Being the mayor of Reading is harder than being the next football coach at Penn State

They are worse jobs than being the mayor of Reading. Picking up after elephants on parade is one of them. Being Oprah’s fitness instructor is another. But there aren’t many others.

There are so many daunting socio-economic, demographic, infrastructure, institutional, political, fiscal and crime factors conspiring against anybody doing an effective job as mayor of our once fine city.

To at least have a fighting chance, it would help if the mayor was part Superman, part Gandhi, part Genghis Khan, part Einstein, part FDR, part Reagan, part Alan Greenspan and part St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes. And could walk on dirty water when the sewer pipes rupture.

Democrat Vaughn Spencer, who has spent 11 years on council, nine of them as its president, now will succeed Tom McMahon in January after Spencer beat Republican Jim McHale Tuesday.

My condolences to Spencer and my congratulations to McHale. Reverse logic? I hardly think so.

Of course, the mayoral race once again was a big yawn to the city’s apathetic voters. Spencer polled just 4,574 votes to McHale’s 3,256. I guess the only way to get voters to the polls is to offer them free tickets to the Pagoda, and party leaders can’t afford that.

Granted, with Spencer being such a part of city government for so long, one wonders if it will just be more of the same.

Then again, there’s a big difference between serving on council and heading the city administration. So we shall see.

To rescue Reading from ruin, Spencer plans to implement a series of government programs. Personally, it would have been interesting to see if McHale could pull off his private-sector solutions to the city’s woes.

One thing about McHale that I really liked is that he wanted to rip out all the parking meters. That alone should have won the election for him. And it sure would have saved the U.S. Mint from producing 2.7 zillion quarters a day just to keep Reading’s residents and visitors in supply. Interesting that in a city that is so dysfunctional, the meter maids are so damn efficient.

To be blunt, the best thing Spencer could do to rescue Reading is to hire geologists to move some tectonic plates around, shifting all of Reading to Harrisburg and then shifting Wyomissing and Spring Township to where Reading was. That instantly improves your tax base and reduces your social services.

Not feasible, you say? I left out the fact that if would help if the mayor was part Solomon.

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