Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Barn burning

Valerie Keehn might not be well acquainted with the works of Alfred Graf von Schlieffen, but the incumbent mayor’s warpath to re-election seems to borrow liberally from his oft-studied playbook. The idea of the Schlieffen Plan is simple: wage a blitzkrieg campaign against the weaker of two enemies, and then wheel around to tackle the sleeping beast before it has time to awake.

Keehn and her supporters tried to handily defeat Boyd during September’s primary. Her campaign waged an aggressive series of political mudslinging to energize her base, marginalize Boyd and seize the Democratic primary in a way that was almost humiliating for her challenger. Kamp Keehn certainly banked on Boyd capitulating after such a defeat, allowing their candidate to centralize her efforts on the real challenge: defeating Republican challenger Scott Johnson.

But much like leaders of the German Reich found during the dawning years of the First Word War, Keehn is finding there could be some drawbacks to waging a two-front battle against a wounded enemy not yet vanquished and a much larger one just digging in for the fight. The vitriol traded during the battle for the primaries somehow convinced Boyd to stay in the mix, setting up a bizarre dynamic of political rivalries and alliances that is all but certain to drastically change the composition of the city’s governance.

Voters got their first look at this dynamic Tuesday, during the League of Women Voters’ candidate’s forum. Though Keehn came out much sharper than her previous showing during the primaries, she often found herself warding off poignant attacks coming from within her party and on the other side of the partisan line. Ultimately, her back-tracking left her on the defensive against both her challengers, rather than the offensive against Johnson, who many rightly view as her most formidable opponent.

Keehn’s diminutive attempts at going on the offensive were limited to questioning both panelists on their views toward development in the city and if they wanted to limit the powers of city “land use” boards. Clearly, this was a round-about attempt to characterize both opponents of being pro-development, something that has become a sort of furtive mantra of her campaign. But in both cases, Keehn’s quasi-assertions were summarily defended, first by Johnson and then by Boyd.

In contrast, the attacks on Keehn ran all night long. If there were any doubt of Boyd’s dislike for the mayor, they were readily clarified during the debate. He rightly pointed out Keehn’s “tacit” support of Republican Public Works candidate Skip Scirocco and how such an allegiance is even more of an indication of her willingness to sink the plan to tap Saratoga Lake as a city water source.

And then Johnson joined in the fray. Blasting the mayor for her “un-accomplishments,” he pointed out that not a single acre of open space or unit of affordable housing has been added to the city during her tenure in office. He also cast serious doubt on Keehn’s role in restoring the state’s video lottery terminal funding, which is perhaps the greatest footing she has used in her campaign.

Overall, the debate was a much less back-biting affair than its doppelganger in September. Perhaps this was due to Keehn’s attempts to ward off significant attacks from either side; maybe it was the fact that all candidates are starting to realize it’s too close to the election to wage a campaign of negativity.

Despite being the clear underdog, Boyd again seemed like the most poised of the three candidates in his answers, even though he decided to make note of the Keehn appointment-Fulani link he foisted last month, an assertion that roundly drew jeers from Kamp Keehn. Even thought Johnson’s answers seemed well thought out, his delivery and intonation seemed remarkably bad for someone who was a high-toned trial attorney.

Keehn, as aforementioned, seemed markedly more collected during the debate. At times, she even seemed a bit impassioned compared to other speeches, such as her state of the city address and the first debate. Such a comparison, however, is akin to telling the difference between a tagged corpse and a clinically brain-dead patient; a sign of life in one doesn’t mean it’s any better off than the other.

Though it was clear through the debate that Boyd is aiming to sink Keehn’s ship, he also seems quite determined to grab voters from the middle ground; the politically unaffiliated. It’s this middle ground of voters that often seem to sway elections these days. But to Boyd’s detriment, there seems to be few clear differences between his views and those of Johnson, who many Keehn detractors see as the favorite to unseat the wicked witch of the left.

Keehn, on the other hand, is attempting to electrify enough of her base so that she won’t need to rely on the old-school Democrats, a band of hardliners that are unwavering in their support of her enemy Tom McTygue. Her hope is to create a great enough schism in the party and even some rogue Republicans to oust the Public Works fixture, while keeping staunch ally Ron Kim in the mix.

The problem with this thinking is this: she could very easily end up one of two Democrats on the board come January, the other being McTygue supporter John Franck. Strangely, this dynamic would all but hand the reins of the City Council to Scirocco, the highest ranking Republican running for office. Stay tuned folks; the only clear thing at this point is that we’ve got a barn-burner here.

13 Comments:

Blogger Scoop said...

And who set fire to the police station? They said there was a box to close to the generator, probably a box full of election stickers. Fishy very fishy

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prediction: Keehn will get as many Republican votes as Johnson!

2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are either:

a) totally deranged

b) just a Keehn cultist peppering this blog with a phony post

c) both


The correct answer is: C!

Because the two of them go hand-in-hand.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Yep, I’ll have to agree with the anonymous poster deux here. To think rank-and-file Republicans –and I’m not talking the Pat Kane-Ron Kim brand of GOP’ers –will cross party lines to endorse a self-professed “tax-and-spend” liberal candidate is just ridiculous. If you’d like to set up an online wager, I’m sure we could anonymously do such a thing. I’ve got a few ducats on the MAJORITY of Republicans voting for their candidate, who is Scott Johnson, just in case you missed the lawn signs.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Scoop: I was thinking the very same thing and even considered a blog entry; very suspicious indeed. Let’s think about the last time this happened in the police station. Trying my somewhat warped memory, I’ll guess never. Funny thing is, not one report of the incident suggested wrong doing on the part of the company that apparently owned the misplaced box.

Frankly, I’d be of the belief that it just so happened there recently. And the mysterious hand that landed it in such a volatile place was probably banking on the fact that it wouldn’t be found so quickly, making such a fire seem “electrical” in nature. Then again, I’m a paranoid bastard.

10:28 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Keehn will lose.
She loses because she has no character and she is running against two gentlemen who do. The only unknown factor in this race is the She-devil voters. How many of those votes in the city are there?

She-devil voters: women who vote for women based solely on gender.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keehn,Kim,Scirroco,Ivens and Franck. Deal with it!

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To scoop and horatio alger - It is a long shot to imagine the police setting their own building on fire, but that thought probably humored more than a few people. No doubt, it was just bad Karma or, just sloppy housekeeping. The boxes, something to do with a new generator replacing the one that failed during those cold nights in '06 when the old generator wouldn't start because of (not age) deferred maintenance (or simply not starting it up every once in a while on a Y2K check exercise) and was left to sit idyll next to the discards and those lost bicycles that are auctioned off every spring, were just in the wrong place at the right time. Remember Y2K? All that Federal money provided to local communities to be prepared? Are you better prepared -- than you were two (seven) years ago?

It was quite the scene the other afternoon, when all of the brass and epaulets were standing out in the street watching (some with definite smirks on their faces) as the City's Risk Manager personally dragged cartons out onto the sidewalk in her heels, visibly irritated that this could even be happening. Public Safety and Public Works officials, the City's Attorney and CSEA employees all off for the afternoon like an impromptu teacher's conference. With the exception of Broadway and Lake Avenue, did anyone see police officers directing traffic at other blind intersections during this emergency, or were they given the time off also?

Think about it. The ONE department in the building whose area is so mis-managed that it publicly complains not only to the age of the building for its overcrowding problems but oddly, to illegal and code violation modifications ironically with its own ‘in-house’ building maintenance and fire code inspectors. Furthermore, chastising the public, for not embracing their pain -- ignoring the fact that they were given over $1 million several years ago to make some corrections (that would have used less than half of that bonded money) after their initial tirade, is bewildering.

Our Commissioner did publicly state that he would not be a manager (this even prior to his election), because that job would be left to his subjects, the two Chiefs. Did you hear a Trojan Horse trotting up to the polls last time since the same elected official publicly saddled up with the Mayor after a few months in office to change the City's Charter abolishing his post hoping no doubt for an administrator to approve his (their) "career making" project? Could he have hoped for a secure City Attorney post under a new Charter for his troubles? A future City Court Judge? After recent embarrassing public displays, maybe Court TV would be the better dream, and appeal to a larger community and be far more lucrative for those ‘judgmental’ antics.

Next week’s PS fundraiser published in the newspaper, labels the Commissioner a zealot (next to the image of a pile of blocks)? This reference to a Jewish movement of the first century A.D. that fought against Roman rule in Palestine as inconsistent with strict monotheism may be apropos when realizing that our PS leader has fanatically, dug in his heals and is unyielding in his blinded approach to getting for his guys (or bosses) what it is they want as opposed to what is financially best for the community.

His campaign slogan this year of "Building for the Future" would have better served someone running for the Public Works Office not Public Safety. But he might consider:

1. "Protecting the Public through Better Management" or
2. "Efficiency and Enforcement" or
3. "The Trucks Stop Here" or
4. "Managed (seasonal) Overtime saves the Public Money" or
5. "Money Saved is Money Earned" or
6. "Living Affordability through Responsible Spending" or
7. "I am the Boss of the Chiefs", or
8. "I am Boss Chief" or
9. "No one is the Boss of Me" or even the one from '05,
10. "No one will own Me" could today be,
11. "I Work for No One".

4:44 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

“Dealing with it.”

Let me start off by saying this comment was left three times and I’ve only posted it once. The point is across and it’s a frightening one at that. I’ll attempt to address them in order. First, Keehn as a sure-bet for second-term mayor is sort of like saying George Bush was a shoe-in for second-term president. The only difference is Bush doesn’t have as many political enemies.

Next, Mr. Scirocco for Public Works stands a good chance of becoming a reality. The only thing I can say with little doubt about this change would be that the county Republicans would finally have their mole on the city council. Lenz was close, but Skip is the real deal. And if there’s a Keehniac out there that thinks Skip will be a good little toady a la the Public Safety lapdog, they’ve got another thing coming to them. Scirocco doesn’t come from the old guard, he IS the old guard. By the time he gets done throwing Keehn around, she’ll privately wish McTygue had won re-election.

Onto Ron “I don’t need to take this shit” Kim. Anyone who seriously thinks this guy is fit for office should get their head examined. Sure he’s better than Curley, but that’s not saying much. I’ll reserve my opinions on Ivens; he hasn’t won or lost my vote. Franck is the easiest one, seeing as though no one bothered running against him.

All in all, your predictions for the council are interesting, to say the least. Plausible, yes; probable, no. The only thing I’d say about such a council is that I’d have to go back to blogging five-days a week if it comes to office. There’d be way too much dirt.

Lastly, I sadly think your closing remark is more truth than political banter. The more I dig into recent events, the more orchestrated much of this election seems. There are hands being shaken and deals being made, no doubt about it. Many of them are to sway the election and public opinion toward the crew of candidates you suggest; I’ll have more on this later. Needless to say, the public should take a long hard look at the candidates and their allies before pulling the lever. Something is rotten in Saratoga, and it ain’t the trash behind Gaffney’s.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to add Matt Veitch and Joanne Yepsen to the five mentioned earlier. You can't think Wirth is some savior. Jane Weihe was a McTygue plug in but may be alright as long as McTygue loses. It will be interesting how Franck is with this group without Tommy in there to steer him around.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deal me in:

I'll take two cards.

Kim will be deposed like the (once) untouchable Commissioner Towne . To Curley's credit, he tried to address overtime (but it was overshadowed by his loyalty to his deputy) and was taken to the Elks like his predecessor, for that final ride. Kim has done NOTHING for the public (but he has for his PS clients) and, HE knows it. An elephant could run against him and win.

If I were to take a gamble on Ivans or Weihe, I would go with the latter. Why not? She has history and in spite of integrity, once in office, she will have to manage her decisions over loyalties, politics and self-respect. She understands the fragile nature of City and I bet she will ultimately stand on the latter. It's certainly not a job to stake one's career on? Self-respect is what you leave with.

Yet with that logic, weihe would I support newcomer Worth over Kim? Because Kim (again) has done nothing, and it would be worth looking at a MANAGER instead of a wanna-be JUDGE-JUDY.

And then, there’s the homeboy running for Mayor. Deal making or not, we all know our Mayor is light headed. Jasper would have some time explaining how his candidates could win without helping them like he did last season.

Hit me.

3:37 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

It really must be true that democrats stage a firing squad by first forming a circle.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

COMMISSIONER KIM'S DEFENDERS, CHARACTERIZING HIS FANATICAL PUBLIC POSTURE TO FINANCIALLY RUIN THIS CITY WITH A HALF-BAKED EMPIRE PROJECT BY CALLING HIM, A ZEALOT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT.

HIS MANIACAL BEHAVIOUR AND SURPRISING LACK OF COPING SKILLS FOR HANDLING CONFLICT BY DISMISSING CONTRARY OPINION, ARGUING AND RUNNING AWAY FROM DISCUSSION, DOESN'T BODE WELL FOR A COMMISSIONER OR CERTAINLY SOMEONE SEEKING THE PROMISED PRESTIGE AND RESPECT OF A CITY COURT JUDGE APPOINTMTMENT.

THE CHIILDISH, UNCOMPROMISING, SELFISH AND SPOILED BEHAVIOR IS EMBARRASSING. HE SHOULD REPRESENT ALL THE PEOPLE -- ESPECIALLY THE CITY TAXPAYERS WHO ELECTED HIM.

5:21 AM  

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