Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Times Dumps Coody to Endorse Clark

It was the last hope for Dan Coody, but even his old friends at the Northwest Arkansas Times have had enough. "Why not 'keep a good thing going,' as his slogan suggests? Because we're convinced one other candidate can keep the most important good thing - Fayetteville - going, and without Coody's negatives," said the editorial today in endorsing Steve Clark for Mayor.

Most of the column was explaining why they had abandoned Dan Coody. "Sure, after two terms, there are people who just can't stand the way that Coody governs," they acknowledged as Coody never could. "He no doubt wants to be re-elected, but we're unconvinced that, in his heart, he wants another four years as mayor," and apparently neither does the faithful Times. Maybe they are just tired of having to defend his mistakes and don't want to run his puffed up press releases for another four years.

Neither have they ever understood the popular leadership style of Alderman Lioneld Jordan, and they took the opportunity to demean his deliberative approach of consulting with his constituents and reaching an inclusive consensus on solutions. Newspaper editors don't ask the average citizen before giving their opinions, and they see leadership as acting without hesitation. You know, be The Decider like George Bush and act without taking the time for getting the facts or building consensus. The difference is that bad snap judgements by editorial writers and bloggers seldom have any real consequences, whereas those of elected officials do.

Finally, they get around to saying some good things about Steve Clark. Their choice goes beyond Clark "not being Coody....Our endorsement is ultimately about saying goodbye to acrimony and hello to a renewed effort to advance Fayetteville's future." Especially, they like Clark's views on economic development and his affinity for the Cowbird approach to "shout that we are open for business!" They are also impressed by his Hollywood style. They don't say he sounds too much like a typical slick politician but that he has "a winning, inspirational personality if there ever was one."

The Times also respectfully glosses over Clark's past felony fraud conviction with the euphemism that getting elected Mayor could "complete his comeback from the political wilderness." Maybe we all should. Even if you ignore Clark's claim of only 43 instances of fraud and accept the 56 alleged by prosecutors, Clark stole far less from the taxpayers than Coody has wasted on hiring outside consultants. And, as taxpayers, we would rather pick up the bar tab at a fancy French restaurant now and then than to have a mayor who shirks his responsibility and flits off to France while the Vice Mayor and City Council struggle to balance the budget.

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