Sunday, May 3, 2009

Oops! Small Town Politics

Oops! We got it backwards!
Any Chicago Aldercreature can tell you, first you get elected, then you do the felonies. Don't shoot your wad early.

Wanna know how odd and dramatic small-town politics get in CoalBean country? For the last eight years, our Mayor was our local school-bus driver/maintenance guy/gun dealer, and it worked pretty well. He was pretty good. I believe he could have won again this year, but after eight years he was probably ready for a break. His successor is a retired school teacher who also ran the town's public swimming pool for years and heads "The Board" of the local volunteer ambulance company. Another pretty good guy.

My impeccable sources tell me the new Mayor lives two houses down from the Alderman-elect in that news link at the top, but the fun of being him doesn't stop there. In addition to being neighbors, the two aspiring politicians are apparently, as Ambulance Driver would say, "Husbands-In-Law." And Ambulance Driver can tell you that there are few bonds as special or as permanently unbreakable (try as you might) as the forged steel link between a Mayor and the Alderman-elect who used to be married to the Mayor's wife (she really is a wonderful lady, but some situations are uncomfortable and anyone who says they aren't is generally sparing someone's feelings. By lying.) So, apparently, the Husband-In-Law called the Mayor and told him that the State's Attorney was being a real jerk about this "no felons in elected office" law and asked his advice.

If the Mayor gave the advice, "Go back in time and don't run for office with two felonies on your record," he's not telling. He says he simply told his Husband-In-Law to get a lawyer and review his options. I don't think he has very many, though; the state law seems pretty straightforward. Why did he run for office knowing that it would be illegal for him to be seated if he won? According to the local newspaper, he says he knew about the law, but it's "bogus." And why didn't anyone else raise the question until after it was too late? My source says, "Sure, I knew all about his felonies, but I figured everybody knew that and nobody seemed worried."

I think it will get even more complicated for everyone involved before long. Apparently municipal law says the Mayor has to appoint a replacement for an alderman-elect if the candidate can't serve. My guess is that the Mayor will simply appoint the man who lost the election for Ward 5. If he doesn't, I predict swift, long-legged, tireless rumors of conspiracy and collusion to gallop and gambol wildly about. The idea, I predict, will be that the Mayor and the Alderman-elect schemed to get the Alderman-elect into office, figuring it as a win-win. Either the Husbands-In-Law would control the Mayor's office plus one reliable seat on the council, or the Alderman-elect would be removed from office, leaving the Mayor still free to appoint anyone he wants to represent that ward--even someone who couldn't have won election. Expect school consolidation, coal mine contracts, and Al-Qaeda sleeper cells to figure in at various times and dramatic high points in these stories.

Ahhh . . . . small town politics. Just like Mayberry, only different.

6 comments:

illinois Vote said...

I wonder what oath of office he took?

Don Gwinn said...

He hasn't been sworn in yet; the State's Attorney informed him that he had thirty days to show good cause why he should be seated, or he'd be disallowed. Even that seems generous, because it doesn't sound like the law allows for it unless his excuse is "That was some other guy, and I haven't been convicted of a felony."

SoupOrMan said...

That's why I love it when felons get elected. That immediately makes it a criminal case and gets sent to the State's Attorney. That leaves us at the State Board of Elections plenty of time to deal with the even more dangerous threats to voters. These threats are as dangerous to public order as "Candidate So-And-So is only supposed to have red signs, not green signs!" or as deadly as "He's offerin' a free sammich to anyone who comes and listens to his speech and takes home his campaign liter'cher! That's bribery, by gum! I want you to investigate an' arrest him!"

My job is to deal with the petty crap like that as well as the petty crap that occurs when someone can't fill out their committee's report forms. It's a good thing we don't have arrest powers, otherwise I'm sure we could figure out how to arrest candidates and treasurers for innumeracy. I can say this much: I'm glad I have a membership at a tony (for Springpatch standards) west-side gun club. It's a huge stress reliever.

Bruce B. said...

Oh the intrigue of small town politics!

You know Garrison Keillor has made a pretty good career of writing about small town life and the characters that inhabit them. Any thoughts about a similar literary path?

Illinois vote said...

Been thinking about this. during the presidential campaign, obama's citizenship was questioned (and sometimes still is). I recall that the Party who's ticket he's running on was supposed to verify the candidates authenticity for office and proclaim him as good to go.

What ticket did this local felon run on? Or was he independent? I'd say pound the party he ran for.

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