Representatives Diane Loeffler and Phyllis Kahn have been very clear in their postures about the Mayor’s “edifice complex” [kudos to Southside Pride’s Eddie Felien for this succinct phrase]. Jeff Skrenes aka Hawthorne Hawkman writes with great clarity of purpose in his free speech blog entry at the Daily Planet. On his personal website http://north-by-northside.blogspot.com/ Jeff has a counter keeping track of the revolving door through which an incredible 27 council aides have passed in the office of Ward 3 City Council Member Diane Hofstede.
Next door in Ward 1, CM Kevin Reich signals that the remarkably thin ice on which the Mayor has been slip-sliding along may be developing ominous cracks. In Ward 4, City Council President Barb Johnson who has been chastised officially for using her ample campaign funds for personal hygiene costs is “betting the farm” on the Mayor’s three-card Monte approach to municipal governance. Look up the suspiciously familiar details of this confidence game on Wikipedia if you like, because we are certainly being led down a similar primrose path.
In Ward 2, CM Cam Gordon is a crackerjack elected representative who is the pride of his neighborhoods. Cam alone is reliably in touch with the public via his active participation in the e-Democracy forums, his thorough explanations of legislative intent [vide the text of his oath of office that he shares with us that implicitly suggests that there may be less stringent awareness of that oath in his elected vicinity than the Minneapolis electorate might find unseemly on close inspection], and is numbered with the other CMs who have their thinking caps on.
In Ward 5, alas, CM Don Samuels sides with the Council President while running for a seat on the Hennepin County Board. Good fortune to him in the August primary because he will be compared with such other candidates as former State Senator Linda Higgins who has been – as always – adroit in her relationships with fellow elected DFLers. Representative Joe Mullery has a more focused difference of opinion with the Mayor and his following - and all these worthies need to grasp the seriousness with which challengers like Paula Pentel and Marcus Harcus, admittedly my personal favorites, are signaling a change in the political weather.
There is no joy in Mudville for the Mayor and his lot in Wards 6, 7, 8, and 9 – these CMs are savvy and have leadership responsibilities that wear well on their shoulders. The same can be said of Ward 13, the Mayor’s home ward, where CM Betsy Hodges has agreed with CMs Lilligren, Goodman, Glidden, and Schiff that our municipal ship of state is struggling in troubled waters while the Mayor is in essence absent from the wheelhouse, bedazzled by the bright lights and other comfits offered in the ship’s salon by corporate cardsharks.
This leaves Ward 10, where CM Tuthill has dutifully signed off on the Mayor’s form letter as have the CMs in Wards 11 and 12. There are square miles of stable residential occupance in these Wards and one can but wonder by what casuistry CMs Tuthill, Quincy, and Colvin Roy will justify the relentless financial obligation being contemplated that would commit the City’s taxpayers to guaranteeing a $675,000,000 wager by the Mayor that will hang over their heads for literally two generations. Do all these thousands of constituents sleep quietly in their beds as foreclosures crop up around them, as their post-secondary children discover that a 4-year bachelor’s degree means debt, not jobs, like as not; their K-12 kids are challenged by painful financial cutbacks in our schools and parks; their preschoolers are left to the tender mercies of expensive daycare while parents are stuck with whatever work they can hold on to; and the older set – grandparents and others - must approach their “golden years” with considerable trepidation.
No need to dwell on all these domestic realities if the hundreds of millions of dollars – over two thousand million dollars before cost overruns – that are the Mayor’s and the Legislature’s imagined folding money to give over to a “trophy” project - are directed to the more prosaic obligations of municipal governance that are mandatory, not optional.
Venality is part of the human condition just as is compassion. The contrast in motivations is quite apparent here and the Mayor’s impulsive overreach demeans his high office. I have to doubt that his supporters have thought much about this issue of ethics in government or IMHO they would not have been so ready to sign the form letters – not even their own words – that have precipitated this mess.