But who would guess the other sponsor was the League of Women Voters? The panel was hardly representative of 52 percent of the population of the U.S., we who earn 70 cents for every dollar a man earns, we who are not proportionately represented at any level of government in this land of the free.
Which of these birds is from either Lancaster city OR Lancaster County? One in five, did you say? The others were from York County or suburban Philadelphia. They acted not as stakeholders but as overly-polite guests.
The questions were hard as cotton candy: the same soft-pedaled pap you may expect to hear October 23 at the Southern Market.
What were the greatest successes of the last four years? The greatest failures? Could we be a little more short-sighted? Remember, Charlie Smithgall had been elected mayor in 1998, the year before the first public meeting on the proposed convention center, and served until 2006 when Richard Gray replaced him.
Convention center questions? Not one! That subject was neatly tossed aside with Mayor Gray's opening remarks:
"Tonight you’ll hear my opponent take credit for everything good that’s happened in the city. He’ll take credit for the convention center..."
From the start Mayor Gray framed the convention center as an unquestionably Great Success. No questions asked (and they weren't). The convention center revitalized the downtown, he said, turned it around.
Several young women sitting behind me were giggling and yakking. While moving to a different seat I believe I heard Charlie Smithgall say he walks in the city any place, at any time. Good-o! Me too. Many good people live, work and walk in the city day or night, in all sections of town: east, west south and north.
Mayor Gray deserves credit for talking about creating more livable neighborhood streets, where people can walk and bicycle and cars are guests, as people in Holland say. He proposed restoring two-way streets. I like that a lot. Cities were built to be lived in, savored; not to be raced through.
He also wants to put a bike lane on the goat path. I really like that. When (not if) the goat path is paved into a four-lane farmland-eater, the bike path will remind people about healthy alternatives to motor vehicles. He has my vote despite having "come-out" as pro-convention center after the 2006 election (sorry, Woody).
Near the end of the evening, moderator Patricia Hopson-Shelton read a few questions written by audience members. She apologized, saying she wished for more happy questions.
My neighbor and I soon left because we are early risers. My neighbor said she didn't understand why her question wasn't read. She had asked Mayor Gray why he was running for a third term; why not let another candidate have a go?
Good question. (She studied political science at Temple University and is a dedicated poll worker). Not an unhappy question either.
In a perfect world, our representatives would be selected bingo-style from names placed into a spinning ball. (Only those people who had registered would have their names entered). There would be no lone hero mayors or governors or presidents. Instead, decisions would be made by groups of elected people: councils or commissions.
Everyone who wanted to serve would have an opportunity to do so. You wouldn't need to be good-looking, perfectly able-bodied, well-spoken or wealthy to be elected.
You also wouldn't serve for 12 years -- it would be more like the Swiss way, one year terms.
That would be pure, clean, straight democracy. And it would be a piece of cake, one simple system tweak that would make a better world, one in which my neighbor and other good citizens like her could serve our government as decision-makers.