Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It’s beyond debate: Hubbard “tete-a-tete” avoidance mode noted by city residents, Tribune columnist, the Who’s Tommy, and man in moon.

But what the hell, you can win a plasma screen television without even showing your face at the forthcoming pachyderm picnic. Appropriate, eh?

A couple of weeks back, NA Confidential was entirely unsurprised to learn that Republican mayoral candidate Randy Hubbard would be cravenly sidestepping an October debate with his Democratic opponent, Doug England.

Randy Hubbard and the headlong flight from ideas.

Apparently Plan A is the hope is that England will commit an unforced error capable of being exploited for electoral gain. There seems to be no Plan B. In the interim, Hubbard’s attempted gravitas seems increasingly less plausible than what is almost certainly the non-spinnable reality: A comprehensive absence of platform content, grasp and ideas on the part of a reluctant candidate desperately recruited by his own party for the sole reason of warding off an expected insurgency emanating from the upstart outsider residing at the Admiral Bicknell.

With Hubbard’s silence deepening by the day and his electoral stock quavering, the Tribune’s Sunday guest columnist Daniel Robison opportunistically spotted an opening and commented serviceably on September 2 in Englandfest tickets available.

(Hubbard) recently told IU Southeast that he can’t face off against Democratic nominee Doug England in mid-October because of time constraints; an excuse I would’ve taken for a joke if it weren’t Hubbard’s true explanation.

Hubbard’s move suggests he has all but thrown in the towel. If he cared at all about Nov. 5’s outcome, he would’ve agreed to this showdown — at the very least to prevent England from milking the situation for his campaign’s benefit. And refusing to debate is certainly no way to comfort donors nor attract new money, the true lifeline of a campaign.

But such obviousness apparently can’t to be taken for granted in Hubbard’s camp. Undeterred by his opponent’s refusal to RSVP for the debate, England has smartly stated that he will turn the event into a one-candidate forum, effectively turning a would-be debate into a promotional event for himself on Oct. 16.

In this continually widening Republican void, where platform planks and ideas go to die, I’m left to surmise that Hubbard’s “duck ‘n’ cover” defensive posture circa the Labor Day opening political campaign weekend was merely a tactical prelude to calculated fireworks later in the autumn.

It’s just about the only thing that makes sense at this point.

My best guess would be an 11th hour outburst of negative campaigning in October, with the saintly Hubbard himself deigning to remain “above” the muddy fray while local confederates do the dirty work of contrasting Hubbard’s purportedly impeccable law enforcement credentials with patronage abuse questions that linger in the public consciousness from England’s two previous terms as mayor.

Such a late attack strategy would at least explain Hubbard’s odd reticence as England has aggressively lapped the somnolent ex-sheriff early in the contest, and twice opening bloody cuts: First, with the Democratic candidate’s city hall relocation press conference and Hubbard’s subsequent conceptual disorientation, and second, in the aftermath of the GOP candidate’s inexplicable debate withdrawal, as referenced previously by columnist Robison.

As Hubbard’s image resolution bytes grows ever fuzzier, surely England’s team is tempted to consider a more conservative campaign, but I’ve never been one to advocate running out the clock. It seems to me that Hubbard’s virtually pulse-free profile, coupled with the likelihood of a textbook GOP smear campaign down the road, actually provides England with yet another tactical opportunity, albeit counterintuitive, to land a haymaker.

Here’s why.

If people on New Albany’s streets know anything, it is that the hyperkinetic England won’t sit still for a moment if again elected mayor. He may do the right thing, and he may do the wrong thing, but he possesses sufficient energy and vision to do something.

Love him or hate him, this much is known.

Unfortunately for England, many of these same people haven’t completely forgotten that there were reasons for his crushing defeat at the hands of Regina Overton in 1999. These reasons include hubris, which the ex-mayor seems to have convincingly addressed on numerous occasions since re-entering the political fray, and the public’s lingering recollection of behind-the-scenes patronage scandals and slushy improprieties … which he has not.

At least, not yet.

Hence the current, golden opportunity.

By mustering a measure of introspection as to the lessons of the past and the wisdom of age, and by offering a wee bit of penitence as a prelude to a hopeful future, England might now stage a bold preemptive strike and earnestly address the legacy of backroom dealings that inevitably arises whenever his 2007 candidacy is discussed around town, and in particular, as these perceptions pertain to individuals whose shadowy influence at the time has come to be viewed as malign rather than constructive.

England might reassure voters that having learned from experience, there is no need to fear that history might repeat itself. He might explicitly distance himself from the key backroom players of the time. He might close by pledging that a future England administration will not become entangled in the sort of good-old-boy’s school patronage disbursements and borderline ethical fundraising ties that sadly discredited otherwise successful terms in office.

In fact, he might raise the bar even higher. Dare we broach the possibility of an ethics commission for municipal government in New Albany?

If Hubbard intends to open fire, then England should make the gunslinger's powder as wet as possible as a prelude to spiking the barrel on election day.

Then again, maybe I’m mistaken about it all.

Perhaps the mayoral contest is all but sewn up, and England need not make such a journey as a necessary step toward ensuring a third act in his mayoral history. Certainly I’ll still vote for him either way, although with this niggling caveat:

The suggestions offered here serve primarily to address doubts and concerns that have been expressed to me in wide ranging conversations with friends and acquaintances, most of whom acknowledge England’s considerable chutzpah, while remaining far less enamored of some members in his past, and perhaps present, entourage.

My mind’s made up, but they’re the ones who might yet need reassurances that this time around, sharing in the spoils on the part of certain of England’s coterie is subordinated to creating more for all the city’s residents.


Christopher D said...

Not being a republican by registry, I had recently been contacted by the Hubbard camp to go door to door for the mayoral candidate.
In my mind I was think "how do I answer questions voters may have when I still have no clue where he stands on well, anything."
Fortunately, I had to decline due to my own time constraints (namely multiple room refit and refinish adventures that are still underway)
I am still torn, because I KNOW Hubbard is capable of so much, but as you had stated, Englands terms in office were chock full o' successes and advancements in the community.
So whats a Democratic leaning towards no political affiliation either way to do.
Sit back and wait for somethign substantial to occur from the Hubbard camp, or jump on board the England train, though I still have serious doubts regarding that.
The only true answer I have at this point is that NOT voting is NOT an option.

The New Albanian said...

CSD, you express the conflict quite capably.

John Gonder said...

I believe the primary reason England lost the race to Overton was a simple matter of England-fatigue. People get tired of the incumbent after a given period and the inevitable swing of the pendulum ends with the second beat of its arc-the return.

England's task is not to show competence; that is a given from his prior terms. He needs to keep meeting with citizens and show them, one-on-one, he has learned the lesson of humility taught by his defeat.

I don't have any deep knowledge about ethics committees, but I know that Bloomington has one of the most well-run municipal governments in the state, and it would be helpful to know if they have such a body and how it is constituted. That could be either a model, or it could show reasons why such a committee is not feasible. My bet is they have one.

maury k goldberg said...

Dear New Albanian,

Eight years ago when then City Clerk Regina Overton debated then Mayor England in 1999, she lost her voice and had Kevin Boehnlein speak for her during the debate while standing by his side as he spoke. In 2003 there was a debate at IUS with all three mayoral candiates on stage. Yes, it would be nice if both Mr. Hubbard and Mr. England would debate each other. The public would benefit from such an event.

Why no debate? In my observation of the politica situation, the Republican Political Operatives feel that the voters will remember the inabliity of Democrats to govern. Plus, they are hoping that the voting public would remember Doug England's character and the people he surrounded himself with when he was in office as Mayor. Victory is within our grasp, lets not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

With such an attitude, why debate? To keep the public's attention focus on Doug Engalnd is part of the Republican plan in getting Mr. Hubbard elected. As you and others in your endorsement of Mr. England,deplore the refusal to debate and point out Mr. England's short comings in your endorsement of his candidacy,are making the Republican Political Operative's point that Doug England's support is soft.

I expect Mr. Hubbard to make his case for Mayor later on in the political season. Then we will see what happens.


Jeff Gillenwater said...

I can't tell if Bloomington has an ethics committee, but they do have city-sanctioned groups concerned with human rights, sustainability, housing quality, public transit, bicycle and pedestrian safety, the status of black males, community arts, etc.

Bloomington's Boards and Commissions

I'm much more interested in leadership than the petty political maneuvering that too often substitutes for substantive local policy discussion. We know from experience that leadership will most likely not come from the local Democratic or Republican parties. Unfortunately, Hubbard thus far has chosen to fill that vacuum with another vacuum.

At this point, England is leading. No one else is. That could change positively or negatively, but I'm relatively sure that silence will not be an effective tool in creating that change.

Iamhoosier said...

Ironic, isn't it? There is a good chance to have a decent City Council for a change, and then look at what we have to choose from for Mayor!

As Jed Clampett would say, "Pitiful. Just p-i-t-i-f-u-l."

Jeff Gillenwater said...

Apologies to Mr. Gonder for perhaps inadvertently suggesting he's not leading. His heady performance as a candidate thus far has distanced him from the rest of the pack to the point that I sometimes don't consider him as a point of comparison.

Keep it up, John.

maury k goldberg said...

muaoxDear Bluegill,
Your quote below,I find interesting:
"I'm much more interested in leadership than the petty political maneuvering that too often substitutes for substantive local policy discussion."

I do not think for a moment the voting public would take political maneuvering as a position on or as leadership but just plain political maneuvering.

The situation that present candidates for President of the United States of both political parties find themselves engaged in a series of debates is a welcome change on the national political landscape. I wish that this was the case locally.

Mr. Hubbard first point or issue in his case for election as Mayor of New Albany is compared to Mr.England past performance as mayor; I am a better candidate for mayor because to my character.

I as much as you would like to discuss the issues. I pose a question to the readership, of this blog, for ideas of how to make issue discussion a reality and not just political maneuvering.


maury k goldberg said...

Iam sorry for the errors. This is not what I typed on microsoft word and corrected.


Iamhoosier said...

One of the things that I want to know, who are they going to appoint to the key positions in the administration.

Iamhoosier said...

I am sorry to be commenting so much on this subject but I have been ruminating on this for some time.

I know next to nothing about Mr. Hubbard. He seems to have a reputation as an honest man. I don't remember any "questions" during his time as sheriff. I do question his courage, though. Courage to say what he will do and how he will do it, if elected. Courage to debate. Courage to tell us who will be his "lieutenants".

Mr. England, well, we all seem to know the past with him. Has he "changed"? Who knows. I am not sure what he can say or do that would ease my doubts.

NAC says that Mr. England will "do something" whether right or wrong. From past performance, I have no doubt about this.

So what to do? My mind is not made up. There is still time before the election for new facts, positions, policies and statements that may change my mind but I have to say that I am leaning towards honesty. With two seemingly bad choices, I see no other way to choose.

Christopher D said...

You seem to be stuck in the same place I am. Except I know Mr. Hubbard and have known him for 37 of my 36 years on Gods green earth, (yup the numbers are inverted intentionally) This silence seems so out of character for him, there has GOT to be a reasoning behind it, but what ever the reason is, it can not be good enough.
Mr. England, had some issues, yes, but as previously mentioned he did do alot for the city during his time at the helm.
Hopefully we will get real answers soon to get a lot of people off the fence and on one side or another.
NAC.....Congrats on expanding your brews to yet another location. I was pleased to know that Community Dark is now available at Neil and Patty's!

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments, and as usual, you have perfectly articulated the prevailing sentiment of those I respect and revere. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for articulating that which is the recurring motif in NA politics. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson, "We could not even make this ______ up."

Jeff Gillenwater said...


I think discussing issues is a fine idea.

First, you tell me that you're voting for Brenda Scharlow in the 3rd district but will put a Steve Price sign in your yard because he's a Democrat. Then you tell me that you won't put a Marcey Wisman for Clerk sign in your yard, even though she's a Democrat, because her Republican opponent is Jewish. After that inexplicable malarkey, you asked me if I'd support you in a run for County Commissioner.

Which issue would you like to start with? Stan and Hunter want to know.

edward parish said...

You make a reference to Tommy, well please find it much like Jethro Tull's Passion Play if you please;
"Ostensibly motionless, the hare was trembling with excitement,
for without his spectacles he appeared completely helpless.
Where were his spectacles? Could
someone have stolen them? Had he mislaid them? What was he to do?"

One only has to visit a few of the watering holes in NA; old and new, to hear and see the same cast of players for Mr. England quest for the crown.

maury k goldberg said...

Dear Bluegill,

I am sadden by your response. My respect for you has diminish greatly. I did not expect you to make an Ad Hominem attack. Let me set the record straight on what happen that late August in a noisy roon at the NAB.

I will respond in reverse order of your post. Let me make it clear that I did not ever,ever, ever, say that I was a candidate for or running for county commissioner. Also, I did not ever,ever,ever,ask for your support! Why do you say such things?

I dispute your comments about Marcey Wisman. In our talk, I asked if you would support a candidate based on one's religion. We did not discuss, talk about,mention or bring up my putting up Marcey Wisman yard signs or my support for her. Your response was that you supported a candidate based on the issues.Religion,friendship, or party affilication did not enter into your consideration just the issues.

I continue to dispute you concerning your remarks Steve Price. We talked about supporting the democrat ticket. We did not talk about,discuss, mention or bring up my putting up a yard sign for Steve Price or voting for or supporting Ms. Scharlow. And when I mention support for Jimmy Hollis, Jack Messer, and the democrat ticket. You responded angrily by ripping into me for supporting the democrat ticket. You went on to remind me why you supported Charlie Harshfield. You continued by mentioning my being on the City Council with Dan Coffey.The fact that I worked with Mr.Coffey on issues was why you could not support me for city council, you continued. This is the same reason why you cannot support Jeff Gahan for relection because he worked with Dan Coffey. In short, guilt by association.

I am surprise and hurt by your response I know where we stand. I have nothing more to say to you.


Jeff Gillenwater said...


You're lying.

maury k goldberg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maury k goldberg said...

Dear Bluegill,

As I posted earlier, I have nothing more to say to you.


Unknown said...

Sounds like spinning and politicking at its best.