Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Least. Surprising. Endorsement. Ever.

P-C Makes Predictable Picks

Steve Soboroff was so sure he wasn't going to get the Iowa City Press-Citizen's nod that he asked the editorial board to "be gentle" when they inevitably endorsed Rick Dobyns, which of course happened today.

The rest of the picks were just as predictable. The paper had already backed Matt Hayek and Michelle Payne in the primary, and Jim Throgmorton is unopposed.

As for the meat of the editorial, the Press-Citizen proves it is still more obsessed with the 21 bar issue than anyone other than John Deeth. (More so, actually; my real obsession is the drinking age itself.) Dobyns' long-time "leadership" (sic) on 21 seems to be the main reason, or at least the main emphasis, for the endorsement.

Speaking of which, did you know Raj Patel does not support repealing 21? Here, look for yourself (Word document, platform page).
Like I have stated repeatedly. I have no intentions of repealing the 21-Ordinance and want to work to ensure that the focus of Iowa City is to now work to ensure that we are making sure our downtown is a vibrant place for everyone. It is also important for the city to promote the creation of venues for students to feel like downtown is a place that they can go to feel safe and have alternatives to alcohol only venues.
Yet that assumption is making the rounds as "progressives" (what does that even mean anymore?) try to make their second choice between newly minted Democrat Patel, registered Republican Michelle Payne, and libertarian Chicken Man Jarrett Mitchell. (All this assumes that Matt Hayek is as good as re-elected. BTW his mailing landed in my mailbox a couple days ago, the first I got. The Patel mailing landed today.)

Who's encouraging this misinformation? Occam's Razor points once again to University middle-ups and higher-ups, who want payback against Patel for his efforts to stop 21 last year.

I wasn't planning on beating this dead horse again today. In the next couple days I'll be looking at Jarrett Mitchell's buzzword, "sustainability," and showing that Raj Patel's plans on the subject are more significant and practical.

But with the P-C endorsement today, I'm just joining the club. So let's look at UI logic. Why do they still care so much? Didn't they already win?

The fight is no longer about 21 itself. That ship has sailed, at least until we start talking about the drinking age itself. (Remember, the ordinance says "the legal age".) It's about the ancillary issues: the details of exemptions, the rates of the fines, the enthusiasm and aggression of the enforcement.

Here's how I read the UI thought process:

The "binge drinking" (sic) "problem" (sic) frankly, is a relatively small minority of the student body proper. Maybe a couple thousand folks who show up in Iowa City with a mindset out of "Animal House." Oops, forgot. I'm an old man. Insert Jersey Shore as less dated example. (That Number 4 Party School rank, right after they shoved through 21, has got to stick in the administration's shorts.)

And now that they have 21, Sally Mason, Tom Rocklin (who's made a maximum donation to Dobyns), and company want four, maybe five years of draconian laws and throw the book at `em enforcement because they want that guy not to come to UI in the first place. They want him going back home to Aurora and telling his similarly inclined little brother, "Don't go to Iowa, man. They'll bust ya."

Maybe you think that's a good thing. The problem, other than the 26th Amendment which says you're an adult at 18, is that zero tolerance policies sweep up a lot of really good people along with the genuine problems. Good kids who make one mistake, or people who are doing stuff that frankly shouldn't be against the law.

Ultimately, the university is showing contempt for its own student body. Iowa City's obscene arrest rate sends one in four UI grads out into life with a police record. That simmering resentment is going to cost the county its jail next year. As well it should: if you were 20, would YOU vote for a new jail in this town?

And at some point the balance tips, and you scare away those "good kids" along with Bluto and Otter and Flounder. Less jobs in town? I don't care, I have tenure.

The University is putting its narrow interest in its "reputation" ahead of larger community needs. They're willing to elect Michelle Payne, who wants to be Mid-American's representative on the council, just to block a young and highly qualified candidate who's actually in touch with what students are thinking. We could have shut down all the bars, if it weren't for you meddling kids.

And the UI's partner in this is the Love The Hawkeyes Hate The Students old guard townies, which thinks students should just pay their rent (but always claims "they don't pay taxes") and shut up. They're hoping the pink yard signs and the Vote For The Woman vote will fool progressives and put Payne over the top.

It's not good for a city to be as town-gown polarized as Iowa City has been these past five years. The only way to make peace and build a whole community is to give the students a seat at the grownup table for the first time in three decades. Just one more reason to support Raj Patel.

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