Raymond "Ray" Patterson was a one-time character, who appeared in Trash of the Titans. He serves as Springfields Sanitation Commissioner until Homer Simpson decides to run against him, leading to disastrous consequences.
Patterson was voiced by legendary actor Steve Martin.
Trash of the Titans
Elected Springfield's Sanitation Commissioner for 16 years in a row Ray Patterson had a good track record. He was introduced when Homer came to reclaim the apology letter Marge wrote in his name. Homer had earlier got into a confrontation with two of Pattersons garbage-men when they refused to collect his rubbish (though admittedly he ran out with it just after they had driven past the house). Homer then angrily insulted the pair, which was heard and, following an altercation, they refused to collect the Simpsons rubbish from that point onwards until Homer apologised.
Homer refused to do so for several weeks, resulting in the Simpsons living in a house, literally, surrounded by filth. In the end, Marge wrote a fake letter to Patterson, using Homer's name and apologised. Homer was insulted when he found out and rushed down to City Hall to reclaim the letter.
Patterson was civil while returning the letter, but Homer immediately started to behave irresponsibly, going so far as to attack Patterson's pet bird hanging in a nearby cage. Instead of issuing a formal complaint against the garbagemen, stating that it was all their fault, Homer childishly acted as Patterson was the head of a major conspiracy against the common people. Vowing to stand up for the little man, (all the while rattling the innocent bird's cage), Homer eventually decided to run against Ray Patterson for the position of Sanitation Commissioner.
Initially, Homer appeared to be fighting a losing battle; thanks in part to Patterson's good reputation. Homer was able to turn the tide, however, thanks mostly to his new slogan "Can't someone else do it?" alongside several other slanderous, underhanded schemes and declarations. At a debate, towards the end of the campaign, Homer poked further fun at Patterson (who turned up late after "someone" sabotaged the brakes on his car), whilst making additional promises to what would happen if he won the election.
Patterson was one of, if not the only person in Springfield (Lisa included), to realise that Homer was making promises he could not keep. As such, Ray tried one final time to appeal to the crowd, reminding them of his good track record, but was ultimately defeated in a landslide. Homer was present whilst Ray cleared out his office, a clearly irate Patterson struggling to remain civil. After reminding the now amiable Homer of the slanderous things the later said about him during his campaign, Patterson left the office with a dire warning: -
"Simpson, the American people have never tolerated incompetence in their public officials. You are going to crash and burn my fat-headed friend!"
As it turned out, Homer was initially able to make good on his promises, but at the cost of spending the sanitation department's yearly budget ($4.6 million) in one month. Realising that Patterson's statement was coming true, Homer eventually resorted to letting other towns dumb their rubbish in an abandoned mine. This only led to further trouble and in no time at all, the entire town was practically buried underneath rubbish.
In an emergency town meeting, the enraged citizens of Springfield voted Homer out of office with everyone agreeing to subject him to further punishment offscreen (a horsewhipping). Mayor Quimby then proposed immediately reinstating Ray Patterson, which was unanimously approved. Patterson walked onto the stage with a band playing him on, the people turning to him for salvation.
Accepting his position back, Patterson delivered a short direct speech, comprising of two sentences. In it, Ray made it very clear that he had no intention of cleaning up the town since the citizens of Springfield brought it on themselves by not listening to his warnings in the first place. Content to let everybody suffer, and sort their own mess out, Patterson bade them farewell and walked off, played out by the same band.
Compared to many of Springfield's residents, Ray Patterson is considered to be one of the more 'sane' characters; polite, hard-working and committed to his job.
When Homer ran against him for his position, Patterson was frustrated by Homer's crude tactics and insults, alongside the town's ignorance towards him. He turned up late for a debate with Homer, claiming that his brakes had been tampered with. The town became shocked, only to start laughing again when Homer joked about his lateness.
Ray, ultimately, had the last laugh and got belated revenge on the rest of the town, however. When the citizens turned to him for help, Patterson denied it to them, content to leave them "wallowing in the mess you've made", having effectively told the residents of Springfield "I told you so!".
Behind The Laughter
In many ways, Ray Patterson is similar to the character Frank Grimes, a normal man who works hard at his job, but finds his efforts shown up by Homer.
Patterson's appearance on stage is heralded by the theme to Sanford and Son. This was because the scene of his appearing on stage was taken from Redd Foxx refusing to perform to a small audience.
The character is also named after Hanna-Barbera animator Ray Patterson who worked on the Tom & Jerry cartoon shorts.