Pasadena mayoral race not quite what founding fathers had in mind
I am not certain this is how the Founding Fathers saw things turning out. I believe they felt that the opportunity to actively participate in the workings of your own government would be so compelling that everyone would be clambering to take part. And judging by the tally from the most recent round of elections, a full 15% of Pasadena's registered voters agree.
Today there are two individuals in the runoff for Mayor on April 21, and both served on the Pasadena City Council during a significant portion of the years that alleged embezzler Danny Wooten was robbing the Home of the Dome blind. And, as we now know, nobody on that City Council was alert enough to figure it out.
We are talking about an 11 year period during which $6.4 million dollars was stolen right out from under the noses of Pasadena's not very vigilant elected watchdogs. With two them, Terry Tornek and Jacque Robinson, actually having the hubris to run for Mayor.
Some might believe that voters of a city that had just experienced a huge embezzlement scandal, and over so considerable a period of time, would have some doubts about the ability of their elected leaders to keep an eye on things. And that a serious "throw the bums out" consensus could have risen from the cold hard streets of an increasingly thorny Rose City.
But sadly, that is not the case. Out of the mere 12,977 votes for Mayor, those two Councilmembers, who both snoozed their way through a significant portion of that 11 year embezzlement binge, received 8,745 of the ballots cast. Or nearly 70% of the total.
During the first round of campaigning these two candidates, possibly fearing a negative political reaction to the Wooten scandal, pointed fingers at the City Manager and at least appeared to demand his head on a plate. But only in the most metaphorical sense since Michael Beck still has his gig, and his head. He will likely keep both long after Tornek or Robinson is elected.
And why not? Mr. Beck, ever the proper city employee, dutifully took the blame for things that were not entirely his fault. Which, I guess, is behavior expected of a City Hall hire. Taking the fall for the failures of elected officials being a form of job security. Especially when politicking Mayoral candidates are claiming they want to remove you.
My understanding has always been that in order for a democracy to function as the Founding Fathers envisioned, the people would need to participate in a vigorous and informed way. Otherwise something different would emerge. Rule by dueling campaign managers perhaps. Or a bureaucracy that, while actually calling the shots, also works to prop up the elected class. For decorative and entertainment purposes mostly.
Every show needs an emcee, and a Mayor who can both smile and wave at the same time. Especially on New Year's Day.
But I am being overly critical here. Maybe the 85% of those who stayed home were voting for something. At least by inference. And had any of the candidates running in this race actually said something that appealed to them, and in a way that was both reality based and worthy, the voters would have showed up.
Which might be another one of those things the Founding Fathers had assumed. Politicians who do more than mail out postcards and squabble over lawn signs.