Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Richardson's First Directly Elected Mayor

Who will it be? Read on.

Yesterday, I analyzed the upcoming referendum to amend Richardson's City Charter to have a directly-elected mayor. I confidently predicted that the proposed amendment would pass. I less confidently predicted that there would be no serious organized opposition because the amendment would be likely to pass in any case. Everyone would save their time, effort and money for the upcoming mayoral election in May, 2013.

After the jump, how that will go down.

For the sake of argument, let's grant the assumption that motivated many of the petition organizers, that Richardson's mayor is selected by secret back room politicking by power brokers who dictate to the council members whom to select. The assumed power brokers are the Richardson Coalition PAC (or RC for short). Let's call the petition backers who want to change the system the Richardson Outsiders (or RO for short).

If the RC really does have the power that the RO claims, then there will likely be little change come May, 2013. The new mayor will be whomever the RC endorses in the mayor's race. All other establishment candidates will accede to the RC's decision, choose not to run, and the mayor's race will come down to the RC-backed candidate against an RO-backed candidate. In the 2011 city elections, the RC-backed candidates beat the RO-backed candidates 7-0. So, don't expect change. In fact, the only way that the charter change will bring any real change is if the RO's conspiracy theory is wrong. Ironic, no?

But let's stick with the RO's fantasy a little bit longer and assume the charter change breaks the lock on power of the RC. The RO's dream will be to have two or three or maybe even four of the current council members all decide, because the RC is no longer calling the shots, to go for the brass ring themselves. Only one can win the mayor's race and all of the others would be off the council, opening up seats for RO-backed candidates. Dream on, RO. Ain't gonna happen.

In fact, the truth as always is somewhere in the gray area in between. The RC doesn't have quite as much power as the RO claim, but the RC clearly can influence election results and will continue to do so as long as RC decides to remain active in Richardson politics. Any candidate who wants to run with the support of Richardson's business community will want to gain the support of the RC. That can be only one candidate. Expect the others to see that and choose, wisely, to seek one of the six other council seats instead.

After all, the mayor's role is not a powerful one, no matter how he or she is chosen. The mayor's seat will still be just one of seven council seats. It brings with it no veto power. It brings no appointment power. It does bring the power of the gavel during council meetings, but even that requires at least three other council members to acquiesce in how the mayor is running meetings. In short, when it comes to real power and not just ribbon-cutting photo ops, the mayor's seat is "not worth a bucket of warm piss," in the famous words of a US Vice President from Texas from another era. It's certainly not worth a nasty election battle between otherwise good candidates that would cost the City of Richardson the service of whomever losers.

So, who will be the first directly elected mayor? Here's where I'm going to disappoint readers. It depends on who runs. I don't know who that will be. I'm not sure he or she does yet, either. Expect there to be only one of the current Richardson council members running. Expect him or her to have a challenger from the RO. Then, it's easy to predict what comes next. After the election, expect the RO to claim they was robbed ... again.


Nathan Morgan said...

Yes, Mark, you speak with the wisdom of the age when you say the insiders of Richardson have exerted a lock on controlling the mindset among local public servants. As in other historical revolts that grew out of disgust for similar cooperative slights upon the average citizen, the people will eventually prevail.

The distraction over arguing the difference in form does not matter as much as the profound change in substance.

Richardson insiders throw up mute arguments in opposition to abiding by the established law to justify their errant behavior. The hallmark of the political landscape in this little town has been legislative arbitrage. That is, seeking out grey areas in the law to provide plausible deniability for violating the public trust.

If the leaders would be more concerned about serving the whole community in a just manner, the substance of their actions would be closer to being right by law.

As it is, the "business community", as you label them, have a reputation for taking advantage of the good nature of the average citizen in matters of the peoples' business.

If one does not associate with the "business community" in Richardson, trouble follows.

Nathan Morgan said...

Another sad reality...The "outsiders" become outsiders as a consequence of being ostracized by the insiders. Anyone having a position different than that established from within is labeled "outsider".

Your comments above show how divisive the attitude has become in Richardson society and how it got there.

Mark Steger said...

Nathan, you make Richardson politics sound like suppressed Scots battling England's King Edward I in Braveheart. In my post, I speculated on who will win the May, 2013, mayoral election. Maybe I should also speculate on who will play the part of Mel Gibson and lose his head?

dc-tm said...

You hit the nail on the head Mark. There are outsider and insiders. Good points Nathan.

Sassy Texan said...

Mark, you did not speculate on anyone who might run much less who will win. Maybe Mel Gibson's stand in might speculate on the "he" and "she". lol

Though you were very submissive to the processes and true to your global labels of those you do not know.

Sassy Texan said...

Oh ye jest over the Eisemann sword he wields quite effectively when he is unhappy with anyone's directed behavior. Or maybe it is Gary chewing out someone again with his sword of choice. We can go down the list of those who have redefined leadership to mean something very different. Maybe your Braveheart label is right on?

And I beg to differ with your speculative comment. You did not name one candidate, "he" or "she", but you did like to label the citizens in a very descriptive manner unbefitting you your level of life.

As far as the RC goes, if the mass email sent out on the topic is any indication of some level of propriety or leadership, there may need to be a rethinking of leadership.

Mark Steger said...

"Sassy Texan," you do not identify yourself, either in your comment or your profile. Commenting rules require this. That means more than a nickname or first name or initials. Unidentified comments are subject to deletion.

Sassy Texan said...

Well after a year now, my feelings are hurt. you forgot who I am! lol

glbeach said...

From my humble perspective the people who have presided over Richardson for the past half century have done a high quality job, one of which all citizens should be proud. Overall, Richardson has a high-quality, educated workforce, a significant number of college educated citizens, a recognized university that continues growing in stature, a AAA bond rating, and a number of awards for their fiscal management . . . what's not to like? And why all the anger?

Honestly, I think one reason the non-incumbent group lost last time is because the only items I ever saw them present were attacks against the incumbents. Attacks and unsubstantiated accusations and innuendo. Frankly, as a voter and interested citizen, those types of planks are turn-offs. If you have ideas to improve the quality of life in the city, present them.

Certainly every citizen has a right and responsibility to interject and participate in the civic life of the community, but why do I continue to have the feeling that for one group it is about the betterment of Richardson and for the other group it is more like a personal vendetta? And why, oh why, should anyone be bringing professional political hired guns from out of town into the fray? That is to my mind the most damning indictment there can be that there is NOT a local groundswell of discontent, but rather an insidious plot afoot.

Nathan Morgan said...

I agree, glbeach (whoever you are), with some of your assertions. But what you should be mindful of is the fact that many of the so-called "awards for excellence" were manufactured for promotional purposes by the very people who gave them to themselves to hang on the wall. Old trick. But it still works on people who don't know about it.

Funny you should call people not associated with the Richardson Coalition slate of new candidates the "non-incumbent group". Somehow that fits. And, the animosity that has grown over the years is borne out of the same attitude about who really pulls the strings in Richardson. It ain't the elected officials, although they do cast the votes. They all know which side of the bread the butter is on. Other interests in town are churning up a batch of their own for a change. The old guard does seem a little angry and got indignantly accusative about that. Not sure I'd call it a personal vendetta. Well, maybe.

And you are right again. Judging from the list of contributors to the campaigns, there are quite a few out of town big money donors putting money in the pockets of the Richardson Coalition slate. Curious connections to personal ambitions and business before the Council are evident. Several years ago, the insiders retained a political consultant with a slippery reputation from out of town to mastermind their operations. I guess there's no local talent willing to pull the stunts we see out of those guys.

Yea, so far there has been no need for a "groundswell of discontent" out of the insiders because they've been fairly successful in executing their "insidious plot".

But, they are beginning to get uncomfortable, as they usually do when their time is up.