It’s about the policy, not the person

Posted on Categories 2019 Campaigning, Transparency

When I ran for City Council, I ran for policies, not against a person. I could have run against any of the three incumbents and had similar results. Because the public is ready for change. Last Thursday’s reappointment was also not about the person, it was about policy. The current majority did not want change and this was a unique opportunity for them to hit the undo key on the last election. Simple as that.

I have heard over and over how the process of the appointment was flawed. I have heard over and over how the process of the City Manager’s raise was bad. I have heard over and over how the Mayor’s comments from the dais have been damaging.

If you agree with the above statements, you cannot support Ms. Bangs reappointment. Because those are also her policies. She said so, both during her campaign and during the appointment process. She is the current majority–and that is why they wanted her back. To hit the undo key. They too were not voting for a person, they were voting for policy.

The Choice

If you voted for Ms. Bangs in November, or supported her reappointment last Thursday, you are saying that you support the direction of current management and that you see none of the problems I just mentioned.

If you voted for me (I hope) you were saying, that you want better process, more transparency and more accountability than you’ve seen in the past six weeks (or the past four years.) You were saying that you want different policy.

So what I’m saying is simple:  You cannot support both of us ( ‘the best of both worlds’) because our policies are incompatible. You can’t both change and remain the same.

The Story: There Can Be Only One

To explain their decision, the current majority said that that they are now doing everything better than it’s ever been done before (literally, that is exactly what they said from the dais.) They told a story of the City being like a patient recovering from a long-term illness and that without exactly this ‘team’ in place, the City would relapse and perhaps never recover. (that is also a quote). Therefore, it would be irresponsible to risk any ‘instability’ by trying anyone new.

And the politician who just lost an election and then began lobbying for re-appointment even before leaving office must also feel that she is indispensable.

To feel so special must be a wonderful thing. But I find this point of view not just wrong, but unbelievably arrogant. Obviously, Ms. Bangs is ‘qualified’ for the position. That’s not the point. Does her on-the-job experience outweigh all other considerations? No organization depends on any single person for success. And despite the financial turn-around in 2016, the majority of people in Des Moines do not see things nearly as rosy as this majority obviously does.

The Choices

There were several excellent candidates for the appointment, which after all, is meant to be temporary; a worthy placeholder until the next election–that’s what the statute says.

I nominated Mr. Maleke because he has skills (he was the only applicant who actually works in City government and knows the ins and outs), he represents diversity, and because he represents the south end of town which so many of the public said they wanted. He ticked all the boxes that the public and my peers said mattered to them.

What he did not represent was huge ambition to use the appointment as a springboard towards election in 2021. I found this very refreshing because I want the public to start with a clean slate in 2021. Over the decades, we’ve had waaaaaaaaaaaay too many un-competitive elections as it is.

However, I am confident that all the applicants I met with would make excellent candidates in 2021 and I urge you all to start campaigning today. I would be thrilled to share the dais with any of you!

Bad Communication

Once again the Council and Ms. Bangs have been incredibly tone-deaf towards the public.  Despite all the very high quality options, they both insisted on the only choice guaranteed to divide the community.  This just demonstrates a long-standing problem with Des Moines government: bad communication. Our government has routinely ignored the public’s feelings on big decisions. We (I’m now a part of that) come across like condescending parents, either not explaining decisions or being scolds: “You’ll thank us later!” By rejoining the majority, our newest council member has only continued that bad policy.

As I keep saying, it’s not about the person, it’s about the policy. If you want different policy? You must support new people. And I urge you to begin doing so. 2021 is not that far off.

Let’s Be Careful Out There

Posted on Categories 2019 Campaigning, Campaigning

I have something to say about Social Media and politics in Des Moines. 😀

This town has no newspaper or other truly objective coverage of city hall. During my campaign I’ve doorbelled over 5,000 homes and actually talked with thousands of DM residents. And the sheer tonnage of misinformation, rumour, inuendo and just plain blather that people spout as ‘fact’ about various issues would break a freight car. Getting the public better information is something I hope to improve upon if elected.

But the current state of play is that I can count on the fingers of both hands the people who actually know the ‘real story’ on many issues going back decades. I’ve spoken with many ex-Council Members and City employees who have been surprised to learn what really happened on issues during their tenure. Des Moines politics has not exactly been a model of transparency over the years.

Then there’s the fact that once one gets to a certain level of networking, one learns at least two really embarrassing things about every person who has held office in this here town.

And here is my point: This not a small town anymore. But the pool of people who are truly engaged is very small. So my advice is to be extremely careful when posting stuff. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t say to my face. And once you’ve said yer peace? Let it go! This is not national politics. The rules should be different. Take it easy on the campaigning by proxy bullshit. That’s not your job. That’s the candidate’s job (the campaigning, not the bullshit. 😀 ) . Because, at the end of the day? We have to live and work together.

And I say this for a very practical reason:

I think y’all should want and encourage participation from candidates and electeds. At the end of the day, their words are what will matter.

But if you treat them as harshly as some of you now do, as if this is all some sort of ‘contact sport’ where one can just say whatever you want and then see what it kicks up? You pretty much guarantee that no candidate or elected will ever want to engage with anyone on social media. And that would leave us right where we are now–in a black hole of constant half-truths, speculations and rumour, completely removed from city hall. Is that what you really want?

IMO that would not be a good thing for a city with no newspaper and no objective news coverage.

Don’t ignore real issues, for sure. But please: try to be a bit more careful.

I have spoken. 😉