There was an a-ha! moment when Mayor Tom Leppert’s city council committee assignments came out -- for council members, anyway. The most notable feature of the assignment list was the freeze-out of council member and Trinity toll road foe Angela Hunt, who was kept from a leadership position on any committee.
In a way, I think the news probably was liberating for the council. It meant they could say to themselves, “Well, thank God we don’t have to give any credence to that corporate team-building mumbo-jumbo bullshit the mayor was selling us right after the election.”
In effect, the mayor has stripped off his platinum corporate commander suit and revealed his under self to be what most mayors are -- a lumpy, bumpy, sweaty-armpits pol.
Right after they got elected, Leppert made the council go do one of those corporate-style retreats, where he brought in a “facilitator” and had them spend hours filling out a personality profile questionnaire, all of which I believe we paid for.
It’s the kind of stuff big corporations typically make you do. Then they can then turn around and tell you: “Based on your LIFO-WIFO profile, the one thing you want in order to become fully hyper-actualized is for us to lay you off. Intriguingly, everyone else in your department has the exact same LIFO-WIFO profile and wants to be canned. Right now. Without returning to your offices. Remember, it’s what you wanted, so you can’t sue us."
So they spent hours listing their favorite food textures and such (I always list “nails and human flesh” on those things). Then the mayor showed them a PowerPoint presentation about what it all meant and how they all fit together according to their head-banger exams.
Only one problem. The PowerPoint had already been put together before the retreat.
Amazing! Hours of head-banger testing reveal that the council already completely agree with the PowerPoint that the mayor already had in his laptop before the retreat even began! Hey, what are the odds? So fantastic!
Look, that’s why I believe that PowerPoint is the source of all evil. It comes from the devil. Wherever you see PowerPoint, the Horned One lurks inside the laptop.
Anyway, they were all waiting to see what Leppert would do with the appointments, because those appointments happen to be a mayor’s only real source of power and his first and most telling opportunity to show his hand. So who does he reveal himself to be?
It’s exactly the same blunderously crude, badly calculated and very counterproductive sleazo-pol move that former mayor Kirk did on then council member and maverick Laura Miller, trying to slap the spit out of her mouth for opposing him on key policies.
This wasn’t just raw politics on Leppert’s part. It was raw dumb politics. This will boost Hunt’s profile far more than any price she will pay for lack of committee assignments.
I spoke at some length yesterday with Leppert about the Trinity toll road controversy. I do not believe that he is a deliberately devious guy. That would give him either too little or too much credit, depending on your view.
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The truth is that he’s a consultant himself, more than a true tycoon, and as such he actually believes all this mind-warp stuff that consultants pitch to their corporate clients. You know, “We can make firing people fun. When we’re done with them, the wee little sheepies will be begging to be fired. They will threaten to sue you if you don’t fire them right away.”
Trouble is, politics is too much of a street thing to really allow for much of that crap. He doesn’t have the corporate sanctum to protect him from reality. Thus, he has to show his hand. And it’s a dirty little paw, ain’t it?
I think the rest of the council is probably relieved. I know I would be. If I were on the council, I would slip up behind him during a break in the meeting today, clap him on the back, chuckle and whisper, “You dog.” And then I’d give him a big wet nuzzle inside the ear.
Now they really are a team. --Jim Schutze