William (Bill) Lutz

August 11, 2014

If you have followed these columns for a while, you have noticed a consistent theme, a desire to stay away from discussions that are political. In my reasoning, there is more than ample space for conservative and liberal thought leaders to preach to their masses and demonize the other side. In my mind, their tripe becomes dated and self-serving. In this weekly space, I strive to share thoughts and ideas that are little off the beaten path and a little more thought provoking. However, this week, I am going to break those rules.

I am completely fascinated by the turn events that have befallen Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald in his campaign for Governor. For those that may be unaware, let me catch you up to speed. It was recently reported that Mr. FitzGerald was found in a car with a woman, who was not Mrs. FitzGerald, in a parking lot at 4:30 in the morning; this event occurred in 2012.

As with most political figures, Mr. FitzGerald gave the obligatory press conference, where he stated nothing nefarious happened; he claimed he was lost and was simply trying to figure out where they were and how to get to where they needed to be. Mr. FitzGerald claimed to be a victim of “dirty politics” and his defenders flocked to his side. All of this is pretty standard fare for American style politics.

The story changed a bit when it was reported that from 2002 to 2012, Mr. FitzGerald did not have a driver’s license; for three of those years, he had a temporary permit, the kind the 15 ½ year olds get when they are learning to drive. At that point, the story turned, well, weird.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many people that do not have a driver’s license; not having one is not unheard. I could imagine living in a more urbanized area car ownership is more hassle that in it is worth. Public transportation and other alternate transportation options make living without a vehicle possible, maybe even preferable.

To make matters worse, it was widely reported in the Columbus Dispatch, that Mr. FitzGerald drove government owned vehicles without having a license. What? How in the world does that happen?

I will be the first to admit that I miss a lot of things in life. There are things that I should see that I just don’t see. As my mother would say, “If that were a snake, it would have bit me.” I am afraid to say that this is one of those things. The biggest thing I don’t see in this story is how a person can go about their life without a driver’s license for ten

years; a few weeks I can understand. Ten years? That is hard to explain. Perhaps Mr. FitzGerald has a hard time with the maneuverability portion of the driving test? Bigger yet, how can a candidate for the highest office in the state not expect this to come out?

If Mr. FitzGerald actually comes clean and explains these odd turn of events, maybe I can understand where he is coming from. However, as most politicians realize, when there is a scarcity of information, the people’s minds can go to unimaginable places to explain what they are seeing. It would be in Mr. FitzGerald’s best interest to explain this gaffe.

In my mind his explanation would help bridge the gap of being relatable, which has become a goal of most people trying to run for public office. As much as candidates for high profile races receive funds from lobbyists, organizations and corporations, they spend a great deal of effort to look relatable; they put themselves in a position to be seen like they are no different than you and me.

Just look at political advertisements. Politicians are rarely seen in suits; rather they are in neatly ironed collared shirts, or wearing a sweater. Voters give bonus points if they have shots of their family and pets in the television screen as well. These politicians want to show that the have a mortgage, maybe car payments, kids that are going to be attending college, etc.

Part of Mr. FitzGerald’s problem is that most of the voters he is courting have driver’s licenses, which means they have to spend time at the BMV every few years and go through the process of renewing their license, which includes a bad picture and probably a fib on one’s weight and height. Through Mr. FitzGerald’s failure to get a license, he is basically saying he isn’t one of us, and that is a tough spot for a politician to find themselves.