The success of Dr. Dowd's anti-machine, doorknocking campaign -- in which he overcame local handicaps such as his education, intellect and use of standard English -- against mediocre-old-boy Leonard Bodack was hailed by reformers.
His early steps as council member were in line with his progressive platform and his supporters' hopes.
He has continued to advance worthwhile positions, and been willing to put his shoe leather on the line, but over time has pursued those worthwhile ends by increasingly awkward and prickly means.
In recent weeks, Dr. Dowd's conduct has shaded into bizarre and toward inexplicable.
Dr. Dowd's behavior has all but erased the opportunity associated with Natalia Rudiak's arrival, which created an apparent independent and progressive council majority -- Dowd, Kraus, Peduto, Rudiak, Shields -- and an opportunity to steer the city away from the failed course of lost decades (a path embodied by old-time machine
Where some would see differences with Bill Peduto (degree of support for Dowd's mayoral campaign; the precise form of a legal challenge to the Lamar sign) as brotherly friction, Dr. Dowd apparently perceives the foundation of a blood feud of Orie-Hart proportions. In practical terms, and in Dr. Dowd's increasingly insular world, friction with Peduto (and Doug Shields) constitutes justification for voting for Rev. Ricky Burgess or Theresa Kail-Smith (or whomever the Ravenstahl camp views on Monday as the most viable obstacle to council independence and a progressive agenda).
Circumstances therefore seem aligned to send Dr. Dowd into new and unfortunate territory on Monday, when his progression from eager new reformer to well-meaning-but-awkward to correct-but-strained-to-the-point-of-counterproductive arrives, for the first time, at doing the wrong thing.