Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rochester Politics | Chicago Style w/a Slice of Turkey

Campaign mailer prepared and paid for by the National Association of REALTORS Fund*

At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. - Justice John Paul Stevens (dissenting), Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

So, first off, this is not about the incumbent city council president - not mostly anyway. It's not like he asked the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) to spend $16,184 on behalf of his re-election campaign. But, they did and the campaign lit has started to drop in some local mail boxes.

The view from Chicago

From 350 miles away the NAR offers us three reasons to re-elect the incumbent city council president.

(1) "Implementing a new public transportation system and completing the Transit Operations Center $4 million dollars under budget." (emphasis in the original)

First, can we reach a “civil consensus” that very few of us know what the heck the NAR is talking about here? If we have a “new public transportation system," then the city government transparency problem is far more serious than we thought.

Secondly, I’m supposing the other achievement refers to the Public Works and Transit Center. According to reports in the Post Bulletin the center was a project that was approved in Spring 2009 and opened in Fall 2011 and completed sometime in 2012. What's interesting about those dates is that the incumbent city council president first joined the council in 2011 and became its president in May 2013. So, I am not sure to what part of the project he is being credited with completing or how it is he saved the city "$4 million dollars." Perhaps someone might risk checking with the NAR. I say risk because these days contacting business HQ's is regarded as bullying in some quarters and earns you a sternly worded letter threatening lawsuits.

(2) "Supporting entrepreneurs who want to bring new housing, restaurants and business to Rochester." (emphasis in the original)

It was nice to see that what has shown up so far is not an attack piece on the candidate's opponent. So, points for civility. Indeed, since this statement includes a healthy bit of the challenger's resume, one might even read it as a tacit - albeit unlikely - endorsement of Mr. Allen.

A less generous reading might recall the incumbent's leadership on food trucks and his recent lone dissenting vote on bringing Uber and such to town. Or a long overdue comprehensive plan that's now a year longer and overdue under his watch. Or...well, like I said, it's not about the incumbent - mostly. Anyway, and finally:

(3) Improving our infrastructure, walking paths, public spaces, and developing our business district. (emphasis in the original)

This reads to me like a bit of filler. Certainly not a strong close for a campaign appeal, but then not a very strong campaign message anyway.

Frankly, mailers like this are pretty much yard signs that show up in your mailbox. Maybe you notice the bold-face type, maybe you don't. The hope is you catch the name as you are tossing the glossy card stock into the trash. Of course, I have offered to extend the messaging by posting the photo above. That helps too.

Oh, that slice of Turkey

A local resident** has tracked down the two stock images used in the layout. It seems those three young urban professionals pictured waiting to use the "new public transportation system" are doing so somewhere in Turkey. Also, those notably not very diverse folks pictured enjoying the improved walking paths and public spaces are doing so from an undisclosed location, presumably not Turkey.

Of course you should,


*     image by Jessica Schmidt.
**   research by Abe Sauer.