Monday, June 11, 2007

Break it down! It's Hanna Time!

Ed Hanna's nefarious plot to once again rule the city of Utica is getting the thumbs down from the Observer-Dispatch.

The O-D does not endorse political candidates. But as noted above, long-time readers are well aware that this newspaper believes Hanna did more harm than good to Utica both in the 1970s and again in the 1990s. Voters, the business community, the nonprofit community and the political community have to ask themselves if enduring the hateful circus that is Ed Hanna's leadership trademark is truly in the best interests of this community's future.

It's important to remember that when Hanna resigned seven years ago, many in Utica breathed a sigh of relief:

• The city had been sued by four male employees accusing Hanna of sexually harassing them (it would later make a payment to settle the case).

• The city was defending itself in federal court over violating freedom of the press through actions such as not releasing details on local crime (it would later settle with the O-D and pledge not to withhold such information from the newspaper again).

• The City Center food court had melted down into one more vacant downtown location as Hanna sparred with the restaurants operating there over rent.

• Public safety employees had been insulted for years by Hanna's mean, insensitive remarks.

• And Hanna had squandered immense sums of Community Development Block Grant funds on pet projects, including the giant watering can now located at the Utica Zoo. Those are funds that could have gone to shore up Utica's neighborhoods, including East Utica, West Utica and Cornhill.

In Ed Hanna's mind this is a ringing endorsement, since a distinguishing feature of his world view is that the media has always been out to get him. Every criticism of his instability is just another reinforcement of his paranoid persecution complex, a validation of a mental state that is, at best, mercurial. Put simply, as my ex-hippie father-in-law quipped over the weekend, "Hanna? Dude's motherf***ing crazy."

Putting Mr. Hanna's questionable sanity aside, it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to bull ahead with his candidacy. And that's a good thing. Why?

Because I want to hear the tape.

You may remember that Mr. Hanna was embroiled in a gay sex scandal shortly before his resignation. Four men had accused him of forcing them to engage in sexual acts as part of their employment. More intriguingly, there was allegedly an audiotape of Mr. Hanna having a detailed conversation about those acts.

A seventy year old guy. Talking about the ways young men could pleasure him.

Seven years ago something like that wouldn't have had much of an impact unless it was broadcast. Today, well, things are different. It only takes a few minutes to convert a tape into an MP3, post it to a website, and watch it spread like wildfire. Even better, if the description of the tape's contents are accurate, there's a good chance it will get passed along far and wide because of it's entertainment value.

The result? Ed Hanna will lose the election. Worse, he'll go to his grave as a punchline, remembered only as a goggle-eyed dirty old man that had a taste for young flesh. Not so good for Mr. Hanna, but it will save Utica from a great deal of further embarrassment.