Tuesday, April 12, 2016

D2: Clueless Candidates

I know that when I write D2 some of you get excited and are hoping for an Emilio Estevez cameo.

Okay, you don't. Except maybe Ali Razavi who probably gets wood when he thinks of Estevez taking him out on the ice and showing him his own special Flying V.

So whenever city council candidates run for office you have three types of candidates that run for office. You have Tier 1, Tier 2, and What-The-Fuck-Are-You-Thinking.

The top tier candidates are the candidates that most importantly, understand how city government is run and what they can, and cannot do in their capacity. They are typically well-funded and have a decent campaign mechanism.

The second-tier candidates are the people that have a good heart and the best of intentions, but seriously lack a basic understanding of what the job entails. And trust me, there are a lot of these types of candidates. They mean well, but they don't understand the basic tenants of the job description.

The other group are the fruits and nuts that decided to run. These people need no explanation or introduction. You know who they are.

The difference between the first tier and second tier might be a mile wide in terms of qualifications but only an inch deep in terms of support. But trust me - inches matter.

Okay, I didn't mean that they way it sounds, but hell it hold true that was as well.

If top tier candidates are defined by what they know of the office, then second tier candidates are defined by what they DON"T know of the office.

Here's what I mean.

When you base your candidacy on things you can't do as a city representative. This happened a while back with Hector H. Lopez ran for mayor. He had a lot of soaring rhetoric because he was pretty weak on policy.

So he said he was going to do stuff like focus city council on education. And that is the same thing happening in this election. Other than some small tangental elements of economic incentive agreements that almost never get included in the agreements for a reason, the city doesn't have a damn thing to do with education.

The city doesn't fund education. The city doesn't have anything to do with education. Hell, the city isn't even supposed to fund traffic control signs in front of schools. That is how little they have to do with education.

You want to shape education?

Run for state representative or state board of education. They have a lot to do with education.

This type of rhetoric is certainly rooted in the best of intentions, but sadly is more of an indicator of a lack of knowledge of the functions of the office.

But just for the sake of argument, say there was actually a role that city council did play in education. There isn't, but just for shits and giggles lets say their was. Has any city rep ever been elected on all the great things they are going to do for education?

Hell no.

Especially given the current climate of council any candidate that isn't dialed in to what is going on with council now, the issues they are facing, and public sentiment, candidates that focus on anything other than that demonstrate they are tone deaf to what is going on.

Is that someone you want to vote for? That is entirely up to you but it seems like you'd be better off voting for someone who knows the important stuff like city manager oversight, completion of the quality of life bond projects, being in touch with constituent services, and oh, I don't know...not paving allies of political donors in lieu of needed street repairs.

But hell, maybe thats just me.

Also, fun fact - in the Latino community, women are more likely to have achieved higher education and out earn their male counterparts. That is the only demographic where that statement is true on both accounts.


Chris Tarango said...

A city council member leverage their relationship with local partners to create a stronger local education support structure. For example, United Way, the Austin Independent School District, and countless other community partners in central Texas are closely tied to City Council through various community led boards and commissions. Although the final decision makers are in the legislature, schools, and other agencies, these close relationships lead to a coordinated effort that can change policy. So, you're right, maybe a city council person doesn't have the authority to change education, but it's not naive to believe that office can be used to create change and uplift our communities. What's missing is the imagination to try new approaches and engage with each other constructively, instead of like crabs in a bucket.

Chris Tarango said...

Tried to leave a comment...

The Lion Star said...

I get it, you're supportive or part of the campaign. But frankly Ernesto picked the wrong issue to push.

Seriously, I don't have the coddle anyone because I'm the same color as them. Up your game, you're better than that. This isn't crab-in-the-bucket, this is know-what-powers-an-office-has.

The Lion Star said...

And one more thing, this is an example of how people overreact. I speak very highly of her. She's extremely well qualified. My politics is FAR closer to her than anyone else.

This is a critique of the message. Frankly of Ernesto for pushing it. Is it important? Meh I guess you could argue it. But it's not what a city rep does. This idea of creative thinking is all well and good but it only works when city reps posses at least a passing knowledge of the basic functions of their office.

If you take a look around, city council has a problem getting the basic stuff right. Do you see my point now?

Chris Tarango said...

I don't have a dog in this fight. In fact I have no idea who Ernesto is. My comment is about looking for opportunities and building doors when the don't exist. Suggesting that city council can't act on education because it hasn't before lacks imagination. I was born and raised in El Paso, and now I'm a community engagement professional in Austin. What I've learned is that partnership and collaboration are contagious. For example, here we have a problem with student absenteeism, which affects budgets in an already dire financial situation. Two companies with absolutely nothing to do with education have stepped and are making a difference. ABC Pest Control, the city's largest, told all of it's employees to leave magnets related to absenteeism on every fridge of every household they worked, while a large local cab company posted similar messaging on the backs of all their cabs. The result? Absenteeism is falling in our community. In both cases, it was relationship through city council and local coalitions that made it happen. So no, City Council cannot force the school district to act, much less a pest control or cab company, but relationships matter and influence has it's own benefits if you can think creatively.

Anonymous said...

When is the debate?