Higgins: You just have to tryWritten by Tim Higgins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
November’s selection process is long over and those who sought our trust what seems an age ago have now taken their elective seats. For those who craved the opportunity for enlistment into public service, they’re about to get far more than they bargained for.
They may have missed the end of the year’s bitter partisan wrangling over the fiscal cliff agreement that brought a bitter, temporary peace, but they’ll be stuck going forward with one that left more rancor and acrimony between the sides than those of the Treaty of Versailles. And like that ill-fated prior accord, it’s one that neither party will see as satisfying the one side’s desire to humble its enemies nor the other’s to have something resembling an equal piece.
Never fear though, since before the ink is barely dry, the two sides will likely be crossing swords once more over the credit limit of the nation — the can of sequester that they kicked down the road once again —and the annual contention over a national budget (a process that hopefully the Senate will join after a four-year absence). It may not be fair that those newly elected be thrown to the wolves amidst this atmosphere of acrimony and aversion, but it’s an ambiance that they as the chosen representatives of the two major political parties as well as those of the people have created.
Since the parties have long since taken up entrenched positions, there’s little chance that any bold new initiatives or strategies will be taken up in coming fiscal combat. It’s far more likely the two sides will trade noisy salvos of rhetoric and tired volleys of insults from behind their well-established partisan fortifications. No attempt to peaceably meet in the no-man’s land of common ground and common sense should be expected, since that would leave one a target for fire from both sides. After all, the next vote is but two years away and it’s never too early to begin running for your next re-election.
The decisions on a local level may not be as weighty in nature as those of their national legislative counterparts, but they are equally important to those represented in the Glass City. Unfortunately, these appear to be similarly timid figures — equally filled with in-fighting, indecision and inability when it comes to something even so simple as filling the open term of one of their own. In this case, that meant all but turning tail and naming Shaun Enright to fill the Council seat vacated when Phillip Copeland was elected to the position of Lucas County Recorder.
No offense to Mr. Enright, but Toledo hardly needs another voice to represent union interests of the city. Neither does the filling of this term in this way bode well after a beginning in which fellow IBEW member, former Local 8 head and Enright supporter Dennis Duffey told The Blade that he didn’t know if Council President Joe McNamara should be “tarred and feathered or de-nutted” for his apparent lack of immediate and enthusiastic support for Mr. Enright. Instead, Council did little more than review a tired list of retread members and candidates along with this union representative — and might point to the fact that more than one of those Council members (with greater political aspirations than they have today) may already have succumbed to the suffering of one fate or the other.
Choice made however, this local legislative group must also soon take up its own fiscal situation once again and, like its larger counterpart, it seems unable to break out of the consistent strategy of nonperformance in its own war of attrition. Despite claims of bold efforts to break out of its own fixed positions, Toledo’s leaders remain firmly entrenched in “inside the box thinking,” the box being an unbreakable and unsustainable coffin of contracts and exorbitant benefits that Council seems reluctant to dig up. Adding additional union representation to Council does little to make one believe a new strategic initiative will be forthcoming in 2013. Those ahead seem far too likely to look like many of those behind, with Operating Budgets only appearing to balance and Capital Improvement Plan funding raided to cover not unexpected shortfalls to this effort of creative fiction instead of being used for long overdue infrastructure repairs.
You who have taken up the gauntlet of public service can expect to be held in low esteem, and deservedly so. For both local and national legislators, in spite of the fact that the bar has been set embarrassingly low, you seem unlikely to get over it. Fortunately for you, we no longer seek to have you succeed in the offices you’ve sought, but we will at least ask you to try.
Tim Higgins blogs at justblowingsmoke.blogspot.com.