IT’S A CONTACT SPORT
Mammoth Lakes Town Council held a strategic workshop last Friday.
They made some revealing statements.
Probably because no one was on the call. They thought they were safe.
Thank God for replay.
What jumped out at me was the thin-skinnedness, the liberal orthodoxy, this naive belief that a bunch of enlightened souls should all be able to reach smart, reasonable consensus.
And that whatever that consensus is, we should all just jump in line with our pom-poms and celebrate it.
Politics is a contact sport. Period. And if you’re in it for the adulation, then get out. There is no adulation. It’s a thankless job, aside from the awesome health insurance package.
Even the great Skip Harvey, who was a close friend of mine (occasionally we journalists have our lapses and grow fond of a politician), got ripped in the paper now and then. I can’t remember the exact context, but I do remember the last time I ripped him, he was very sick and died two weeks after the issue came out and I felt bad about ripping him.
Though I know Skip wouldn’t have it any other way.
This was the same Skip Harvey who, when the tourism bureau screwed up and didn’t get the Crowley fireworks lined up in time, held an alternative streetfest event in front of Base Camp on July 4. In essence, he was out there for anyone to approach, owning the mistake, taking the political heat off town staff, trying to salvage it.
You think Mayor Sauser will stand out at Mammoth Creek Park next year asking visitors what they think of their groovy view of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Tent? Don’t think so. He’ll be inside seeking affirmation.
The part of the workshop that was most entertaining started at about the 30-minute mark. They were talking about the election/education of Councilmembers, and John Wentworth kicked it off by saying that we ought to find a way to humanize the campaign process, which can often prove divisive and rude. He suggested the Town should perhaps play a part in facilitating intelligent and thoughtful political discourse.
Maybe the Town should be part of the “on-boarding” process he said.
“On-boarding” is John’s newest slang term/political cliché. I guess he’s moving from land stewardship to flight stewardship.
Reaction: Of course, the Town should have nothing to do with it. Inserting the Town, and by proxy the Town Manager, into a contest which ultimately selects his bosses is entirely inappropriate.
But Mayor Pro-Milquetoast Lynda Salcido jumped right in after Wentworth, saying the goal of a debate shouldn’t be meanness or rudeness to candidates. We need to encourage more civil discourse and non-partisan voices. “You don’t think you need a code of conduct,” she said, “Until you do.”
Like Mammoth Voices! piped up Sarah Rea, seeing as she took Mammoth Voices political bootcamp workshop prior to her election, currying favor and securing at least ten votes.
Mayor Sauser suggested that perhaps the Town hold a workshop after the candidate slate is finalized so that we can get people all on the same page and being nice to each other during the campaign season.
And then, once elected, Councilmembers had all sorts of ideas as to how their fellow Councilmembers should behave.
Sauser said that if one is on the losing end of an issue, that one must suck it up and get on board with the majority. Don’t keep beating the horse in the hopes of getting a shift in perspective, he said.
Funny, because Sauser didn’t keep beating the horse when the ice rink-to-Mammoth Creek Park was initially quashed back in 2005. And now we have an ice rink at Mammoth Creek Park.
Apparently, you only suck it up if your name isn’t Bill.
Wentworth said all discussion and debate on issues should occur on the dais (er, via Zoom) and that Councilmembers shouldn’t be making end runs by arguing their case and writing letters to the editor in the half-evil local media.
Kirk Stapp was the only Councilmember who disagreed with coddling/brainwashing potential candidates. “There’s give-and-take and acrimony in every campaign season,” he said. “It’s a competitive process.”
He also saw no reason why people shouldn’t be able to battle for a position by writing a letter to the editor.
Salcido believes the Town has a responsibility to communicate what it’s doing in the local media via a weekly or bi-weekly column to counteract the one-sided monologue of the Publisher Who Shall Not Be Named.
Does this make me Voldemort? Margaux will not be pleased.
“The media does focus on conflict,” acknowledged Stapp.
“Or creates conflict,” replied Sauser.
“Maybe a little of both,” rejoined Stapp.
And thank God for that. The alternative sounds excruciating.