gotta Figure Out"

That's what we've got to figure out Tuesday. This is from the movie City Slickers. Please bear with me because as Jack Palance (Curley) said in that film:

"A couple of days, we'll move this herd across the river..."

We are part of a herd and we can decide whether to follow a City Slicker, a Sheriff or a Cowboy across that river. A few hundred votes may decide tomorrow's citywide outcome. Your vote does count. You cannot throw it away except by not voting.

If you believe that casting a vote for the candidate you support is wasted because you believe that candidate cannot win, you enter into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy. If you like the cowboy but vote for the sheriff to keep the city slicker out, what do you really accomplish? You lose the ability to make a statement with your vote. (we'll return to City Slickers in a moment...)

To this day, many people blame Ralph Nader for us being in the mess of Iraq. In other words, it was Nader, who absolutely could not win, who took enough votes from Gore which gave us Bush-- and then Iraq. Others, especially Nader supporters, say it was the messed up system that did that, and Nader was trying to clean that up. Therefore, voting for the messed up system was the problem. That's what some say.

The odds now are not the same, The stakes are not the same but the fears of voting for an Independent remain. Please don't take this as me making an endorsement. I am simply trying to respond to many people who ask me all the time if they should vote for the Independent who they then say cannot win. I tell them all it is only a self-fulfilling prophecy. I do not think any of these three candidates are great choices for mayor and either one of them could win. They each have certain strengths and they each have weaknesses. We as the voters have to weigh each one against the other. I think we know pretty clearly what are the pluses and minuses for Josh Cohen and I will tell the reader this right now-if Cohen had remained on City Council and distinguished himself as a leader, he'd be a shoe-in for mayor. But that did not happen and he seems to be fighting for his political life. If he does win, we the people will cede our right to choose his successor on County Council.

Chris Fox has turned his lack of political experience into his strongest asset in this season when we all seem to want change. His "throw the bums out" sort of vision resonates but at the cost of his inexperience, and perhaps a lack of a wider sense of or understanding about how things work in government and politics, as well as an apparent inability at times to appear as if he is listening. Cohen has him beat in terms of likability and comfort, but is that perhaps over-rated?

Cohen wants a five percent across the board spending cut, Cordle wants a tax cap and Fox says jobs will be on the line. I ask you the reader to decide which promise is more real? Which proposal is more likely to do what we need to do? Which candidate seems to be telling us like it really needs to be told?

Cohen has them all beat in terms of politics, policy and an understanding of issues as well as the all important likability. Fox has them all beat in terms of real management experience and in terms of talking to us in real, honest and commonsense terms. Cordle has the others beat in terms of experience, leadership, and long-term stability and reliability. He is not a career politician--as Cohen truly is, but he has not exactly distinguished himself as an alderman. I believe much of that is due to Boss Ellen not letting aldermen do that, as well as to our structure of government. How could he have served eight years on council and only just recently learn that the real problem is the lack of power the aldermen truly have? But he too has had trouble connecting with voters, again what we term likability. He ran a poor campaign until recently and he seems to have trouble getting a clean and consistent message out. But so does Cohen, who only decided to go anti-Ellen and anti City Hall when poll numbers said it was a good thing to do. Cordle has also gone on the attack, sometimes seeming he is seething with anger at Cohen and I wonder if sometimes he won't be like the woman he hopes to replace, at least in terms of personal style.

Fox, on the other hand, has had consistently clear and straightforward messages which he presents the same way to different audiences--clearly and consistently. This is something I don't always see with Cohen and Cordle. His tax credit ideas and plans for public housing may be ill conceived and could result in the law of unintended consequences kicking in, but at least he is interested in fixing problems, and not just tweaking or managing them. And I think he is correct when he says that anyone who questions his lack of political expertise should simply look at what the experienced politicians have done.

While Cohen will likely get along with and reason with other political leaders--his hallmark, especially considering his serious ties within the Democratic Party,  I am concerned that Cordle may take things personally and let the personal take over the political. Fox is totally untested but he has had to negotiate leases and contracts all of his business life. Being one of 16 siblings must have inculcated at some level, the ability to give and take and accept what is possible, not what is always desired. Cordle, as with Moyer, is an only child. Cohen, if I recall correctly, has one or two siblings.

I never claimed to be neutral or devoid of any biases. I focus more on supporting or opposing issues, and I try to treat each candidate equally, and give each one the same opportunity to promote or respond here on this blog. So in terms of issues, I have clearly and consistently stated my preference for a council manager form of government and against the tax cap. Take that for what it is worth. I give Cohen good marks for being consistent on these issues, even though I think he is wrong about council-manager, and have given him space here to make his views known. What really bothers me here is that Cohen did not and will not sign either petition. In other words, he seems to be saying, give me your vote to elect me mayor, but I am not going to allow you to vote on whether or not you can amend or limit my powers as mayor.

Cordle has signed both petitions. He recently came around to supporting council-manager because as he says, there were enough signatures to convince him of support and he listens to the people. Fair enough. But his literature continues to state not that he supports a council manager form of government, but that he supports a certified city manager--of which there is no such thing. The correct term is a credentialed city manager. He has been consistently opposed on the tax cap.

Fox has consistently been opposed to the tax cap, though I find his reasoning to be not well articulated. Hi concerns about a garage or a bridge collapsing are just not clear--and would be within a capital not operating budget. He has consistently supported the council manager form of government.

Just weigh them all out and consider it very carefully and please vote.

Four years ago I knew I could not support Ellen Moyer, though I had voted for her in past mayoral and aldermanic elections. I had thrown my support to Independent challenger Gil Renaut and tried very hard to work on his behalf but became disillusioned. There was no way I could support the Republican in that race, so I did the easy thing. I left town. Actually I was away on business and had planned to vote absentee but I let it slide. I could not vote for anyone.  That was, as I recall, the only election in which  I failed to vote.

Renaut, even with hardly any funding and with a pretty weak campaign, attracted about one out of every three votes in a strong showing that showed the weakness of the incumbent Democrat who did not receive a majority. We know how the next four years turned out. We also know how Renaut bowed out of the primary this time and in my opinion, did a wise and proper thing by throwing his support to the stronger candidate in whom he believed. Should I have voted for Renaut as a protest vote against Moyer? Perhaps.

There is a lesson in there somewhere.

Many of us are now confronted by confusion, disappointment and perhaps other emotions as we prepare to do our civic duty Tuesday. Vote yes, we shall do, or I hope we shall do, but for whom? Sort of like, but not completely like what Jack Palance said to Billy Crystal in one of my favorite scenes of one of my favorite movies, City Slickers. And since we fancy ourselves to be City Slickers, let us enjoy that scene together:

"One thing, just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean s---"

My advice to you would be the same as what Palance said to Crystal in the final few seconds of that scene.

LISTEN TO CP Publisher Paul Foer on 1430WNAV at 8:15 every weekday morning.
READ CP Publisher Paul Foer's "The Ninth Ward" every Wednesday in The Capital
JOIN US EACH THURSDAY 8-9 am for our Sip N' Blogs normally at ZU Coffee, 934 Bay Ridge Road in the Giant Shopping Center. Oct 29--Dave Cordle at Zu Coffee. Nov-5th--mayor-elect? Nov 12--stay tuned. Stop by on your way to work for your morning latte and meet other local activists. Zu now has a drive-through window!


Alex Pline said...

Paul, it was Gore not Kerry v. Bush in 2000... You're off by 4.

Paul Foer said...

Darn I can't get anything past these readers. Thanks for the note. Someone else already corrected me as well and it has been was that election.... good eye Alex!

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