by Steven Higgs
The upcoming Primary Election hasn't received much attention in these internationally turbulent times. But there's a bundle at stake on May 6 for citizens committed to progressive social change in Bloomington.
In the four-way race for at-large City Council on the Democratic ticket, progressive standard-bearer Andy Ruff could find himself under stealth attack from yet another alliance of Business Democrats and right-wing Republicans. Progressive voters must carefully consider their votes in the at-large race.
Voting only for Andy is the only way to show absolute support for the work he has done on behalf of our community, our movement, our environment, and our future.
Here's how an electoral assault from bipartisan moneyed interests who chafe at Andy's populist message might go.
The Primary Election determines who will be on the ballot in the November General Election. There are three at-large seats, and four Democratic candidates this year - Andy, Chris Gaal, Rick Dietz, and Tim Mayer. Voters can - but are not required to - cast ballots for three of the four. So, voting for three candidates is tantamount to voting against the fourth.
Consider the electoral options available to Bud Bernitt Republicans. Burnitt, of course, is the radical Republican who follows progressive figures like Scott Wells and Brian O'Neill around and sics J.D. Maxwell on them when he sees them drinking.
Burnitt’s wife has admitted under oath that she surreptitiously placed a bumper sticker on Wells’ car implying that he had advance knowledge of the Pegido Bay arson. That fire, which destroyed the under-construction home of developer Steve Smith, has been used by the H-T editor and rabid Republicans – who probably set the damned thing – to tie progressive politicians to terrorism.
To call this year's Republican Primary lackluster is like calling Lake Monroe damp. There are no contested races of any consequence, so there's little to stop Burnitt Republicans from registering Democrat and voting against Andy by voting for Gaal, Dietz, and Mayer.
More ominously, consider the options available to Geoff Grodner Democrats. Grodner, of course, is the quintessential Business Democrat. He's a big-buck lawyer who, as the city's PCB attorney, made a small fortune representing Allison Democrats on the Consent Decree, perhaps the greatest insult to our local environment since Westinghouse dumped PCBs directly into the sewers.
A series of investigative pieces I wrote at the Herald-Times in May 1995 showed that Allison Democrats underwrote lavish travel budgets for Grodner and a select few administration officials. The Utilities Service Board routinely paid expenses for Grodner and friends to stay in world-class hotels and dine at world-class restaurants, all at ratepayer expense.
The H-T recently quoted Grodner as Burnitt's lawyer in a legal battle with Wells.
It's not hard to envision Grodner Democrats pursuing the same strategy as Burnitt Republicans. After all, they sabotaged Bill Hayden and Lucille Bertuccio in last year's county elections, and now Herb Kilmer and Jeff Ellington are building in our flood plains.
It's incumbent on progressives to ponder the consequences of their at-large votes in this year's Primary.
They should scrutinize Gaal, Dietz, and Mayer's records and positions before voting, since every ballot cast for them could be in effect a vote against Andy.
And those who support Andy but think they're above voting for a Democrat or that their vote doesn't matter should remember: every vote not cast for Andy is a vote against Andy.
Steven Higgs is editor of The Bloomington Alternative.