Sunday, November 03, 2013

Week In Review Tangents Into An Endorsement

The big story out of last night's Jefferson Jackson Dinner is Chuck Schumer endorsing Hillary Clinton. Fair enough. But I'd rather see Hillary ask Iowa herself.

It's already clear Clinton is continuing the 2008 Strategy of Inevitability: controlled settings, avoiding media Q & A and especially public Q and A, getting surrogates to do the leg work, and delaying. And most of all avoiding Iowa. We all got the memo last time.

And maybe that's the smartest strategy for her. And maybe MY vote doesn't matter. But it's mine. Anyone who wants it is welcome to come to Iowa and ask. I'm still solidly uncommitted.

I skipped out on JJ because I'm in the local election bubble. I don't get paid to write, I do get paid to close satellite voting sites, I made the easy choice.

Through the end of Saturday Iowa City had 4752 early votes, up from a normal year but down from 21 Bar Round 1 in 2007. My last age breakdown is from end of Thursday when Iowa City was at 4135 total. 1838 of those are under age 21, and 2265 are under 23. And 19 can't count on those older young votes; past polling shows support for letting 19 year olds stay in bars late drops dramatically the instant a voter turns 21. I got mine.

That, plus the fact that the average voter I see looks to be about 75, had me in despair roughly Wednesday. But I was able to get my mojo back and get some writing done along with some work for candidates. There's little I can do for 19 since I've already said my bit and since my usual skill set is of no use to them.

21 Makes Sense (sic) dropped a second and THIRD mailing this week. Our house got two copies of each even though A) Koni and I had both already voted and 2) I've kind of told people what I think. You'd think SOMEone would look at the mailing list and go: "DEETH!?! Aaack, save the postage!"

Unintentional humor: the third mailing said "Bar owners are counting on a low turnout to turn the clock back." Thus, apparently, coming out against Daylight Savings Time.

For a lot of reasons I wish this vote wasn't happening. Alcohol, particularly problem drinking by young people, is a big problem. But this is a deeply personal issue for me, and the approach Iowa City is taking is in direct contradiction to my own difficult experience. So it's been emotionally exhausting.

I may be the strongest 19 advocate without a direct financial interest. (Things we already knew: Libertarians are mostly young rich white guys.). But even I have to admit this vote is a sideshow to the real action, the city council race. And a counterproductive one: It's getting out the old guard vote and probably boosting Dickens, Mims and Champion.

A Deeth Blog Endorsement

I can't remember the last time - and remembering elections is one of those special skills I have - that Iowa City voters have had such a clear, stark choice.

Terry Dickens and Susan Mims are facing their first true test with voters, as they got a de facto bye in 2009 with the only opposition a couple of under-funded students. (2007, 2013: 21 bar vote, no student candidates. 2009, 2011: student candidates, no bar issue. Wouldn't it be interesting to see both at the same time?)

Dickens quickly settled in as the curmudgeon of the council, a Dean Thornberry for the 21st Century. Get off my lawn, or at least my ped mall.  He's arrogantly skipped out on candidate forums sponsored by progressive groups, as if to underscore a message. Mims has been relatively quiet in comparison, but has rubber-stamped the plans of the noisier members. And Catherine Champion hasn't really distinguished how she'll differ from her mother.

I spent a lot of time looking at the finance reports and there's a lot of overlap between all three; solid support from the downtown retail, east side old guard, developer driven clique that's run the city since long before I arrived a couple decades ago.

A lot of other people have arrived in the last 20 years, a population Iowa City hasn't seen before. Working class rather than academic, looking for affordable housing and living wages and a fresh start on life, and increasingly black and Hispanic.

Royceann Porter advocates strongly for this population. "This is our home," she says, "we're here to stay." It's hard to imagine a starker contrast between Porter, who advocates for the poorest of the poor, and Dickens, whose first priority after getting elected was to shoo the homeless away from his jewelry store.

Kingsley Botchway and Rockne Cole have the law-school polish that Porter lacks, but they've both straonly advocated continuing the discussion of disproportionate minority police contact that started with the justice center elections. They offer some relative youth to a largely late middle age council. They have a vision of the city that goes beyond big-scale development and the historically over-represented downtown retail sector. 

(Hint: Downtown Iowa City will never again be destination retail shopping. Not till you raze the Ped Mall, make it a giant flat free parking lot, and figure out a magic way to keep it from getting filled by 7 AM each day with University faculty staff and students.)

I don't agree with all three on every issue. I kinda like tall buildings, and none of them are taking my 18 Is Adult stance on the bar vote. But then, no one is, even on the 19 side.

I still yearn to see the day when a genuine traditional age undergrad wins a seat. But as the strong but just short Raj Patel campaign proved, realistically that won't happen without a re-write of the city charter. In lieu of that, Botchway, Cole and Porter are as strong a progressive slate as the present system can produce and I was happy to vote for all three.

The most interesting factoid to me on the campaign fiance reports was actually out of Coralville. Bill Vernon of Cedar Rapids kicked in $250 to Koch Brothers backed mayor candidate Matt Adam. Not surprising if you know Bill used to be on the GOP state central committee. More interesting if you know that spouse Monica Vernon is a DEMOCRATIC candidate for Congress.

Those things can be issues in primaries. Maybe Democrats aren't as purist as Republicans. But in `08 a 2002 Peter Teahen donation to Democrat Julie Thomas was the last straw, and the excuse "she saved my kid's life" didn't fly.

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