Sunday, August 11, 2002

It's All in How You Look At It

The Commercial Appeal looks at the changes being wrought in the incoming Shelby County Commission. But the real story seems to be in the story's point of view.

From paragraph one, we learn that "election battles...threaten to divide even more sharply..." the Commission. The story then goes on to detail how the incoming Republicans can be expected to bring a more partisan and divisive atmosphere with them. How it is up to them to learn to work with the Democratic minority still in place. Apparently:
Although Republicans narrowly retained their 7-6 majority over
the Democrats in the recent election, they also experienced a
radical shakeup in leadership.

Upsets of Republican incumbents Morris Fair and Clair Vander
Schaaf in the primary were two big election surprises. Previously,
no incumbent commissioner had been unseated since 1982.

The two were ousted by John Willingham and Joyce Avery, who
pledged a more conservative approach to governing amid voter
outrage over hikes in the wheel tax and property tax last year
and approval of the downtown arena project without a public
It's interesting to see a CA story acknowledge voter and public sentiment so accurately, without the modifying reminders of how wrong they were.

What's clear in the story, but completely unspoken, is the voter perception which the CA even recognizes, that the Commission is drifting away from representing the values of average Shelby Countians. That's what led to the boisterous election this time. The people feel left out of the process by their supposed "leaders," and so shook things up to send a clear message. Is that message received? It seems the CA hopes not.

But of all the folks interviewed for the story, only one, Buck Wellford who is leaving, expresses any concerns! All the rest sound positive or even upbeat. Kinda works against the point the CA is trying to make, doesn't it?

Incoming Republican commissioners say they don't want to create
a more strident atmosphere but will stand firmly against new
Implying any problems will be the fault of Republicans. Nice one, eh?

The whole article reeks of "you must work with us, not the other way around." Where "you" is the incoming Republican majority, and the others remaining, and the "us" is the good old Democrats, who continue in the minority. There is this passage:
Last year, for instance, Democratic commissioners who
wanted a pay raise succeeded by persuading enough
Republicans to go along to win its passage. In turn, Democrats
agreed to a redistricting plan that maintained the GOP's 7-6
majority for at least four more year
It tries to imply a quid pro quo, but seeing how all the Commissioners benefitted from the raise, passed during a rushed meeting on New Year's Eve, it doesn't quite wash. I suspect that the Democrats thought there was enough of a demographic change to possibly sway that crucial seventh vote to their side, hence leaving redistricting alone, they thought, meant they would gain anyway. It just failed, is all.

"We did you a favor, now you owe us." How nice. How typically CA. How wrong.

Until next time, that is all.
Your Working Boy

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