Every elected leader gets a bit of a honeymoon when they get elected to a new position, and so does Lovely Warren. Media outlets write articles praising said pol’s rise to power, fellow politicians speak glowingly of partnerships to come. Those who voted for the politician bathe in victory and the defeated sulk in silence. It is a time to do magnanimous if meaningless things. It is a time to make grand gestures about coming together and solving problems.
It is also, most critically, an opportunity to use the good humor of the media and the public to maybe make some important moves that will pay dividends down the line. Unpopular reforms might go less-noticed. People might be willing to go on record being more generous than at some later point in one’s administration.
All of this is especially true if you’re the first female mayor of the City of Rochester. Regardless of one’s personal political preferences, this is a big moment for Rochester. It’s a big moment for women in Rochester, if it is one far too long in coming. Now is a time to take the kumbaya moment of a great victory for equality and turn it into legitimate political capital.
This is really not a time to hire your uncle to an $80k job you invented for dubious reasons, then sneak out of a traffic ticket on vague grounds of executive privilege. And those are just the Clift’s Notes of the last few weeks. Instead of magnanimous, we are left with the ignominious.
Late Update: @rachbarnhart (Rachel Barnhart of Channel 8) reports via Twitter that there is in fact no such executive privilege:
This Thruway stop also raises question for NYS Police. Letting Hill go after clocking 97 mph? There is no security guard exception. #ROC
— Rachel Barnhart (@rachbarnhart) January 13, 2014
None of this is really news, of course. Lots of politicians squander their goodwill moment with stupid things, but generally, they’re stupid political grabs. Typically, they’re efforts to thank campaign donors that could have waited a few months or hirings and firings that would have looked less political with less media attention.
This? This is just a Keystone Cops version of a transition to power, only uglier. Hardly Lex Luther territory; more like rotten groceries: unpleasant, disappointing and off-putting. Pure face plant politics, filled with exactly the kind of stupidly privileged acts that everyone is just waiting for a politician to commit. Well, two weeks in and the wait is over.
But I’ve been pretty harsh on Mayor Richards and ended up respecting him. Really, this fiasco will mellow out in months and everyone will forget about it. Assuming there aren’t more landmines in our future, this is not a debilitating controversy. In the meanwhile, if there was some less-than-popular decision Mayor Lovely Warren had hoped to sneak by while we were still bathing in the afterglow, she can forget it.