“There is no good, Monroe. There is no evil. There is only flesh.”—Pinhead from Hellraiser III: Hell on EarthOK, officially scratch Walt Ekard off The Pinhead List. The county government's top exec—or, as he puts it, “chief bureaucrat”—says so, so Spin Cycle will take him at his word. (Although you gotta wonder, considering that he works for the tightwad, uninspiring, unimaginative, Dickensian-era Wonder Bread Five—er, the Board of Supervisors.)
“We bureaucrats are not just a bunch of incompetent pinheads who spend our days scheming to make your lives more miserable,” Ekard declared recently in his inaugural e-mail-blast column titled “Bureaucrats are Human Too.”
“I, for one, am not a pinhead!” Ekard wrote. “I'm one of those smart and creative and intelligent guys.”
The homeless and mentally ill among us might have other ideas, but I haven't heard of any other political leaders scrambling out to a waiting camera or issuing a press release similarly disassociating themselves from pinheadedness. Tragic, really, because it would make for entertaining TV. (Maybe the Union-Tribune's Alex Roth could track down Mike Aguirre and grill him about his position on The Pinhead Conspiracy.)
But Spin Cycle would fail in its duty if it didn't pursue this concept of pinheadism—since you brought it up, Walt—so that you, dear reader, might recognize the real pinheads, those whose lives consist solely of survival in a slowly suffocating realization of approaching irrelevance.
But first, what's a pinhead? My trusty Webster's waits till the third definition to get to our area of discussion, although No. 2 (“anything very small or trifling”) might fit as well. But No. 3, the American slang version, describes a pinhead as “a stupid or silly person.” Online, the synonyms burst forth: dunce, foolish person, simpleton, person lacking in common sense, nitwit. Really, it's an unending list.
Clearly, it would require a wide net to ensnare all who fit the “pinhead” bill. But this is a politics column, so let's begin our exploration there.
Elections seem to be the cheese in the mouse trap for closet pinheads, who often must talk themselves up in their own minds and surround themselves with sycophants while busily demonstrating their general ineffectiveness to the general public, which, coincidentally, sometimes turns out to vote in elections.
It's the Möbius strip for politicians, most of whom think like this: If I don't serve the public well, then they might not vote for me again. Then again, these folks in suits keep coming to visit and flashing money at me, and they really seem to like me. And professional friendships, after all, are important. OK, I'll worry about the public good later. Heck, it's their kids who'll really be mad at me anyway when they get the credit-card bill. Yeah, that's it.
The city attorney's race, thanks to new polling numbers, seems an appropriate kicking-off point in this study of pinheadology. Those anonymous blog commenters who count Aguirre out at the starting gate are, in a word, pinheads.In a poll conducted late last month, the local firm Competitive Edge Research & Communication found Aguirre leading all comers for the June primary at 25.3 percent, followed by the Republican Party's chosen one, Jan Goldsmith, at 17.6 percent. Are these impressive numbers? You'd be a pinhead to think so, but Aguirre haters might as well crack open a Schlitz and sit back for awhile. Aguirre won't go easily for you.
“Oh no,” said John Nienstedt, president of Competitive Edge. “Mike's a campaigner, and there's eight months to go. He's certainly going to survive June.”
The poll numbers are less favorable for Aguirre come November. In head-to-head competition, the numbers say he gets stomped by Goldsmith 52 percent to 29 percent, slapped by City Councilmember Brian Maienschein 43.7 percent to 34.1 percent and nipped by City Council President Scott Peters 42.9 percent to 36.3 percent.
Maienschein and Peters must get out of the June gate to compete, and it's not looking good for them. Nienstedt notes that the poll found nearly half of those queried “disapprove of the job the City Council is doing.”
The poll also suggests—contrary to their pinheaded campaign spin that the city's pension crisis is over—that Maienschein and Peters are “exceedingly vulnerable to the message that they were part of the ‘negligent five'” who OK'd the pension underfunding.
In fact, Nienstedt said he was surprised to discover that Maienschein polled at near zero—yes, zero!—outside of his own suburban council district. As they say, stick a fork in it, Brian, you're done.
In addition, half those polled said they'd be less likely to vote for Peters when told of his role in the pension debacle, Nienstedt added. Sounds like you could fit Peters' potential support on the head of a pin (coincidentally, Webster's definition No. 1).
“Pinhead” might also describe the miniscule amount of stuff that can be crammed into someone's head, which might explain why Mayor Jerry Sanders spent only enough time at last weekend's three-and-a-half-hour discussion of Balboa Park's financial future to finish a cup of coffee. Believe me, this did not go unnoticed among the 150 citizens who devoted a Saturday morning to the debate.
Lame-duck City Councilmember Toni Atkins, to her credit, stuck around for the entire production, but it also raised speculation among many in attendance that she's once again job-shopping. “Looks like she wants to be park czar,” snipped one attendee.
As one third-generation San Diegan noted, the city hopes to have in place a new governing body for the maintenance-challenged regional park within six months—yep, six months! In a city where potholes are older than that, you can understand the skepticism. But pinheads, it seems, can be an optimistic lot.
What's the lesson here? Simply put, our elected leaders are a reflection of society. Say what you will, but we've met the pinhead, and he/she is us.
Clive Barker, who created the Pinhead character for his Hellraiser juggernaut, intends to kill off Pinhead in a future short story, explaining: “I want to give Pinhead a good send-off. I want to do it right. If we are going to get rid of the old guy, let's do it with some style.”Amen. Got a tip on political pinheadedness for Spin Cycle? Send it to email@example.com.