Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Style points

Hey there, friends and foes. Sheila Simon has a new supporter in the blogosphere, which means, of course, a new mud-slinger against Brad Cole. The pro-Democrat Philosophe Forum blog tells its readers that Sheila Simon Campaigns for Mayor, and gives a lengthy pro-Sheila spin on the issues and candidates. Needless to say, I disagree with the author's take on Cole.

In effect, she says the election is a choice between two contrasting styles of leadership. The full-time leader who micromanages and gets things done, or the part-time people person who sends every issue and initiative to a committee, which can result in some ungainly results, as noted already by Simon's harshest critic on the web.

The author of the Philosophe Forum blog sees a conflict between micromanaging and democracy, but I would bet that our greatest Presidents and Governors were "hands-on" in many aspects of government just as Cole is. Heck, Jimmy Carter even required that government regulations be written in "plain English."

The thing about Brad Cole that ticks some people off, is his dedication to perfection and accomplishment.

Here's how he explained his modus operandi, in a speech to the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce in November:
Some people say that I am a perfectionist… okay, maybe. I will freely admit that I prefer perfection, or at least the pursuit of it, over settling for mediocrity. I am the kind of person who makes decisions and then moves on with them. If they don't work or if they were the wrong decisions, then let's change them and keep trying to get the work done. Too many times people are afraid to make decisions or they think we need to take a public opinion poll to gauge what to do. I'm not like that and I think people want leaders to lead; they want people who can highlight a path forward so they can follow. That's what I have tried to do . . . .
Being a perfectionist does not make Brad undemocratic. He's just not as folksy as Sheila, but sometimes that can be a good thing.


Anonymous said...

The author of the Philosophe Forum blog sees a conflict between micromanaging and democracy, but I would bet that our greatest Presidents and Governors were "hands-on" in many aspects of government just as Cole is.

Knowing a little about presidential management styles, right off the top of my head I'd say this is wrong. Not to get into the "who is great debate," but presidents like Reagan, FDR, and JFK all had dramatically different styles.

But this does raise an interesting issue -- why is democracy supposed to be efficient? (No reasonable person could interpret, for example, the form of government in the Constitution as concerned with efficiency.) Its supposed to be responsive which almost ensures that it will not be efficient and at times even ineffective. But here is the rub -- a strong mayor system is not going to be as efficient in the long run as a council-manager form of government. Indeed, that is the whole point -- to focus on things professionally, rather than politically. At the same time, it has the benefit of allowing for responsiveness.

I don't personally find this issue to be the most important in the race. Cole is what Cole is; Sheila is what Sheila is. If you think your voice is overlooked, the choice should be clear. If you think you're well represented, then your choice should be clear. But every election is about that.

Parentheticus said...

Gadfly - Interesting that you identify both Reagan and JFK as 'great', when only one was. The other was a pretender. The great one knew what was going on from the top down -- even when others were involved in the process.

But you're right about the interesting issue of how efficient Democracy can and should be. I think we'd agree that on the national scene, it has been is shamefully inefficient at this time in history. Whereas the City of Carbondale has become more efficient and productive than it's been for years.

You also say some interesting things about the "strong mayor" system, which you seem to think conflicts with the city manager form. Why should it? Has Carbondale's City Manager Jeff Doherty in any way been hampered by his job? If anything I'd wager he's been asked to do more the past four years than in the previous ten. I am not sure how that could be measured, except by asking Jeff.
Or counting the # of briefs he's had to prepare and sign off on.

You're right about people being who they are. And Sheila is who she is, and thank God for that. And for Brad, too. We are lucky as a City to have two fine candidates.

So what do you think is the most important issue in the race?

PeterG said...

Actually, we know that democracy isn't very efficient. When you have large groups of people involved with anything, you bring great inefficiencies. What we do know is that democracy is more efficient then every other form of government (if you compare the USA with non-democratic country at least).

Of course, Democracy is based on voting for a representative and letting them govern. It doesn't involved having each voter, vote on each issue.

What Sheila is proposing isn't really democracy as defined by many. It is subset of some sort that is kind of broken.

If you can't get your voice heard in Carbondale, it is because you aren't trying. Look at the Arbor District and their results. It isn't very hard, choose a cause and care about it, do some work. The ground work is laid, many will help you if you start. You might even get a blog of your very own, it is free you know?

Anonymous said...

The basic problem with a perfectonist is no one can live up to this standard, therfore all human beings become failures in this way of thinking. I respect and admire many people who exhibit this quality, but I always have to ask myself, do they respect and admire themselves and others.

PeterG said...

It isn't that everyone is a failure, it is that everyone is human.

Mostly, people do what they do and coast along. The superstars push, they push hard. They look at the world and try to figure out how things are right or wrong and try to fix things.

When did trying to do great things and working hard for a greater good become a negative? It is only in Carbondale that someone would run for mayor on a platform of working much less hard. Out there in the real world, where a majority of people work for companies, instead of the state, working hard is one of the finest attributes a person could have. I'm shocked at Sheila's attempt to spin it any other way.

It isn't hard to respect and admire most people, but that doesn't mean that you have to believe their are perfect. Believing people are perfect or a candidate is perfect, is a form of stupidity.

People who accomplish great things aren't lucky, they are perfectionists, who work harder then everyone else.

Anonymous said...

So what do you think is the most important issue in the race?

This is easy -- code enforcement. It touches on everything that's important to this community. New housing starts are great (they really are), but not at the expense of ignoring our "urban core." I can only imagine the look on parent's faces when they drop their kids off in those slums north of campus (my kid won't be staying in anything close to many of those); it therefore speaks to enrollment issues at SIU, which has an impact on the local economy. It obviously touches on safety issues because crime is driven by opportunity -- bad lighting, locks, etc. create opportunities. It touches on property values of the long-term residents in those neighborhoods, people who are becoming increasingly rare. Having such residents in the core of Carbondale helps stabilize their neighborhoods, but no one is going to jeopardize their investment if the city won't protect their property. And it touches on business, especially in the Main Street area, because it creates a core group of customers who are close by and feel safe enough to walk down there and hang out.

Urban sprawl hasn't worked for any city and Carbondale has its own little version of it at work here. If we don't step up and protect neighborhoods like the Arbor District, the old high school district, and similar places, we'll pay a heavy price down the road.

PeterG said...

But Gadfly, Sheila has only gotten on code enforcement for this election. If you go check my blog, she has done nothing about this for years. She has seized on this issue and run with it of late.

Now we are faced with a typical Sheila vs. Brad situation. The topic is on the table and Sheila hasn't done her homework. Her plan is lame. Brad's plan will work, it will penalize the slumlords by charging them more and charging people who do maintenance less.

Urban sprawl is something completely different, you are using the wrong term. I don't know what you are talking about with Main Street area having a problem, unless you are talking about business on East Main that touch the Northeast part of town?

It used to be The Tap was the big issue, but that was bogus. This code enforcement looked good until yesterday, when it became apparent that this wasn't Sheila's idea (she lied to the reporter from the DE) and her plan is second rate. Wonder what issues Sheila will try to manufactor next?

Anonymous said...

But Gadfly, Sheila has only gotten on code enforcement for this election. If you go check my blog, she has done nothing about this for years. She has seized on this issue and run with it of late.

But Peter, your complete disregard for the facts make me ignore your opinions altogether. Why do you think I only post on David's blog?

I fail to see why you think Sheila's plan is bogus and pandering but Brad's - which just popped out of no where with three weeks to go and *shockingly* in front of the Arbor District folks - is not. Such logic is laughable on its face and I cannot even imagine that you could type that with a straightface.

As to urban sprawl, you didn't read my post carefully. Try again, sporto.