Having attended last week’s candidate forum sponsored by the Sun and The Alamedan, we were struck by how polite and respectful everyone – moderator and candidates alike – was to each other. Why, there was even a moment when Democratic party insider Jim Oddie admitted he agreed with insurgent Mayoral candidate Trish Spencer!
In fact, the discourse was so civil that our mind began to wander, and we started to fantasize about how the scene would play out if it took place on the old “Firing Line” program hosted by William F. Buckley Jr.
Maybe something like this:
(BUCKLEY, carrying clipboard, enters to the allegro assai from Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major. STEWART CHEN, MARIE GILMORE, FRANK MATARRESE, JIM ODDIE and TRISH SPENCER are seated on stage in semi-circle).
BUCKLEY: Good evening. We’re coming to you from the site of the new Michael E. D’Orazi Emergency Operations Center, a palazzo so pretentious it would make the Medicis blush. Tonight’s program is made possible by a grant originally obtained by the Alameda Fire Department.
(BUCKLEY leans back in chair, widening eyes and flicking out tongue).
BUCKLEY: Councilman Chen, let me start with you. Back in 1992, you were indicted on 16 felony insurance fraud-related counts and two grand theft charges, and ended up pleading guilty to two misdemeanors. Did you acquire any skills during your involvement with the scam that you’ve found useful in your subsequent political career?
(CHEN whips out cellphone and frantically texts IAFF Local 689 president Jeff DelBono. Before he can read reply, BUCKLEY turns to ODDIE).
BUCKLEY: We’ll get back to you, Dr. Chen. Mr. Oddie, you’re an outspoken opponent of any law limiting campaign contributions or spending by special-interest groups. So are Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Thomas. On how many other issues do you agree so completely with appointees of the Reagan and Bush administrations?
(ODDIE whips out cellphone and frantically texts State Assemblyman Rob Bonta. Before he can read reply, BUCKLEY turns to GILMORE).
BUCKLEY: We’ll get back to you, too, Mr. Oddie. Good evening, Madam Mayor. (Audience erupts in applause. GILMORE scowls in disapproval at unseemly outburst). Former City Finance Director Fred Marsh projected last June that expenses will exceed revenues in each of the next four years and that the General Fund will run out of money by the middle of 2018. Did that forecast cause you to suggest to Mr. Marsh that he ought to start looking for work elsewhere – like Fairfield?
(GILMORE whips out cellphone and frantically texts City Manager John Russo. Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen appears on stage and hands her his iPhone).
GILMORE (reading from iPhone): My vision is for a vibrant, robust, sustainable, transparent . . .
(BUCKLEY holds up hand).
BUCKLEY: Excuse me, Madam Mayor. Your pronounced proclivity for pompous prevarication is positively preposterous.
(RUSSO bursts onto stage and lunges toward BUCKLEY).
RUSSO: Gore Vidal was right: You are a crypto-Nazi! No one can talk to someone on my staff like that!
(NGUYEN wrestles RUSSO to the floor. BUCKLEY brushes back forelock and grins broadly).
BUCKLEY (looking at RUSSO): Just another poor little lamb who has lost his way. Baa, baa, baa.
(MATARRESE and SPENCER exchange glances).
MATARRESE (sotto voce): Trish, this is getting out of hand. Do you want to get out of here?
SPENCER (shouting): I vote, NO!!!