With elections as around the corner as around the corner can be, I was all set to write a red-hot column, the sort that would leave you with smoke coming out of your ears when you were done reading it. The kind that would make your eyes water. A real humdinger of a dilly of a piece.
I was going to call it "Shredder's Five-Alarm Column."
But my editor has been going off on some fancy-pants ethical argument that anything we put in this paper is the final word before the big vote, so candidates wouldn't have a chance to respond to anything I said before people went to the polls, so yada yada yada. He can be a real stick in the mud sometimes. An old fuddy-duddy. A wet blanket. All of the above.
I'm thinking, though, that I can be fair if I say the same thing about everybody, such as County Supervisor District 2 candidate Bruce Gibson is a schmoe and County Supervisor District 2 candidate Rodger Anderson is a schmoe. Or maybe I'll say they're both saints though I doubt that. They may be schmoes for different reasons, but that's for you to decide. Pick whichever schmoe is less of a schmoe to you and cast your vote. That's how democracy works. Isn't it great, folks?
The talking ban falls on measures as well as candidates, so I can't rail for or against Measure J or whatever other measures got sucked into its black hole of a debate and lost in the nether regions of the universe. Is there a Measure Q on the ballot? A measure D? A measure for measure? I can't remember. When I hear the word "measure," my mind automatically fills in the rest of the phrase with the letter "J." That's how ingrained it is.
The New Times mail inbox has been chock full of letters about that letter. Everybody says the same things about Ernie Dalidio over and over again: He should get to do whatever he wants! He shouldn't get to do anything he wants! He'll destroy the town! He'll save the town! He'll leave the town exactly the same! He's a saint! He's a schmoe! I care! I don't care!
The letters that say all of the above are the most confusing. Pick a side, people!
But seriously, more ink has been poured out onto this issue in New Times and every other paper I've ever seen than, uh, I forgot where I was going with the rest of that phrase. I just peeked and saw a dozen more letters from locals who want a Target in town and a dozen who want nothing of the kind. We've seen letters from people who feel that the system is being skirted, and people who think that everything is totally up-and-up fair. Day after day they come in: Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No.
And did I mention before? they're all exactly the same, except for how they're different in terms of which side they're arguing. In fact, I could probably take a big batch of "Yes on J" letters and mix up all the names and pass them out again, and everybody would just smile and nod and say, "Yep, that's exactly what I wrote." They all make the same points, like they were all peeking over each other's shoulders while they were writing them and jotting down the facts and clever rhetoric.
To be fair, I could do the exact same thing to the "No on J" letters. And I would get the same reaction. I'm positive, 100 percent. They'd all be sure that that's exactly what they wrote, down to the letter.
But since I can't stick my tongue out at one side over the other, I can, instead, expand and expound on the discussion about the two sides itself. If people in this county spent half as much time working toward getting more rehab for homeless people as they did championing Ernie Dalidio's grandparents or cursing his backers, maybe a few more people would still be alive today, and Karen Velie would've been out a cover story this week.
I know, I know. Everyone has his or her own causes. Maybe yours is open space. Maybe it's affordable shopping. Or affordable housing. Or open housing. Or whatever.
In any case, keep sending the letters. Seriously. But try to say something new.
And stop writing to us about the elections. The next time a letter can possibly run will be Nov. 9, and if you can do the math, that'll be two days after you cast your ballot. I'm sure we'll get letters right up to the day, though, from people who forget how a weekly newspaper works.
As a parting note, I'd like to point out a letter we got that says, "If you love Dalidio so much, why don't you marry him?" But, I probably can't do that unless we also get a letter that says, "If you hate Dalidio so much, why don't you divorce him?"