2014-11-13 / Opinion

Making Election Year Sausage

There is a saying, true it seems, that if people knew how sausages were actually made, they probably would not want to eat them.

That timeless pearl comes to mind as we cover and report on the post-election choosing of Newport School Committee and City Council chairs and vice chairs.

The ink on headlines reporting who had won and who had not in the Nov. 4 general election voting was barely dry when, as they say, the winners had begun lobbying each other to determine who would fill leadership roles on both panels.

Not that this is anything new. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with it. And not that this is anything unique to Newport. Something like it happens just about everywhere in America. Democracy in action, they call it.

And yet, the process seems, well, like making sausage.

There was, for example, David Hanos, newly elected to the School Committee, thinking after a vigorous round of back room activity that he had rounded up the four votes he would need to become a freshman School Committee chairman.

But wait! He had apparently barely finished the obligatory press interviews discussing this development when—hold the phone!— it turned out that one of his votes had left the corral. And with that, school board veteran Jo Eva Gaines emerged with the votes to lead the panel for the next two years.

Ever-careful Gaines, a week later, was still insisting that she be called “chairman-elect.” Did that mean, she was asked, that she feared that her train to leadership might also run off the rails before she could be formally elected chair on Dec. 9? No, she replied, “but I didn’t know anything was going on before.”

If you’ve watched Showtime’s political drama “House of Cards,” you know how scriptwriters think political deals get made in Washington, D.C. It’s not pretty.


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