For a variety of reasons -- some of them good -- I've been off the blog for another protracted period. And for a variety of reasons -- some of them good -- I'm still not ready to give all this up. I've found that when getting back into the blog, the best strategy is to take on some low-hanging fruit. Go after some person place or thing easy to criticize, deride, snark about.
So let's check in on Warner Mendenhall's effort to recall Akron Mayor Plusquellec.
This week, in conjunction with the Mayor's State of the City address, Mendenhall rolled out release 1.2 of the recall effort. Last November the Mendenhollers set up a (now nearly static) website and promise to work at recruiting volunteers. This week however many folks they have are supposedly beginning the petition effort. Warner robo-called to invite me to a meeting about the whole thing, but unfortunately I had some important dishes to wash.
Aside from the fundamental argument that the city is broke and therefore needs to spend another $160 grand on a special election, the fundamental silliness of all this is captured nicely by Mendenhall's response to the State of the City address itself:
- Mendenhall, who watched the speech on the Web, said Plusquellic addressed several partnerships but not the one with the community. He said the mayor doesn't listen to or solicit feedback from citizens, especially when it's critical of him.
"We need to hear from people: 'What is the state of the city?'" he said. "It's not for the mayor to say. It's for the citizens to tell him."
This sort of knee-jerk contrariansim has marked Mendenhall's political career -- particularly his running fire fight with the Mayor. He offers little other than the immediate objection to whatever Plusquellec has proposed. Well, that and sucking up to city employee unions. The recall group has offered some reasonable critiques, but are hard to take seriously packaged with this venom and goofiness.
Which is the real tragedy in all this. The city could use a serious minded critic of city government. One-party political environments rarely produce good government. (*cough* Cuyahoga County *cough*). That Akron has stayed afloat as long as it has without any serious threat to the power structure in itself speaks highly of that power structure. But it's far from perfect and legitimate loyal opposition would be welcome.
That Mendenhall has been able to maintain his practice as well as whatever power base he has through all his political adventures disproves the adage that you can't fight city hall. Unfortunately he has yet to demonstrate that he can fight city hall without acting a fool.