Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Dan In Debacle Denial

Sadly, we have seen this before. Maybe not this Mayor, maybe not this issue, but we have seen it. According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, denial is the refusal to acknowledge the existence or severity of unpleasant external realities or internal thoughts and feelings. Freud suggested that it is a defense mechanisms for dealing or coping with anxiety, such as explaining problems away or blaming others for problems. It entails ignoring or refusing to believe an unpleasant reality. However, it does not resolve underlying problem and, if overused, can lead to psychological disorders.

We are concerned about Mayor Coody and his inability to deal honestly with his $63 million sewer plant debacle. He can pretend it didn't happen, or blame it on someone else, or cut that ribbon a hundred times on the Government Channel and claim it came in under budget and ahead of schedule, but it is still his problem. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has seen it, too, and today's advice column lays it out in clear and convincing terms that even Dan Coody and his highly paid public relations and policy advisers should be able to understand:

"If he runs again, Mayor Coody can expect lots of questions about the defining event of his time in office: The $63 million cost overrun for the new sewer plant on the west side of town. The plant also came in three years behind schedule and had to be rescued with an increase in the city sales tax a couple of years ago.

"It was not Dan Coody’s finest moment, regardless of how he’s brushed off responsibility for it. He’s dismissed the original cost estimates as unrealistic. He said he wasn’t told that the project was behind schedule until too late. But my-dog-ate-it excuses won’t work. Dan Coody was the mayor at the time of the sewer plant catastrophe. If he didn’t know what was going on, he should have. The 63 million bucks stop at his desk.

"Dan Coody’s done a lot of good things for Fayetteville. But he’s had an eight-year run, and it’s time for somebody else to see what he can do. It needs to be somebody who doesn’t overlook a $63 million oopsie. Even if Dan Coody doesn’t think the somebody else is up to the job."

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