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More Dogs on Main Street

Tom Clyde The municipal election is Tuesday. In all the years I ve lived here, I can t recall an election that has generated so little interest. There was no primary. The mayor is running unopposed. There are three candidates for two seats on the City Council. So far, no significant issues have worked to the surface to distinguish them. What a snooze. Park City politics has often had a mean streak, with last minute mailings of scurrilous materials and accusations. We had campaign issues that sparked bar fights and last minute, write-in campaigns. There were secret slush funds with significant cash on hand. Candidate debates would draw big audiences of people who knew what was going on and asked tough questions. This year, the campaign has consisted mostly of a few lawn signs, and a tea party or two. There are a couple of theories on that. One is that everybody is just so fat and happy right now that they don t care. The real estate market remains insanely strong, and even if you are one of the half dozen people not flipping your house, the reflected glow from your neighbor s inflated price is making you feel OK. Of course, if you don t already own a house, it s a different world. In some ways, city government has become less relevant. The really hard decisions have been made. There are a couple of big in-fill projects on the resort parking lots, and the Sweeney project (which everybody seems to think is a foregone conclusion). So in terms of really setting the future direction of the town, the battle is over. It s been won or lost (and I m still not sure which), but we re down to sweeping up the last of the sawdust. The real growth action is in the county, and for really out-of-control stuff, look to Wasatch County. City government is running smoothly. A seat on the City Council used to be a place to shape the future of the community. Now it is largely a operation and maintenance function. Visionaries have been replaced with bean counters, and that s pretty much OK. Another reason interest is down might be the spin-off from the county, where things are not running with Swiss-watch precision. The county is a charter member of the lawsuit of the month club. The amount of time available for real forward-looking work is reduced to almost nothing because of the time spent dealing with the multiple lawsuits. They continue to struggle with staff turnover. It can t be fun, and people considering getting involved have to look at that experience and have second thoughts. So while there is still time for something really interesting to happen in the election, like maybe a write-in campaign to elect my dog as mayor, it s not likely to happen. But it s a good idea. Her name is Lizzy. The national political scene is more interesting, and a lot more discouraging. Things have not gone well for W. lately. The Republican leaders in the House and Senate are both under investigation or indictment; the budget is busted; the vice president s office has been exposed as a Kremlin-style propaganda machine with Scooter Libby getting indicted for obstruction of justice; the Harriet Miers fiasco; the Hurricane Katrina fiasco; and the Iraq fiasco. There have now been over 2,000 deaths among U.S. troops in Iraq and maybe four times that number with life-changing injuries in a war that is looking more dubious every day. Even Bush s supporters are using words like incompetent to describe the situation. Normally, I d be enjoying watching W. flail away at problems of his own making. The Republicans were so determined to prove that government will fail at anything it attempts that they got a guy elected with an impeccable record of failing. He was the likeable, electable guy who could be counted on to make a mess of things. Back in 2000, things were running smoothly enough we could afford to have that kind of administration. But things changed, and we need capable, engaged leadership. Instead, we have Alfred E. Newman struggling to pronounce pandemic while scaring the pants off the country over bird flu. As bad as Bush is, and as big a mess as he s made of everything he s dealt with, you would think the Democrats would have something to offer as an alternative. I mean the bar is so low right now that they ought to be able to come up with something that looks marginally convincing. Iraq is a mess. Do the Democrats have an alternative plan? Mmmm, not really. We re borrowing a billion dollars a day from China with no real plan for paying it back. I don t recall seeing the Democrats plan for balancing the budget. It s certain that both Social Security and Medicare are digging deep financial holes. The Democrats would solve these problems by& They ll have to get back to us on that one. Health care in general is a stinking mess. From a medical standpoint, it s the best in the world — but we haven t figured out how to pay for it or make it available to everybody. And the Democrats solution to all of these problems? They are going to filibuster the nomination of Alito to the Supreme Court. Yeah, that ll fix everything. There s some forward-looking leadership. The bomb makers in Iraq will quit blowing up marketplaces and join the League of Women Voters when they see the Democrats filibuster. From an entertainment perspective, watching Bush try to look like he has control of anything is great theater. The problem is that we really need to have somebody figuring out solutions to the problems and providing some solid leadership. Something tells me we aren t going to find it anywhere in Washington. Maybe we elect my dog president next time around.


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