[Vision2020] The candidates' disputatio

keely emerinemix kjajmix1 at msn.com
Fri Sep 28 20:51:09 PDT 2007

I was able to attend the first hour of this afternoon's NSA Disputatio with the candidates for City Council.  Before I go further, I want to say that I appreciate all of those who are running, simply because they're willing to put themselves in the crosshairs, so to speak, as elected representatives.  I know personally how trying that can be, and I'm grateful to them for wanting to serve.

Now, obviously, I think some of them would do better than others; nothing at the Disputatio changed my mind on that.  It certainly wasn't a neutral audience, and it wasn't designed to be.  However, I do think that the GMA-endorsed candidates who were there (Carscallen and Krauss; Walter Steed didn't attend) got Larry King-style softball questions.  Pall, Lamar and Ament were the recipients of -- I'm choking at the comparison here -- Keith Olbermann-style bullets.  And Evan Holmes turned every question into a bit of a lovefest from him to his hosts, so the questions got buried in his effusive compliments.  

I didn't think, as Evan did, that the questions evinced an "elevated" understanding of local current events.  Of course, that's true of most college-age students.  However, they don't don black robes and play Oxford Don by engaging their elders in topics clearly over their heads.  (I've attended three Disputatios now and each time have failed to see any actual debate, although, to their credit, the NSAers are unfailingly polite, if a little breathlessly so).   What I saw was a three-student panel of earnest, attractive young people who had been tutored well in . . . well, I'm not sure what, but they seemed right on target when it came to assumptions that Pall and Ament, at least, were against them.  (Pall, by the way, came off utterly statesman-like, and Ament handled well the discomfort he must have faced when one of the student questioners asked him about his previous "NSA kids are androids" comments.  And yeah, I wish he hadn't said that two years ago, as I told him.  Still, I think he's done a good job on the council, and I'd vote for him if I lived in the city limits.  I also am an admirer of Senor Carscallen, who is a classy guy).  

Most troublesome to me was Krauss' repeated assertions that people shouldn't be told where they can or cannot shop, presumably referring to the Super WalMart issue.  I probably disagree with his stand on the building of a Super WalMart on the Thompson acreage east of town, but I'm puzzled at the idea that any of my neighbors has been told that she "can't shop" someplace.   With all respect to Mr. Krauss, I'd like to make clear that those of us who opposed that particular plan with that particular store have never suggested that people be barred from shopping at, say, the currently existing WalMart.  In fact, I bought socks there last week.   And I'm thrilled that NSA students, especially the young married ones, have a place to buy baby booties and Rubbermade containers and Cheetos and cat food and pajamas.  I'm aghast, however, at the apparent doctrine of economic growth they've been taught, if the fruit of that teaching is a fervent belief that low-paying service jobs at a store that would replace at least one or two existing Moscow stores is a top-notch idea.  I'm perplexed, too, that these well-scrubbed, well-spoken, well-heeled young people are having the difficulty finding work in Moscow a couple of them described.  My most recent experiences at, say, Wendy's and WalMart illustrate to me that a lot of people are working who really would never make it in a more competitive market.  But what kind of living wage can places like that pay, you ask?  

That's kinda my point.

Anyway, the Disputatio did nothing to change my mind regarding how I'd vote if I weren't so darn rural these days, nor did it make me think any less or any more of NSA students.  However, I would have LOVED to have asked just one question, and so I'll ask it here; I hope any Lurking Kirkers will feel free to forward to any candidates of their acquaintance:

To any of the candidates:  Do you believe that any religious or educational group in Moscow is or has been the victim of persecution on the part of the City?  And if, as one of the GMA-endorsed candidates said, "perception IS reality" in Moscow politics, could the perception that the administrators of Christ Church and NSA are scofflaws have anything to do with the chill they feel?  

A second question might be:  Is it "selected enforcement" or "selective compliance" when a group was warned by the City six or seven years ago that their boarding houses violated code, and who were told to cease running them and to stop recruiting people to board students, and yet continued to operate, even expand, their boarding-house system?  Why was the previous ordinance provoking a written rejoinder from the City in 1999 not enforced?  And should the City take into account a particular group's reputation for arrogance and less-than-transparent disclosure when dealing with that group?

Enquiring minds want to know.


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