Some days, it’s hard to sound constructive. Thursday blues? For once, I’m not gonna try:
Exhibit A: Somebody should demand that Atlanta Police Chief Pennington surrender his day book, so people can see precisely what he is doing for all that money. How often does he go to the office? Where is he at 5:05 p.m.? At 7:05 a.m.?
Does the guy even carry a pager? Remember when Mayor Bill Campbell was hiding out in that casino in Memphis? Have we learned nothing from the sagas of Sanford and Spitzer (beyond horrifying details of their courtship styles)? Public officials get into big dog trouble when you let them off the leash.
And since Mayoral Candidate Lisa Borders is sending out joint press releases with Mayor Franklin about crime now, perhaps she should sit down with her good friend the Mayor and tell her that Pennington needs to be fired, right now. Now, and install someone who can actually improve police morale and oversee the transition and selection of a real Police Chief. Instead, Borders scarily said something about how the city needs a new police chief because Pennington “has indicated he is retiring.” Retiring? What would Mayor Borders do if Pennington changes his mind: keep him on for a couple more years? Why does anyone tolerate such weird double-talk from candidates? Taxpayers deserve some respect for all the money they’re being forced to cough up.
If Atlanta were New York City and reporters were thick on the ground, the media would be hounding Rambling Rose Pennington every single day — following his car, watching his every move, reporting it with humor and ire. Imagine what the New York Post would be saying. People still buy the New York Post.
I know: it’s Atlanta. Politeness, and the summer heat. But come on folks, loosen your collars. Get some dirt on your hands. Pennington is handing you three months of headlines with a side order of doing the right thing.
Take it. Please.
Exhibit B: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Atlanta has a persistent problem with corruption at the top. And if residents don’t demand real accountability this time, four or eight years from now they’re still going to be saddled with an administration mired in the same old corruption. Shirley Franklin had ties to every crooked airport deal and Parks and Recreation boondoggle and sleazy block grant theft percolating around the bat cave that is City Hall — she had her fingers in every corruption pie for twenty years — and yet, when she ran as a “reformer,” the media fell into lockstep, no guffaws allowed.
Sure, she didn’t end up in the federal pen, so I guess that’s a step up. A few more baby steps like that one, and Atlanta might get a handle on its ethics problem by the time the city crumbles into the Gulf of the Mexico-Atlantic Ocean.
This time, don’t fall for the “reformer” schtick. If the media won’t tell you, in detail, every candidate’s ties to the Jackson administration, the Campbell administration, and the Franklin administration — to sleazy set-aside salaries for do-nothing jobs, for one important example — then find out for yourself. Ask where each candidate has earned their keep, and look damn hard at their records.
Who’s really going to clean up the bat cave? My guess is it won’t be someone who’s been noshing down at the trough there, to mangle a metaphor.
It’s all about the money. The rest, as in the best interest of the city, is always secondary in these things, no matter how important it is to you.
Atlanta needs less cynical candidates and more cynical residents.
Exhibit C: How not to solve the crime problem.
Campaigning with Evander Holyfield, as Kasim Reed is now doing, is not going to solve the crime problem. Holyfield is a nice guy. But solving the crime problem is going to take getting hard on crime, not posturing with a celebrity while standing with people who do not believe criminals should go to jail for committing crimes.
So when you stand alongside the two state legislators who have done more than just about anyone in Georgia to keep criminals on the streets, legislators with clear records of being reflexively and virulently anti-cop, legislators who have dedicated their careers to siding with offenders and against victims of street crime and the police who protect them, well, it doesn’t really matter if Evander Holyfield is standing there too.
Holding a press conference to talk about crime and policing with Senators Vincent Fort and Nan Orrock in attendance is like inviting Al Sharpton to host the annual banquet of the Police Benevolence Association. It’s a slap in the face to every cop and crime victim in Atlanta.
History, people. It matters.
Well, I feel better now.