Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"...and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”

In this backwater section of The Beach referred to as "SouthCoast," anyone who's been involved in politics for a time can get to be Mayor by having one's name on the ballot for the seat that about a quarter of the city thinks they already occupy. Since the name's been on the ballot in some slot or other for at least thirty years, the populace votes again, out of habit -- the "Mayor" part sufficiently clear or not.
Some aspirants win, and after a term or two, someone appoints them judge or "special officer of something" or they just resign and move to Florida with a little gravy on the state pension package. (nota bene: This will mean that you'll have to change that line "about never leaving [your] beloved/favorite/home city." Above all: Avoid quoting Evita.) Or, the local nub of the state university gets them to lecture about something. Possibly about retirement in Florida. Make a lesson plan and make a deal. Go ahead. Seminole Bingo by Warren Zevon & Carl Hiaasen...cashed in the last of my Triple B bonds/Bought a double-wide on the Tamiami Trail...
Others luck into the Mayoral spot by inheriting the office, such as when President of the City Council gets fluffed into the costume by one of those "timely resignations" (see above). Sometimes, City Councillors actually run, and often win. And sometime citizens who happen to have a residence in the city, if nothing else. If they're not shamed miserably by the confounding monkey-juggle of the primary.
Locally, City Councils provide both comedy and consternation; SouthCoast voters skillfully choose candidates who will provide one or the other. Voters who see politics as simple tax-payer funded entertainment (like PBS) seek the former; those who have nothing better to do than listen to talk radio select the latter.
By what I know of local cities' charters (I'm sure that there's some numbery amendmenty thing that decrees such things), the "Mayor" is supposed to be a Chief Executive Officer who acts as supervisor and leader, with the City Council as a sort of advisory board which presents district-specific exigencies and compulsions. This rarely is understood by participants, who typically act only to obfuscate or complicate, often without regard to any actual municipal reality. Add to this the occult gerrymandering of wards and completely arcane "at-large" bailiwicks, and that's why you have the same candidates wandering in and out of office at random intervals.
Fall River has deathly humorless participants in these contests and New Bedford is awash with exasperated pranksters. The public might apply inconsequential and unsuitable designations from national entertainments to these madcap locals: "liberal" or "neo-con" or "communist" or "Nazi," for instance. Which pushes a few sensible naturals out of the races.
Sure, it's a civic duty to vote and an admirable civic avocation to serve, but the level of mind-rattling nonsense keeps more than a few viable candidates at home. The financial and personal costs of campaigning shortens the field to the connected, the popular, the petty, and the puppets. And, of course, the SouthCoast proclivity for mistaking "inane tirades" for "honest discourse" -- and "honest discourse" for "something valuable" -- further culls the field.
So, join the ten- to fourteen-percent of citizens today and participate in the exhilirating though irrelevant nostalgia of voting. "Irrelevant," of course, unless you actually also shepherd and supervise your municipally-minded neighbors and watch their every move while they hold the offices they've been granted by the one out of eighteen registered voters who'll actually show up.

So join that elite exclusive elusive crowd. Vote up, SouthCoast citizens!

Or I'll kick your ass.

(This presentation features a photograph of Eliza Dushku and possibly one of Louise Brooks. It's hard to say.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's Lulu with Rosie Perez and Evan Rachel Wood.

PJ said...

Well, that clears that up!

karie said...

And, look out. The fourth chick WILL kick your ASS! (also, I think she hangs out around here...)