City Government is Supposed to be Non-Partisan
Zac, we know you're independent, but what do you stand for?
It was good to see Zac Ploppert back on Patch again and ya also gotta give the young 1st Ward aldermanic candidate credit for showing up at virtually every City Council meeting. The truth is, while some of those government get togethers actually are a fascinating study, for the most part, watching the municipal gears grind is a lot like watching the late summer grass grow.
Though I wish he (and all Patch bloggers) would read his prose out loud before that final submission, his writing has improved, which is always a good sign. Personally, I prefer potential politicians who are willing to improve and evolve.
That said, I was more than a bit baffled by Zac’s latest piece titled, “A Truly Independent Candidate” in which he first decries partisan politics and then declares, “This is why I am running as an independent candidate.”
Now, you know this centrist moderate columnist tends to embrace free thinkers who aren’t beholden to any particular party apparatus, but thankfully, that ain’t the way local government works. One might say the reason municipal government generally moves beyond gridlock is, unlike all those state and federal ne’er do wells, there are no overt political affiliations.
To wit, if Mayor Kevin Burns hadn’t run for Congress and county chair, unless he specifically stated otherwise, we’d never know he was a Democrat, Republican or a member of the Whig Party.
The same goes for alderpeople! Though I firmly believe Rich Marks is a Communist and Craig Maladra is a Maoist, those patently fictional facts are immaterial.
Ours, and the vast majority of other cities' councilmen are not required to take sides. It’s kind of like being gay. Some folks may look at you funny and wonder, but until you come out of the closet (or you’re a Republican congressman), no one really knows for sure.
There’s no Geneva fiscal cliff (yet), there’s no call to raise taxes on Eagle Brook residents, and no one’s suggesting that east siders should show a picture ID before they can vote. Though I will say that items two and three are certainly worthy of our consideration.
And that’s exactly the way nature, or at least the Illinois state constitution, intended it. The last thing we really need is municipal partisan rancor and all the wonderful benefits that come from that kind of endless bickering.
Party affiliations do come into play when it comes to county elections, but once those folks are seated, it quickly fades. Prior to Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, I could easily name all 26 County Board members, but dividing them up along party lines? Nope! After about 10 of ‘em, I couldn’t do it.
I can’t remember the last time former GOP Court Clerk Deb Seyller launched into a County Building A boardroom floor filibuster, County Clerk Jack Cunningham shouted “You lie!” or Democratic Sheriff Pat Perez threatened to close Gitmo.
Of course, there’ll be a bit more acrimony at this somewhat-higher-stakes level, but the worst of it pales in comparison to the festivities in Springfield or Washington D.C. But if county or village boards ever start instituting majority and minority leaders, watch out!
So, Zac! Please allow me to reiterate that, while I’m thrilled to see you state your case, and even though your willingness to blatantly restate the obvious makes me believe you really are a politician, that’s not what I, the voter, really want to hear.
We already have a clear understanding that municipal government was created to be non-partisan. We already know you’re a “truly independent” candidate, because you all are.
What we do want to know is, what are your thoughts on cutting municipal costs? How is it that a new half-million-dollar computer system doesn’t render any city staffers obsolete? Do we really need to have all those tempting city credit cards sitting out there? Shouldn’t employee benefits be re-examined, and what do you think about the City Council holding the property tax line and the columnists who want to kiss councilpeople on the lips for holding the property tax line?
So, now that you’re armed with the correct questions, I look forward to your next Patch endeavor.