Thursday, November 1, 2007

Mayor Donovan takes 'easy,' cheap shots

Mayor Mike Donovan, who is stepping down this year, endorsed Jim Bouley for mayor yesterday while at the same time, taking some easy, cheap shots at Jim's opponent, Kathy Rogers. It wasn't much of a surprise.
According to this morning's Monitor, Donovan called Bouley the "easy choice" and said Bouley "will not be influenced by debts owed to the special interests." His point was that Rogers has received all the union endorsements and she would owe them if elected.
The biggest problem with Donovan's statement is that everyone knows that the city has a weak mayoral system. God forbid, but if Rogers were elected, she would have no more ability in giving the municipal unions a sweetheart deal than Ward 1 Councilor Elizabeth Blanchard from Penacook would have. So far, Bouley has run a good campaign and will probably beat Rogers. So, there isn't much fear of Rogers being mayor.
While Rogers would be able to provide direction to the city manager and would probably be influential in getting the unions a better deal, ultimately, the city manager [or often, consultants] directs the union contracts and negotiations, and then, the entire council approves them. The mayor is one vote. If the council feels the deals are too good, they won't go very far. The council, almost all of whom have endorsed Bouley, could smack down Rogers in a heartbeat if she got too generous.
But a larger point, clearly lost on Donovan and others is this: Are municipal unions which represent all the [mostly] great, [mostly] hardworking employees we have in Concord, really "the special interests"? What about the city's business interests, some of whom get sweetheart deals - or just about anything they want - from the city's boards ... aren't they special interests too or is it just the working folks? Getting variances to build 14, $470k McMansions on a site which should only hold seven or eight houses without a modicum of give back to abutters? Give me a break.
When thinking of the "special interests," think about this: When you have a heart attack, do you want EMTs to be well-trained and compensated properly so you don't die? When your house is on fire, do you want a firefighter who is distracted by crap at home or worried about saving your home? When you have just been the victim of a crime, do you want the cops concentrating on you or worrying about their health plan copays? When you go to city hall, think of the clearly understaffed clerks and other city hall employees when you want something done quickly and efficiently, like a license registration or a site plan review. That is what you are paying for. They are hardly the special interests.
This is not to advocate fiscally-irresponsible economic policies as far as union or city spending are concerned. There is a limited amount of money, we all know that. But if people are looking for reasons not to vote for Kathy Rogers, there are more important ones written about here on this site. Making boogeyman comments and taking cheap shots at the unions which represent city employees is worthless.

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