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Spanky Runs for Mayor

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In this episode, Spanky’s about to create some mischief and mayhem for Mr. Mayor. The City Council made Spanky their official leader and no sooner done than it was said he would not be uncivil like mean old Mr. Mayor, but would turn another and another and another cheek until Mr. Port could see just how submissive he would be. Hence, I guess, the nickname, Spanky.

Well before my first psychology class, the Little Rascals became a paradigm of group behavior for me. Before anyone told me about alpha personalities or passive agressiveness, I appreciated how a guy like Spanky could get himself and his friends in trouble. And in most episodes it was only pure luck, or the timely intervention of the adults, that got his crew out of trouble.

Spanky always had a plan. And though the gang, faced with his proposals, were usually wide-eyed in their intimidation, somehow through sheer self assertiveness he was always able to lead everyone into harm’s way. Before long, all were in the soup.

For those still blessed with youth, unfamiliar with the Our Gang Comedies, the ensemble was a bunch of hilarious child actors, also known as The Little Rascals, led by this diminutive fellow Spanky. His most well known sidekicks were Buckwheat and Alfalfa. And of course there was always that dark haired girl of means he was so anxious to impress.

Well I didn’t set out to take you on a trip down memory lane. I want to talk about the role of partisan political parties, their operatives and apparatus, in campaigns for non-partisan offices. If this is a distinction without a difference, why make a distinction at all?

We had quite a dust up at the end of the last mayoral campaign. At the center of the controversy were the endorsements of the Democratic party. The winner was given token support. The loser was not only endorsed but was in command of the party’s mailing lists, phone banks and social network. You sure can’t say the dems didn’t have a dog in the fight.

In the end the losers wanted the winner disqualified claiming the endorsements made it a partisan race, and alleging the winner could not participate in a partisan contest. Surrogates still rail and work to have the election overturned.

So what’s the reason for making so many of our elected offices non-partisan? Why shouldn’t they be partisan? And if they shouldn’t, why do we tolerate the local political parties meddling in the races?

Partisans are firm adherents to a party or faction, with an inclination to favor their own over others. Perhaps because partisanship is curiously similar to gang behavior, where a group works together for sometimes antisocial ends, out of an abundance of caution we attempted to prevent partisan politicians from taking over local government. It seems that at least at this level we felt partisanship could become antisocial.

Take note. We did not set out to establish bi-partisanship in our local affairs. We sought non-partisanship. Again, not a distinction without a difference. That is to say we sought to prevent a group whose interests were one sided from organizing to direct the policies of local government and favor their own. These non-partisan offices were intended to be filled by individuals who not only weren’t beholding to a party for their election, but who were able to transcend their personal prejudices to act in the interests of the community as a whole.

Going back to the last municipal elections, so what was the role of these folks from the two parties? We know that like a zebra changing its stripes, the former chairman of the local dems offered himself for the city council, ostensibly as a non-partisan. And we know that the party apparatus was up and running in more than one race to elect their own. The parties endorsed candidates in numerous non-partisan races. There seems no obstacle to partisans overwhelming truly non-partisan candidates.

And now Spanky’s gang is positioning themselves to take out that interloper who stole the mayor’s office from them.

Where are the adults?

The little rascals are about to run amok again, and we seem already to have forgotten the mischief and mayhem of the last episode.

Bellingham has been doing a quite reasonable job of budgeting in difficult times, taking a stand to remake the city and protect the environment, and has remained almost stoic in its perseverance towards an economically realistic plan to redevelop the waterfront.

All we need is Spanky and his gang undermining those efforts all in the hope of retaking city government. Before he starts weakening the executive office, maybe he should first get elected.

About g.h.kirsch

Contributor • Member since Jan 16, 2008

Comments by Readers

Tip Johnson

Jan 25, 2009

Alright, take away his Photoshop!

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Hue Beattie

Jan 26, 2009

As Darla would say,they are all good Democrats and so is the Mayor ;let’s get some ice cream and go to the movies ,Frost/Nixon is playing at Sunset Sq.

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Sharon Crozier

Jan 29, 2009

Framing really is everything, isn’t it?

The original objection to your new mayor’s election had nothing at all to do with party affiliation. It had everything to do with his failing to report major contributions to his campaign and attempting to conceal their sources. It had, also, to do with running his campaign from his government desk in Skagit County and campaigning on government time—in clear violation of the Hatch Act. It had to do with dispensing federal monies while engaging in party politics (Yes, the feds did care deeply about that and, before Pike’s trip to DC, seemed ready to pursue the issue.) He blamed all of his indiscretions on ignorance. While I won’t argue with his claim, it doesn’t take a brilliant mind to read the warning on every government contract he signed that clearly stated the conflict his politics created.

As for access to voter databases, his campaign manager could have obtained that information as easily as anyone else, if she’d either known or cared to do so. Anyway, he did get elected and she got a good job so all were successful. Yay.

I’m not saying that anything should necessarily result from his reporting failures or campaign discrepancies—I’m just suggesting that the re-writing of history should be left to people who don’t know any better.

Respectfully,

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g.h. kirsch

Jan 29, 2009

Thank you Sharon for providing such tangible corroboration underscoring the accuracy of my summary characterization of the losers’ position following the mayoral race:

“In the end the losers wanted the winner disqualified claiming the endorsements made it a partisan race, and alleging the winner could not participate in a partisan contest. Surrogates still rail and work to have the election overturned.”

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Sharon Crozier

Jan 30, 2009

Ahh, Greg….From reframing history to reframing my post.

Cheers!

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g.h. kirsch

Jan 31, 2009

I’ll leave the last word to you Sharon.  Does this mean you don’t want to marry me any more?

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