Saturday, November 03, 2007

DeSantis' 88 Neighborhood Visits Hits Backyard

As I walked to pick up my gas-guzzlin’ SUV from the local, city mechanic (sorry to all of those who abhor the fact that I prefer to spend my hard-earned trinkets within the confines of America’s Most Livable City), I looked up to see a stereotypical Yunzer folding up a Mark DeSantis sign. In front of him, a nicely-dressed guy who was talking in docile tones. About 15 yards away, DeSantis himself.

Earlier in the day, I read a MySpace bulletin that included the 29th Ward in his campaign to hit all of Pittsburgh’s 88 neighborhoods in less than a week, so I knew he’d be in the area. Lo and behold, there he was. Here was my chance to say hello, tell him that I indeed tossed him a gold shilling or three, and admit that I would be voting for him, despite his promise to allow city workers the Golden Ticket jackpot to Washington and Butler Counties.

By the time I made it across the street, DeSantis and his cohort had ducked into a black car, across the street from a beer distributor, within a stone’s throw of former state Senator and Allegheny County Commissioner Mike Dawida’s humble abode. He eagerly re-emerged when it looked like someone was actually happy to say hello.

DeSantis and his campaign staffer jumped out and we had a discussion. I told him that the neighborhoods would suffer, and the elderly in particular would be feel less safe when their area cops would bolt in mass, away from the 70 years of Democrat regime that allowed them unprecedented perks and salaries. Stakeholders would disappear in record numbers in a buyer’s real estate market with very few buyers.

The “good neighbor” would quickly turn to an abandoned, or rented property overnight. Being a neighborhood presence is part of the job. It’s either a lifestyle or a job. If you’re a cop who doesn’t live in the community you serve, it’s just a paycheck. Nothing regal; just a job.

Anyhoo, DeSantis listened politely and his staffer asked if I thought the police would really leave. Absolutely, I retorted, mostly to far off lands with acres of lands, ponds and dirt roads. They certainly wouldn’t move 10 minutes away. Criminals there still go to the same movies.

After a nice chat in which I told him I had five signs in my yard (I miscounted: it’s six), we moved on, assured that his name would still be at the end of my touch-screen press on Tuesday.

A few minutes later near the shopping center and garage I frequent, DeSantis was going from bystander to bystander, door to door, introducing himself to everyone. From what I heard, the response was cold. Unfortunately, many of my neighbors are nearly brainwashed into thinking the way Luke Ravenstahl’s parents taught him: be afraid of Republicans, despite the fact that they believe in issues far closer to the average Pittsburgher than they easily admit.

But then again, the most fervent religious people I’ve ever known were union stalwarts through and through.

Let’s hope that Ravenstahl’s continued missteps and his boyish mistakes eventually wake up the great unwashed, but I’m not confident in their abilities to think about issues in a realistic way.

It’s been decades since any city politician really cared about neighborhoods like mine. The electorate has been lulled to sleep by public sector promises that generally help anyone other than giving lots of people the ability to pay their own city mortgages.

Vote Mark DeSantis on Tuesday. He’s not perfect, but with Bill Peduto perhaps out of the picture completely, he’s our only chance.

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