Monday, September 12, 2011

Jerry Maynard said he's no rubber stamp, but he can't distinguish how he's not a rubber stamp

I want to go back to June now that the council election is over to part of a mid-summer radio interview where CM at-Large Jerry Maynard did not exactly keep cooly cool with a couple of critics:

Maynard: I wanna be around for the next 4 years to make sure we fully fund education .... if we get the wrong people on Metro Council, we will not support fully funding our schools, and that is the number one priority that we should have as a city: ... to support our school board, to work with them on reform, to work with the Mayor .... I've got my own ideas. One thing I would like to do is to bring college students as mentors and tutors in or middle schools ....

Caller #1: As far as the past four years, Metro government hasn't really done anything about education except put lip service to it. And I really feel like a lot of the council and you yourself are rubber-stamping.

Maynard: Rubber-stamping for the school system?

Caller #1: For Karl Dean ....

Maynard: That's cute ....

Caller #1: ....We've got no repercussions, no consequences for ill actions and we have certain ones who don't want to speak on it in a real manner. The writing is on the wall. There is no accountability, and King Dean and the rubber stamps is what rules

Maynard: That's a cute little statement, but let me tell you something .... if you think that all we were doing was the rubber stamp, then I would say look at my record .... [giving developers financial incentives to build workforce housing in the "urban city"] .... keeping guns out of our parks. I've done some things regarding being elected and it hasn't just been rubber-stamping anybody.

Host: Alright we got another caller ....

Caller #2: ....You sound good, sir, but there's no substance. All I hear is words but we see no results. You talk about you interested in public education. Where was your voice when all these Metro employees lost their jobs? These jobs were outsourced.

Maynard: That's the school board, sir .... Since you want to say all I want to do is talk, so let's make sure the talk is straight .... Metro Council cannot tell the school board what to do with the money once we give them the money .... Let me let you get to know since this is the "truth zone" .... Dr. Register said, "No" [to Maynard's request to save the jobs if council could find the money] .... He tied the hands of the Metro Council [by signing contract without giving them a chance to find money] .... Now you can talk that I did not have a loud enough voice. Go back and look at the tape .... So, this is not a fiscal concern it is a policy decision .... Now, because I'm not on the school board, I can't tell Dr. Register what to do. The Metro Council can only pass the budget.

Caller #2: You're a Metro Councilman at-Large. Call a press conference. Do something other than just talk....

Maynard: So, a press conference would do what?! What would a press conference do? [Change of topic: exchange about David Torrence and whether the Mayor's response on Torrence was lacking]. Let me say this: My name is Jerry Maynard. I'm running for council at-Large. I'm running for re-election based on my record. You can call it "rubber-stamp" if you want to. Listen, this council and this black caucus that I've served on has been more effective, and I'm sorry that your head ... I don't know where you've been. You been living under a rock or something.

First of all let's agree that if CM Maynard had not lost his composure during the phone call he probably could have avoided the disingenuous reply that he is somehow running independently on the merits of nothing but his own record. Fact check: not only did Mayor Dean endorse and campaign for CM Maynard, but he raised funds for the Maynard campaign. The at-Large CM sounded too full of bravado for someone so utterly dependent on coattails.

And why shouldn't the Mayor go all in to help him? If you listen to the interview before and after this particular exchange, you will hear Jerry Maynard wrap himself up in Karl Dean's coattails by pimping the Mayor's pet projects: construction of the Music City Center, the unpopular plan to put a health care center in a mall, the scheme to redevelop the Fairgrounds, a ballpark at Sulphur Dell. So, the fact is that Jerry Maynard has rubber-stamped every single significant project this Mayor has proposed and enthusiastically campaigned on them. He never broke with or questioned the Mayor's Office when it could have mattered. To the contrary, I'm not sure he stood up to the Mayor as an opponent on anything at all. The projects he takes credit for independent of the Mayor are financial incentive offers and volunteer projects that the Mayor has never opposed. That is likely why he never denied the charge of rubber-stamping even though he tellingly protested too much about it.

Finally, it seems obvious that he wants to have it both ways on education. Jerry Maynard wants you to know that he is pumped about making sure that "education reform" (another Dean priority) continues from his position on the Metro Council, but his brightest idea is to organize volunteers to mentor and tutor. As noble a cause as that may be, he does not have to be a CM to do pursue that mission. While he would not have campaigned with the slogan, "I really have no influence over Metro public education," he had no qualms about trotting it out to use on his critics. CMs should not take strong stances on government issues that they really have no power over in the first place. Even influence over the funding mechanism for Metro Schools is mostly limited to an up-or-down vote on a budget proposal. So, for all of Jerry Maynard's talk of being there for schools, when push comes to shove he has to concede that CMs cannot do much more than talk about supporting education. So, how are the callers wrong?

This interview made clear that Jerry Maynard cannot take criticism of his ties to the Mayor's Office and turn off the juice long enough to focus on how he distinguishes himself from Mayor Dean. After a third critical call from Antioch came in later he accused his critics of being "Republican tea party folks" who are being prompted to call in. As if either Democrats or independent voters could not possibly be dissatisfied with CM Maynard's coziness to Karl Dean. Think again, Mr. Maynard.

HT: Genma Holmes

1 comment:

  1. It's instructive to understand how Councilman Maynard came under the Dean administration's wing. My first contact with Councilman Maynard was when he was actively opposing the mayor related to the stated desire of the administration to close Metro General Hospital. Maynard was aggressive in opposing this plan, mobilizing church leaders and at one point getting in a very heated argument with Rich Riebling following a council meeting. It was in the midst of that battle when all of the sudden Maynard's troubles regarding his continuing education was leaked to Gail Kerr, and Maynard soon found himself out of a beloved job at the Matthew Walker Health Center due to what would have normally been handled quietly. Soon after, the mayor's office entered into an agreement that they would bury the Metro General issue and would support the 28th Ave. corridor if Maynard would support the Convention Center and other big ticket programs. Whereas Maynard had been under attack, all of the sudden he discovered the benefits of playing ball, and has continued to do so every since.