Or, how Dr. Herenton doesn’t like “Myron’s reckless style of leadership.” Mr. Kettle, I’m Mr. Pot, and I’m calling you black.
I gotta say, it was, as Cleavon Little put it near the end of Blazing Saddles, “getting pretty damn dull around here…” Well, let’s all thank former Mayor Herenton for changing all that with a quick trip to the Election Commission office.
Let’s line up our facts, shall we?
When Herenton ran for his fifth term, it wasn’t necessarily because he had a burning desire to continue his work for the city. If I recall correctly, he wasn’t happy with the choices available to us voters (one candidate was someone the mayor himself had appointed to run the largest multi-service public utility in the country… the other major candidate a former state senator and member of city council). In fact, didn’t he indicate at the time that he might not make it through the entire term if elected?
So he gets elected, lets everyone know that he was basically running to spite Ms. Chumney and Mr. Morris. Kind of sleepwalks through at least one major city crisis, saying he wasn’t really aware of what MSARC was, much less that it had problems. Once the boredom set in, he gave us the resign/retire yes-I-am, no-I’m-not saga, which made a lot of people feel as if they were trapped in a loop of “The Sting,” waiting for Gondorff and Hooker to finish running their con (I could have gone with the “Punk’d” comparison, but everybody’s doing that).
Okay, he’s out, gearing up for his “Keep It Real” run for Steve Cohen’s seat in Congress (or the “Black” seat if you listen to Sidney Chism and some other folk). Then he saunters into the Election Commission and picks up a petition for the job he left with much fanfare because he doesn’t like the job Mayor Pro Tem Lowery is doing. “Reckless” says the former mayor. When he delayed his retirement, he mentioned that he thought Myron was a little too eager for the job. Herenton also wants to put limits on the power available to a mayor pro tem (crazy me, I thought the 90-day time limit served as an acceptable brake on the pro tem’s ability to do damage). I think Herenton is a little cheesed off that Lowery opened up the office to the public and let folks sit in Willie’s big chair.
There is no perfect connection between politician and office. While I believe the ballot box should be more effective than imposed term limits, I know that circumstance can give incumbents an unfair advantage. Negative reaction to FDR being elected president 4 times led to the 22nd Amendment. Of course, while Congress was all for that, they’ve avoided any kind of limits on their service. Should Robert Byrd still be in the Senate? Since 1959? He’s going on 92! How effective can he truly be at this point?
Anyway, there is a need for new ideas, fresh leadership, change — even if it’s not the change that everybody wants. Having the same people run for the same office over and over again keeps that from happening. And no matter how good a person might be in a role, or thinks they are — it does more to prevent growth and progress than to foster it.
I have as much concern for the potential damage Mr. Herenton will do to himself and his legacy than he would do to the city if he actually were to win the special election to serve out the term he was elected to serve but walked away from. Even fans of the man, people who have stuck with him through it all, will have to find some of this latest business a little off-putting.
Herenton and Lowery first won office at the same time. The former mayor is very well acquainted with the mayor pro tem. So, Herenton cannot legitimately claim a new appreciation of Lowery’s danger to the city. Will the man’s supporters not question his true motives, particularly since he says his priority is still to run for the 9th District Congressional seat in Tennessee?
And here’s an interesting point several people have mentioned to me. If the former mayor were to actual qualify and run in the special election, shouldn’t he be responsible for its cost? Their point is that the public money being spent wouldn’t have been necessary if he hadn’t quit in the first place. So shouldn’t he be responsible for the cost if he ends up back in the job? Even candidate Jerry Lawler thinks the X-Mayor should have been a bit more circumspect.
Anybody can sue anybody else for anything – so if you’re feeling froggy, go ahead and jump into court. It turns out that even though the special mayor’s election has been combo’d with a special election to replace former State Senator Paul Stanley, the state would cover the expense for the Stanley portion of the election, leaving city taxpayers holding an $840,000 tab. Thanks Mr., Dr., Fmr. Mayor H.
Keep you eyes open and your TVs on. Jon Stewart is going to be talking about this — any minute.