Price of sleek steel stove includes lots of explaining

Now that Labor Day has passed, the electioneering season ratchets up a major notch. Anyone care to join in a weary sigh at the prospect of political opponents taking every opportunity and then some to trade charges of truth-twisting, outright lying, issue avoidance, blatant obfuscation and cynical indifference to the public welfare? How many Bronx cheers will it take to greet each campaign promise that gets broken by the eventual winners once they’re in office, no matter how ambiguously they couched the pledges?
So when a candidate gets caught like a deer in the proverbial headlights, it’s at least a diversion from the unceasing din of campaign propaganda assaulting us, the content of which one scholar described as not only not true, but also not not true.
Believe it or not, this leads us to the topic of the alleged peccadilloes of one particular incumbent seeking re-election here in North County, the mayor of Encinitas, he being one Dan Dalager. He’s vying for one of two seats in a four-way race for City Council, where he’s been since 2002. As a deer caught in the headlights, he’s also target practice for the press in shooting fish in a barrel.
The gist of the reporting goes like this:
— On Aug. 15, 2007, the city ordered a Leucadia man to remove a wall next to his home that was allegedly impeding public access along city property. Over the next two years, the city and the home owner, an appliance store magnate named Matthew Gordon, have a series of meetings and exchanges of
correspondence and, on Oct. 27, 2009, more than two years later, the city affirms its original
decision and reissues the order. (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”)
— That same October, according to reports, the mayor bought an oven, a range and a duct cover for his kitchen for $150, a fraction of the $1,000 to $1,400 the gear normally sells for. All of it fits very nicely into the Dalager kitchen. The next month, Gordon files a formal appeal of the city’s order with City Council. Last February, after a hearing, hizzoner, without any mention of his acquisition of said apparent home improvements, goes ahead and votes in Mr. Gordon’s favor on the matter (although a 2-2 deadlock dealt Gordon a loss).
This is the type of thing where the more you try to explain away what you did, the more you give rise to new questions. As political strategists have been wont to say, when there’s so much explaining to do, you’re already in too deep. It’s a field day for the press and an elixir, a tonic, for your opponents.
That keen observer of North County life, the columnist Logan Jenkins, noted how he’d actually seen the $150 worth of appliances in the Dalager kitchen and, though the mayor called it “old crap,” the “brushed-steel stove setup looked pretty sleek, modern and functional” to Jenkins’ eye.
Quid pro quo; new kitchen stuff for a yes vote? Who knows? Certainly not me, and apparently not Dalager, either. His statements indicate he’s hard-pressed to admit he’s done anything wrong here, but if the authorities determine that he’s transgressed, then he’ll fix it and make everything right.
Amid a call for his resignation at the Aug. 25 council meeting, Dalager stated that he was “well aware that in this business appearance is everything.” If the mayor is right about that — that is, appearances in politics being everything — then the voters themselves would have a lot of explaining of their own to do if Dalager, who led the entire field in 2002, ends up still on the council after the post-Labor Day noise level dies down and the levers drop at last at the polls in November.

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