Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gosh. The Mayor Of Rapid City Is Playing Politics? Imagine That.

     According to the snippet I caught on the TV news last night, the  President of the Rapid City (SD) City Council, Jerry Wright, is "deeply offended."  Wow. The blurb had all the makings of a major story, you know, something seriously serious.  "Deep offense" is no trivial reaction so I paid close attention to the details that followed.  You can imagine my chagrin when I found out that the source of Wright's consternation was the fact that Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker has been publicly supporting two candidates running for county offices, igniting Wright's rather overwrought outrage. Wright went so far as to insist that Kooiker should have taken a leave of absence in order to play politics.  The headline on KOTA Television's story even says that Wright called for Kooiker's resignation.
     Then, in escalating Wright's reaction to the realms of the ridiculous, KOTA's story goes on to quote Wright as saying that Kooiker's actions are an example of "Chicago style politics."  Further stretching an already strained metaphor, Wright is quoted by the Rapid City Journal as saying "It smacks of machine politics. Richard Daley of Chicago is Sam Kooiker of Rapid City."  Come again?   At this point I can only laugh, based on my experience of having lived and worked in Chicago for about a decade, part of which was spent during the heyday of the "Daley machine."  From that perspective, I can tell you that Wright doesn't have a clue.  The Daley machine's ruthlessness when it came to retaining its hold on the political reins of Chicago (read Mike Royko's "Boss" for a great and well-documented depiction) were of an era and magnitude that Rapid City's local politicos will never live to see nor achieve.  
     Wright's political motivations are transparent enough, and I'm guessing that the general reaction among most observers other than his friends is similar to mine:  So what's the big deal about a Mayor of any city getting involved in local politics? I mean, this is news?  The real story is in gauging the effectiveness of the endorsements themselves.  Kooiker and his preferred candidates are running some risk by going through this process:  The Mayor's support can backfire because it could bring all the resentment that people may have against Kooiker to bear on his endorsees.  My guess is that the local media wouldn't have even picked up on Kooiker's activities (done via that most annoying of political gadgetry, robo-calling) if Wright hadn't made such a gratuitous fuss about it.
     The Mayor's involvement in all this is legal and tradition-bound.  Wright's ill-considered reaction, especially his call for Kooiker to take a leave of absence--even resign--is way overdone.  The ill will that was just created won't do the R.C. City Council much good now that the air has been fouled by this uncalled for political tantrum.

Interesting addendum (added on 6/1 @0930) and a very good point from one of my readers:  "Point well-taken, John. Unlike council chair Jerry Wright, I'm not so troubled by Mayor Kooiker's endorsing county candidates (his right as a voter) but his judgement in WHO he's endorsing for county office. Holding brash youthful opinions and wingnut credentials do not necessarily make for reliable administrators."    We need some discussion as to who the endorsees are and why Kooiker is supporting them so aggressively.  Readers?  
   

8 comments:

  1. Hello John, Lynn from Madville here

    I'll need to check out that book Mike Royko's "Boss". I remember watching documentaries about the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and the role Daley played at the convention and protests going on outside plus years prior when Kennedy needed Daley's support. I love history and would like to learn more about the "machine". Mabye you might have a few stories too! lol

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    1. Definitely worth checking out, Lynn. Royko was a feisty columnist at the Sun-Times and pulled no punches. Here's the Amazon listing: http://www.amazon.com/Boss-Richard-J-Daley-Chicago/dp/0452261678

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  2. When the Mayor openly support candidates who belong to the "Wingnuts", it makes me wonder if he also supports racism and discrimination. The most famous of the local Wingnuts, of course, is Phil Jensen. He has brought national news attention to his sponsorship and public comments of legislation that would allow businesses to openly discriminate against members of the LGBT community and people of color. I hope that our Mayor DOES NOT support these sentiments, but his endorsement of these candidates would lead some people to believe that he does! Robin Page, North Rapid community member.

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    1. Robin, why do you characterize John Roberts and Jordan Mason, the two candidates Kooiker is supporting, as "wingnuts?"

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  3. http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/wingnuts-pledge-to-push-republican-party-further-right/article_6a0e13f4-8e3e-5f08-99e2-3af726f3803e.html

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    1. Thanks, sddiver. No question that Roberts and Mason are wingnuts. Readers will have to c + p the url, but the message in the RC Journal is unequivocal. I met Mason and he told me his main reason for running is his desire to modernize the office he seeks by digitizing it. I got no sense whatsoever that he's a plant for the extremists in the Republican Party. Certainly won't be supporting that guy, nor will I support Roberts.

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  4. I wanted to read the article but I see the dear Journal does not allow one to read even one article without paying. Stinkin cheapskates.

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    1. Deb, the piece is about a self-anointed group called The Wingnuts who are running some candidates, among them John Roberts and Jordan Mason, for county offices. RC Mayor Sam Kooiker has been robo-calling on their behalf.

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