Wednesday, November 08, 2006


The common wisdom is that all politics are local. Yesterday the opinion is that this time, it was national/global. It was all about Iraq. I'm not sure that is all together true, but the locally based races (the individual representatives) for national office seems to bear that out.

And Rumsfeld tendered his resignation hours after the almost final results are in (the Senate balance is yet to be determined at this writing). It's early afternoon in Washington DC the day after the election and a successor has been named. I can only conclude they were prepared for these results. I'm not sure what to make of that. It is, at the very least, interesting.

Back to local politics.....

In 2000 the people decided that the area of Sacramento County known as "Elk Grove" ought to become their own city. In 2000 there were 60,000 - odd people in that area. Now there are 130,000 or so. Fastest growing city in the country we are. Back in 2000 we elected 5 people to the City Council. They have all been re-elected once.

Four years ago a civil campaign was run by all. Right up until the Saturday before election day when nasty mailers were delivered on behalf of an incumbant. His opponant had no time to answer the charges. It was that day that he forever lost my vote. I wasn't going to vote for him then anyway. I was going to vote for his opponant because I had been pleased with his work on another elected body and thought he was a better choice.

Two years ago when the other 'half' of the council (we have a 2 - 3 split...) was up for re-election, it was nasty. I blame Dan Briggs. He stooped down and picked up the mud his feet were mired in and started throwing it. The other three followed. Unfortunately, the other three were re-elected because there were so many others on the ballot and they split the vote. I don't really consider 30%-40% of the vote a "win", but it was the highest percentage and so they "won".

Yesterday Dan Briggs only got 30% of the vote. I don't know much about the guy who won (and who I voted for). But other than "funded by developers", I never heard anything that caused me to have any second thoughts. And in many ways, it wasn't a vote FOR but a vote against. I am more inclined to vote for Arnold Schwartzenegger than Dan Briggs....

In two years the other three will be up for re-election. They should be worried about keeping their seats. I think they grossly underestimated how angry the community is over a single vote. It might not seem like a big deal, but it was symptomatic over how out of touch those five people had become in the short time they have been a city council. The Elk Grove Auto Mall simply does not need a big electronic sign on the freeway to advertise their presence. What they NEED is better public relations. They can do that by insisting that their dealers be more responsive to the customer. (we didn't buy our new VW there when we were told they didn't want to look for the car we wanted for us. Ok then......) (and we are not alone) But after a hefty "donation" to the city, the sign was approved. Most citizen think that all those cars lined up along the freeway says "cars are sold here". But apparently we were mistaken.

Politics are more local than the politicians like to think. We bear grudges. A single error can be unforgiveable. Repeated errors, hubris and arrogance will be remembered. We think we have a short attention span. We often do on surprisingly important ideas. But repetition will eventually get through our collective thick skulls. Admittedly that sets the politicos up for a fall. We don't hold them accountable for the first 'bad acts'. Then we slam them when we finally get fed up.

Which is why all politics are local. Because it doesn't matter if it's a stupid electronic sign at the city limits or a war on the other side of the world. Screw up enough, we'll remember at the polls and make changes here to make changes there. We might hate the idea of a gaudy sign being the first impression of our city. Or maybe we've buried too many of our young people fighting a war in the desert. But it all comes down to how it affects the "me". The "us". When we have to avert our eyes from the glare of the sign in the night or sit with a friend who's daughter just came home in a flag draped casket....

They think it isn't personal.

They are wrong.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006