Friday, August 14, 2009

My Love-Hate Relationship With Gary, Indiana

Gary, Indiana:

You cradle of a pop icon, gutted remains of an industrial leviathan that made America great! You are the linchpin of my beloved Lake County Democratic Party stronghold. Any doubt over how hardcore you are was erased when you and the rest of Lake County gave 64% to....JILL LONG-THOMPSON!?! I love you for everything you do to help my party win statewide offices, and that whole 67% you hit for President Obama was a thing of beauty. I can't remember your numbers specifically, but they were staggering. Did McCain get a SINGLE vote in Gary? Not that I recall.

But, boy, you need new leadership or some PR advice. So, I'm here to help.

In today's Indianapolis Star, I learned that Michael Jackson's father and the Chi-lites have billed the city for $5,000 for attending a memorial service. Putting aside that Mayor Rudy Clay is "exporting jobs" by bringing in a group FROM ILLINOIS, is this something government should ever pay for? A concert? I also understand the total cost for the memorial was $150,000, and the city were asking for contributions to cover the cost? Say what?!? So how many other financial commitments did you make before knowing what kind of donations you would actually get? I loved Field of Dreams, but I'm not sure "Build a memorial, and they will come....and buy merchandise from which we'll get a cut" is a prudent financial planning tool for a city. Even if the ultimate amount expended was small, is this the best use of public funds during a recession?

At least in Indianapolis when we cough up for something government has no business paying for, we have the decency to run it through the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) or some other quasi-governmental, semi-autonomous entity so that we can murky up the political accountability question when we walk into the dungstorm. Come on mayor! You're not leaving just bread crumbs of accountability! You're leaving whole loaves!

Also, Mr. Mayor, you might think about staying off of TV altogether. I watched you on election night (CNN) debating with Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott over why Gary, Indiana was still "counting votes" when California's precinct committee people were all in bed, and you sounded bad, Mr. Mayor. Really bad. Separately, when you were asked on CNN about Michael Jackson being buried in Gary, your answers bordered on incomprehensible. I actually put my fingers over my eyes and partially closing them because I felt so pained for you. It was like watching a four-minute montage from America's Funniest Home Videos of nothing but guys getting hit in the groin.

To your credit, you were savvy enough to employ the politician's best tactic, which is to ignore every single question they asked you in favor of answering the one you want to answer. BUT for this approach to work, you have to actually remember what question you're answering.

This is part of why Gary can't shake its image problem. It's too easy to make it a laughing stock. Yes, some of the people who attack the city have less than pure motives, but when you know people are gunning for you, isn't the wise play is to stop handing them ammunition?


1 comment:

J. Hagedorn said...

I've got to admit, those were the good old days. Party discipline is certainly not viewed as a virtue in the Democratic Party. If it were, we'd be basking in the passage of a National Healthcare Plan right now, and lining up behind the chosen candidate for Indy Mayor, Governor, etc.

It's too bad that the Republicans seem to be able to do it, although I think it simply points to the fact that they lack diversity to such an extent that they can rule their party with an iron fist without fear of driving away part of their coalition.