January 4, 2005 > Editorial: Anointing Anu
Editorial: Anointing Anu
"This election was a partisan election from beginning to end. I am not going to point my fingers at anyone because I was part of it too. Nobody's exempt. The makers of the constitution very specifically set out local elections, meaning city and county, as nonpartisan. They did that for a very wise and specific reason. I spent my career in law enforcement and I know what corruption is. I can go into cities and it won't take me very long to find corruption if it's there. Gus, in his closing remarks, mentioned knowing five mayors that are in jail. I guarantee that all five of those cities had partisan elections....
I think it's a shame that this has happened - that this has deteriorated to a partisan election. It did. I am hopeful that that can be overcome. I don't know how it can be overcome, but it should be. I want to say that my personal opinion as an observer is that most people that weigh in on this thing, weigh in on a partisan basis. I am sorry to see that.
I made a big mistake because I said something to the press that I shouldn't have said and let them know who my favorite choice was and that set off a string of things. I just want to say that my goal is to have a fair process. It is almost impossible to make politics objective, but you can certainly make it fair and that is what I am trying to do here.
I would hope that if we follow the process I have recommended that Dirk [Lorenz] applies for the position. I have nothing against him. Dirk and I have known each other a long time. I hope to think we are friends. I would welcome his application. He would get due consideration from me. I don't think of it as any partisan person. I want a person that is going to be the best for the City of Fremont. I have my opinion about who that is and each of these people [councilmembers] has their opinion about who that is and that's how it works. Ultimately, we put all of that in the meat grinder and something comes out. What comes out, I think, will be good and will work.
Excerpts from a speech at the December 7, 2004 Fremont City Council meeting by Mayor Bob Wasserman
Mr. Mayor, your sentiments must have been reserved for another land and another time. Consider that five candidates were selected through the initial voting. Two were given four votes each, yet one of these heavily favored candidates, Dan Lydon, has an epiphany - suddenly sees the light of political truth - and cedes his candidacy.
His reasoning was being "reacquainted with the tremendous workload facing the council" and the comfort of the community with his candidacy since he is a former Fire Chief and Mayor Wasserman is a former Police Chief. There is little political conflict; rather an "uneasiness." He says, "The uneasiness may not be widely held, but as the Mayor, you do not need the added distraction or suspicion of unethical behavior following every vote." Another politically connected candidate had previously withdrawn from consideration - to his credit - in response to the possible appearance of political favoritism. One other candidate with close political ties to a councilmember remained, but in this case, there was no move to withdraw.
When splitting votes four ways, the math becomes relatively simple. To produce a favored outcome, control three of four votes, and you can be sure of the result. In a "weighted" selection process, if three selectors give the highest rating ("1") to the favored candidate there is no way that that candidate can lose and only one mathematical scenario where he or she can be tied. That would be if the fourth selector gave the lowest ranking ("4") to the favored candidate and all others gave a second place ranking to the candidate favored by the fourth selector.
A vote that followed this pattern would be more than suspect. It would be indefensible. A better scenario would be to edge the fourth selector's candidate out of the running by weighting votes to preclude a close decision. At least one of the three majority selectors would need to deliver a very low ranking. In this case, the "coup de grace" for Dirk Lorenz was delivered by the mayor. Other majority selectors can claim wide-eyed innocence since they are uninhibited by a ranking dilemma.
It turns out that Councilmember Cho refused to join the game and simply voted Dirk Lorenz as "1" and left the others blank, thereby giving all others a vote of "0" and assuring no contest. The voting looked like this:
If Cho had voted to spoil the process and Wasserman had wavered, the vote might have looked like this:
This is simply an illustration of how much can change when a few votes are shifted in a weighted election process. If Wasserman changed his "1" vote to Lorenz and gave Natarajan a "2" vote, the margin would have been the difference of "1" in Lorenz's favor.
For political correctness, you have to give a big score to the council. As Bob Wieckowski expounded during his interview question (?) of Anu, she is a woman and an Indo-American. This will alleviate criticism that the council is too white and too male. According to Mr. Dutra, his selection criteria were: 1) merit based 2) most qualified 3) represent the entirety of the community. The Fremont City Council now consists of a former police chief, a land developer, a lawyer, a high tech business professional and an urban planner. The most pressing issues facing the City of Fremont revolve around economic development, a closer association with the business community to solve the Measure V impasse and making Fremont more "business friendly." Is anyone missing from the mix? Do you see anyone on this council with brick and mortar retail business experience?
Partisan politics was the lament of Mayor Wasserman following the last campaign. The question is if he can take control of this group and remove the foul odor of partisanship. Will anyone sit in a chair next to Councilperson Cho? Will Fremont face the same partisan manipulation in two years? Councilmember Dutra and newly appointed Councilmember Natarajan will then face a vote by the people, not a tightly knit group of three.