Good luck with that, Mayor Steve

When you make yourself available, you never know who's gonna show up. Like, check out the geek with the bow tie. You know HE'S trouble.../2010 photo by Bob Ford

Just read this in Steve Benjamin’s monthly newsletter:

Mondays with the Mayor

Ensuring the City of Columbia is open and accountable to all of the people has been a priority of mine from day one because, for me, government transparency is about living up to that most fundamental commitment: the people deserve the truth.

From moving council to evening meetings, working to limit executive session, and streaming every city council meeting live online; we are working live up to that responsibility and today I am pleased to announce a new initiative to further that cause: “Mondays with the Mayor.”

Kicking off on March 7th, “Mondays with the Mayor” is a monthly open session where citizens can schedule a 5 minute meeting here at City Hall to discuss the issues they care about with me personally.

WHAT: Mondays with the Mayor
WHEN: Monday, March 7, 2011
5:00pm to 7:00pm
WHERE: City Hall
1737 Main Street

To schedule a meeting, please call 803.545.3073 or on Friday, March 4th between 9:00am and 11:00am. The message should include your name, address, phone number, and issue to be discussed.

I believe that, by working together as One Columbia, we can raise the standard for citizen driven good government not just in South Carolina, but across the nation.

I believe we can make a difference.

First, hats off to the mayor for his commitment to openness and transparency. He’s acted quickly on several front to demonstrated that commitment, and praise is due to the council for its part in implementing such steps.

As for this one-at-a-time levee he plans — I hope it is everything a true lower-case-d democrat could wish for. But I also cringe a bit.

Admittedly, this may be partly because I just watched “Taxi Driver” all the way through last night for the first time, and that scene in which Travis Bickle has presidential candidate Charles Palantine in his cab. The candidate oozes transparently bogus mutterings about how he loves to hear the wisdom of cabbies like Travis, to which Travis responds with a skin-crawling diatribe on how the city is nothing but filth, and the next president should “flush” it all away — making the candidate very eager to get the heck outta that cab.

I’m sure it won’t be like that. And I’m sure it will be far better managed than the time that Andy Jackson threw open the doors of the White House for an inaugural backwoods kegger.

But… if you’ve spent as many hundreds of ours of your life in public meetings as I have, you know that there are certain people, who are not representative of the people overall, who love to show up and monopolize such affairs. Perhaps the 5-minute limit will take care of that.

But still… Again, I’m proud of the mayor for this fine gesture of openness. Lord knows we need more of that in South Carolina. And at the same time, I’m glad it’s him and not me spending two hours a month in the political equivalent of speed-dating.

10 thoughts on “Good luck with that, Mayor Steve

  1. Brad

    That was more negative than I meant it to be. And I don’t think I expressed my objection very well. It’s hard to explain…

    You know how, when you were in school — probably in college — there was always some geek who made everyone want to groan when they saw him show up? Someone with zero social skills who you would normally expect to sort of fade into the background, but instead constantly thrusts himself forward to monopolize class time, EVERY class (and it wouldn’t be really all that much time, but it would SEEM like a long time, because the seconds when this person was speaking were SO uncomfortable)? The sort that the professor would naturally try to look the other way when his hand went up, but would finally give up and say “yes?” with a clenched jaw and a look like he’s braced for a blow, and the whole class would hold its breath with dread — and the question, in a grating, fingernails-on-the-blackboard voice, would come, and it would ALWAYS be off-topic, and have to do with that person’s own weird obsessions rather than the subject at hand?

    I particularly remember two people like that during my time at Memphis State. One, in a journalism survey course in one of those auditorium classes, would always try to get the prof to address a question about the Memphis Tams, a now long-forgotten professional basketball team.

    The other was this little guy in one of my upper-division history courses, who would always try to turn the subject to Native American history, even though that was far afield from the focus of the course. He would say, “Isn’t that just like when Chief Joseph said…?” and the professor would, with excruciating politeness, wait until the end of the lengthy question that was actually a mini-lecture on whatever it was that he was thinking about Chief Joseph at that moment, before responding, “No. It isn’t,” before turning away to resume the lecture.

    Anyway, there are people like that who gravitate to public meetings and availabilities by politicos. And they give me the willies.

    Again, this is probably the Travis Bickle effect still influencing my mood.

  2. bud

    Whatever happened with the mayor’s wreck? Seems like that story just disappeared. Maybe I just missed it. Is the lady that got hit doing ok?

  3. Doug Ross

    “another reason we need a national health plan.”

    link above comment to this one:

    ” and it would ALWAYS be off-topic, and have to do with that person’s own weird obsessions rather than the subject at hand?”

    Pot meet kettle.

  4. Brad

    Bud, the last I heard about her condition was this story that John Monk did back in October, when there was a civil settlement (terms undisclosed) in the case.

    At that time, Ms. Rubens was not expected ever to be able to return to work, although no one would say exactly how she was doing.

    Aside from the undisclosed settlement, the mayor had paid an $87 ticket (for not having his headlights on, I think), and Ms. Rubens was charged with driving without insurance. She also did not have health insurance through her work — another reason we need a national health plan.

  5. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    Uh, Doug—it’s Brad’s blog–a place set up by him for his weird obsessions to be aired.

  6. Mark Stewart

    Chief Joseph! Wow. That’s almost existential…

    I was going to simply say that Steve Benjamin has impressed me so far as Mayor and I think that that sort of openness to finding better ways to try things reflects his personality.

  7. Pat

    Insurance – Isn’t it odd that the lady was charged with not having the required auto insurance – which she didn’t need in this case. She also didn’t have medical insurance she did need but wasn’t required to have. If she had been required to have medical insurance, would she have been charged for that, too?
    By the way, and sort of off topic, does anyone know what happened to the receptionist with 27 years of service that Haley let go?

  8. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    As a struggling young adult,my brother got cleaned out financially by a couple of uninsured drivers who were at fault. He had to pay the deductible on his insurance, even though both drivers were 100% at fault. She was driving on SC roads, so she DID need liability insurance and was properly charged.

    Just because someone who was driving drunk doesn’t cause an accident, doesn’t mean he doesn’t/shouldn’t get charged!

    And if there is a requirement to have health insurance, obviously failing to have it should result in some penalty, or the requirement is meaningless!

  9. Pat

    @ Kathryn, I worded my comment badly. I was hoping to call attention to the fact that SC obviously thinks it is okay to require liability automobile insurance. Still, why doesn’t it link in with the driver’s license when the insurance lapses? And, if it is okay to require liability insurance, why isn’t it okay to require health insurance? I was just pointing to the inconsistency of the thinking that produces our laws. Again, I can see I worded it badly.


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