There is a group that meets every Friday morning in a back room at Main Street Bagels to discuss current affairs. Although the group has members from both major political parties, they tend to be progressive in their thinking about issues. They also tend to express themselves frequently in letters to the editor. Because of their visibility in the community, most politicians and city and county department heads eventually show up to present their point of view.
This group is extremely well informed and well educated. I always feel as though the group IQ goes down when I enter the room. I am one of the few people in the group without an advanced degree in my profession. The members of the group include nuclear physicists, chemical engineers, marketing gurus, college math professors, small business owners, newspaper columnists…
The group tends to take no prisoners when a position is presented that is based in ideology instead of fact. They delight in telling how State Senator Steve King walked out when he was grilled about health care. They scorn at the ineptitude of Kelly Sloan, a Canadian, when it comes to describing economic issues.
Yesterday, Rose Pugliese came to Main Street Bagels. She knew about the group’s reputation before she came. Kudos to Rose–for being willing to walk into a room full of progressives and answer their questions, which she did for a full two hours. At the end of the two hours a member, who is an ex-pharmaceutical company executive and a naturalized citizen originally from England, informed Rose that he was reserving his vote because she had not convinced him that she knew enough to be a county commissioner. Later, in a facebook post, a chemical engineer made this comment, “She came across to me as an uninformed, empty vessel, who will probably be filled by Janet Rowland, and her main advisor, Rick Wagner.”
Rose is a very nice young woman. I met her when I was running against Steve King and she was working on his campaign. He and I had multiple debates, and she was always in attendance. We usually have friendly greetings when we see each other. She gave me a hug when she entered the room, and knowing that I’m about to go into chemo-therapy, mentioned that she makes an awesome baked ziti.
Rose is an attorney, who worked hard to get that degree. She understands that keeping her license to practice law is dependent upon the highest ethical standards. She speaks the Republican mantra of fewer regulations and no new taxes. When pushed on the question of which county regulations she would eliminate, she mentioned the county land use code.
She wanted our group to know that she had never endorsed the teaching of evolution in our schools, despite the community’s perception that she had. She also said she believes in climate change, but questions the element that blames it on humans.
I think Rose’s biggest surprise came when she learned that the oil and gas industry has been subsidized for decades, and that there has not been one drop of oil produced from oil shale that wasn’t done with the benefit of huge government subsidies. It was especially poignant watching her realize that the people telling her that there is no commercially viable technology to produce oil shale are people who have actually worked in the industry as chemical engineers, both here and in Saudi Arabia. One strongly delivered comment from a former industry scientist was that we’d be mining vanadium on the back side of the moon before we’d be producing oil from oil shale on the Roan Plateau.
It was suggested that after decades of subsidy, and after becoming the most profitable industry on the planet, it was time to cut the oil and gas industry off from the spigot of government money. It was further suggested that if the US truly wants energy security we should be providing those subsidies to emerging technologies, so that we can lead the world in technologies that will replace our dependence on oil imports with renewable energy. Rose honestly said that she had never thought about it from that perspective. I’m sure that’s true, current county commissioners have sold their soul to the company store, and that’s the company she keeps.
Bottom line, Rose is a very nice and well intentioned young woman. She really wants her child to be raised in an environment where it is possible to spend a family-Sunday picking apples on a neighboring farm. Her head, unfortunately, has been filled with Republican talking points and very little scientific based fact. To her credit, she indicated she would like to do some research on the topics discussed over her two hours with us, and come back again in three-weeks.
County demographics are such that Rose will probably win the seat she is seeking. I am supporting the Democratic candidate, Dave Edwards, who is running in the same race, but it would be a real upset if Dave won. Rose walked away with the nomination at the Republican County Assembly. She appears to have the support of “reasonable” Republicans, the local Tea Party and even the emotional and out-of control Marjorie Haun, aka Reagan Girl. She is eager to please and even willing to listen to a bunch of curmudgeons hanging out in a bagel shop.
It is my personal opinion that she is not seasoned enough to be a county commissioner.
For the record, Dave Edwards also came to Bagels one Friday morning.