Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where But for Her Would We Be?

Michael Cass has a good profile of Metro Council progressive Emily Evans, even though he seems to rely on pejorative "aggressive" connotations (instead of the neutral "assertive" ones) to describe Evans' critical questioning of Mayor's Office officials. I think fellow CM Mike Jameson may be on to something when he brings up the sexism of calling women "aggressive" when none of their male peers would be so described.

Otherwise, Cass does a good job at giving a balanced picture of Evans rather than strictly relying on the tensions between her and the Mayor's Office over stormwater and the convention center. The local media has tended to ignore balance in favor of obsessing over the drama, almost as if it cannot believe that any CM would dare question the Mayor's Office. Cass gives Evans' critic, CM Charlie Tygard, the megaphone long enough for him to display his hypocrisy in going along with Karl Dean in ways he probably would not with the previous Mayor:
"I don't know why she would risk political capital and the wrath of the administration," said Tygard, who often clashed with Dean's predecessor, Bill Purcell. "She may have gone out of her way to continue to antagonize them."
Yet, Cass does not really excavate the scope of Tygard's ironic criticism. When Purcell was Mayor, I listened to CM Tygard on several occasions get shrill and defiant with his proposals. He went so far as to call Purcell's concept of the Courthouse Public Square "a monument to government." As if Dean's concept of a new convention center would be any less of one?

However, in general, Cass's portrait of Evans seems even-handed. What stands out is how her critics as well as her proponents have high praise for her. In the end, I am glad that it has been a couple of strong progressive leaders who have been asking the important and direct questions of the Mayor's Office; the conservatives have basically relinquished the oppositional role for an image of pandering pawns to Karl Dean. Other progressives seem to have taken their eye off the ball. That formula does not often result in significant progressive wins, but at least determined leaders with unimpeachable character like CM Evans are asking our questions and advancing our interests when no one else will.

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