(July 21, 2004) -- As reported by LBReport.com, LB's City Council voted 9-0 at their July 20 meeting to name 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell their Vice Mayor.
Not a single opposing nomination. Not a single "no" vote. Not a single voice raising concerns. A virtual code of silence.
Now Vice Mayor Kell -- and others -- can fairly say that LB's City Council showed it unanimously considers Kell's Council actions an example of how LB's legislative business should be conducted. If not, why would they vote to have her represent them?
As we said previously and reiterate now, our opposition to naming Kell Vice Mayor wasn't personal. Nor is what we write here.
In our opinion, Councilwoman Kell should have been challenged on some of her past actions, including: (a) her reckless, infamous motion making it easier to fill LB Airport's flight slots without telling the public that city officials met quietly with JetBlue beforehand; (b) her continuing failure to deliver a report she requested on health and home values of the 41 daily flights she invited; (c) her false agendizing of a JetBlue survey as "community outreach."
The first two of these actions occurred before Councilmembers Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch took office in July 2002. Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell and Rae Gabelich took office on July 20, 2004...and their first vote was on Vice Mayor.
Yet before giving Kell the Council votes they worked so hard to earn, they didn't ask Kell publicly to answer for what she did and didn't press her to say that she wouldn't do the same type of thing in another context. Neither did the five other incumbents.
Vice Mayor Kell did not indicate she regrets any of her above actions and did not pledge not to repeat in the future the type of things she did in the past. Why should she change her behavior? Her Council colleagues just rewarded her with a unanimous vote for a citywide title. That's the record now.
"I said, when I was on the road knocking on doors, I am not a politician. But today, according to Webster, a politician is a person involved in the policies or affairs of government, so today I have become one," Councilwoman Gabelich said after being sworn in. "I promise to wear the title proudly, to consider the outcome of all of my decisions based on the needs and desires of my constituents and our city," she added.
Councilwoman Gabelich said that third place April finisher (and subsequent Gabelich endorser) Terry Jensen had given her a book titled Lincoln on Leadership. She quoted the former President for his famous statement, "a house divided against itself cannot stand," then added in her own words, "We must work together. It's very, very important that we work together."
Huh? Lincoln's "house divided against itself" line wasn't a call to "work together." It was a call to action to change the status quo. Lincoln said it when accepting the Republican Party's nomination for Senate in 1858 and went on to debate Democrat Stephen Douglas mainly over slavery (with Lincoln opposed to the slavery status quo). By pressing his arguments and engaging the opposition, not remaining silent and advancing the status quo, Lincoln went on to win the Republican 1860 presidential nomination and was elected.
Councilman O'Donnell knows this stuff. He's a teacher and almost certainly tells his students about it. Councilwoman Kell also knows this stuff. Not only is she a former teacher, but her husband was Mayor for many years.
Councilwoman Kell knows how the system works. She also knows there is nothing dishonorable about being the "loyal opposition"...and history shows (as with Lincoln) that on deeply felt issues, the opposition may lose initial votes...only to end up winning.
We realize not every battle is worth fighting and it is important to pick and choose one's fights. Waging a battle over a ceremonial title immediately after being sworn in, and possibly ending up in the minority, might seem to some a dumb fight. But making the incumbent accountable for her actions would have automatically won a bigger battle regardless of the Council vote: it would have denied now-Vice Mayor Kell the mandate she can now claim with a unanimous vote...and it might have deterred her from repeating in the future what she did in the past.
Fortunately, what happened isn't the end of the world. John Nance Garner -- Vice President of the USA under FDR -- called Vice President "an office not worth a bucket of warm spit." (Some historians say reporters of era cleaned up the spelling of the last word).
That said, how much is the title of Vice Mayor really worth?