The Ballad of Byron Brown

For fifteen long years he’d been cream of the crop.
The king of the hill. The man at the top.
He’d cut all the ribbons for fifteen long years.
For a renaissance fueled by hotels and craft beers.
For fifteen long years, he had gone with the flow,
Mild-mannered and monotone, rostrum in tow.

Byron Brown has been mayor since two-thousand-six.
Plenty of time – with more problems to fix.
While things have improved for the white upper classes,
Not all see his tenure through rose-colored glasses.
Crime getting worse, cops are out of control,
Even punitive speed traps had taken their toll.

So India Walton said she would oppose,
This longtime incumbent, whom everyone knows.
For her community – for change and for hope.
And for her it seemed unlike some boring old trope.
The people, she says, had deserved so much more,
than from Byron Brown’s terms – of which there’d been four.

Progressives knocked doors, they made calls and held signs,
Throughout winter and spring to earn Walton two lines.
She envisaged – promoted a rust belt New Deal,
And spoke of her ambitious plans with a zeal.
But Brown kept pretending she didn’t exist,
His “rose garden strategy”? Easy to miss.

No campaign, no debate, never uttered her name.
He figured that this year was more of the same.
His machine was well-oiled – his lackeys would show,
It wouldn’t be close, if they all would just go.
He thought he was safe and he’d get his fifth term,
But India Walton became a concern.

On primary day, Walton’s backers turned out,
And this suddenly gave Brown a reason to doubt
His own re-election and chance number five.
His campaign ran on fumes and seemed barely alive.
He lost, and his chances were over, he reckoned.
The dread private sector, beginning to beckon.

But lo, who is this? Doug Jemal from the South?
Rocco’s out of his pool and Carl opened his mouth?
The Partnership, Jacobs, our own one percent,
Would not abide changes without their consent.
My fainting couch! Fan me! Arrange my affairs!
(To them welfare’s fine, just so long as it’s theirs.)

A meeting was hastily called to review,
What this millionaire posse should, could, and would do.
Carl called it and made sure that Pigeon was there,
and he told Bob McCarthy; their plans were laid bare.
They canceled it once and then tried it again,
But Carl was like poison to some of these men.

India, meanwhile, was doing the rounds.
Explaining that city hall wasn’t just Brown’s.
The national media gave her much attention,
This winner, whom Brown couldn’t bother to mention.
As mayor, she’d help out the poor and forgotten,
Before Tesla and plans grandiose, misbegotten.

He waited a week, let it all settle down,
Our caretaker mayor, the one Byron Brown.
His people held “protests”, sent loads of group texts,
All his patronage hires were suddenly vexed.
A grassroots campaign! A moment propitious!
But the grass isn’t real. That turf is fictitious.

It was too much to bear, all this talk about “people”.
So Brown hatched a plan both pathetic and feeble.
If democracy‘s something that should not be flouted,
Then where was the mayor’s campaign when it counted?
“There is only one mayor at a time!” Brown proclaimed.
She’s a radical! Socialist! Shame! Shame! Shame! SHAME!!

He could have conceded, acknowledged her win.
Been gracious in loss, let these changes begin.
But power corrupts, so instead he’ll contrive
A plan born of weakness and lame “strive for five.”
Byron Brown, the caretaker of all he surveys,
Will write himself in, if it means that he stays.

Brown’s shelf life, politically, may have expired.
Dems voted last Tuesday and told him he’s fired.
Despite all his noise, our democracy worked.
He didn’t campaign, and instead he just lurked.
Now angry and bitter, too late to the stump,
‘Stop the steal’ he’ll demand, like that other guy, Trump.


  • And Byron’s bad decision to mount a write-in campaign is bringing all the GOP and DINO cockroaches (Giambra, Feroleto) out of the woodwork. If a Republican ends up in CIty Hall, he’ll be responsible.

  • A rich exercise in prose for a fallen emperor we knew had no clothes. Thank you, Alan

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