Okay, so being mayor of any city is pretty much being a professional schmoozer: attend a few balls, galas and fundraisers a week, bequeath a few keys to the city, glut yourself on cubed cheese and champagne, get re-elected, repeat. Riptide's resigned to that- but it sort of rubs us the wrong way when the Mayor can't even be troubled to stay in the city that pays him.
Meet Manny Diaz, who uses his swell gig as President of the Conference of Mayors to tour the country- including his August appearance with Miami PD Chief John Timoney at the Democratic National Convention in Denver- and build his Rolodex and national profile for his inevitable push for a higher governmental position. In fact, we're convinced he keeps winning these Nation's Best Mayor awards on the strength of the fact that the honoring publications don't spend much time in Miami themselves- um, have you seen our bum-tastic Downtown? Have you caught a whiff of the doomed-before-it-began Megaplan? It seems to us that this dude's got all the urban-planning wisdom and diligence of a special-ed kid playing Simcity.
Well, Riptide's in DC to "cover the inauguration"--read: drink enough gin to kill a herd of yaks--and we stopped by the swank Capitol Hilton today to check out the Conference's Winter Meeting, kicked off by a Manny-led press conference after a morning in which the mayors were addressed by White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel.
Surrounded at a podium in a corner of a hotel lobby by more than twenty fellow mayors, including those from Boston, Seattle, Oakland, and Honolulu, Manny spoke of city leaders being totally down with Obama's Economic Recovery Plan, which will funnel loads of cash to local-level coffers.
As city-dwellers ourselves, it's not that Riptide doesn't believe in urban funding. We love that shit. But our problem with the Conference of Mayors is evident in the language used at this press conference. The mayors "advocate for", or "plead [their] case" for more federal money; with no official power outside of their cities, all the Conference can do is beg--and make sure each of them get some time in front of the cameras in the meantime. Besides Manny's time with the microphone, he made sure the Conference's two vice-presidents were able to speak too, as well as about four former presidents. As the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa aptly put it as he began his own remarks: "Well, everything has been said but not everyone has said it..."
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It's just that, if Manny's not accomplishing much either way, we'd rather he do that at home, where we pay his salary.
After the event broke for buffet lunch, Riptide browsed the tables of vendors peddling services to the mayors, and our curiosity was piqued when we spotted reps for Taser International, a company hoping to get police contracts for their zap-guns. We asked if Manny had stopped by his table. Not today, said public relations vice president Peter Holran. But Manny and Timoney had "toasted" a seminar Taser International put on in 2006 in Las Vegas.
Yup, definitely sounds like our mayor.