Political Money

Monday, July 21, 2014
It's a gas

I'm still not down with Pink Floyd. Maybe one day...

The last 20 or 25 years we've seen an evolution of political campaigns, haven't we. There was a time when participants in these contests focused on creds, not who could raise the most money. Has anyone else noticed this trend? What are we doing, buying elected office?

Take, for example, claims just since July 1st here on Chattanoogan.com.

Congressman Chuck, Esquire, has always touted the money he's raised for this and that campaign.
As a republican candidate he's never quite seen fit to mention his fundraising efforts for Democrats like Ms. Thompson when she was running for Hamilton County Circuit Court Clerk. Master Wamp, Founding Director, was against PAC money and stuff... until one of his buds threw up a PAC with 300 grand in it. Personally, I'm not sure who has better creds when we have two individuals without any. We have Congressman Chuck, Esquire, whose greatest goal in life was to play shortstop on the congressional baseball team. Then we have Master Wamp, Founding Director, who some elevate for having shaken President Obama's hand, which he wouldn't have been able to do without his daddy's influence, but yet will refuse to shake the hand offered by some cat wearing safety shoes, a plaid shirt, and bluejeans... me. Shack even made me buy new duds, or he wouldn't buy lunch. In all fairness Master Wamp did shake my hand on another occasion, one of those limp fish jobs we reserve for someone we don't respect. But let's focus on the positives... the choice in District 3 is between an incumbent who does little, but does little harm as a result, or a new guy so he can assist in building a political dynasty and boost both his career and that of his lobbyist father.

That Elvis, he was such a great philosopher when he sang "Money, Honey, if you want to get along with me."

When do we begin throwing up candidates who're examples for our children and grandchildren to look up to, to emulate, like Sam Blakemore, a candidate for the Hamilton County District 5 School Board seat. He grew up in a family of 9, in a 2 bedroom house, went to work for the fire department after banging around for a while. Then when he got embarrassed by his spelling skills, or lack thereof, decided to go to college and earned a degree in Fire Sciences. I think that's what it was. He's earned, and worked hard for what he has, but we'll still vote for candidates based upon who they know and how much money they've raised, don't we.

When do we begin to look at true creds, what candidates have actually accomplished, instead of voting for "but he's/she's my friend" or someone who appears to have been doing a lot or someone who's attempting to make the next step up on that political ladder?

Last week there seemed to a big hoorah about Mrs. Thurman having raised a little over 10 grand for her write-in campaign for the Hamilton County Commission, District 1, seat against the guy who won the primary contest. Forget the fact she's a member of elected officialdom and, as such, would seem to be required to either let it be or face consequences from The Party... perhaps wait four years until the next election cycle if she's unhappy with Mr. Fairbanks' performance. What has she accomplished during 12 years on the school board? I'm asking this from a truly clinical, unbiased perspective. Are the schools any better for her participation? Is our graduation rate any better? Have the schools of District 1 received the same attention as other districts? Have the temporary trailers gone away in District 1 while other districts have gotten new schools? Were the contracts of Doctors Register and Scales, neither of whom was a steller Director of Schools, extended on her watch? To be sure, Mrs. Thurman has accomplished much in her personal life. What has she accomplished for the schools in the district during her tenure? And half of her contributions coming by way of a personal loan to her campaign? With her largest contributor being one Mr. Kenneth (a.k.a. Tim) Price, Likability factor aside, what does Mrs. Thurman bring to the table for developing industry in the north end of Hamilton County? Has she accomplished anything of note on the School Board? Built any coalitions? Developed a reputation as anything more than "Dr. No?" Would she be able to accomplish anything on the County Commission? Or is this commission seat just hers... because she wants it and Mr. Skillern said it should be.

On the other hand we have a guy who won his primary contest against a long time incumbent on both the School Board and the County Commission. Mr. Fairbanks would probably be the first to admit he's about as pretty as a mud fence, a sentiment I would second, but he knows a little something about finance and the needs of small business. Mr. Fairbanks has spent 35 or so years as an accountant with a client base 95 percent composed of businesses with 3 to 20 employees, and as the business owner must be his own salesman. From the answers he's given me over the years, even though he isn't my accountant, we both think along the same lines with respect to conservative business practices. A negative is that for years one of those political powerhousii, a self-proclaimed "King Maker," told me Mr. Fairbanks cheated at softball but there are two problems with that statement. The first is it doesn't fit with the man I know. The second is, well, how does one cheat at church league softball?

It isn't negative to ask who would be the better Commissioner for District 1, "Dr. No" or "Dr. Know." My vote would be for Honey Ryder, except for that high forehead of hers, and I dare say decisions over money, big money that doesn't belong to the decision-maker, are more important than a bad haircut any day.

We often hear calls to stop all that "mud-slinging" stuff during a political campaign. How is comparing one candidate's creds against another "slinging mud," "taking the low road," or being "negative" when there are legitimate differences between candidates, and legitimate concerns about behavior?

Politicians, politicians
Their promises are ringin' in my ear
Politicians, politicians
You can always tell when it's election year

We have to love Hoyt Axton, don't we, if for no other reason than his distaste for politicians.

Royce Burrage, Jr.
Royce@Officially Chapped.org

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