What a dirty political ambush really is
Date: Monday, May 26, 2008 @ 11:39:49 EST
Topic: Editorials


What a dirty political ambush really is

An editorial by William Coakley

Well, its not often a chance arises to let out some line and actually rag on something funny. Funny ...not because the event isn't sad enough for taxpayers who will be footing the 20 million dollar bill, but funny because the headline in our local Herald sounds so serious that some even took it seriously. But you have to know the editor to understand his sense of humor.



All this has to do with this week’s commission meeting and commissioner Jo-Anne Golden’s expose on the level of corruption it took to sucker the mayor and commissioners Lowe and Vespo into screwing the people out of millions of dollars on a water deal we didn’t need. The headline was this:

Golden Talk – Dirty Trick – Called worst political ambush ever

Well first of all, it couldn’t have been “the worst political ambush ever” because that event had already taken place when the mayor and commissioners Lowe and Vespo shafted taxpayers to the tune of 20 million dollars for a 40 year water deal with the county. Did they really think no one was paying attention to what they were doing? Right on the city manager’s cue, the mayor and commissioners Lowe and Vespo in perfect concert, attempted to eliminate every alternative but the most expensive one… county water. Of course this doesn't make any sense unless the trio was connected by a conduit... but does anyone know for sure?

It was obvious that the commissioners weren’t prepared for Golden’s systematic analysis from the record, showing exactly what they did and when they did it... complete with full screen video clips of the mayor scoffing at the existence of any valuable information other than what he had been given by staff which had been carefully orchestrated to support the county water deal. Much to the mayor’s surprise, just 8 days after his decision, a city memo leaked out which confirmed what Golden had been saying for the 5 months preceeding the vote… other less costly options existed which the commission was not told about but most importantly… they didn’t care in the least to know about. When the trio (mayor and commissioners Lowe and Vespo) had the chance to redeem their ill conceived decision, they flatly refused; Vespo even saying that normally he would have reconsidered it but because he got "ambushed" with Golden's report, he wasn't going to do it.

But, Golden's report was very tame, neutral politically, free of any personal attacks or inuendo; just the facts and history laid out methodically which exposed the corruption of process leading to the decision in favor of the county deal. And so what ...if a few guilty commission members suffered a little embarrassment which was long overdue. Okay, so they called it “a dirty trick.” But mind you, it was only "a dirty trick" because they got ambushed at their own game. And with all the hot air and protesting that erupted after the report, neither the trio or any of the few critics offered a single fact, figure or statement that refuted anything in Golden’s report. As one observer put it… that’s probably because they really didn’t know anything about the water issue to begin with.

So ask yourself, which ambush is worse… one that screwed taxpayers out of 20 million because the mayor and commissioners Lowe and Vespo went with the flow or the ambush that exposed them for what they did to the people and the city for the next 40 years? That’s the humor... they got nailed at their own game and fortunately its far from over.

Most people would consider a deliberate 20 million dollar waste a criminal act… and so its understandable that the trio was squirming a bit as the public was finding out for the first time just how recklessly they had proceeded to commit the city to a water deal which will take us out of the water business. It is clearly a scandal of mamouth proportion and their actions have already triggered calls for recalling their decision and seats. And in a few months it will be front and center as a key election issue when candidates will be asked how they feel about saving taxpayers money.

But in all fairness before closing it must be said that although the trio was a willing accomplice in the city manager's plan to outsource everything but the city clerk... the real culprits are the city manager, Robert Baldwin and his counter part Mark Bates who carefully “manipulated and controlled the information to elicit a specific outcome;” the quote from the summary in commissioner Golden’s report.







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