In what has by now become just another stage in the longest political marathon in local memory, Carmen Sabatino is running again—this time for city council. It is a delicious bit of irony that there could be no better occasion to feature here John Michael Flint’s spiked column, the very column the Modesto Bee refused to run last year, when Sabatino vied for county supervisor. As always, Flint’s take is original, entertaining, and insightful. Here it is. The backstory is here.
For anyone who follows local politics with a somewhat jaundiced eye, looking as much for entertainment as anything else, Carmen Sabatino has always been a gift that keeps on giving.
A perennial candidate, it seemed that he was always running for some office or other. In 1999, he stunned everyone (including, one suspects, himself) by unseating the incumbent Mayor, Dick Lang, and proceeded to completely overturn the accepted way of doing the public’s business in Modesto. Oddly enough, through all the sturm und drang, citizens saw the workings of their city overnment in a light that was never available to them before.
This was not to be tolerated; in a genuine conspiracy too complex to be detailed here, Sabatino was (to borrow a phrase a friend uses to describe it) kneecapped. Big names and institutions were involved, and they really ‘got’ Sabatino: He lost his re-election bid, his business, and very nearly his freedom. Charged with a laundry list of dubious merit, he turned down a favorable deal, insisted on a trial, and — following a mistrial — went free when the DA declined to refile charges.
Now he’s back, running against incumbent County Supervisor Dick Monteith. Sabatino ran for this seat four years ago, and was lost in a very crowded field. In a one-on-one race against Monteith (who hasn’t exactly distinguished himself), and given the generally anti-incumbent mood of the voters, who knows what might happen?
Again, this is not going to be tolerated. If there are any indications that Sabatino might defeat Monteith, you can expect another candidate to emerge, charged with derailing the combative former mayor.
We used to think Sabatino was a bit on the paranoid side, but events proved him prescient: They were, in fact, out to get him, get him they did, and here’s the thing — the people and institutions that ambushed him once are still around, and won’t abide the idea of the man they loathe winning a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He would be as disruptive to the smooth, never-a-discouraging-word conduct of special interest governance as he ever was as Mayor.
If this happens, it will happen quickly: The last day for filing in the race is March 12, so stay
tuned. Hide and watch.