April 01, 2008
Patterson as Ombudsman
In a move that's caused eyebrows to raise among our town's civic-minded set, local blogger and urban activist Steve Patterson will reportedly join Room 200 as a Mayoral staffer in coming months, in a role tentatively being titled as Civic Ombudsman.
Currently recovering from a stroke at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon, MO, Patterson has bounced back to his prolific blogging rate in the past week, with a recent post – "A Changed Man" – signaling his continued resolve to affect positive change in local development practices. Perhaps hinting at the new role, Patterson wrote on March 28th that his recent brush with mortality only hardened his resolve.
"Simply breathing everyday just isn't enough. I am going to be far more demanding of a quality environment than before," he keystroked into his trusted Apple, before asking, "Every year in our region we spend hundreds of millions if not billions on new infrastructure and buildings — are we getting our money's worth?"
Apparently, that brand of questioning will now be taking place on City Hall's second floor, where Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff, Jeff Rainford, admits in a bit of characteristic understatement that, "It's a… unique fit. Steve's been an ardent critic of regional leaders in the past few years and he's shot a few arrows in the general direction of Tucker and Clark."
But alluding to those past disagreements, while continuing the analogy, Rainford says that "we're going to leave those arrows where they are, scaling them, if you will, scaling them to new heights."
While the Post's Jake Wagman was initially disbelieving of the move (opting to not blog on the then-rumor, while calling the presumed hire "a little too fanciful of a scenario for my tastes") the paper's newest editorial writer, Eddie Roth, has already prepped an early essay on the topic. Writing his initial piece as a staffer with a bylined "Commentary" article in this coming Friday's P-D, Roth elegantly indicates that the unexpected move is "symbolic of a wider trend of civic connectiveness in our region, borne through synergies both mysterious and evocative of a new faith in divergent decision-making.
"I felt the pull of home, all the way in western Ohio, which is not inconsiderably far," Roth continues. "I sensed the deep current of our wedded waterways and that of hearts which beat with the rhythm of the Three to the One to the Four. I heard the voices of change ringing from the region's varied haunts, echoing from down-at-the-heel alleyway to tony suburban curb cut. I heeded the call of a bi-state area that prides itself on a block-by-block sense of bootstrap municipal independence. And I felt that any City that would hire its own most active dissenters would be a City bold enough to accept all types of change, both mercurial and lasting. That all adds up to: a new City, if you will; a City of considerable power, yet surprising suppleness; a City, in short, for the rest of us."
Patterson's first day on the job will depend upon his continued, steady progress in Mount Vernon, though it's expected that he could see his name on the City's payroll around July 1, roughly a month after fellow civic activist Doug Duckworth's supervisory debut with the Land Reutilization Authority. (See Pubdef.net for video on that story.)