EDITOR’S DESK: There’s something strong here, all right

       When the “strong mayor” charter change idea cropped up two years ago, supporters raved about how it would lead to bold, meaningful civic action. By getting rid of the city manager - an appointed official who didn't necessarily have the community at heart - there would be fewer roadblocks to progress. A favorable side effect would be clearer direction for City Council, which had seemed unfocused at times in the past because the mayor under the old charter had scarcely more powers than any other councilmember.
       Or so the argument went.
       As a Westside newspaper, we don't pretend to be up on all city affairs, but we have tried to stay tuned in on the no-panhandling matter. And I've got to say, from what I've seen of City Hall's machinations on that, I'm not too impressed.
       For one thing, Mayor Steve Bach himself is personally unreachable. His staff shields him like a rock star, only making him available for carefully chosen public appearances and media events. When his first-reading "request" on the no-panhandling ordinance surfaced close to our deadline this week, I called his office and asked to speak to him. But the staffer I talked to, though nice, didn't offer to take a message. "He's next door," I was told, as if that were miles away. As it turned out, I felt lucky to be e-mailed later in the day by his chief communications director.
       As for bold, meaningful civic action, I'll put it to you: The city attorney, a Bach appointee, has done nothing visible in response to Westsiders' calls for a community-spirited solution to this beggar problem. He's blown off City Council for weeks and only now, when it's nearing Christmas and downtown merchants are screaming, has the mayor stuck his oar in and called for speedier action. But what does the mayor see for the Westside? We're left wondering, twisting in the wind. So how is that any different from the old charter?

- K.J.