Over at the Burgh Report (which I like to pronounce in a Colbert fashion, http://burghreport.blogspot.com/) something fairly extraordinary has gone on in the last week. A post with Councilman Bodack’s name in the title (“Bodack: I'm So Excited ... I'm So Scared”, some kind of reference to “Saved by the Bell”) has had 113 comments since Tuesday, most notably (in my opinion) several by Patrick Dowd late at night. After all, you can’t knock on doors at 11:00pm, so you might as well cruise the blogs. Dr Dowd’s willingness to debate matters in this race extended itself to an exchange between him and a school crossing guard.
To back up a little, I remember there was an issue so time ago about the crossing guards, that the school board decided it couldn’t afford them. As I remember, the city picked up the tab. According to the guard on the Burgh Report, (I think) the school board still has not picked up the tab again. It is possible (and now I am speculating) the city is paying the crossing guards as 1099 contractors, meaning no health benefits and a tax nightmare. Regardless of what the situation is exactly, I am not surprised that the crossing guards would have some antipathy for a school board member running for office.
I want to talk a bit about Dr Dowd’s views on anonymous commenter’s, but I think I will save that for another time. What’s interesting to me about the crossing guard commenter was how hostile she seemed to Dr Dowd. She is not *too* hostile to other commenter’s (including myself), taking a “you believe what you believe and I believe what I believe” attitude. But she almost seemed to have a “Perry Mason” type attitude toward Dr Dowd, that if she could list her accusations to him, in a public forum, he would admit “his lies” and … I don’t know, quit the race, stop teaching children and go work in a leper colony as penance.
I don’t want to be unnecessarily snarky or mean, but our crossing guard here is engaging in what *I think* can only be described as classic cognitive dissonance. While Dr Dowd might not be totally polite (really wanting her to reveal her identity), he is at least was pretty polite. She was not rude per se, but she is willing to ascribe negative connotations to everything he says, and everything said about him. What I think she believes:
*If Dr Dowd has someone’s support, it’s because they’ve been fooled or because they are rich. Conversely those who oppose Dr Dowd do so because they support working class people. Dr Dowd’s talk about transparency is a cynical attempt to pull the wool over our eyes, to accuse Councilman Bodack of hiding things when it is Dr Dowd who has much to hide.*
You’ve got to give both of them credit for talking, but unfortunately it was more at each other than to each other. That is the thing about cognitive dissonance, it is filtered listening, a closed but active mind. The only thing that might have helped the situation a little was if Dr Dowd had talked a little about what he wants to do regarding the crossing guard situation. Maybe it was an act, but to me the crossing guard’s pain when she was talking to “Agent Ska” was fairly obvious; she is very unhappy about her job situation (and who can blame her). It is unfortuanate that she seems to want to place all the on Dr Dowd.
I don’t know how this election is going to go, how this race is going to go. Councilman Boadack won last time in a special election and a primary in a three way split, by just a few votes. But that was with a competitive mayor’s race to spark interest. Councilman Bodack has followed what is probably the best strategy for him, hunker down, no debates, don't even acknowledge the competition much, run some district events and rely on the party to get out the faithful, in a race that could have a low turnout. Every person that Dr Dowd is able to convince to vote is a plus for him, but it remains to be seen whether he knocked on enough doors.
I do think, for whatever warts he might have, whatever mis-steps he might have made on the school board, the city needs Patrick Dowd to inject some ideas (along with Bill Peduto) into council. And I say that recognizing that Len Bodack has done nothing obviously wrong as a councilman.
Hopefully there are not too many people who are looking at the race in a cognitively dissonant way.