Sunday, May 1, 2011

Richardson Coalition 2011 Voter's Guide

Sears 1968 Wish Book

It's out. It's the most anticipated mailing of the year. It's even better than the Sears Christmas Wish Book of old (ask your parents). It's the Richardson Coalition 2011 Voter's Guide.

After the jump, let's pore over our new Wish Book.

The first thing to notice is the list of candidate endorsements:

  • Place 1: Bob Townsend
  • Place 2: Mark Solomon
  • Place 3: Scott Dunn
  • Place 4: Laura Maczka
  • Place 5: Kendal Hartley
  • Place 6: Steve Mitchell
  • Place 7: Amir Omar

No surprises here. The Coalition let the cat out of the bag in their earlier mailer, "A Message from Chief Larry Zacharias." Fans of Richardson Idol will note that six of the seven endorsements are for winners of that exciting, tension-packed contest that challenged the candidates to give top performances for six straight weeks in front of demanding live audiences. Read on to learn the one race where the Coalition got it wrong -- maybe.

Place 1. The Coalition says Townsend provides the experience the new council will need. Yep. The Coalition says William Gordon sued the city, a lawsuit the appeals court dismissed as moot. Yep. Gordon claims his lawsuit is still being litigated. An argument kind of like, it's not dead, it's resting.

Place 2. The Coalition says Solomon has a reputation for honesty. Here, the Coalition sounds like the judges on Richardson Idol struggling to find some specific accomplishments to recommend Solomon. The Coalition disputes John DeMattia's claim that the city budget is running a deficit. This argument is getting tedious on both sides. The Coalition claims that DeMattia is not owning up to his opposition to the 2010 bond proposals. Yep. Andrew Laska has the video evidence on this.

Place 3. The Coalition recommends Scott Dunn without saying any more about him than Dunn himself, running unopposed, needed to say during the campaign forums.

Place 4. The Coalition recommends Laura Maczka because of her knowledge, focus and experience. Yep. The Coalition merely points out Karl Voigtsberger's serial candidacies as a reason not to take him seriously. There is more they could have said. My guess is they don't think Voigtsberger is a threat to Maczka (unlike the Hartley/Stewart race, next).

Place 5. Reading between the lines, I suspect this is the race that worries the Coalition the most. Perhaps tellingly, it's the race where the Coalition's recommendation differs from the Richardson Idol judges. The Coalition wisely highlights Hartley's long service to our city, but it lavishes on undeserved praise when it says he "speaks passionately." Hartley himself freely admits that public speaking is not a strength of his. The Coalition is misleading in its attacks on Dennis Stewart. The Coalition takes a few of Stewart's campaign statements out of context and distorts his positions on taxes and spending. Their argument against Stewart should embarrass the Coalition. I suspect the Coalition fears that Stewart is a stronger candidate than Hartley and is doing everything it can to paint Stewart as unacceptable. (I'll have more to say about this race in the days to come. I consider it the most interesting of all.)

Place 6. The Coalition recommends Steve Mitchell, unopposed in Place 6, highlighting his support for the 2010 bond proposals and DART-oriented development.

Place 7. The Coalition recommends Omar, citing his "high energy" (Yep. It's hard to dispute that) and his saving the city "over $4 million." The Coalition doesn't itemize those savings, so it's hard to evaluate the claim. Perhaps it's a rebuttal to those who have criticized the "Tree the Town" program as being a significant expense to the city. The Coalition says Clawson lacks a "clear position on big picture issues." Yep. They didn't mention it, but her "Trash the Town" television campaign is a good example of her missing the big picture. The Coalition says neither Clawson nor Alan North responded to requests for information. Sure, Clawson was not likely to earn the Coalition's endorsement in any case, but ignoring their request for information suggests she might not work with opponents if elected. As for Alan North, after six weeks of candidate forums, the most asked question about him is, does he even exist?

Of the endorsement arguments for the seven places, six fall within the usual bounds of acceptable political spin, if you remember to take anything any PAC says with a grain of salt. Always remember, the Coalition is a political action committee. They don't claim to be an impartial source of information. The public shouldn't expect balanced treatment, but we ought to demand that the information not be misleading. The arguments given for one place, Place 5, fall outside that standard. One big lump of coal there. Elsewhere in this year's Wish Book, several small lumps of coal sprinkled with several acceptable stocking stuffers. Overall, I give this political mailer three Old Glories (out of five).

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