Monday, April 18, 2005

The Jeffersonian Endorses Hardberger for Mayor

One of San Antonio’s most astute political pundits, Cincinnatus, after careful consideration has finally made his decision on whom to support for Mayor. In a recent post he makes some very astute observations that all San Antonians should heed:

"I don't vote, and will never vote, solely on party affiliation. If I don't know the issues or the candidates in a race, I skip over it. Nor do I vote for someone because s/he is a potential rising star. Those are probably the two worst reasons to vote for someone in my book…"

Amen Cincinnatus! If you don't take the time to get informed on the issues and intend to uncritically "just pull one lever" don't congratulate yourself for being a "voter." Simply casting a ballot out of personal prejudice does not constitute an act of patriotism; rather it represents a public act of bigotry. If you vote for a person because you think a candidate is "cute" or because you want to "hitch your wagon to a rising star," then you are just shallow and fatuous and we would all be better served if you would just stay home on Election Day.

The Jeffersonian also poses us some very important questions:

"Why did Julian feel he could do a better job than Schubert or Hardberger when his professional career consists of 4 years on City Council and part-time law work?"

"Why did Phil even want this job, and how would he be able to do this job without any council experience?"

"Does Carroll care enough about issues that affect Districts 1-7?"

How you choose to answer these questions will very probably indicate how you will finally vote. That being said, here is how I would answer them:

"Why did Julian feel he could do a better job...?
Simple, personal ambition. This is perhaps the worst character flaw a politician can have, but unfortunately it is also the most common. When for years everybody tells you that you are the "golden child" after a while you tend to believe them. You develop an inflated sense of personal destiny and entitlement to office.

"Why did Phil even want the job...?"
Simple, personal legacy. When you get to a certain age you reflect on your life and realize that you are not going to be here forever. You start to think about your legacy. Even though you are well off and now have the opportunity to sail around the world with your wife, you wonder if that is the best way to go out. Personally, I think it is, but I am not a lifelong jurist with a career in public service. Allegedly, people from all over town came to Phil and asked him to run and he came to believe that perhaps Mayor of San Antonio would be a fitting epitaph, probably much to the dismay of his wife. Besides, he did not spend all those years on the bench because he had an aversion to telling people what to do.

“Does Carroll care enough…?"
No, or he would have more actively campaigned to get the votes of people who live in the grossly underserved areas of the city. While his message of “filling potholes” would play well in districts 1-7, those aren’t the potholes he intends to fill. Indeed “potholes” is code for building new roads, widening thoroughfares and building infrastructure on the Northside. Also, in his mouth, “potholes” like “good schools” conceals a disturbing hidden racial subtext that presumes that U-Haul won’t be renting moving trucks to Latinos and that Anglo property values will be safe for another generation. What is more, Carroll is not without further political ambition anymore than Julian. He isn’t creating that fundraising mega-network for the sake of this campaign. He has statewide political aspirations that will require his not inconsiderable war chest creating skills.

Cincinnatus also makes a telling observation about the various candidates’ campaigns:

“if I didn't follow as intensely as I did, I might not have been able to really gather my answers. Not one campaign has a very good message- Julian's seems to be: One City. My Destiny., Phil's is: I'm old and I'm not Carroll or Julian, and Carroll's is: I'm a Republican.”

This is indeed the case, but what makes Cincinnatus think that any of them will govern any more competently than they campaign? Perhaps, deep down he doesn’t, but of the three messages they have proffered, maybe it was Phil’s “I’m not Carroll and I’m not Julian” that he found least unpersuasive

City Clerk's Office, Candidates and Citizens Confused about Campaign Finance Reporting

If The Red state is confused they are not alone. So is the City Clerk’s Office, the candidates and any citizen of San Antonio that has tried to make sense of the current system. The Red State is correct in the assumptions regarding what actually constitutes the current protocols for “electronic” filing. Rumor around City Hall was the Clerk’s searchable database would be up and running last Friday, but I’m not holding my breath.

Technological SNAFU’s happen. What is more disturbing is all the exceptions made to the rule.

First, why make exceptions for people that don’t know how to use a computer? Geez, this is 2005 not 1981. College professors demand that every 18 year old in class use a computer. Surely we should demand no less from our “adult” elected officials. Besides, how are they going to operate that swanky zillion-dollar Industrial Light and Magic show in the recently refurbished City Council Chamber?

Second, why make exceptions for candidates with less than $20,000 to report? My banker makes me balance my books even when my account falls below $20,000, (which it invariably does) why shouldn’t the candidates have to present their balanced books? If their presumption is that $20,000 is an insufficient amount to compromise the integrity of a Council Member, I refer them to recent events. Our Council members have sold their votes on million dollar contracts for as little as $200 and said “thank you” on tape to the hand offering the bribe. In the Roaring Twenties, when such activity was the modus operandi, the going rate was 30% of the value of the contract to be fixed. Our politicians are even incompetent crooks.

Third, of 38 candidates running for Council seats, only 7 raised more than $20,000. Of course, these are the 7 most likely to win virtually unchallenged, but what kind of reporting system is it that allows 31 out of 38 candidates to opt out? Now some of the little guys did report their pittances, but the point is they don’t have to.

A cynic might wonder, given the current fiasco with campaign finance reporting, whether the present system was designed to facilitate opacity rather than transparency.

The Red State Wants to Know: What Constitutes "Electronic" Filings for CFR's?

Exerpted from a recent posting at The Red State :

Currently, filers who accept no more than $20,000 in contributions or who make no more than $20,000 in expenditures in a calendar year may apply to “opt-out” of electronic filing upon filing an affidavit stating that the filer does not use computer equipment to keep current records of contributions or expenditures. So, none of these candidates are exempt from electronic filing.

The municipal rules are not very clear on what the electronic submission must be like. Please correct me if I am wrong but it seems like you can hand write your report, scan it in and then transmit it. If that is true, then that is defeating the purpose of electronic reporting. The purpose is to have searchable information of donors and donations (i.e. searchable like hitting CTRL-F and search for a name). I do not blame the candidates for this loophole in the law but it should be addressed. The whole handwritten thing has gotten me confused on how SA reporting actually works.