Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: <i><b>Partisanship as an art form</b></i> .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Partisanship as an art form

Council support for Democratic mayor bugs GOP

In a bare-faced attempt to show everyone who’s the boss, the Harris County Republican Party (whose acronym is pronounced “hic-urp”) has warned Republicans on Houston’s City Council that they’d better toe the line or face recrimination.

The Council Members’ crimes? Passing up opportunities to humiliate Democratic Mayor Bill White. There have been two occasions recently when the mayor was politically vulnerable, and instead of kicking him when he was down, the Republican dominated city council voted in favor of White’s proposals.

"There's a lot of disappointment that the mayor was able to get Republican council members to support him," said Jared Woodfill, chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

The City Council is officially nonpartisan, but eight of its 14 members are Republicans. That's enough to defeat anything the mayor proposes, even with White casting the 15th vote.

"We're not looking for council members who are going to go along and get along," Woodfill said. "We're looking for council members who are going to stand up for conservative values."

Conservative values? The issues here are the mayor’s Safe Clear program, the bipartisanly opposed plan to remove stalls and wrecks from Houston’s freeways as soon as possible; and Proposition 1, a spending cap proposal also opposed by both Democrats and Republicans on the Council.

Some Democrats on the city council, and in the state legislature, dislike White because he’s too conservative. Republicans don’t like him because he’s, well, too conservative.

But two local political scientists said what really rankles the Republican Party is that White sometimes acts like a Republican, making him one of the few Democrats regarded as a rising political star in conservative Texas.

"Republicans have said they wanted a mayor who runs the government like a business, looks at the bottom line and is consumer-friendly,"said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein.

Stein said the Republican Party is worried because White has often been praised for being such a mayor — even to the point of sometimes alienating Democratic council colleagues.

So because hic-urp sees Mayor White as a threat to their sovereignty, they’re trying to force Republican city council members - who are supposed to be non-partisan - to vote against what they feel is right for their constituents. Values, schmalues! We’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen! (bonus points if you can identify that pop culture reference).

Woodfill said the Harris County Republican Party has a good relationship with Republican council members and is not planning immediate action against them.

But he said the party is keeping a closer eye on them and may take more aggressive stances if they continue to vote for what he called liberal positions.

City Council members don't run as members of a party, but Woodfill said the GOP executive committee could influence their political aspirations through such measures as endorsing an opponent and putting out "score cards" on their votes.

Lesson learned – if you want to do some good, don’t go into politics. Because it’s all about protecting your party, and nothing about improving the lives of the citizens you’ve signed on to represent.

If you really want to help people, make a killing in some ruthless business. Then you can help anyone you want, without having to answer to small-minded handlers that threaten you if you don’t act like they want you to.

Or you can get a blog like this and vent your frustrations in hopes that someday more people will see this process for what it is, and work to change it. I can only dream…

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