Thursday, April 15, 2010

Small Town Smarm -OR- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I've spent roughly 480 Monday nights observing the regular meetings of my village government. Countless more days and evenings have been spent at PTA, Boosters, various committee, school board, park district, township meetings, rallies, protests, assorted cause oriented gatherings... I have the scars to prove it. Drop my name in certain circles and you'll be instantly labeled as "not our kind" unless you preface your thoughts with "Do you believe this guy?"

My major gaffe along the way was in wanting things to make sense, taking accurate notes and actually reading the "information" that was offered. I admit that I read things in order to find the flaws in the thinking, but even that I came by honestly. Way back, when Jimmy Carter was Preznit, I was introduced to the YEAH BUT. Carter signed the still maligned C.E.T.A. program that funded certain public sector employment. An unintended consequence of the program transformed existing jobs creatively into "seasonal" employment positions so that CETA funds could be used. I was told that to keep my job I would have to qualify under C.E.T.A.'s guidelines. The first insurmountable hurdle of which was that the applicant had to be unemployed for 6 months. So I read the act and the caveats, learning that the program could not be used to replace current workers. So I fought it. To and fro, back and forth. In the end, I didn't have my job anymore, but most of my co-workers kept theirs. A few token heads rolled at the top of the organizational chart. I got a spot on my permanent record. Many of the co-workers are inviting me to their retirement parties.

But I digress...

Our next local election is 354 days away and the PR push has gotten earnest. From the outset this regime has been great at throwing parties. One of their first was the Y2K blowout complete with huge tent, live music, heaters and midnight toast. In hindsight, the midnight fireworks on the storefront rooftop across the street wasn't thought through completely. The damages were minimal, but most memories were fuzzy enough anyway. The tab for the festivities was never disclosed. Questions were just downplayed and diverted to the NEXT fab party known locally as the St. Patrick's Day parade (not to be confused with Chicago's or the South Side or any of the other dozen or so that occur in localities with vibrant public houses.) Then the All-School Picnic. Then the first of the Sidewalk Fests, Golf Outing, 4th of July, another sidewalk fest, art show and Octoberfest...

The hangover has been spending that ballooned from $12 million back in 1999 to this year's $33 Million. That's right. Over the last decade this village of 15,000 has spent over $100 million on "stuff" with little or nothing permanent or lasting.
Consultants, legal fees, party hats and balloons. Have another drink. Don't worry; be happy.

I've written several times about the asshats who run this town. Around town I'm starting to be asked who will be running for what this time around. I'm stumped.
Anyone with tenure and half a brain blew this popstand when the real estate frenzy was groovin'. Either that or they were fed up with the "selective enforcement" techniques focused by the PTB. I was either too stoopid or stubborn to join them.
We looked around, but the disease exhibited by this bunch is systemic around the metro area. If they aren't doing exactly the same things, exactly the same ways... they are dirt poor and blighted. Staying was a Hobson's Choice. This place was small enough to get hijacked by a relatively small, but organized group. It's small enough to take back and set right.

I've been consistent and vocal in opposition. (again, got the scars to prove it) There is a reckoning looming. I hope. If not, I could always try the kool-aid. Either way, I'm slowly heading toward a more formal arrangement of assisted living anyway. This bunch's steady insistence on how I should live, work and play will make the home my kids select seem almost free-wheelin'.

"The road goes on forever and the party never ends."