Monday, April 20, 2009

Tax Election Moves Forward Post-Lombardo

Tax Election Moves Forward Post-Lombardo

In the wake of Friday's shock firing of Iowa City manager Michael Lombardo, the Yes side is moving forward with its campaign for the May 5 sales tax vote. Yes For All added four more members to its steering committee over the weekend, including mayors Louise From of University Heights, Don Saxton of Oxford, and the other Mayor Bailey, Russ of Hills.

(Tangent: My favorite thing about the Oxford Project, a series of photos of Oxford residents taken 20 years apart, is that Don Saxton, who has been mayor that whole time, looks almost identical in his two portraits.)

The No side, meanwhile, is using the firing to repeat their case, with some evidence-free speculation thrown in. Some Press-Citizen commentators believe the termination is a leftist coup of sorts. Others are in a Worst. Council. Ever. mood, forgetting the clownish and dysfunctional 2000-2003 Kanner-Pfab era. User dethorn (presumably Ax The Tax member and GOP activist Deb Thornton), writes, "Bet they were mad that he didn't stop the TEA party rally on Wednesday."

No one involved is that ham-handed. The seven council members, all of whom support the tax, are politically savvy enough to have gotten through at least one competitive election each. Four of them defeated incumbents to win their seats. As for the myth that the left is either all-powerful or monolithic in city politics, two words: Public Power.

People will engage in whatever gossip they will; I'm on the record here and won't. The rapid move into closed-door session Friday is not unusual; indeed, an open session for an evaluation would have been far more unusual. But the unusual suddenness, speed, unanimity and worst possible timing indicate a compelling reason, and Mayor Regenia Bailey's careful comments have a city attorney vetted feel to them. The city council is smart enough to know that Friday's firing doesn't help politically, and has to hope that the public can separate the Lombardo issue from the flood relief issues at stake in the election.

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