Thursday, December 19, 2013

ANOTHER McNamara? Yes!

At this time next year, Wayne County will have a new Executive-elect.

But what about Bob Ficano, you might ask? If he wins, he'll hardly be new.

This is true. Ficano is, theoretically, up for re-election next November. But his candidacy appears to be dead in the water.

Ficano can't raise money, number one. He hasn't been able to for quite some time. The foibles of his character and his political machine have caught up to him. People have been distancing themselves from Ficano---people who matter. The old 10-foot pole thing.

I would be very surprised if Ficano chooses to run in 2014. He ought to save himself the embarrassment, and the effort. Just fade away, head back to the private sector, work for a law firm and collect a $200,000 salary somewhere. It's too good for him, but there you go.

I spent one year working for the Wayne County Commission (2010), but that's all it took for me to be impressed enough with one man who I hope runs, and who I think will win if he does.

He's County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (D-Belleville), and he'd make a good County Executive for lots more reasons than his name.

Mac's dad, of course, was the late Ed McNamara, another good man who I had the pleasure of getting to know. Ed was a fellow Livonia guy and I interviewed him on a local cable TV show I produced and hosted.

I know I just disparaged Ficano's political machine, and in the next breath I'm pushing for a McNamara, whose name is also synonymous to some with dirty, rotten political scoundrels.

First, I don't buy a lot of it---for what it's worth. Second, so what?

Has the Teamsters' James Hoffa been anything close to what his dad, Jimmy, was like?

Sometimes apples fall far enough from their trees to be given the benefit of the doubt.


Not that Kevin McNamara has anything to be ashamed of when it comes to his dad, who was WCE from 1987 to 2002. I know there are likely many individuals who would beg to differ with me, but this is politics and people are going to get hurt. Sometimes it's collateral damage for the greater good.

I have watched the younger McNamara from up close to, now, from afar, and I believe he has what it takes to commandeer the county and return it to good graces.

He has fought Ficano tooth and nail in the past, for starters. And that's never a bad thing.

I didn't know Kevin McNamara from a hole in the ground when I started at the Commission in February 2010 as its press secretary. When I left 11 months later, I was glad to have worked with him, and I was impressed when I saw him in action.

Interesting story. When K-Mac and I had our first pow-wow in his office shortly after I started---I arranged meetings with each Commissioner to try to get to know them a little bit---he told me that he had never heard of me and that was a little "disconcerting." His word.

That's funny, I wanted to say, but I had never heard of hardly any of you clowns either before now, but being new on the job, I just politely smiled---and simmered.

But after that rough start, I did some writing for Mac, including a letter to the editor that he wanted to send to the Detroit papers, thanking the road crews for their tireless work during a February snowstorm. It got printed, and I think that put me on good footing with him.

McNamara was heavily involved with county roads as Commissioner when I was working at the Guardian Building, and in that capacity his knowledge spidered out to involve other crucial aspects of county services. He's also been closely watching the Sheriff's Department for years, but not necessarily as an adversary. More of a supervisory ally.

One of the first things the new County Executive will have to do is restore confidence and integrity to the office. He (or she) will have to get people to stop thinking of the office as dirty and conniving. That's number one.

Then, it's on to reeling in a budget that has gone amok. That's another area in which McNamara has been mightily involved. I saw him up close during the 2010 budget process and I liked what I saw, in terms of a man trying to balance county needs with reality. He was neither a big spender nor a tightwad. He was somewhere in between.

The bottom line is, I believe Kevin McNamara to be a good man, and that's maybe as important as anything else.

McNamara has acknowledged that there are those wanting him to run. A poll that came out recently showed that he would fare very favorably, should he toss his Irish hat into the ring.

I hope he does.

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