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Cause we're livin' in the future/I'll tell you how I know/I read it in the newspaper/ 15 years ago

-- John Prine

Oh yeah, and a blessed future it is! How wonderful for lazy journalists, who no longer have to go dumpster diving for incriminating and/or embarrassing documents.

No, thanks to the indestructibility of electronic files, a single mischievous click can make any number of wondrous things appear on your computer screen. And I think that readers of this column will agree that my former colleague, ex-City Councilman Bill Guman, ought to receive the "Mischievous Clicker of the Month" award.

Bill was recently kind enough to forward a most interesting e-mail exchange that he had with another former colleague, Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace.

Bill had e-mailed the mayor regarding the recent Montgomery Center/Confluence Park dust-up. A few excerpts: "Mary Lou?!! With all due respect, what's the deal? ... I can understand that the urban renewal outcome wasn't what you had hoped for, but I question the rationale of publicly blasting the dissenters for their decision. I don't see the new 'bloc' as being any different than perhaps the one that existed with you, Linda [Barley], Jim [Null], and Judy [Noyes]. ...

"I know for certain had I ... taken a similar opportunity to criticize our colleagues in this manner that [I] would have suffered your wrath. As for the urban renewal idea itself, someone needs to take a good hard look at what we've inadvertently created.

"Is anyone aware of the big name players who've been gobbling up real estate in this vicinity over the past year? ... The back room politicking and deals related to this urban renewal plan stinks. If you aren't aware of what's been going on I encourage you to investigate. It's easier to practice what you preach (with regard to leadership) when everyone else is already on your side.

"The real challenge is still being able to build consensus when others aren't buying what you're selling. ... I hope I haven't ticked you off, because it wasn't my intent."

Whatever Bill's intent, the mayor was plainly ticked off. Replying after a delay of three weeks -- as Bill acidly observed, "She must have been busy" -- she wrote:

"Gosh Bill, I didn't know you'd gone into the ministry since you left Council. You are not here now and you don't really know what's going on. In 16 years I have never publically [sic] criticized my colleagues even you [sic] and you know I disagreed with you often.

"I would think since you know me and served with me for 8 years you might think that there is more to the story than what you read in The Gazette. -- Mary Lou"

So delightful; so typical of any long-serving politician. Note the form and content, as stylized and predictable as a well-crafted haiku, or an indifferent sonnet:

"... gone into the ministry ..." (ie: Nasty dig disguised as a friendly joke between old friends.)

"... don't really know what's going on ..." (ie: Knowledge and wisdom are the sole province of those in elected office. All others are misinformed, malicious or simply fools.)

"... I have never publically [sic] criticized my colleagues ..." (i.e: The large and simple lie, which no one believes except its maker, who has conveniently and genuinely forgotten the dozens of instances in which she criticized colleagues.)

"... more to the story than what you read in The Gazette." (i.e: Any unfavorable story, even a simple recital of the facts, is wrong and offensive and incomplete.)

Well, politicians never change. For yet another example, let's consider our own Congressman Joel Hefley, who, although he finally put up a Web site, still doesn't have e-mail. Why? According to his office, because he's worried that he'd be so overwhelmed with "special interest" e-mails that he wouldn't be able to respond to his constituents.

Makes sense, when you realize that the constituents that he's concerned about -- fat cats and big contributors -- would never bother with e-mail; they've already got Hefley's private number.

The rest of you, who might have concerns about the environment, or education, or energy policy -- just forget about it, or drop him a postcard. I'm sure he'll read every one of 'em.

And finally, ran into yet another former councilman Randy Purvis at the car wash. Asked him if he was going to run for something. Yup. What? Dunno, but definitely gonna run for something.

Meanwhile, the very Rev. Bill Guman is already running for county commissioner in 2002. And maybe the mayor will even run for a different office come 2003, when term limits kick in.

Seems to me she'd have a tough time getting elected, given recent setbacks. No criticism intended ...

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