Tropico Perspective: Separating personal from political

I will confess some small satisfaction when a politician whose politics I dislike suffers the indignity of a private scandal. Family-values candidates found to have none are a particular delight. Trying to use them as a foil to undermine a political point of view, however, is intellectually dishonest.

Republican policies aren't wrong because a congressman takes off his shirt on Craigslist, and they aren't right because another hits the wrong key on his Blackberry — even if more than once. The same goes for Democrats.

Separating the motivation for the ballots we mark and the candidates we support from their personal failings is important. The issues haven’t changed, and while we should express misgivings over the behavior, we should never regret the votes we cast.

Keeping the issues in this perspective for local politics is equally important, even though it can be difficult because we are closer to the drama. Whether former Councilman John Drayman was the victim or perpetrator of the circumstance in which he finds himself doesn’t invalidate the reason he was drafted to run for the Glendale City Council in the first place.

The campaign four years ago was about a completely different kind of perceived corruption in Glendale politics. The Design Review Boards couldn’t identify a project that was too big, were stacked with appointees that were openly hostile to the valid concerns of homeowner groups who were seeing their neighborhoods’ character undermined, and met at hours that made it impossible for public input.

Rafi Manoukian was at the center of that controversy, and the gadflies were nowhere in sight. They were equally absent when our newly reelected council member’s appointments to boards and commissions, one of whom offered to fundraise on my behalf to vacate my campaign debt if I would have stepped out of the council race two years ago.

Perhaps it was because Barry Allan, publisher of the online newsletter Vanguardians, once conveyed to me his view of residential development as an economic engine; that Glendale needed mansions to provide entertainment venues for captains of industry, without which they would not move their manufacturing plants to Glendale. Brilliant.

Whether or not Drayman illegally delivered for Advanced Development and Investments Inc. isn’t something that any of us can say.

I can say that for the issues that mattered most to the majority of Glendale residents when he was first elected, he delivered for Glendale. Even if the allegations prove true, it doesn’t invalidate the role he played in shaping meaningful change for this city. The process of getting projects through planning and design review is much improved, more streamlined, and the interests of communities appear to have real value among the staff.

I don’t know John very well. We had dinner once a few years ago to talk politics before I entered the council race and participated in several neighborhood meetings he attended to find solutions to reforming the design review and planning process. I don’t have a dog in this fight. But I can say that considering how big things have small beginnings, having a plumber check your pipes before they burst is a good plan.

Separating the possible personal failings of a politician from the policies they support means that we don’t have to regret the choices we made or the votes we cast. That includes the votes I cast for Drayman. With the possible exception of voting for John Anderson for president in 1980, I am doing pretty well.

Nonetheless, I don’t have the same satisfaction I once had celebrating political scandal. It is little more than tragedy now. Classical Greek tragedy. Though I think in our era we can well do without the chorus.

MICHAEL TEAHAN lives in the Adams Hill area of Glendale with a clear view of the Verdugo Mountains so he can keep an eye on things. He can be reached at

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