Let’s play a civics version of “The Price is Right.” What did carrying the water for Metro Richmond’s biggest wigs buy Bill Pantele?
Why, only an endorsement from the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial page.
Not only an endorsement, but a piece of revisionist history so outlandish and non-sensical that even the late Philip K. Dick would be embarrassed to write it down. The editorial, published in today’s paper, is particularly curious since Pantele was not even deemed worthy of being re-elected to his own council seat by these same writers in 2006!
Read that last sentence again before continuing.
City Council President Bill Pantele has demonstrated a superior understanding of both the workings of city government and the larger challenges facing Richmond. We endorse his candidacy with enthusiasm.
We entered the process as agnostics. The Editorial staff met at length with each candidate and followed the campaign closely. We were swayed by several candidates before making our choice. In the end, it seemed clear to us that Pantele is best suited to become a problem-solving mayor.
Pantele’s tenure on the council means he already has identified the problems facing Richmond — and they are legion — and knows which lever to pull (or whom to call) to start making fixes. He recognizes the city’s strengths and how to build on them.
Following the drama of the Wilder years, Richmond needs a mayor who can concentrate on the often unglamorous business of improving the city’s core responsibilities — public safety, infrastructure, economic development, social services.
Uh-huh. My favorite part (of course):
We believe Pantele can advance Wilder’s call to treat taxpayers’ money with more respect.
Sure. Pantele treats city taxpayers with so much respect that he doesn’t want to upset our delicate sensibilites by telling us where our money is going. He has ensured that the city’s “Bridge to Nowhere” will be publicly funded for years to come without any inconvenient “oversight” being applied — all to empower the big boys and keep the rest of us in the dark. Whatta guy!
This is the same politican who, in 2003, voted to raise the meals tax to fund that same multi-million project, which has never been submitted to an independent feasibility study, and used these words to justify his vote:
“There are a couple of aspects of this — the financing — that we haven’t talked about tonight and the public needs to know. What’s been proposed is an interim financing. This isn’t a 1% 20-year or 30-year tax that gets imposed whether it goes or not… it’s going to last until June, 2005. At which point the other elements of the financing need to be in place. And I think that’s wise.”
It’s 2008. If you should go out for dinner tonight anywhere in the city, look at your bill and see for yourself what happened to that “interim financing.” Not only is the meals tax hike still on the books — one of the highest rates in the state — citizens are now blocked from finding out where that money (and more) is going and how it is spent.
And it’s all thanks to the taxpayers’ friend, Bill Pantele.
Look it up. Section 20 (c) of the CenterStage Comprehensive Agreement - Financial Statements reads:
On a periodic basis, as requested by the City, the LLLP and the Foundation shall furnish the City with current and complete financial statements. Financial statements submitted as required by this subsection will not be subject to public disclosure.
Yep, with the “official” business community candidate Robert Grey polling too low for comfort, the RTD’s op ed page has obviously decided that all stops (and all logic) must be pulled out in order to stop the Democratic ballot candidate, Dwight Jones, from becoming mayor — facts and consistency be damned. [BTW: Jones picked up some recent endorsements that are a wee bit more impressive and persuasive. See here.]
But, in a way, the RTD mayoral pick is not surprising. This is the same op ed page, after all, that has supported everything from Massive Resistence to Bill Clinton’s impeachment monkey trial to the War in Iraq to the swift boating of John Kerry — the same cabal of “thinkers” who told you George W. Bush was worthy of office and of re-election. This is the same newspaper editorial page that, this year, endorsed both John McCain for the presidency and (are you sitting down?) Jim Gilmore for Senate. Instead of ideas, these guys disseminate the worst kind of right-wing propaganda day after day — swill that neither reflects nor includes the greater community it pretends to serve.
How else can you explain why the editorial page is unable to hire — in a city that overwhelmingly votes Democratic — even one regular local columnist on their pages who is left of center? They won’t do it because it would be like a turkey shoot for any liberal writer to refute and debunk the kind of ideas these guys poot out on a daily basis. And who needs that hassle, eh? This lack of diversity is especially cowardly since the so-called “liberal” newspapers that the RTD op edders regularly deride (such as the Washington Post and New York Times) are somehow able to find slots on their editorial pages for all kinds of local columnists, left, right and center.
And now these same folks say they want Bill Pantele to be the mayor. I say look at their track record and vote accordingly.
Or, at the very least, ask yourself what happened during the past two years for Pantele’s stock to rise so dramatically? What transformed “Dollar Bill” from an unworthy councilman to a peerless would-be Mayor?
What happened is that Bill Pantele played ball, and pulled some strings for the forces that really run Richmond. And that’s good enough for the RTD.
Plus: It is desperation time in the editorial department — they are facing the very real prospect that a centrist African-American who has promised to protect Richmond’s river views from willy-nilly development and install transparency into taxpayer-funded projects will become mayor. That’s like Nightmare on Elm Street to these folks.
Two years ago, the RTD thought Bill Pantele’s record and involvements were of such little moment that they urged voters to kick him off City Council. That’s right: they backed his opponent saying that Bill didn’t get it and his performance didn’t merit your vote. They urged voters to vote for the proverbial anyone-but-Pantele candidate, a virtual unknown.
But back then, Bill had not, as Francis Ford Coppola might have said, “made his bones”….
Later [emphasis Goldman]:
… in the entire RTD editorial endorsing Bill, THEY DO NOT MENTION ONE ACHIEVEMENT OF HIS.
They do not mention a single problem he has solved.
They say that it is “clear to us that Pantele is best suited to become a problem-solving mayor.”
Yet the RTD says: “Pantele’s tenure on the council means he already has identified the problems facing Richmond — and they are legion — and knows which lever to pull (or whom to call) to start making fixes. He recognizes the city’s strengths and how to build on them.” .
Say what? If the problems are legion, and Bill has been on City Council for 7 years, and yet the RTD can not cite a single achievement in solving any of these problems, what is really going on here?
“We believe Pantele can advance Wilder’s call to treat taxpayers’ money with more respect” says the RTD.
Say what? According to the Mayor, Mr. Pantele has been the most wasteful city councilman of them all! According to the Mayor, because of Bill’s failure to follow the law, the Mayor says we have a $6 MILLION DOLLAR DEFICIT in the city budget!
So how can Bill “advance Wilder’s call” when Wilder is saying that Bill is the reason we are going backward!?
But the most amazing RTD statement is this one: “Pantele has battled often with Wilder, which proves he can play in the big leagues.”
This is one for the record books. Why would bickering with Doug Wilder qualify anyone for the big leagues whatever that is suppose to mean.
SO WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON HERE?
Since the RTD seems to feel that Doug Wilder can help define the answer, let me leave you with one of the Mayor’s favorite political sayings [cleaned-up], which I am quite sure Bill Pantele has heard before:
Even Ray Charles can see what his really happening here.
Want some perspective on this endorsement? Ask yourself these questions:
1. What if there were a videotape that existed of a Chicago legislator accepting a brown paper bag full of bribe money to help Barack Obama’s political career? Do you think the RTD opinionists would have something to say about that — again and again and again?
2. What if there were a videotape of Mark Warner shutting down debate on a motion to have taxpayers see where their money will go over the next forty years? Do you think that the RTD editorial junta would make that an instant “web exclusive” and a constant campaign issue against Warner? (How about every damn day?)
3. What if, three weeks after Tim Kaine helped to rush a vote on a controversial taxpayer-funded project, the Democratic governor were treated to a $1,000 a plate political fundraiser hosted by the people who would benefit most from that rushed vote? Do you think the RTD Dittoheads might just remind us of that fact a time or two (or 12)?
But in this Pantele endorsement, you get nothing but empty and blatantly false platitudes. Nothing about his past, and nothing that explains away the paper’s previous words on his leadership qualities.
I guess when you’ve been wrong (and intellectually dishonest) for more than 150 years — on just about every meaningful issue from Civil Rights to regulating Wall Street to the War in Iraq — why stop now?