Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Don't Worry, Tully Had It All Wrong In 2007 As Well

Star political columnist Matt Tully was convinced Bart Peterson would coast to a third term win as mayor in 2007 because he governed right and deserved to win. Flash forward to today as we begin the countdown to next year's municipal election and once again Tully is predicting a re-election win by Mayor Greg Ballard. I have to give him credit though. While what he writes today might be what he's really thinking, even he knows how wrong he has been in the past so he alerts us to the fact that he is writing another column for Friday in which he will explain why he believes Ballard won't be re-elected. For now, here are his reasons why Ballard won't win re-election:

Today, let's look at the five main reasons Ballard will win his re-election bid. (Don't worry if you're a Ballard foe: My column Friday will look at the five main reasons Ballard won't be re-elected.)

Nuts and bolts. From his first day in office, Ballard has focused on the little things -- potholes, sidewalk repairs and code violations. His administration dramatically improved the Mayor's Action Center hotline. That might sound like a minor point, but the hotline takes tens of thousands of calls each year and now is an example of a government office that competently and efficiently serves taxpayers. 
Meanwhile, it's hard to drive around town these days without seeing a newly paved street or rebuilt sidewalk, and such infrastructure work will pick up even more as new revenue arrives from recent deals. Actually, those deals -- the parking meter lease and water company sale -- were the most controversial of Ballard's term. But they also were devised to raise money for infrastructure. Even critics of the transactions have to admit Ballard addressed basic city needs with them.

An apolitical man. Perhaps Ballard is not fully apolitical, but he's as close to it as anyone who has held a major political office. He's refused to get caught up in partisan debates, and he's declined to let political considerations scare him from making the controversial decisions that a mayor has to make. Rigid partisanship at the local level is a turnoff for voters -- local government is about the basics, not ideology -- and Ballard has won fans by steering clear of that.

He showed up. You know the adage about success largely being a product of simply showing up? Well, Ballard proved that in 2007. And since then, he's played the role of mayor with never-ending energy, showing up everywhere. Neighborhood festivals, community meetings, parades. You name it, and he's likely in attendance.

Last month, Ballard and his wife went to the evening screening of a movie about World War II veterans. No more than 40 people were in the room. But Ballard stayed for two hours, shaking hands and talking with the audience. Attending such events, often away from the spotlight, builds up significant amounts of good will.

Strong team. Even the most adamant Democratic critics agree that Ballard has wisely selected, for the most part, high-level staff. That includes top aides Michael Huber, who guided the major infrastructure transactions, and Robert Vane, who deftly crafted the mayor's message. He recently left the office but will be involved with the campaign.

Ballard, elected as the ultimate outsider, needed to prove he could effectively run the city. That means plowing the streets, setting a vision and looking for creative ways to tackle problems. It also means putting the right people in the right places.

Underestimated. It boggles my mind to hear some Democrats continuing to underestimate Ballard. He's improved as a communicator and a fundraiser while holding on to his average-guy image. He has a record to sell and accomplishments to tout. All of that will make him hard to beat.
There is so much wrong with that analysis, but I will hold off further comment until I see his column Friday.


Paul K. Ogden said...

It's not even political analysis that would pass a college poli sci class. Okay, I gave him a D-. I didn't want him retaking my class.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gary, the column he publishes on Friday wouldn't correct the flawed analysis he uses in this pro-Ballard analysis. It's just bad political analysis.

Citizen Kane said...

Since Tully and others want to focus on infrastructure, they might want to note the difference between properly constructed infrastructure and road overlay versus the work bought and paid for by taxpayers and now ratepayers via DPW. Spending money on street overlay just temporarily masks the problem if the road base is not repaired where needed.

Instead of focusing on the problem areas where the road base is failing, DPW repaves the entire street - literally paving over the problems that quickly reappear in little more than a year. As for sidewalks, take a ride down MLK or any other street with newly rebuilt sidewalks. Just don't walk down them or you'll run into the telephone poles located smack dab in the middle.

There is no reason to believe that more money won't be wasted on nonfunctional sidewalks and short-lasting pavement overlays and unnecessary bike lane striping (we are not Denmark).

But since Tully has doesn't actually analyze anything, he doesn't know that and will never venture to find out. There are dozens of city workers who could explain a lot of things - off the record - about how dysfunctional this city is because of certain employees in key positions who are only interested in self-preservation, not providing efficient city services.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You make a good point, Citizen Kane. They've repaved most of the streets downtown already, but I've noticed a lot of that paving work is substandard. I don't know who is signing off on that work, but it looks to me like someone should be demanding some of that paving work be redone.