Saturday, September 23, 2006

CASE IN POINT - Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

I believe that professional wrestling is clean and everything else in the world is fixed.

Frank Deford

Political junkies around the country are excited that it’s election season while a larger portion of the populace has no use for the entire affair. It’s understandable why the process is looked upon with such disdain. Sound bytes have replaced platforms; telephone calls asking, “If the election were held today…” seem to always come at dinner time; and one political advertisement is followed by the next and each one is telling us that the last one we saw or heard was a lie. It doesn’t change the fact, however, that we all need to be engaged as much as possible in the process keeping an eye on our democratic-republic.
Too often campaigns are seen as personality battles while public policy is left out of the discussion altogether. Races are too much about individuals and too little about public policy and governing. The consequence of this is a system where incumbents are sent back to govern in spite of voter dissatisfaction because the electorate reasons that this guy or that lady is nice. Nice people can pass bad laws that hurt senior citizens, children, etc. If the race were more about policy, the question can be asked, “Has the governing Party done its job and have improvements been realized in areas that are our priority?”
An election in this case is not about the individual but about platform. Political parties living under these rules have to advance a “ contract” that can achieve support of 51% of the voters. We will never have a platform that we agree with 100% of the time, but each of us can weigh each party’s entire platform and decide where we best fit.

A primary is a horse of a different color since two like partisans are facing off and their influence may determine their party’s future platform. Within the Party, an individual’s platform is taken into account and it is his or her fellow partisans who bless or rebuff a candidate’s positions. Think back to the Republican primary for president in 2000 and you may recall that John McCain was leading in polls and primaries. His own party decided to use a tactic called, “push polling” where leading, or misleading questions are asked about a candidate to give the impression that the questions being asked are factual. A push poll may go something like this, “If you knew that candidate x had the worst attendance record in the Missouri House, would you be more or less inclined to vote for him?” Hmm, tough question, right?
In McCain’s case, the question led voters to believe he had an illegitimate child. McCain has an adopted child, but hey, the question is just theoretical…
The question worked and McCain lost in the South Carolina primary and shortly thereafter he withdrew from the race.

A local columnist recently had a state senator commenting on how some on city council have been sniping at him for passing legislation that applies only to St. Charles regarding its casino revenues. What seemed to go unmentioned was the fact that this law is specifically for our town that makes it egregious, not the law per se. What I have asked for is equal treatment under the law for our City. If the good senator prefers legislating locally, he should resign from state government and run for council. The infringement of local control goes against the oft-touted claim that these guys want small government with more local control. Fact is they want small government when some corporate interest has written the checks and they can repay them with special favors that usually mean removal of regulations for those giving the money; oftentimes we pay a greater price by loss of consumer protection.

Furthermore, the same columnist indicated that vote totals in the primary are indicative of the election results in November. Using this logic, Ted House, Jim Primm, and Barb Walker would have never won an election. Fact of the matter is, there were far more contested races on the Republican ballot than on the Democratic ballot. The local contested races are of great interest to people so many independent voters and even some Democrats asked for a Republican ballot to vote for a friend running for county council or collector or sheriff.

Finally, our city sewers are strained – we have a lot of upgrading to be done because we are getting close to capacity at our treatment plants. Depending on how many more county developments the state forces our City to take sewage from, we could max out sooner rather than later. Upgrades are being made, so while we are at it, I am asking the city to keep the residents on Buckingham in their thoughts and take care of an undersized line there.

Grants and statues are nice, but our main purpose is to provide services to our residents – we have to do that well or the other things don’t really matter much.

Let’s end with a quote that I think Frank Deford would like:

“Democracy is a team sport. It is not like going to a ballgame where you sit passively and decide if you like the players and evaluate their abilities after watching the game. We are the players, we are the team, in a democratic nation or a democratic world.”
John Renesch