Topic: urban issues
I remember with pleasure how famed environmentalist Barry Commoner dealt with reporters when he ran for president in 1980. As the Citizens Party’s first presidential nominee, and on general principle, he had little patience for electoral bullshit. (That word had figured audibly in a CitP radio ad, bringing much needed attention to the cause.)
Commoner loved to tell how one reporter asked him the question of questions: “Are you a serious candidate, or are you just running on the issues?” You can imagine what must have gone through Commoner’s mind: Did this guy really say what I think he said? Is this as a teachable moment? Should I give the pipsqueak a lesson he won’t forget?
Now segue to November 2005 - and local journalists who ask their own silly questions and give even sillier answers.
I’m thinking especially of City Newspaper’s recent endorsements. Let me make it clear: I know from experience that these are not consensus choices of the CityNews editorial staff. So don’t blame honest writers like Tim Macaluso and Krestia DeGeorge. And don’t be fooled by the editorial “we.” Nobody but the boss, Mary Anna Towler, is responsible. Politically, at least when it comes to elections, City is a one-horse town.
For the general election, the “alternative” paper’s mayoral pick is Bob Duffy. Same as Gannett’s. Granted, Duffy is worlds better than his most amply funded opponent, Republican John Parrinello, who’s lately distinguished himself by being less of a tough-on-policing demagogue than he was at the start of the campaign.
But once again City, I mean Towler, has passed over the man who’s clearly the best candidate: Tim Mains.
You may remember City/Towler’s endorsement for the September Democratic primary. It amounted to this: Mains is the best candidate. So we choose Wade Norwood.
Now City is telling you: You probably remember we told you Mains is the best candidate. But we're supporting Duffy.
The common thread here is obvious. The leaders in this community, and that includes obsequious editors and publishers, generally go with what the big parties and business pooh-bahs want. They go with the designated candidate in the primary, then with the designated candidate in the general election. What could be simpler?
Or more wrong.
If journalism is going to mean anything, it will have to look for the best – the most progressive, the most honest, the most imaginative – and go with that. It’s the issues that count, not the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure or success, and certainly not any genuflection to entrenched interests and pre-ordained outcomes.
It's about movement-building.
Now the voting booth beckons, and all of City’s and Gannett’s posturing will not prevail against it. What’s a good voter to do? I like Bob Duffy personally, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him as mayor. I think Chris Maj is interesting, but he’s too unfocused to be a serious candidate. (Maybe next time.) And Parrinello, plain and simple, is a bullshitter.
The choice is clear. I’m pulling the Working Families lever for Tim Mains on November 8. And I hope a decent percentage of you will, too. He’s got the experience, the intelligence, the imagination, and the specifics. All he needs is a pile of votes.