Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dodson and poverty

Just wanted to shamelessly plug a post I have up on the blogger version of AthensWorld concerning this story in the Athens Banner-Herald.  In the interests of creating more content, here’s a few more thoughts on the issue.

There was obviously a lot of discussion at Andy Rusk’s shindig last night with respect to the poverty task force issue and the two Athens Banner-Herald articles that ensued.  For what it’s worth, no one we’ve talked to has hit on this one big angle.

Consider this quote:

"This is what we've been looking for from Heidi for some time - this kind of leadership," [District 10 Commissioner Elton] Dodson said. "We just need to monitor it and make sure it's not lip service."

Hold on, hold on, hold on.  Now this is interesting stuff.  For whatever reason, Dodson’s comments struck me as being remarkable.  The first thing that stood out is the kind of overall impression of the Commissioner kind of having his nose out of joint for whatever reason.  (More on that in a sec.)  There’s also the last sentence, which seems to indicate that Dodson has already set this thing up to fail in his own mind.  Then you’ve got Dodson referring to the Mayor by her given name.  Now, Heidi is not one to be hung up on titles, but that’s interesting, nonetheless.  Finally, you’ve got Dodson, who is usually an ally of the Mayor’s, questioning her leadership publicly.  All in all, this is remarkable (as in “worthy of being remarked upon.”)

What does it all mean?  Here’s a few suggestions just for you guys to chew on.

  • Dodson’s got his nose out of joint because he staked out poverty as an issue some months ago, a position for which we lauded him on the blog.  (It should be noted that we actually began what might have been a fruitful email correspondence with the Commissioner at that time, but he stopped responding to emails.)  It’s a possibility, but if Dodson is a dedicated to fighting poverty as he says he is – and we have no reason to doubt his dedication to the cause – then wouldn’t his comment have been more supportive?

  • Dodson got misquoted or the ABH only used part of his quote.  It happens, but don’t be too quick to point the finger at the ABH.  First, “I was badly quoted,” is the first line of defense for anyone who ends up looking asinine in print, and second, the ABH and Blake Aued don’t have any kind of vested interest in stirring up a hornet’s nest between Heidi and Elton.  It’s inside baseball, and since the ABH has apparently cancelled In the Loop, they don’t even have a forum for political gossip like that.  

  • Here’s the most suggestive suggestion.  Elton is going to run, or is at least thinking about running, for Mayor.  No one knows if Heidi is going to run or not (and honestly, our opinion changes daily as well), but if she does, then it wouldn’t hurt Elton as a potential candidate to start differentiating himself from her.  If she doesn’t run, he’s still got the poverty issue and can still use it as a point against the current government.  Is he thinking about running?  Well, that’s one of those “gotcha” questions that politicos hate.  Of course he’s thought about running for Mayor.  The real question is: how seriously has he thought about it, and has he made a decision?  Unclear.  I’d like to think that within a few minutes of putting this post up, I’ll get an angry denial from Dodson in the AthPo inbox, but as mentioned before, he stopped emailing us.  (Probably the SuperCommissioner/cape and tights jokes.)  Anyway, it’s too soon to tell, and Dodson may well not be running for Mayor, but that sounded an awful lot like political positioning to me.

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