Over the past twelve years under the Blad administration, Pocatello has undergone a curious transformation. Like something dredged up from a back lot in Hollywood, the city has become a caricature of itself: a dusty little one-horse Western town controlled by a single individual who calls the shots. Were Pocatellans actually characters in a Grade-B Western—as opposed to mere simulacrums thereof—the Mayor would likely be found in the town’s only saloon, which he owned, keeping a close watch on the faro table. Don’t buck the tiger!

All evidence to the contrary though, contemporary Pocatellans do not in fact live in the 19th century. It just feels that way around here sometimes. And so, having been born a couple of centuries too late, Mayor Blad has been forced to content himself by making do with his office and the City Council chambers. True, neither of them have the charm, ambience, or sophistication of a real, genuine old-time Western saloon [no spittoons!], but the Mayor and his soft-mouthed remuda make up, in spirit, for this lack of authenticity through the sheer force of their efforts.

Yep, just like the bad hombres in an old Western, they sit around in the back of the saloon in executive session, twirling their spurs as they plan their next land grab; or plot among themselves the best way to stampede the herd. And lord help the dude with the temerity and bad taste to ride in off the range and point out some of the shady doings in this here town. For, unlike their fictional progenitors in the Saturday-morning horse operas, the Mayor and his posse are as sensitive as snowflakes when it comes to the public’s perception of them.

If the saga of modern-day Pocatello actually were being made into a low-budget Western, there would undoubtedly come a point in the narrative when the townsfolk would finally stand up in order to rid themselves of the bad man and his hands; easily identified by their black cowboy hats. As the clock struck noon, Winchesters would bristle from every window as those in the saloon prepared to make their last stand. Inside his office, the boss man would be busy stuffing his saddle bags before jumping on a fast horse for parts unknown. Then, the credits would roll as everyone [else] lived happily ever after….

Back here in the 21st Century though, the story may not have such a happy ending. In contemporary Pocatello, political control is determined in a far more rational, civilized fashion. That’s the theory anyway. Citizens effect change at the ballot box: if they can be bothered to show up. Some can’t; while others consider it bad manners to point out the deficiencies of the current administration. They may have their suspicions about the faro table, but they just can’t bring themselves to speak up. The problem with this approach is that you can’t have a representative government when people have been conditioned to remain silent. It simply won’t work.

That brings us to the current election. If you don’t like the way Pocatello operates, it’s time to stand up and do something about it. If that hurts someone’s feelings, that’s too bad. The banditos have been running this town long enough, it’s time to ride herd on them. If not, you can expect the status quo to continue. Mayor Blad will continue to run the big game, and the residents of Pocatello will continue to lose money at his table. In that eventuality, the Mayor and his sycophants on the city council should at least have the decency to wear black hats to their meetings so everyone can recognize them. After all, when you’re starring in such a mediocre production, the least you can do for the audience is stay in character.

Frank Shepherd,


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