First off, a little something for the political junkies. I hope to be posting more about the mayoral debate City Paper co-sponsored this week. But here's one item worth noting:
In a written question, some obvious Ravenstahl plant in the audience* noted that Dowd had a penchant for running for office, and that he wasn't even halfway through his first term on council. So why, this anonymous apologist for the Democratic machine* asked, should we think Dowd was up to the task of running for mayor? And why should we think he won't be running for something else a couple years from now?
Dowd explained that "the number-one issue for me and a lot of people is public education." But the more he worked on the school board, the more he realized that the schools couldn't solve problems like violence and blight -- which tend to filter in through the schoolhouse door.
Then Dowd dropped this assertion: "I am more than willing to commit myself to this office and that's it ... I'll be interested to see if the mayor ... will make the same commitment."
So there you have it: Dowd says his political ambitions end here.
* OK, I confess: I'm the guy who asked the question. I gave it to moderator Vince Sims in advance, along with questions from some of the other cosponsors, but I guess it got lumped in with the audience questions by mistake.
Over the years, I've gotten increasingly skeptical about the whole system whereby we select judges. Currently, they're elected directly by the voters, but the candidates typically say so little -- for fear of prejudicing a case down the road -- that it's almost impossible for voters to decide who to back. You just end up seeing who got recommended by the bar association -- if you even do that much.
But I had a small experience at a Brookline political forum earlier this week that reaffirmed my faith in direct democracy.
Most of the evening was spent on the candidates for City Council district 4. But school board member Sherry Hazuda was also on hand. And she had a charming tale about how she'd taught a little first-grader named Kevin ... who grew up to be a candidate for Superior Court judge, Kevin McCarthy.
Hazuda asked that "If you don't know anyone else running for Superior Court" -- and honestly, who does? -- "please vote for Kevin."
"He has good family, Christian, values," she added. "He's one of us, and he's a good person."
I'll confess that the first thing I thought was -- "good Christian values? I guess I know who I won't be voting for." (And here's the thing: I'm actually a Christian.)
But in fact, there are plenty of good reasons to vote for McCarthy. He's "highly recommended" by the county bar association, and he's supported by the Allegheny County Labor Council as well as the Steel City Stonewall Democrats, a pro-LGBT organization in town.
It's gratifying that such candidates are considered "one of us" in a church social hall out in Brookline. If Republicans are wondering why they've lost their mojo with working-class folks, this may be the reason: It's not that a LGBT endorsement will necessarily help a candidate in such communities -- I don't even know whether Hazuda is aware of it. But the backing doesn't necessarily hurt anymore either.
I guess the irony here is that McCarthy may be one of the most progressive folks on the ballot this May -- even though a lot of progressive voters themselves may not have heard of him.
Finally, for those of you following along at home, they've scheduled the next hearing in our effort to open up some of the record in the Scaife divorce case. It's next Thursday at 9:30 a.m. We'll let you know what happens. If we're still allowed to talk about it by then.