Friday, April 22, 2011

Richardson Idol: Week Five

Richardson Idol's popularity is growing, staging three new shows this week. Tuesday's show was sponsored by the Richardson Chamber of Commerce. Because it was pay-per-view our judges will not consider it in their reviews. Thursday night's show was sponsored by the American Muslim Alliance. Saturday's matinee will be sponsored by the Mark Twain HOA and Glenville Park HOA. Our judges don't do the daytime version of our show, so this week's voting is based solely on the Thursday night show.

Eleven of thirteen contestants vying for the grand prize, a seat on the Richardson City Council, performed on our stage for our judges Thursday night (absent: Clawson, North).

As the format requires, it is up to the audience (and by audience, I mean me) to eliminate one contestant each week until we have a council.

But before we hear who will be eliminated this week, let's first hand out superlatives ... after the jump.

Thursday night's show: Dallas Central Mosque

The show opened with a prayer. My Arabic is sketchy, but I think it committed me to fasting during Ramadan. The "Surprise" award goes to our host, who announced that our show would be interrupted halfway through for prayer in another room, after which we should be sure to return because there would be a surprise. I think the announcement of the intermission prayer was already a surprise to most first time mosque guests.

The "Gracious Guest" award goes to all the candidates who related a convincing connection to the Muslim community. To Steve Mitchell, who gave an Arabic greeting. To Dennis Stewart, who remembered how the RPD dispatched security to the mosque after 9/11 as a precaution. To Amir Omar, who, in answer to a question about what impact the Islamic community had on each candidate, smiled and asked, "Do you mean what have *we* done for the community?" (Smooth.)

The "C For Effort" award goes to Mark Solomon and Bob Townsend. When asked what impact the Islamic community had on each candidate, Mark Solomon said his wife works across the street and gets very involved with the Islamic community every Friday. Some in the audience laughed politely. When asked how to increase diversity among the leadership of the city, Bob Townsend related how serving halal hot dogs increased turnout at his neighborhood block parties.

The "Funny Name" award goes to Laura Maczka and Karl Voigtsberger. The host struggled with both names. Meanwhile, Amir Omar wisely decided to omit from his standard stump speech his line about being the candidate with the "funny name."

The "Did He Really Say That?" award goes to William Gordon. When asked how to increase diversity among the leadership of the city, Gordon told a story about Jews in Israel warning him about Muslims, but Muslims on the West Bank telling him over coffee how much they wanted peace. Someone please tell me that insulting Jews in front of a Muslim audience is not the way to win elections in Richardson.

The "Open Door" award goes to Karl Voigtsberger. When asked how to increase diversity among the leadership of the city, Voigtsberger said, as he has said at other forums, that people should feel free to come talk to him. He's never indicated that he feels it would be more effective for him to go out in the community himself, listen to concerns and pro-actively work to increase involvement by all segments of the community.

The "No False Modesty" award goes to Dennis Stewart. After several candidates expressed that they, as first term council members, would feel unqualified being selected as mayor, Stewart said, "Since no one else wants to do it, I will." But before Stewart could be appointed by acclamation, Mitchell and Omar both quickly added that they would be honored if chosen as mayor by their fellow council members.

The "Hospitality" award goes to our show's producer and the half dozen local businesses who supplied a great variety of delicious food for all.

Finally, the time has come to pick the candidate who will be sent home this week. Remember, someone has to go. Not going on to the next round is not a dishonor. Drum roll, please. ... This is it. The votes have been tallied. Richardson has spoken.

Dennis Stewart, you've been a crowd favorite. Your gruff exterior belies a folksy heart. As the saying goes, country songs tell a story, and your song selection was no exception. To the questions about making city government more culturally inclusive, your stories were based on your experience in the police department and revealed both idealism and desire for inclusiveness. To the questions about neighborhood integrity, you returned again and again to something concrete, the Home Improvement Incentive Program. Did the judges detect a bit of possessiveness, maybe even fatherly pride, in that program? That spirit impressed the judges. On stage, you avoided any overt signs of being caught in the growing divide of political faction in Richardson. But off stage, we're not so sure. On stage, your tenor solos were pleasing to the ear. Off stage, your glee club's higher pitch - shall we call it tweeting? - gives our judges concern. Nevertheless, your overall performance convinced the judges to take a chance. Don't disappoint us. Dennis Stewart, ... you are safe.

Kendal Hartley, you are a promising new talent on our Richardson Idol stage. But your song selection was safe, your voice hesitant at times, and never did you make a song your own. Looking back on your performances, it's hard to find enough material for a highlight reel. It's not so much that you ever stumbled, it's that you never soared. We're confident that if chosen, you would serve well, but the judges are looking for potential stars. Because we don't judge you're ready yet to fill that role, Kendal Hartley, I'm sorry, you are out. But thanks for playing.

Tune in next week for the season finale of Richardson Idol.

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