Wow, what a lofty title to a blog post! Especially since the background material lies in a certain local elected executive's dilemma in deciding whether or not to veto a land use bill which the Council passed with what would appear to be a veto-proof majority.
This has been the story for the best part of a week now: the growth tiers bill and whether or not Ken Ulman will sign it. Or, conversely, will he veto it? The answer, dear friends, is that he won't sign it. He will veto it. He really doesn't have much of a choice.
There are certain constituencies you really don't wish to tick off in Democratic politics-- labor unions (police/teachers/fire/public employees especially), environmentalists, certain minority groups. Note I listed "environmentalists" in there. Ken Ulman is not going to sign this bill because doing so would tick off these people, and even though the 2014 Democratic primary is still 20 months away-- that's like a boxing match in Round 1-- there are three (I'm thinking four and maybe more) other Democrats all in the ring all looking to knock each other out. And allowing this bill to become law would cause some body damage for Ken.
That's not to say things couldn't be different. My personal view is that the administration may have been able to work out something so this bill received a 5-0 vote in favor, not 4-1, with Courtney Watson voting against (a move I think was based in her own local aspirations). But he didn't.
Why? I offer two reasons. First, being a statesman is just too damn hard. Especially if he's already made up his mind to veto the bill already. Since doing so will appease the environmental concerns and keep him on the positive side of their ledger as the machinery steams forward towards all the relvevant environmental endorsements.
Second, and corollary to the above, if he already knows he's going to veto it, he would need someone else at least to vote with Courtney Watson to sustain the veto. And I do see that person in the form of our new Council chair, Jen Terrasa.
So here's where this gets really "Inception"-like, because now there are things inside of things. Looking forward to our own local elections in 2014, there will be two Council seats largely up for grabs: District 1, which will become vacated when Courtney Watson almost certainly runs for Executive, and Council 3, where Jen Terrasa represents and represents more than ably; however her district has often been seen as a swing district and rumors have it that some big Republican guns may be looking at that seat. Oh, and incidentally, there are Republican guns in District 1 too aiming for a shot at that seat, but for some reason, the District 3 guns are considered more dangerous.
So, if (when?) Ken convinces Jen to side with Courtney and uphold the veto-- wow, then everybody wins and beer is passed all around. Why?
Ken and Jen get all sorts of environmentalist kudos and perceptions of support as 2014 draws nigh. This will especially help Jen fend off the Schrader family and whoever else from the red side of the aisle may run against her.
Courtney gets to establish an inroad with those who are ticked off about the veto, say that she would like a better bill and campaigns for County Executive on getting one done. BTW, this is something she has done very successfully throughout her career here.
If you're Guy Guzzone and running for County Executive against Courtney Watson, you say this entire thing is meh because you already possess extensive pro-environment credentials. But what we would have is Guy's "organizational" environmentalism against Courtney's "populist" environmentalism, which serves as a microcosm of how I think their primary campaign against each other will go down.
If you're a candidate of either party running for Council in District 1-- who really cares about this bill, because it really doesn't affect that district very much anyway.
This is a lot of moving parts going, and you know, there could be wrenches thrown into it! What if, for the heck of it, Jen decides to uphold the veto but Courtney votes to override it? That would be a party. Likely will not happen, but possible that it could.
So this whole thing about this one bill winds up holding ramifications in all sorts of things political for years to come. It is amazing and yet sad that this is what our system has wrought us. Politics has always been a game of horse-trading, but over the years, and especially with the raising of the financial stakes in any political contast, it has been a game of cause and effect the likes of which will make the head of many a mathematician with a PhD dissertaion on chaos theory spin!