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Trail Mix - 8.9.12

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Ghosts of Elections Past

Barack Obama’s re-election dreams seem to becoming real as ghosts of campaigns past keep showing up. First there was Karl Rove, the nearly indicted former adviser to President George W. Bush, who continues to make the rounds on TV as he collects big money from tax-averse captains of industry for his Super PAC. And lately it’s been former Vice President Dick Cheney hogging headlines by dissing Sarah Palin and claiming Obama’s been “a terrible president.”

Obama would love nothing more than to run against the George W. Bush years, and Rove and Cheney seem only too happy to oblige.

Imagine No Parties

If you’re sick of the Republicans and the Democrats, and you’re imagining what an America without political parties might look like, check out California.

It’s been well documented that Republicans are shrinking into irrelevance there — only 30 percent of the electorate identifies themselves as Republican today. What’s new is that politicians and voters are choosing “independent” or “no party preference” as a kind of anti-political statement. In a story in the Los Angeles Times last month, they found that, “More than one-fifth of registered voters, 21.3 percent, are listed with no party preference, according to the Secretary of State. That’s double the 10.7 percent in 1996 and more than quadruple the 5 percent in 1972.”

“[Voters] see partisan politics as paralyzing the governing process,” the Times quoted Bruce McPherson, who recently re-registered as an independent to run for the state legislature. “They’re frustrated and fed up.”

As they say, most trends start in California.

Checking In With Mayor Condon

Last cycle’s most surprising race was won by David Condon, who has now been in office for half-a-year. He has seemed to push all the right buttons — engaging the city, appearing in public, re-shuffling his leadership team. Maybe our one-term mayoral curse can be tamed.

Well now it gets tricky. The problems in the Spokane Police Department have chewed up and spit out numerous mayors and chiefs of police. To turn it around, Condon wants a new chief. Trouble is, nobody’s been blown away by the mayor’s candidates. Now the question is coming up again: Isn’t it time to look at combining our two local police departments?

I’ve long argued for studying the possibility; I believe it is inevitable and, if done right, should deliver better police protection.

This will be the decision that defines David Condon’s tenure, and right now it feels like he’s doing the same thing Spokane has always done — which includes taking the well-worn path of hoping it will turn out better this time.

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