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Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | I consider “one-issue” voters shortsighted, often selfish. Nobody should expect to find a candidate who agrees with himself on every issue. Our government is too complex to be reduced to the utter simplicity of “one-issue” politics.
I have been reminding myself of that all this week, ever since I saw see the brightest star in San Diego politics go astray. A couple days ago, I was hoping for someone to defend the likes of me, but was disappointed when San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who is running for mayor, abandoned her own convictions and fiscal responsibility to vote the popular choice.
In an evening city council session a week ago last Tuesday, the hoary question of that cross on the mountain came up again. What should the city do in the face of a 16-year losing streak to continue to save a cross ensconced illegally on city property?
I was hoping someone in the city government would say “Hey, let’s obey the law” or “The constitutions is clear” or “Let’s move it.” Best of all I’d loved to have heard someone say, “That religious symbol cannot represent the veterans who are not Christians.” But it wasn’t to be, and I’d guess the political price would have been too high. Surely it would have irked Roger Hedgecock so much he’d gone off on one of his noted quixotic crusades.
Without the constraints of law, which caused his ouster in the first place, Roger has been running amok ever since he was booted from office. His popularity and wealth depend not upon the law, but stirring the passions of a significant portion of the citizens.
Hedgecock went off on such a toot after the council voted to actually obey the law in March. The city’s leaders showed no intention of continuing to beat a dead horse. But beating dead horses is right up Hedgecock’s alley. When the word of the council vote came out, Roger fired up the mighty resources of his Clear Channel station. At his urging, his minions set up shop all over the city and quickly collected some 70,000 signatures urging the city council to reconsider an earlier vote to simply obey the law.
Such actions and Tuesday’s city council recession of the earlier vote were in the face of warnings that it would put the city in jeopardy of being fined heavily. According to Charles Berwanger, a lawyer for a veterans group, the Mount Soledad Memorial Association, the city is getting close to being fined $5,000 per day for contempt of court. Of course one wonders what’s a paltry fine like that to a city already a billion and half bucks in hock?
Certainly the prospect of a big fine didn’t faze Dick Murphy a bit. Showing the sagacity that earned him the recognition of one of America’s worst mayors, he chimed in with “it may provoke additional litigation, but some things are worth fighting for.”
That’s easy for you to say, Mayor. Those chickens won’t come home to roost until you are safely out of the way and drawing your pension, assuming there is any pension.
Still, Hedgecock’s crusade made him popular with an already adoring claque of true believers. They showed up en masse at the city council meeting. And the true believers’ true colors were revealed when City Attorney Mike Aguirre asked for a show of hands from those who would still support removing the cross even if they knew it was unconstitutional. More than half raised their hands.
Folks, this is getting scary. No matter how one reads the Constitution, when a group of citizens, especially a mayor and a city council, and most especially an outspoken member who has always been on the side of reason and common sense, can be stampeded into ignoring it, we’re in trouble. And it won’t be corrected easily. With religion being involved, and with the heavy-handed actions of a demagogue urging on fanatic masses, we cannot hope to see a counter protest, not even with respect for the Constitution in the balance.
Who will protect us from zealots if our elected leaders constantly cave in and make their decisions in defiance of law and of common sense?
I was hoping for Donna Frye, and I was disappointed.
Dipsey Dumpster can be reached at DipsyDmstr@aol.com.