|Beyond My Ken|
By Bram Reichbaum
The two leading candidates in the Special Election for City Council District 7, Deb Gross and Tony Ceoffe, are politically similar within the broad spectrum.
They both believe strongly in civil rights and social equality, on the duty to invest in public transportation and education, on the need to inject tax fairness into our “Eds and Meds” economy and in the advisability of public funding for the arts. One is the Democratic nominee, the other retains significant support in the Party, and both have been local Democratic committee members.
Where the candidates differ distinctly on policy is the direction they would take the City — and who they would take with them.
Gross supports remaining with Act 47 for now, has not called for a larger police force, and is allied with a future mayor and a County Executive who aim to cooperate on the shared provision of services.
Ceoffe favors withdrawing from state oversight as well as a call for the hiring of 130 new officers, and has been pointedly critical of the prospect of “mergers” with the County.
The Comet has already addressed the imperative for continued financial discipline favoring our pension crisis using Act 47. It should be obvious that the hiring, training, care, feeding, maintenance and supervision of a police officer is one of the most expensive long-term investments a City can make (besides which, now seems like a time in the Police Bureau to focus on leadership, vision and strategies). And there are so many broke units of government in our region destined to continue performing similar services, that any way in which the City and County can begin collaborating just to show it’s okay is at the very least highly interesting.
In light of that, formally withdrawing from Financial Distress status, an eagerness to hire more “boots on the ground” in the neighborhoods, and alarm over City-County collaboration sounds less like a strategy for long-term civic stability than like a formula for giving away ice-cream cones: to the public-sector managers and workers most desirous of greater resources and control and disproportionately active in politics, and to fearful residents unaware of the extent of the City’s continued financial straights and suspicious of outsiders.
That analysis confirmed my bias going into this race: that Deb Gross has long supported Bill Peduto, Patrick Dowd, and the “progressive” movement in local politics which takes as its mission curtailing patronage and transforming government to run more efficiently and responsibly, whereas Tony Ceoffe by in the past supporting Jack Wagner, Luke Ravenstahl and Len Bodack has been more representative of that “old school” more likely to protect the status-quo and make decisions based on political expediency and voters’ immediate gratification.
Now is when we have a real duty to examine those biases.
Tony Ceoffe Jr. is experiencing his own special kind of purgatory.
He has published a photo of a Democratic party ward chairman / Citiparks employee allegedly “campaigning for Gross during City hours of operation”.
He blasted the participation of “professionals” from Public Safety, Public Works and City Planning in a roundtable organized by Gross on Oct. 21st on the topic of “City Services”.
He claims a tweet by the Gross campaign was at first tweeted mysteriously by a certain public official’s Twitter account, before it was deleted there… and that nobody said anything.
And, of course, he argued unsuccessfully in Court that he was narrowly cheated out of the Democratic nomination, and besides which that various Committee members were threatened or promised things from Democratic leaders in exchange for supporting Gross.
Tony tells the Comet he sees a lot of bias in how his own accusations are being treated by various media — or rather, ignored by it — given the electricity such accusations have garnered in the past.
The Comet thinks it entirely likely Tony has a point here. Not that long ago, the Democratic party’s machinery and Bill Peduto’s own “progressive” coalition were at odds in most local elections. Once Peduto won the Party’s mayoral nod in May, the two mega-factions must have had to begin planning a Shotgun Royal Wedding.
City politics has been unscrupulous in the past, old habits die hard, and this Special Election to fill a vacancy forced the newlyweds to begin working together without an adjustment period. If Ceoffe feels like his candidacy is being ill-treated by a powerful new coalition, an entrenched establishment and 3rd-party media observers all at once, that is probably is because it is.
Other sources of bias impact the race.
|Rocky IV – Training Styles|
The Comet perceives four models on how to get into politics:
- Be born into it. Learn by watching your family work.
- Work to become a politician’s right hand, and wait your turn.
- Get active in community groups and “squeaky wheel” organizing, liaising between your neighbors and government.
- Develop skills and contacts through your profession and other public-spirited pursuits.