Can it be only love they need? –Robert M. Shelby, 3-25-11. [989 txt wds]

Recent criticisms of Benicia’s government disturb me. Critical questioning is usually in good order, but it should be both fair and responsible. It should provide cover neither for ignorance nor mean-spirited partisanship. Experience puts me with Roger Straw more than with our “statistics graphing” gentleman and that fellow who takes his name to heart, imagining his thoughts more lively and viable than others’. The reverend Mr. Straw has shown in his writings a finely discriminating intellect, wide information and a gentleman’s considerate balance. He has no visible axe to grind nor political doctrine to uphold beyond that of letting truth prevail. His view seems beyond and above Left or Right, moving upon or toward the higher plateau.


The Two Gentlemen of Boulogna (I mean Benicia)—may be quite sincere in their views. There is no gainsaying that our city has fiscal and budgetary problems. Yet, reading only these two, one would suppose our mayor and councilmen are carelessly out of touch and lack proper concern for taxpayers and municipal operation. That is a ridiculous illusion which ought not to be foisted. It suggests the Two Gentlemen lack circumspect awareness of impactful consequence their written “munitions” may exert on our city in the approaching future, which in turn denotes irresponsible conduct, itself needing critical censure. (One need not even mention the broader militations of Mssr’s Lund and Pugh.)


If, in fact, the Gentlemen of Boulogna express responsible argument, one may wonder what that responsibility serves. Can it only work their ideological bent rather than our city’s best interest? Believing themselves gripped by unbiassed reason they cast a shadow of doubt on our mayor and council, good people all, who labor as best they can to solve our problems but find the effort like climbing steep sand-dunes, at every step sliding back a bit, through no fault of theirs or ours. We are part of a national complex of problems which no local solution can likely encompass or resolve, for The City continually negotiates and communicates. It listens to us and speaks to us, but we have to listen as well as yammer like teenagers in an ice-cream parlor.


If you attended meetings, you would have heard Tom Campbell insist repeatedly that we need to set our fiscal house in order with a balanced budget before starting any new projects and ventures stemming from an overload of fine and lovely ideas. We have competent people working hard on our finances. Members of our public need to be parts of the solution, not the problem. The trouble with our Boulognese Gentlemen’s stirring their wizards’ pot in print is, that by casting doubt into public perception of our mayor and council, they may tip the pot over to benefit no one but, yes, these very “nattering nabobs of negation,” themselves!


Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, Tom Campbell and Mike Ioakimedes are coming up for election, this fall. Their loss would be precisely what the city does not need, satisfying though it might be to some alleged conservatives hereabouts who may suffer from ego-itis — or may make us suffer for them — while offering no solutions but simple-minded, myopic economies. As for these city officials? Oft-flashed innuendo from their critics, implies that they ignore the public and don’t listen to complaint or advice. This is simply untrue. We are lucky to have Elizabeth Patterson as mayor. Not only does she put a fine, photogenic face on our town, she turns the attention of her excellent mind and vast experience readily to anyone wishing to speak to her and hear her answers. In fact, all these folks are easily approachable and well qualified to inform us on the state of our community and its business. I have several times chatted with Tom Campbell in his driveway, extempore. He’s a friendly fellow. Mike Ioakimedes is less known to me, but I surmise he is fully accessible to anyone who doesn’t abuse his valuable time. A local journalist and I sat with the mayor during part of her regular, weekly open-office hour on Monday. She was totally forthcoming, quickly and widely informative, unready to cast blame and glad to talk with us.


So much for the Big Critics who seem not to grasp that their recommendations may not filter well through highly rational processes of civic government regulated by law. Can it be that their fine solutions are neither original nor practicable? People in responsible office see different fields of view from those who glibly kibbitz from aside.


Such folks remind me of advertisers in a book first published a century ago by The Plymouth Rock Pigeon Breeding and Squab Marketing Company. Their business was selling pairs of “select, larger than ordinary” homing pigeons for commercial squab production at home, with a view toward growing each business exponentially into a big ranch with several barns full of nesting pairs. They built glowing vistas with pages showing geometric growth in numbers of pigeons by which to predict sales and profits through the start-up years. It was nothing but a pretty pipe dream! Word spread from some who visited the “plant” saying later they had only common, feral stock held in a divided barn, hens on one side and cocks on the other. Instead of mated pairs, they simply grabbed even numbers of each sex, boxed them and shipped.


Of course, their catalogue supplied every need. Well, there’s a sucker born every minute for sharp operators with hidden agenda. The operators don’t even need to be sharp, just self-ignorant or mendacious devils. You know what devils are, of course? Devils are folks who are good at starting something troublesome to others, but no good at sticking to a job and finishing it properly. They lack wholesome vision and holistic concern. You can trust ‘em mainly to leave everything screwed up. It’s love they need and don’t have.

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