When Lawrence City Council President Patrick Blanchette first took office, he was honestly interested in making a positive difference in the city. He asked fair questions, exposed wasteful spending, looked at each issue objectively, advocated for better relations with both the mayor’s office and the public, and fought for his constituents regardless of their local political leanings.
But today we have a different Patrick Blanchette.
Since becoming council president, Blanchette now spends most of his time interfering with the executive functions of the mayor. He shamelessly slanders city workers, drives department heads out of their jobs, uses the public forum of City Council meetings to threaten and embarrass political enemies, and makes excuses for his political friends and allies no matter what their transgression.
We’re not sure exactly what happened to the once promising Blanchette over the last few years. Formerly the peacemaker when disagreements and conflicts arose in the city, he is now the single biggest cause of such conflicts as he abuses his presidency to get even with councilors who oppose him. He also misleads the public about proposals he disagrees with.
In short, Blanchette is clearly out of control. He has not only made disrespectful and uncivil personal attacks at the council table acceptable, but has, leading by example, allowed this kind of abuse of power to become the norm among other councilors at public meetings.
We want the old Patrick Blanchette back!
The one who was easy to get along with. The one who wasn’t trying to manipulate every situation and put a spin on every issue. The one who didn’t have a political answer for everything. The one who wasn’t looking for special favors. The one who didn’t see hidden motives in everyone he spoke to. We liked the Patrick Blanchette who would pick up the phone and work with people behind the scenes to smooth over political difficulties in order to get something accomplished for the city. We liked that Patrick Blanchette because that Patrick Blanchette was motivated by what was truly best for the city of Lawrence, not what was best for his own political future.
Whatever the reasons for his political transformation, we say it is time that Blanchette revert to past form or step down as council president and go back to the basics of being a district councilor. Perhaps stepping away from the enormous burden of the council presidency at such a young age will re-align his moral compass and clarify his political thinking. So that some day, a smarter, wiser and better prepared Patrick Blanchette can lead the city of Lawrence in a positive direction.
One thing is clear. As long as Blanchette continues to wage political war from the council table against all those who oppose him (or those seen as political threats), the rest of the council will follow such destructive behavior. We say the council president’s chair should be reserved for those who can put aside personal vendettas to lead the council and, by extension, the city, in search of a positive direction.