Thursday, January 4, 2007

Editorial: The McNeilly Case

Fun fact: a Google Image search for "Ravenstahl" results in roughly three times as many pictures of actress Sienna Miller, than of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Not for any lack of trying on Luke's part. Let us resolve: The plastering of Master Luke's arms-akimbo stance on billboards, city mailers, and government websites is tacky and unflattering.

Today, a federal hearing will take place as to whether or not Ravenstahl violated whistle-blower protections and acted improperly by demoting Catherine McNeilly, in retaliation for her criticism of his then-appointee Dennis Regan.

There is no continuing mainstream news coverage of this story. Nonetheless, the blurghosphere has been incensed. Wherefore such a discrepancy? Is the media treating Ravenstahl with kid gloves? Is this too inside-baseball for most readers? Do news editors believe there's nothing to the accusations?

I await the outcome of the hearings and I reserve judgement. However, I have a theory as to why we find so much rancor against Ravenstahl on the Internet: haters.

You heard me. It is naturally offensive that such a young man has achieved such success and prominence. I feel it also; I could have run for city council when I was 23. Why didn't I? Surely, I wouldn't be making such a popinjay of myself, either.

Be that as it may, I do not think "Politician Rewards Political Allies" would make a very newsworthy headline, nor would "Politican Punnishes Internal Criticism." If he has violated the law, McNeilly should be reinstated. But I do not expect saint-like forbearance from my public officials, nor do I require it. Even if he lied about motivations, or the details of his internal investigation, I just do not think this rises to the level of scandal.

Ravenstahl arrived on the scene with no recognition, low expectations, and the label of puppet for the powers-that-be. That probably contributed toward the oversaturation of his face, just as it may also have contributed toward his overreacting to criticism. Show who's boss, you know. New sheriff in town.

I'll certainly continue to follow the story, and am glad other bloggers are making it possible. But when Luke proposes bad public policy, when he commits fraud, when he fails the city in some way, wake me up. If he's just being overbearing and tacky, well ... is he being overbearing and tacky on my behalf? Yes? Then, whatever.

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