Friday, October 16, 2015

Hayek's Last Act

In 33 years as a registered voter - my first vote was for William Proxmire - I've cast a few ballots I regret.

Mostly by omission, passing over a candidate in a multi-winner race who turned out pretty good, in order to bullet vote only for my one favorite.

Then there was that write in for my cat in a race with no candidate, which came back to karmically bite my butt when I spent a whole Veteran's Day weekend tallying those write-ins.

But in all my years of voting there is no vote I more regret - and I specifically include Ralph Nader 2000 in this - no vote I more regret than Matt Hayek in 2007.

I didn't just vote for him, I actually HELPED him. He campaigned as a broad consensus builder, and the other choices that cycle were both weak and bad, so I signed up.

But soon after his record-setting win, he turned away from the progressive half of his coalition, and siding with the developers and landlords that have run this town since long before I arrived. 
And say what you will about the merits or demerits of Iowa City's 21 Bar ordinance. I've said enough and that's not the point here.

The point is, even if you agreed on the issue, the campaign Hayek led in 2010 was ugly and nativist. Hayek made 21 Bar a townie vs. student culture war, and defined the issue to townie crowds as "taking our city back."

No, it wasn't enough to argue the merits.  Hayek and the old guard had to put the students in their place. Because that's what the Iowa City landlord and real estate class does - not just to students, to the working class and poor population of this city as well.

I did NOT make the mistake of supporting Matt Hayek in 2011.

Hayek was once rumored to have higher ambitions. But his flimsy ties to the local Democratic Party long ago crumbled from neglect.

Sure, he's put in the occasional appearance when the President was in town, always getting a shout out from the stage based solely on his title while the local leaders who were actually WITH Obama (Matt was a DODD guy) in 2007, Bob Dvorsky and Rod Sullivan, sat unrecognized.  A petty gripe, I know, and not one I ever heard Bob or Rod make. But I heard a lot of OTHER people say it, people who would move and shake in any hypothetical Democratic primary Hayek would be interested in.

But as for actual substance, Hayek long ago chose the unnamed de facto party of traditional local Iowa City power, a party he was literally born into, over the Democratic Party. And in that unnamed party (ya gotta admit, Core Four is at least catchy), there's nowhere to go up from mayor.

So this city election, in which he is not seeking re-election, is likely to be Matt Hayek's last act in local politics. And he's chosen to go out with no class.

As he was in 2010, Hayek is the designated deliverer of the Scare The Townies message, a stink bomb dropped in Thursday morning's Press-Citizen, meaning it was aimed straight at aging natives because no one else still reads it in print.

The whole thing is worth a read because, whoever actually wrote it, it's a priceless insight into the mindset of the Iowa City old guard. Excerpts:

A group of city council candidates threatens this balance. They call themselves the “Core Four” and seek a majority on the council. 

That would be Jim Throgmorton, Rockne Cole, Pauline Taylor and John Thomas.

One of them is presently suing the city.  Another says our community is not “just” and wants to issue public debt to fund his pet causes. 

Keepin' it classy, Matt.

All of them are unabashedly running as a slate.

A SLATE!?! OH NOES! Not a SLATE!  Hayek then just happens, maybe on accident,  to endorse individually and separately and not at all in a slatey way... yup, all four of the other candidates in the race: Michelle Payne, Tim Conroy, Rick Dobyns and Scott McDonough.

If this slate wins, the next mayor will likely be Jim Throgmorton. 

You say that like it's a BAD thing, Matt.

We will return to the anti-growth, micromanaging city hall of eras past. We will lose the critical progress made by recent councils with the help of talented professional staff. 

Because Lord forbid that the elected officials actually decide stuff, rather than the staff.

Hayek's over the top editorial has been making the rounds on the progressive social media circuit, as unintentional comedy and as motivation.

As chance would have it, the Iowa City Federation of Labor met Wednesday night. The Core Four got a near-unanimous endorsement. Only "near" because Taylor, an SEIU delegate, abstained from endorsing herself. One delegate described Hayek's piece as "a necessary unmasking" of the council majority faction.

Before the endorsement vote, candidates discussed Hayek's editorial and other experiences they've had while campaigning.

"What bothered me the most " about Hayek's piece, Taylor said, "is  Jim is warm and compassionate about Iowa City, and it was total disrespect. We're seeing the other side get anxious."

Throgmorton said he had attended the Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, which only a small number of chamber members attended and which, unlike all other forums to date, was not recorded. Throgmorton said as soon as questioning began Dobyns, Taylor's opponent in the District A race, attacked Taylor saying she had "corrupted the narrative" by allying with Thomas, Cole and Throgmorton.

"They (the current council majority) firmly believe they are entitled to ALL of the seats," said Cole.  "We want to add new seats at the table."

"When we have thoughtful voices like Jim and we get attacked, it really shows where we are," Cole added.

"We will need you help AFTER we get into office," Throgmorton told union delegates, "because the same players are out there."

So maybe we've all cast votes we're ashamed of. I'm proud of the vote I cast last week for  Jim Throgmorton, Rockne Cole, Pauline Taylor and John Thomas.

And today, I'm prouder still.

Because I know my vote canceled out Matt Hayek's.

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