Monday, November 3, 2008

Looking to the Future

HUBRIS: noun, exaggerated pride or self-confidence

While elected officials have a tendency toward hubris, it seems first term Anaheim Councilmembers are especially prone to the condition. When newly surrounded by those who bow, scrape, fetch and carry, while told how amazingly wise and wonderful you are, it is hard not to buy into your own PR. While this is amazingly apparent during this election cycle, we have seen it in previous elections.

Back in 1998, Bob Zemel thought he was the coolest kid on the GOP block. Seeing himself cut from the cloth of B-1 Bob Dornan, he believed himself cool enough to take on the wildly popular Tom Daly. He got creamed. Why didn’t Bobby Z play it safe and run for his virtually assured seat on City Council? Hubris. Where is he now? Heck if I know.

1998 was the year of hubris, as Lou Lopez swam in the arrogance pool, believing himself well known enough to parlay his reputation as an Anaheim cop for a run at County Supervisor. Not a bad move, since Anaheim was entirely in the 4th District back then. But in doing so he abdicated the throne of Anaheim City Council, only to be beaten by Cynthia Coad. Where is Lou now? Possibly having coffee with Bob Zemel.

In 2006, Richard Chavez, the darling of the unions, ran a lazy campaign for re-election. Dear Richard had roughly $40k on hand for the last stretch of the election, money enough if he was running somewhere like Mission Viejo, but nothing near enough for a city the size of Anaheim. Richard could easily have amassed $200k over his term, but didn’t bother. Why? Hubris. Richard’s arrogance led him to believe that his name recognition would allow him to carry Bill Dalati, a man who publicly switched parties on the City Hall steps. Richard tried to prop up the very candidate who drew votes away from him. In the end, manly Richard got beat by a girl, as Lucille Kring proved that name recognition and shoe leather beats union affiliation, by 200 votes.

Following in the heels of now-convicted-felon Richard Chavez, Lorri Galloway should have been building her own war chest. But again, hubris convinced her that having her name in the paper and her photo on the city website was sufficient. Ultimately, she fell prey to the belief that everyone knows her, everyone loves her, and everyone admires that tired red suit.

At the end of the reporting period she had less than $10k on hand, and a whopping $50k in debt. A sure sign of hubris, convinced that her union buddies would walk precincts till their fireman shoes fell off, it has left her open to a challenge. Now she finds herself behind the 8-ball as Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu threaten to change the face of City Council.

What does all this hubris over all these years have in common? When the chips are down, and these candidates realize that their names are not enough to pull off a win, they become beholden to the Independent Expenditures of others, usually those “friends” who have benefited from your last 4 years in office, or those who wish to become your friend in the next four years. Look to any last minute expenditure and play follow the money.

This election has taught me much, about human nature, and the nature of money, and yes, hubris. It has taught me that things at City Hall are rarely as they seem, and it has taught me that nobody is watching the everyday business of these people who accept mass mailings and TV commercials from their buddies. If we are lucky, we catch the deal and expose it in time for the election, but all too often, it flies under the radar, until come time for the next election, nobody puts two and two together to come up with a developer and a favor.

Thus the rant. While I have my hopes for Tuesday’s election, I have no assurance that the very embodiment of hubris will not be returned to a seat on Anaheim’s City Council. While I am fairly confident that at least one newcomer to the seat will not succumb to the disease that has afflicted so many of the brethren, I am interested in how alliances form and deals play out. Rather than wait for the next election and back track the dirty deals and political favors, from here on out this blog, in addtion to reporting neighborhood picnics and hootnannys, will be committed to keeping up with the comings and goings and who is scratching whose backs. What makes me think I am qualified to cover City Hall as some sort of answer to Anaheim’s need for a political watchdog? Hubris I guess.


Gustavo Arellano said...

Great post, Colony! MORE, MORE, MORE!!!


colony rabble said...

It is coming...and Gustavo, my leaning-ever-so-heavily-to-the-right viewpoint will likely piss you off. But I welcome the exchange of ideas to come!

Colony Voter said...

Hi Ms Ward,

Long time no blog...

Although I disagree with your last example and would claim the opposite, I agree that hubris is political suicide. Another great example of the phenomenon you described would be Harry Sidhu's run against Mimi Walters. I mean, what was he thinking?