Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Can't ... resist ... the... quips

The Dowd campaign is claiming victory by 81 votes. I don't think the phrase Red/Blue ward divide exactly applies, but it is startling how close the split is, of democrats in District 7 who care to vote on nice days with no serious mayoral or county executive challenger running. Besides, I wouldn't care to assign the red or blue label to either campaign (we're all *democrats* here, all campaign bluster aside). Still, if the Dowd campaign sees anyone named Chad hanging around, get rid of 'em. Don't need that.

Seriously, although I think the post is already staffed, I think councilman Bodack should be considered for the head of the Mayor's service center. Just my two cents. Maybe Senator Ferlo can talk to Rendell's people and find a post for Mr. Bodack. It would be a good thing.


Paul Burr said...

I can tell by your post that you are a man of peace. Thats refreshing to see. There was once a vacant lot in the city. Across the street from this lot lived an older man who had grown up in a house that that once occupied that lot which was now filled with weeds, tall grass and wild flowers. The old man would cross the street every day and stand in the lot and remember things. He remembered his family, his neighbors, all the people now gone from the neighborhood. All these people connected to him by this vacant, weed filled lot. Even when the local kids threw their candy wrappers and pop bottles onto it,he wasn't too concerned. Having a poets heart he thought that they were,in their own way making a small contribution to the neighborhood, so smiling, he would go over and pick up the litter. One day he noticed a young man standing in the lot. He stood there a long time. As the older fellow approached him they struck up a conversation. The young fellow lived next door to the lot and through some friends at city hall managed to buy it. I'm going to clear all this stuff out of here, clean it up, weed it and put in a nice garden", the young man said. The old fella was silent. He felt something passing. Not a neighbor, a friend, not the dog who barked all the time who lived down the street, who was struck by a car, who, once gone, was missed for his barking. Something was passing and the man knew it. As the days passed the lot was cleared and were replaced by a beautiful garden. But all that passers by could see was an 8 foot hight wooden fence as they walked past what used to be the vacant lot. From the 2nd floor window the old man could see the flowers and the wonderful lighted paths and the parties that were held in the garden.

BabelBabe said...

oh for christ's sake, pb. get a grip.

EdHeath said...

(You two …)
Actually, I have to tell you, Mr. Burr, I’m not quite sure how to take your comment, and isn’t that a shame in this internet day and age. I will say it made me think of the Shakespeare quote that begins “There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.”.

I hope we all aspire to be men and women of peace. The League of Young Voters reported being concerned about veiled threats and intimidation in District 3, and it is reasonable to think that negatively affected Mr. Koch. The campaign in District 7 did go negative verbally, but I never got a sense that it would be anything more than a war of words. I don’t think the negative element caused any voters to change their minds, though I suppose if one side or the other had “taken the high road” and refused to respond to negative comments, voters might have doubted that candidate (it’s the nature of the beast).

I think I understand your parable about the lot, and appreciate the feeling behind it. But I want to say something about the other thought that has been percolating in my brain today. I asked around and Chris Briem (Null Space) was kind enough to point me towards a web site where I was able to determine that in 2000 District 7 was about the same size population wise as District’s 1, 3, 5 and 9 (the other races on Tuesday). It’s kind of reasonable to assume that District 7 still is not significantly larger today than these other districts. But Len Bodack and Pat Dowd each got enough votes (over 3,000 each) to win any other contested race in the city (Doug Shields, running unopposed, got 4000 some votes). I think district 7 voters came out in much bigger numbers than the rest of the city for personal reasons, some because they had talked to Pat Dowd personally, some because Len Bodack or his father or a member of Councilman Bodack’s staff had helped them or someone they know. This race was passionate on both sides, but for the best reasons, with no one’s passions running too hot.

6,180 votes in District 7, 1200 more than any other city council race. 3000 people are dejected today, but that’s 3000 Pat Dowd should reach out to, because he knows they care enough to get out and express themselves. I hope that can be an opportunity, though, so that the 3000 end up feeling like, on balance, they got a bit more than they lost. Of course, that would be doubly true if Mr. Bodack does find employment in public service, something he clearly feels passionate about himself.

Does your parable about the lot include the notion of private property rights (sorry, my education included some economics).

Paul Burr said...

I didn't really see Mr. Bodack as a "public servant". Nor do I see Dr Dowd as one.I believe that each of these men desire to serve small insular groups of their own supporters, not the general public. Mr.Bodack was just following a tradition thats existed in Pittsbugh politics that demanded that some attention be paid to the requests of even the lowliest voter. Mr.Ferlo follows this tradition. These arn't political favors, lets call them common courtesies.

The true civic minded public servants are gone. Dr.Dowd won and will be of service to the people who share his views, his life style, and similar economic situation. The people he feels most comfortable with.

I wish I could have filmed the scene inside my local polling place yesterday. The vast majority of voters there when I arrived were Bodack supporters. Standing in the corner was a Dowd poll watcher. This poor fellow was so uncomfortable and up tight I decided to walk over and speak with him. This kind of discomfort shouldn't be. Its a misunderstanding easily resolved I believe. Any division between people who share the same neighborhood is wrong. A Dowd door knocker who stopped by my home to ask if I had voted acted as though he was about to be "jumped" at any moment. He looked as though he was caught in "enemy territory". My neighbors aren't monsters. No one should walk the back streets around here in fear. Maybe I'm feeling badly that this is the case these days. I could tell you stories Mr. Heath that would break your heart and it seems you are one of the few Bloggers who might understand the depth of the pain some people live with in District 7 on a daily basis. I have tried in my own simple way to impart some of this to people like yourself, some who I thought might be in a position to help. There were things Mr.Bodack could have done to help while a councilman but didn't or maybe couldn't do. I don't know. But I do know from experience that things are far worse than many of us know and these things are going on right here right now and they have little to do with bike paths and green initiatives. Theres a lot of people "hiding out" in Pittsburgh. People lucky enough to have good jobs and nice homes are hiding from other residents who live nearby in the same neighborhoods, people who can't enjoy the same quality of life. Dr.Dowd will make a good councilman for the people who share his values and live similar lifestyles. I think that those who supported Mr.Bodack will be left without a voice, Maybe they only thought they had one but really did'nt. I'm not concerned about what Mr. Bodack does next. He has the means and the network to get through this.The people I live near don't. Maybe the people I see who are building the high fences only think about those less fortunate when they lock their doors at night before going up to bed. Years ago and for a very long I could go to sleep in District 7 with my doors unlocked enjoying the night breezes and the sounds of the whistles on the coal trains going up the Allegheny River valley. Big wooden fences alienate people. They make some folks feel uncomfortable especially in places where they were never seen before. There are more and more fences being thrown up around here these days both real and symbolic. Maybe thats the nature of progress. Who wants to see "a red and a blue" District 7 or a "red and blue" Pittsburgh for that matter? Not me! Real reform may mean addressing this issue before any others. "Those people", the ones living around me aren't complaining, not now,not yet.They know that its everyman for himself that too is a Pittsburgh tradition. One thats kept all of us apart. But thats no way to live. Don't you agree?

Skip said...

Ed, I would be curious about the point you raised about district 7; that while it is same sized as other districts there were about twice as many people that voted in 7 than in other districts. What the 2000 census would not capture is that the demographic has likely changed. The east end around Larryville/Friendship has gotten an influx or 'in-migration' of both home owning and renting under-40s. I wouldn't be surprised if, proportionally, this demographic was or became 'active voters'.
If you pursue this, and I'd be interested in hearing your findings if you do, the county board of elections will furnish at your request records of all voters in terms of frequency of voting - and you would want democratic only. You can compare this to my hypothesis or to voters in an election prior to this one, and probably 2005 too.

Paul, your comment seems to point out very obtusely and with wide brush strokes the fact that American culture is retreating behind it's fences. If you lived in Larryville back when the entire block participated in raising neighborhood children, I don't think a council member (Bodack or Dowd) is going to address that one. These are cultural trends and I would agree with your perspective. However, I think your perspective of both Dowd and Bodack acting as 'agents' of certain neighborhood interest group coalitions is inaccurate. Take for instance outcome-based budgeting. City services should not be 'common courtesies' - like, "you pave my road next month, len, because I drove the busload of committee people to breakfast on committee endorsement day, remember?". A council member needs to be responsive to his constituents but trying to please particular interested parties is called a patronage system, and one that has gotten us into the mess were in now. Outcome or performance based goals are agreed upon beforehand and then everyone is privy to how well those goals are being reached. Scan Ed's blog for a discussion Dowd popped in on a few weeks ago regarding the performance contract he oversaw regarding superintendent Roosevelt. That's an example of diplomacy and effective service delivery.

sorry to be so long winded! cheers.

EdHeath said...

Well, I just finished being long winded on the fishing report, so turn about is fair play. I need to run too, but I just wanted to mention one thought, along the lines of who gets city services. This is only a partial thought, but I think part of what makes democracy works is that the rich and the interested do enjoy a disproportionate amount of service. My thought is that if the rich do not get more, they will use their money and power to change things until they do get more. Which is a very broad brush statement. But it is by way of excusing politicians for providing service to the constituencies that elect them. Now poor Patrick Dowd has not even won the general election yet, is not elected, he is simply the official democratic candidate, yet endless speculation has started about how he will perform in office. I don’t have an opinion of how he performed on the school board, which is not a good thing. You like to see clear results, like turning all our kid into the Children of the Corn or something, yet like with most big cities our schools seem to be struggling. The fifty fifty split of 60,000 of us leaving or dying without replacement since 2000 can’t have helped. Anyway, Dr. Dowd knows he owes a debt to Highland Park, that voted for him in such numbers. I wouldn’t blame him if he put money into turning Bryant street into Walnut street II, but I hope he doesn’t think that’s what Highland Park wants. I hope Dr. Dowd is going to live up to his campaign promises, and I plan to watch. More later.(gee, this was more than one thought)

Paul Burr said...

I promised myself I wouldn't become one of those old timers who went around talking about the good old days, but here I am ( and I'm only in my mid 50s). Next I guess I'll be complaining about the "young folks" and talking about how "shocking behavior" is changing society. I want to thank you for your Blog and for letting me express my opinions.
I guess I'm new to this "old coot" business. A sentimental old coot to boot. ha ha Don't let this happen to you!

EdHeath said...

Well, Mr. Burr, you are welcome to express your opinions here anytime, as is pretty much anyone (I'll censor when I think John Cleese or Graham Chapman would be/would have been offended). I hold no person's opinons below my own, but I have to admit (heh) I hold no one's opinions above my own either.
Still, feel free to share your experience with us, at worst it well help us look at things through someone else's eyes.

Bram Reichbaum said...

I think there's a distinction here. I feel where Paul is coming from, or at least I think I do, but there is one notable distinction

Of course there was a socio-cultural-economic divide between the two candidates. Dowd, to my knowledge, never whipped up his supporters by making his opponents the alien "other." Bodack, though, did do just that, at least his supporters did on the blogs. It was almost a campaign strategy; paint him as the effete, overeducated "pretty boy" who's not interested in "ordinary" lawrenceville voters. (People from highland park aren't ordinary? And nothing in Dowd's program could be beneficial to lawrenceville?)

And then there was also ... I almost hate to bring this up again ... Bodack's unwilingness to debate, or even appear. No one understands this; by all account Bodack is extremely effective at communicating the needs of his district, and connecting. He just seemed not to respect the process.

Point being, I can certainly appreciate being cynical about warring factions and overenthusiastic young turks proclaiming utopia in our time -- but let's at least give Patrick time to establish a record before writing him off as a flash in the pan. In other words -- don't be such a grinch, get into the bloody spirit for a little while.