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June 29, 2013

DODD: Mayors past, present ... and future?

“The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.” — Jean Giraudoux.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but I am going to try to keep my column today at less than that.

I saw the picture that was posted in this newspaper recently showing the dedication of Vissing Park in Jeffersonville. To paraphrase my old buddy Charles Dickens, “It was the best of politics and the worst of politics” portrayed in that picture, with everyone lined up with the old yellow ribbon.

The current mayor and the former mayor were in the line. Everything was all smiles. This was perhaps one of Tom Galligan’s biggest projects that were so controversial during his term.

Where were the dollars to come from and so very many of the neighbors didn’t want the park. The old park was a hangout for drug users and dealers and was unsafe. The blogs and letters-to-the editors were often vitriolic.

As was the Tom Galligan style, he bulldozed the trees and started the project before all of the permits and public meetings and niceties that would have probably stalled the new development for years or forever. That was the “Tommy” style.

Tom Galligan’s style made people mad, kept him in controversy, and when it came to other projects such as annexation [which did not occur while he was mayor but of which he did stated he would have supported if he was mayor] and the canal; his style probably led much to his defeat.

The Mike Moore administration is still trying to present its trademark. To date much of what the current administration has dealt with has been either simply a continuation of a Galligan project or the halting of the same. There is still time left for Moore to have as a record of achievement.

On more than one occasion Moore has taken public credit for something that was started under his predecessor’s administration. The most notable is how he likes to take credit for the jobs at Amazon. I might be wrong and if I am I hope Mayor Moore lets me and the public know how he can take credit for anything to do with Amazon.

I had heard just before the election how there was a done deal and how bad the previous administration and their supporters wanted the deal to get done and be announced prior to the last mayoral election. It didn’t happen. Whatever details and legal wrangling had to be finished didn’t allow for it to happen until after the new administration had been installed into office.

Elected officials not giving credit where it is due and taking undue credit is not all that uncommon. I remember once during Galligan’s administration where he took credit for some new jobs in town when their sister company had laid off more than 25 percent of its work force. He took credit for the new jobs but took no blame for those that has disappeared. Truth is that the city most likely had no direct connection to either of the corporate decisions.

Then there were photographs of Dennis Julius at the opening. There they were the three men — one of whom I am pretty confident will be the next mayor of Jeffersonville — all figuratively holding hands and singing “Kumbaya.”

Julius has always been a friend and supporter of Galligan in the past. A satirical jab I took at their relationship a couple of Christmas parades ago got me in some hot water with both gentlemen. It will be interesting to see how friendly and civil that Democratic primary will be.

I would hope that Jeffersonville leaders in the future will both give credit when it is due and accept blame when it is earned. I am not really all that hopeful. And wouldn’t it be nice someday for an elected official to admit — “I kind of got lucky on that one while I was in office.”

And someday during the next mayoral campaign that has already begun whether officially or unofficially, I will remember this picture of all of the fellowship and smiling for the cameras  Such political sincerity can make a guy like me almost feel emotional for a second.

It will be a reminder of that one afternoon where everyone was united for something that will probably be considered a very positive thing for our community. That doesn’t happen all that often in politics. The picture actually made me smile. Now, that does often happen in politics.

See, just like I promised, that picture was worth only 777 words.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com

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