• PALM BEACH ELECTIONS: The Curious Case of Municipality X

    By James Sved on January 9, 2018

    MUNICIPALITY X (Herald de Paris) —  Instead of the whispers, the backroom talk; instead of more lies, mis-truths, half-truths, and halfwits, I – here forth known as “The Horse” – am going to say it like it is.

    One day last month, The Horse was at a Town Council meeting.  After nearly 30 years in such arenas, I am pretty well versed in the technical aspects of local government.   This particular day I was there to watch the blood sport known as a local council meeting.  As I exited through the doors in the back I was approached by a mysterious figure wearing sunglasses.  The mysterious figure said, “You don’t know me, but I certainly know you.  Your reputation precedes you.”  We proceeded to talk on the steps for about an hour.  Of that hour, said horse spoke maybe 11 minutes.  A couple of days later, the mysterious figure reached out by email, inviting us to lunch.  The little filly and I (The little filly is a champion thoroughbred in her own right) graciously accepted.  By the end of the lunch it was clear that I was being asked to jump, at the last minute, into the horse race (Do you see what I did there?) for the Town Council seat soon to be vacated by Councilperson A.

    Councilperson A’s presumed successor was Candidate 1, who had essentially been jockeying for this seat for nearly 5 years.  He was so desperate to take what he thought was his rightful seat on the dais that he (Allegedly) even moved from one end of town to the other to secure his victory.  All hearsay.  Candidate 1, while a career appointed board member, seems like an amiable fellow who, while strong on talking points really has little to back them up.  Sort of like how a McDonald’s hamburger is a hamburger, and tastes pretty good even though there isn’t a lot of meat in it.

    The mysterious figure and her posse of “Activists” hate Candidate 1, presumably because he is in favor of something the council already approved, and is moving ahead.  I will no longer speak to the issues as such, suffice to say, it’s something already underway.  Thus, the posse of “Activists” want their own horse in the race.  Sure, there is Candidate 2, but they said nobody liked Candidate 2.  I was the dark horse they chose to run against Candidate 1.

    Pay close attention, because here is where it starts to get weird.  I know what you are thinking, this is already weird.  Well, welcome to Municipality X, a tiny strip of sand bar filled with retired captain’s of industry, and a whole lot of people who think they are.

    The mysterious figure (AKA Activist 1) says that if I am to beat Candidate 1, I have to talk to Activist 2, and arranges for me to meet with Activist 2 over lunch in Municipality Y, so as not to arise suspicion by the people of Municipality X.  The two municipalities are separated by a stop light.  Activist 1 wants to fade into the background.  So be it.

    Off we go, the dark horse and the little filly, to meet with Activist 2.  She brings Activist 2A with her for back-up.  Activist 2 agrees to wield her mighty blog pen to help me get elected but, she says, I can’t win unless I secure the support of Activist 3, on the other end of the island.  I MUST have Activist 3 to win, according to Activist 2.  Hold that thought, we’ll come back to this.  Activist 2A didn’t say very much.  Activist 3 has sued Municipality X, and the lawsuit was thrown out of court.  Activist 3 is now in another lawsuit against Municipality X.

    This is when I get a call from Councilperson B, who actually and literally went to my high school.  Councilperson B calls me five times encouraging me to run, and tells me I need to meet with Activist 4, but first I have to use Consultants 1 and 2, whom we speak to.  Both are overpriced, double dipping, and way bigger than their own boots, for Municipality X is a hamlet of 7500 residents, half of whom are registered to vote.  of that 3,750 eligible voters, maybe 65% actually cast a ballot.  Consultants 1 and 2 are charging ridiculous sums in the hope of swaying approximately 1,700 people to vote for their candidate.  That’s about all that is needed to win.

    So this dark horse (Me) and the little filly go off to meet Activist 4.  Activist 4 says, “We can win,” pledges his support, and sends us off to meet with Activist 5.  Activist 5 is also suing Municipality X, and was unsuccessful in his 2 attempts to win a council seat.  Activist 5 says he wants to be supportive because he doesn’t want Candidate 1 (The McDonald’s burger) to win.

    In the course of four or five days, I went from being a guy walking out of a council meeting to this dark horse candidate with an ever-growing ground swell of support.  As this was shaping up to be pretty cool, I submit my candidacy paperwork.  This is where the wheels come off this bus.  I know I am mixing metaphors, and horses should never be on a bus, but hear me out.

    With paperwork submitted, and Activists 1, 2, 4, and 5 in the fold, we are sent to meet with Activist 6.  We like Activist 6 because unlike the other activists, he seems above training horses.  He would, however, hedge a wager on a dark horse.  Pun intended.  Activist 6 speaks regularly with Councilperson 2 and Councilperson 3, and wants me to meet with Councilperson 3.  We arrange to meet with Councilperson 3, but #3 never shows.

    About now, I get a call from Candidate 2.  Candidate 2 is perfectly lovely, and I don’t know why the activists speak so poorly of him.

    But what about Activist 3, you say?  While the above is transpiring, Activist 3 knows nothing about this dark horse, so Activist 3 enlists quotes from Nobody 1, whom I have never met, and Nobody 2, who was my boss at Municipality X 30 years ago.  THIRTY YEARS AGO.  Nobodys 1 and 2 apparently did some uncool things after I left Municipality X, and had some stuff to cover up to preserve the timeline of their revisionist history, so Nobodys 1 and 2 lied about my accomplishments, and threw me under the bus to Activist 3.  I know, how could I be thrown under a bus with no wheels?  Stay with me a while longer.

    I am not going to make the connection between Activist 3 and the local newspaper, a “Lifestyle Publication,” but the paper took this defamatory dribble and published it in the newspaper without checking the sources and without vetting.  Even when I produced newspaper articles and official documents to prove the Nobodys were lying, the newspaper still published the lies.  The newspaper, this, “Lifestyle Publication,” was, therefore, in bed with the people who didn’t want me to win.  So much for fair and balanced reporting.

    If the collective Activists found a candidate, wanted a candidate, and were supporting a candidate to beat the hamburger, why destroy the chosen (Dark horse) candidate?

    The fix was in – under no circumstances was the actually and literally well qualified dark horse supposed to be successful.  I haven’t even been able to connect ALL the dots yet, but no matter.  We never should have been subjected to derogatory sexist and racist remarks.  Not in the 21st century.   And calling it a generational thing does not make it OK.

    The irony?  My dark horse campaign was derailed by the people who were allegedly supposed to help me win.  While you ponder that, it gets worse.  Activist 3, while spreading bad intel, calls the little filly and threatens, “Under no circumstances will I support the dark horse unless you get rid of Activist 2.  I hate her.”  I am paraphrasing, but the gist was that if we didn’t throw Activist 2 under the bus (Remember, Activist 2 said we HAD to have Activist 3 to win), Activist 3 would not come aboard, despite their universal disdain for Candidate 1.  It is also getting messy under this bus.  We try to discuss with Activist 2 and she goes off the rails and quits.  So egos were starting to unravel our tightly wrapped spool.  More metaphors.  Sorry.

    Activist 3 contacts a former colleague of mine in Virginia.  Said colleague graciously writes the best recommendation letter I have ever received – all 100% true and verifiable.  This isn’t enough for Activist 3, who fires back with some of the most inappropriate questions I have ever heard.  Remember, this is a person who is supposed to be on my side.

    A day later, Activist 3 calls and insults the little filly on speakerphone, then insults me.  Mind you, Activist 3 hasn’t even met me or the little filly yet.  Now, nobody disrespects the little filly – not on my watch – so I fired off a nasty email defending the little filly.  Activist 3 cancels the Sunday meeting.  Activist 4, seeing the spool unraveling before his eyes, tries to resurrect the meeting, only, the dark horse has to come alone.  The dark horse and the filly are a tight unit, I mean we share a stall and everything, so we refuse to comply.  Meeting canceled.  Activist 3 and Activist 4 pull their support.

    In a weird twist, on his way out the door Activist 4 says, “I will still vote for you, I will still tell people to vote for you, and I hope you win.”  Wait, what?

    In all we spoke to seven Activists, all of whom were supposed to be unified against Candidate 1.  Activist 7 had the fortitude to stay out of the above.  The other six could not check their egos long enough to unify behind the dark horse candidate they universally thought could beat Candidate 1, and their own bizarre spreading of bad information sank my campaign.

    We thought long and hard, spoke to others who were supportive and could have picked up this campaign and moved it forward, but in the end, it was not worth it to the little filly and the dark horse to compromise our principles, our dignity, or our morals for this dark horse to rise to an unpaid seat in Municipality X.

    So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth.

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