I’m going to introduce this week’s podcast with a little bit of a bitch session.
I just finished listening to Isaac Gonzalez and company’s latest ransackedmedia.com podcast. It’s good, basically one long interview with Steve Hansen, District 4 City Council candidate. If you haven’t heard it, you should download it. Not now, though.
Toward the end of the interview Hansen is asked about the Sacramento Charter Commission. Like a lot of people in politics, he’s pretty dismissive. He even compares the candidates to the cast of Real World/Road Rules. I’m not sure if I’m saying that right. But it is/was a reality show on MTV. I’m really not sure, I haven’t watched MTV since 120 Minutes.
I think I get Hansen’s point though. The candidates are a sideshow, a distraction. Their ideas are not to be taken seriously.
But we’re supposed to take City Council candidates seriously, I suppose. After all, you can take all of the criticisms of the charter commission and make them about every other elected body and every other field of candidates in local politics.
So you believe that the best the voters can do is elect a bunch of Charter Commisioners who are just proxies for different interest groups that fight for power and get nothing done? Well, show me a legislative body that is different. If you’ve got a better system, let’s hear it. Maybe you should try to get it into the City Charter.
In fact, I sat down with four charter commission candidates this week for this podcast, and found them to be well-informed and reasonable people.
Phyllis Newton, Sondra Betancourt, and Derek Cressman all came by the studio for a wide ranging discussion. Isaac of course sat in too, this time as a candidate and a guest. The episode serves as a pretty solid primer on charter commission background and basics, and an introduction to some of the the people who may be working together to help perfect our City’s constitution. I’m hoping that interviews with other candidates will follow soon.
I’m proud of this podcast. I thought it went remarkably smoothly, for a reality show. I think there’s been a lot of cynicism about the charter commission idea. Even my old employer, the Sacramento News and Review–which normally has a zest for small “d” democracy–seems to be falling into the cynicism trap. I may be wrong, but my guess is that they’ll soon urge readers to vote “no” on the charter commission, and not consider endorsing any candidates. I can’t really tell if it’s because they’ve really done their homework and have concluded that it’s a bad idea, or if they just looked at the number of candidates (54) and threw up their hands, figuring they don’t have the time or the energy–or the curiosity–to get engaged.
It’s not that hard, really. Just talk to people. If nothing else, we’ve got a couple of months before November 6 to have a thoughtful discussion about the charter and what changes, if any, could make the city work better.
And there’s no reason, out of 54 candidates, that we can’t come up with 15 commissioners with enough integrity and smarts to lead the public through a productive and transparent review of the charter. Seriously, just figure out who those people are, and vote for them. If we can’t do that, I’ve got to think it’s only because of a lack of imagination, curiosity and energy. Maybe a little less MTV would help
Local music this week is from Th’ Losin Streaks. The track is Fine Line.