Friday, May 05, 2006

Where's My Candidate?

The 27th Pennsylvania State House district, where I live, has a real race this year. Longtime Representative Tom Petrone, a Democrat, has some actual competition for a change, including rival candidates from within his own party. The biggest news about this race concerned the disqualification of a candidate who made an ill-fated attempt to move into the district just so he could run for office. Since we are on the cusp of the primary campaign and the Republican candidate is unopposed, the Democrat challengers are getting all of the attention. So when we turn to the major metropolitan dailies in Pittsburgh to learn more about the GOP's man, what we get is this:

In November, the winner will be challenged by Republican Bill Ogden, who is the lone GOP candidate.

Mr. Ogden, 45, is a Crafton councilman and, since 1992, has run Bill Ogden's
Weight Room, a gym in Crafton.
So we know that Bill Ogden is a politically experienced small business owner who could easily toss his opponents around like medicine balls. Stepping back a bit, we find that he has jumped on the PACleanSweep bandwagon. PACleanSweep started out with a noble purpose, i.e. to defeated every state legislator who voted for the infamous pay raise last year. There is a problem, however. Many of the PACleanSweep candidates, as well as others who are running but are not affiliated with the organization, are ostensibly single-issue types. It's nice that they feel compelled to perform public service in the wake of so many incumbent legislators' unconstitutional avarice, but they don't have much to say about other issues. I don't want to wait until the Fall to find out what Bill Ogden is all about. If the newspapers aren't telling me anything, where do I go now to learn more about my party's candidate in the 27th district race?

Well, when you need an alternative to the media, you turn to the "alternative media", which in this case is the Pittsburgh City Paper, or CP for short. In spite of the all-too apparent leftward slant of the paper's editorial page (not to mention the leftward slant of the columnists and music reviews and phone sex ads), the CP has more depth in its coverage of local politics than the major dailies and the arrogant entrenched journalists who are more interested in making the news than reporting it. (Indeed, entrenched journalists may be just as bad as entrenched politicians.) We actually get to hear what the politicians have to say, rather than what some tenured editor says they say. So, City Paper, tell us about Bill Ogden:

Bill Ogden looks a bit like Stone Cold Steve Austin. He runs a gym in Crafton, a stripped-down space jammed full of machines and a wall-sized poster of Jesus on the cross, captioned "The Lord's Gym." And he is in fighting trim for the campaign for the state House of Representative seat representing District 27, which comprises Pittsburgh's West End and nearby suburbs including Ben Avon, Crafton, Dormont and Emsworth.
So far so good. But his photograph, which is only in the print edition, reminds me more of Nikita Koloff than Stone Cold. If I ever make it out to Crafton, I might show my support by working out in this guy's gym. I like the fact that he has been operating his own business for over ten years; it's a sign that he has support from his local community. In fact:

"This money that they help themselves to is part of the good-old-boy network," Ogden says of current legislators. Like many challengers this time around, the notorious legislative pay raise figured prominently into Ogden's decision to run. His neighbors asked him, a Crafton
borough councilor and the sole Republican candidate, to consider challenging 26-year veteran Rep. Tom Petrone.
There's what I was looking for: His neighbors asked him to run for office. He's not doing it for himself. He's doing it for them. How many people decide that they want to run in order to advance themselves in society? Too many. But not this time. This is the grassroots in action, folks. In case you were still concerned that Bill Ogden is just a single-issue candidate:

Property-tax reform is also high on Ogden's list of priorities: He says that once a homeowner's mortgage is paid, property taxes should be lifted. And legislators shouldn't have unfettered access to slush funds or "walking-around money," Ogden maintains.
The property tax-reform proposal is interesting...if it ever became a reality, I could be free of property taxes by the time I'm seventy! Or I could just get a better paying job and try to get my mortgage paid off earlier. But that's my business, not the politicians'.

And that's all that we learn from the CP about Bill Ogden. We still do not know enough. Don't serious candidates in the year 2006 set up web sites to promote their campaigns? Why sure they do. Just don't expect to find them by reading the papers.

So, with the help of good old reliable Google, we find that Bill Ogden has a place at the PACleanSweep site as well as his very own homepage. (See his picture at those sites? That's Nikita Koloff all the way.) The campaign site has all of the information that I've been looking for. The HTML could use some editing, but what the site lacks in formatting it makes up for in "Blut", as they say in Germany. Many of his key positions are laid out on the main page, and if you explore the site you find some rather interesting details about Mr. Ogden. For instance, he gets phone calls at work from people who are completely nuts; he is a big fan of Davy Crockett's speech about misuse of public monies (also a favorite of mine); and he is unabashedly pro-life on abortion, but pro-choice on schooling. About the only thing that seems to be missing (or perhaps I am not looking hard enough) is his stance on RKBA issues. Based on what I've seen, he looks like a candidate deserving of support.

So, class, what have we learned this morning? If you want to find out what's going on in the world, or in your community, feel free to use the newspaper as a starting point. But for goodness sakes, don't rely on it as an information source. Go look it up for yourself. You'll learn a lot more than you would if you simply relied on a professional journalist. I guess you could say that I'm "pro-choice" when it comes to the media.

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

Interesting fellow. I don't understand why he wants to link property taxes to mortgages (if I had my way taxes would be based on consumption).
Probably isn't mentioning guns because he holds the delusion that the PG might actually consider endorsing him. As a business owner in Crafton I'll bet he has one especially when surrounded by roidaholics all day.
I've decided I'm for throwing all the bums out including my guy over the pay raise thing but I've already noticed deceptive advertising on the part of his opponent so I may be going only to see what the new machines look like.