It was a very poignant week in City Politics.
The deadline for filing petitions to run for municipal
offices in Toodleydoo is still months off. Most of Frogtown is more
focused on football and sub-freezing temperatures than the political
ambitions of the hack-o-sphere. Well, most of Frogtown mebbe, but
not the hack-o-sphere itself.
So the hacks and the geeks and the full-o-themselves have already
begun the quest for twenty-one and twenty-two. Meaning seats on
Council and an office on the twenty-first floor of One Guv C, or the big
enchilada, an office on twenty-two.
Here are some of the more notable. Alfonso Narvaez, Nor-Ender and
erstwhile member of the Stainbrook wing of the GOP, has made
overtures about leaving the pachyderm graveyard and rebranding as a
Democrat. Seems he was treated poorly by some of the Trumpsters who
came to town last year. More likely he sees the writing on the wall.
Be who you is, as long as you is a “D.”
Rumors are also swirling about incumbent Council member Theresa
Gabriel making the final break with the GOP. After seventy or so
years as an “R” and a scant few as an “I,” Gabriell is reportedly
mulling whether to take the Democrat plunge with Narvaez. Might have
something to do with her razor thin victory four years ago. Apparently she’s now strategically calculating how to keep it.
Then there’s Sudden Sam Melden. We call him that because
he applied for the vacancy on Council left when Jack Ford
passed away. He proudly declared to be an Independent. Then
suddenly he became a “D,” working on the Gerken reelection
campaign and generally ingratiating himself to the D power elite.
Now he is meeting regularly with volunteers to
ramp up his campaign. Sudden Sam to the starting gates.
Also at the gates is lifelong political hack and loyal
Dem Gary Johnson. He famously declared his candidacy for
Council District Three a year and a half before the twenty
fifteen election. By the time the real election season
came around he was nowhere to be found. He attends
every Council meeting, even the committee updates.
We guess he’s trying to prove to voters that he has the requisite
tolerance for mind-numbing boredom needed to function as a
member of Council. Not that the voters know he’s there.
They have the good sense to avoid such meetings altogether.
None of that is what made the week poignant, however.
The real big deal was the contrast between the fortunes
of Mike Bell and Rob Ludeman.
We have documented the rise and fall of Bell for the
last several years. No need to repeat it here. Just notice
that we have come to feel so bad for the man that we
haven’t even tagged him with a ridiculous nickname.
He went from beloved to buffoon through the ravaging
wilds of the political wringer. He has become so unelectable
that we hear he has finally shut down his election committee.
A three-time loser. Three strikes and you’re out.
That’s unfortunate, because he was actually a pretty good
leader in the most difficult times in T-Town since the Great
Depression. He balanced a difficult budget without layoffs
and without raising taxes. His non-politically savvy battles
with city unions proved his downfall, but all-in-all he was
an effective strong Mayor. Four years in elected office,
and now he’s out of the game.
Contrast the Bell story with that of Ludeman, who we used
to call “Who?deman.” Because no one has any clue what he
has accomplished on Council. We haven’t called him that
lately because we’ve had no occasion to remember that
He reportedly pulled petitions last week to run for another
term on Council. In an era of term limits, in which Council
members are bound to serve no more than twelve years,
Who?deman has jumped through the loopholes in the City
Charter. He has had an office on twentyone for twenty-two
of the last twenty-four years. He wants four more.
We can’t think of a single reason why he deserves it.
Lately he is locked in an epic battle to prevent the
Metroparks from culling the overpopulated deer
herd in their parks.
His solution? Let roving packs of wild coyotes thin the
herd. Presumably along with any small pets or children
that get in their way. This is the genius of the man we
elect to Council decade after struggling decade.
Who?deman has been around so long he’s the ultimate
political insider. Which he has used to accomplish exactly
nothing. Yet he is practically a shoo-in to get re-elected
for another undistinguished term.
Bell out, Who?deman in. Any wonder why T-Town
progress seems stunted at every turn?