Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Mayor Dan & The Wing Nut: Moves on the Political Chessboard
David William Bronson has a profile that the profiler in "24" would say screams of Right-Wing nuttery.
Bronson was born in Wisconsin, as famous for its "treaty beer" and militias as it is for great football and a top flight State University system. Wisconsin has given birth to the good, the bad and the ugly. The good is Fightin' Bob LaFollette the founder of the progressive wing of the Republican Party. The GOP was founded in Ripon, WI. The Ripon Society is a centrist think-tank with roots in the progressive era. The bad is Joseph McCarthy who defeated LaFollette in the 1946 Primary for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Joseph ("Have-You-No-Decency-Sir") McCarthy who will forever be associated with political witch hunts and scurrilous tactics was a pure Wisconsin product. And finally, the ugly: racism. The mash-up of rural parochialism and the urban blue-collar class led to racial clashes as the post-WWII in-migration of non-white groups occurred. The hard-cobbled Scandinavian, Scot and German farm folk were alienated by the events of the 60s and early 70s. The appeal of the Nixon-Agnew politics of polarization was intense and the racial and class resentments that simmered just below the surface burst forth in the 1970s and 1980s over Native American Treaty Rights. My own Tribe, the Lac du Flambeau Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa in Northeast Wisconsin was right in the middle of the conflict. The LDF Band was asserting their spear-fishing rights on the lakes contiguous to their Reservation. This activity was consistent with the Treaty of 1857 and the LDF did not recognize the right of the State of Wisconsin to regulate a Government-to-Government Federal-Tribal fishery. The acrimony by the Whites was shocking. The demonstrations by White hunters and fishermen were particularly violent. Shots were fired at spear fishers. Boats vandalized and sunk, cars damaged, tires slashed. Physical threats and intimidation were used against Tribal members. Wisconsin Tribal members were called "Tree-N*gg*rs" by the protesters and anti-Treaty organizers were funded by outside hunting and fishing groups who saw the exercise of Tribal Treaty Rights as an assault on their freedoms and liberties.
It was in this ugly period of racial confrontation and political polarization that Mr. Bronson, Dan Sullivan's nominee to the School Budget Advisory Commission came of age, graduating from high school in 1976 and from college in 1981. Hunting and fishing are listed on his resume as his principal interests. I just wonder how he feels about Alaska Natives and Alaska History and School Within Schools and Bi-Lingual Bi-Cultural Education.
Better be careful with any word that begins with "Bi" because one thing we do know about Mr. Bronson is that he opposes the civil rights of Bisexuals, along with Gay and Transgendered citizens.
There is nothing in David Bronson's resume that reveals an interest in education. What it does tell me is that this guy has a clear political agenda; his educational agenda is not so clear. According to Mudflats Blog, Bronson home-schooled his children, meaning that his relationship to public education has been exclusionary.
So why does a person whose interests are hunting and fishing, whose civic activities have been focused on opposing civil rights for Gay citizens, whose political engagement is church-based and whose relationship to education has been home schooling suddenly gets the itch to be on the School Budget Advisory Commission?
And why did Dan Sullivan suddenly get an itch to plug a political commando from the Anchorage Baptist Temple into a Commission whose subject he has no interest or expertise?
Ahhhh, politics. Sullivan is as obvious and crude a player at the art of politics as they come.
The person Mr. Bronson will be replacing on the School Budget Advisory Commission is Elizabeth Valesquez. Last month Ms Valesquez was appointed to the Mayor's Municipal Budget Advisory Commission. Republican friends have told us that Dan Sullivan is positioning Ms Vasquez to run against Harriet Drummond, the popular West Anchorage City Assembly Member who has been a thorn in the side of the Mayor. Political observers recall how much mileage Adam Trombley got out of HIS stint on the Municipal Budget Advisory and Republican friends say that the Mayor intends to do the same with Valesquez.
The Republicans and Mr. Sullivan have their eye on the School Board for a couple of good reasons. First, they want more control over the School District Budget. The District Budget is larger than the City's and real control by the Mayor's pals over the hundreds of millions of dollars spent for goods and services in the city can't be asserted until the School District is brought to heel. Second, the political reality of the School District is that it is disciplined and well-managed meaning that the anti-government types who fester in the swamps of Republican LaLa Land have a hard time getting elected. Don Smith's election was a fluke, which is obviated by the nearly 2:1 number of votes that his two progressive opponents got in that contest. The decision by well-liked retired educator Tommy O'Malley to jump into the race after James LaBelle signed up and split the sane voting block is one that will touch raw nerves for years to come.
Nevertheless, conversations with some school board members reveal a general concern with Don Smith's agenda: make trouble, raise Hell, stir the pot, obstruct and basically disrupt School Board meetings until he can get fellow Right-Wing ideologues on the Board to make an effective minority. Smith's refusal to sign a conflict of interest pledge because he wants to oppose School Budgets before the Assembly makes him a hero to Sullivan and the Mayor wants to send in fresh troops to help Don Smith. Up next Spring are a few seats on the School Board and we can expect to see Don Smith's political locker partner, Bob Griffin, to be on tap. One School Board Member who is up next time told me that Bob Griffin is a "horrible ideologue" and part of the Pulpit-driven team fielded by the Anchorage Baptist Temple and ChangePoint-Alaska. Griffin lost, but he will be back. Mayor Sullivan wants to make sure, through this appointment, that David William Bronson will on the ballot as well.