Thursday, April 25, 2013


NFL Draft is this weekend. It is immensely popular. Even non-draftniks follow the first couple of rounds. It is interesting. Still, it almost raises the issue whether man has a dark side that responds to the ownership of human beings. Is this just a polite, well-funded way to feel the same things the slave traders felt?

It's all good fun......isn't it?

This is pretty much my annual post on this topic--I guess we can feel a little better the first draft choice last season was a white guy.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


In about 1979 or 1980, the estimable E. James Douglas conveyed upon me the great privilege of coaching his boy, Scott and Jay.  Make no mistake about it, if EJ didn't want it to happen, no one besides him was going to coach his kids.

Most importantly, we had a ball together.  Many times, we would go from our own game to the Collegiate league games.  It was a pleasure to be around Scott and Jay (and sometimes fun sister Megan).

Understand at that time Scott was a highly refined young athlete, combining ability, technique and an acute understanding of team strategies.  Most folks focused on his fine performances, which were many.

I wrote hin a note after our time together.  Among other things I told him that his athletic ability would provide him a lot of fun and some opportunity but PLAYING sports was not what would define his future.  I told him he was a natural leader and it was that, acting as a leader, which would define whatever contribution he would make in this life.  I had no clue in what he would lead or where, but I KNEW he would be successful leader.  (Hit that one out of the park.)

He had then, and obviously made the most of, an innate gift.  I was privileged to see it early but he shared it with all of us later.

I didn't tell him this: He combines his father's intensity and attention to detail and his outstanding mother's decency and willingness to give the views of others some space.  It's a potent combination and we are all fortunate to have benefited fron it.

Godspeed in your next phase, ScottyD.  It'll be earnest and honest and always be done in the right way for the right reasons.

It was fun to have shared a little bit of the ride.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


(writing this well before I have any earthly idea who wins the City Election.  Posted to pop up on a timer @seven a.m. the morning after.  Think of this as your polemic "morning after pill".

On May 1, somebody's gonna take office as Mayor.  On May 1, a few somebody's are gonna comprise the City Council.  In a historical sense, no big deal.   Government goes on and nobody's indispensable.

But the garbage needs to be picked up.  The sanitation system needs to be run, The public water supply needs to be operated.  The Public Safety needs to be protected.  Regular staff, left undisturbed, can do all that, no matter who is elected and no matter who is on the city council.

No matter who is elected, the City is going to need leadership.  On the City Council side, aldermen should understand that they are the legislative side and leave the personnel business to the executive branch.  The idiocy of certain aldermen having their little, pet snitches in the various departments, airing their grievances and trying to have some individual alderman become their champion.  Until alderman have the gumption to send these people to their own department heads or immediate upline supervisors, personnel administration will be chaotic...and it doesn't matter who the Mayor is on that score.

Whoever ends up being Mayor will have to understand that and let the employees know what is expected of them.  That person will be told endlessly how important and smart he is and all that will take away from any sensible thought about where he wants to take the city.

Spring supporters probably view Moore as someone who wants the city budget to be about $14.27, have two employees and provide no services.  Moore supporters probably view Spring as someone who wants the City Budget to be about a Billion dollars and have five million employees, all relatives.  At the end of the day, neither is true.

Some suggestions as to how to go forward:

1.     Lose the need to be "The smartest kid in the room."

2.     Do more bi-partisan socializing.  It's perfectly legal, as long as the purpose is not to discuss City business;

3.     Mayor whichever:  Just preside over the damn meeting.  Stay out of the discussion.  If you wanna make some announcements in "new business" knock yourself out, but stay out of the substantive debate.  Police the discussion;

4.     Really learn how the Freedom of Information Process works.  Find out how transparent your City really is--Then support your people instead of insinuating they are withholding public items.  An alderman can do more harm to City morale with of roll of her eyes than any outside complainant.

5.     Challenge actions--this bidding error is a good example--without challenging motives.  Most Republicans and most Democrats filter things through a belief system but they really want to behave ethically and honorably.  Don't automatically assume that mistakes or procedural hiccups are motivated by an evil intent.  If there's a dishonest intent, it'll come out.  You don't have to start out at the "nuclear" setting.

6.      Apply the "mother" test:  "Would my mother be proud of me if I did what I'm considering?"

7.      Perhaps another way of saying the same thing:  Apply the "Right Thing" test--Do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reasons.

8.      The truth doesn't have two sides.  This news delivery system we have now perverts facts.  There is not "left news" and "right news".  Try to get FACTS right, then figure out their meaning.

9.      Could everybody keep a sense of humor?  Government and politics is often funny.  Enjoy the funny parts.

Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


For those of you scoring at home, SWAG ="Scientific Wild-Assed Guess"

JWCC Board--It seems most likely that the odd man out will be one of the Quincy candidates. That is a pity because they would both serve well and they are both great guys. Still, where there are two candidates from Quincy and one from the outlying counties, usually one of the Quincy candidates ends up without a musical chair. Since since Jerry h Hagmeier has previous board service and long-standing residency here, I am guessing that my good friend, Rich Marcola is the odd man out and I will be the first urge him to run again.

(I will also urge him to do a little better research on transferability of the colleges credits, which he identified as an issue and which I believe is based upon totally dated information.)

I should also add that whichever two candidates assume the seats, the college will be very well represented.

School Board--Wow, this is anybody's guess. The top three get seats. I suspect the top four will be Ali, Cawthon, McNay and Platt. Platt, Ali and McNay have a higher profile than Cawthon but I suspect a great many Cawthon voters voted for either one or two and did not spread the love around. In talking to people the week before the election, I did not pick up as much closing enthusiasm for Platt as I did for Cawthon. As a consequence,  my best guess for the three seats are:




Park Board – Feldberg goes in based upon the single issue golfer vote. Beyond that is anybody's guess.

Turnout, Quincy Township – when morning broke beautifully, I added a few hundred to my estimate. I'm going with 13,050, a bit higher than the County Clerk estimated. As a general rule, increased turnout in Quincy Township is good for Republicans so I made some "Republican weather" adjustments to my other predictions.

City treasurer –

Crim – 7412

Ernst – 5638

Both of these people are precious friends of mine. When I critique to campaigns, I am not critiquing the people. I am happy to be associated with both of them. That having been said, Tom had an almost impossible task on his hands and he made it harder by running a campaign that can charitably be called "strange." He began by saying that he had no interest in the actual duties of treasurer. He then followed up by assigning himself duties that have nothing to do with the treasurer's office. When most of that, frankly, fell flat, he tried to assign some sort of vicarious blame to the treasurer for some hydropower expenditures. That had no traction so, with no predicate whatsoever, his closing advertisement talks about "12 years of nothing." I guess my feeling on the thing is that, if the Republican Party was going to encourage him to run for the seat, it would've been a good idea to have some veteran campaign operatives help him construct a coherent theme. One redeeming factor for Tom was the way he used his gregarious personality in the debate. I believe the guy could sell air-conditioners that Eskimos. At the end of the day, Tommy had the burden of showing compelling reasons why Peggy should no longer occupy that office. It was a very high bar and he did not get over it. That does not reflect badly on him at all.

Mayor –

Spring 6682

Moore 6368

Once again, the burden of showing that a facially competent incumbent should lose his job is always on the Challenger. Kyle came close to making the showing. The closer, however, a Challenger gets to making that showing, the more important it is for the Challenger to show he has the temperament and maturity to occupy the office himself. At some point, in a local race, the voter closes her eyes and says "Can I see this guy as Mayor?" As a consequence of a cocktail of complex factors, I don't think the people found Kyle to have made that second showing. Some of that is not necessarily Kyle's fault.

As recently as last Thursday, I had this race as much less close then I show here. I had to adjust for increased turnout, a plus for Kyle, and what I believe was a tactical error by the Spring campaign (yes, for those of you scoring at home, I am about the farthest thing that you can imaginefrom an insider in any mayoral race. )

Over the last month, Kyle settled on asserting that the Mayor's failings resulted in his not having a vision. The correlative argument was the mayor didn't have a vision because he had… "Been in office too long…" The mayor responded with a lot of reasonably good stuff, competently presented,  but, like a moth to a porch light, he kept coming back to the word "experience." It seemed incongruous to me to reply to a guy who is saying you've been in office too long by saying, in effect, "I have lots of experience because I've been in office so long." If we can hypothesize at that point that Kyle was down, say,  54% to 46%  I think it is safe to say that this comparative messaging shrunk the mayor's lead a bit.

So, why do I think the comparative messaging does not close the gap all the way for Kyle? There are many reasons but principally three:

Stature: it is utterly unfair but short men simply don't make the same first impression – and remember most  voters are voting on first impressions – as a taller man when doing door-to-door. Kyle did lots of door-to-door but, accordingly to a lot of my non-political visitee friends, did not always make a wonderful impression;

Television advertising: everything has a shelflife. Kyle's "red" TV ad, at best, had a useful shelflife of 2+ weeks. He ran it 6+ weeks. For the last month, in my estimation, he has been paying money to annoy voters. In my casual conversations leading up to the election, that ad has been cited more than any other as the reason, "I just want it to be over…"

Religious demographics: Let's just not beat around the bush here. Kyle is not a Roman Catholic. Mayor Spring is. It's okay to say it out loud. Our city likes its mayors Catholic.

Foolish footnote 1:  One thing that gives me pause.  Two people whom I respect greatly and are usually allies of mine (you know who you are!) are working for and supporting Kyle.  I would feel better about this prediction if that were not so.  On the other hand, one of them is a media whiz and it is obvious the campaign is not following her advise re Television or the "red" ad would have been dead a long time ago.

Foolish Footnote 2:  How strongly do I feel about the accuracy of the Mayoral prediction?  Bet Strength index:

$100.00--in a heartbeat


This consolidated city election is a rare bird.

In almost every election cycle, someone or something lovable pops up. In 1993, the city loved both guys running for mayor. It was the adult version of a student council election. The Wednesday after the Tuesday election, we all passed notes to one another in study hall and mused about how nice everybody was to everybody else.  It was a Barney moment.

In 2002, we were enraptured with the delightful story of the extended Sullivan family and the fascinating phenomenon that allowed John Sullivan to march in three parades simultaneously, all 150 miles from one another.  Total Warm Fuzzy.

Even in 2001, we watched as one of the nicest men in Quincy went on a suicide mission, aided by hatchet wielding true believers who hijacked his campaign. We all liked the guy so much that we never held his poorly conceived campaign against him and he continues to be prominent in the community.

In 2009, we watched the incumbent run an antiseptic "student council" campaign while the opponent tried, for the most part in vain, to utter even one coherent, complete sentence. We liked the Challenger. We all knew he was in a role for which he was supremely ill-suited. We felt sorry for him and most of us found him, in his own way, lovable.  We just wanted him to be out of pain and danger.

In 2012 everyone loved the performance of the now incumbent circuit clerk. She was painfully shy and running against a veteran politician. She struggled to tell her story and it was her struggle that made her so appealing.

In short, every regional election I have followed since the 60s has had something or someone lovable about it… Until this year.

This year there is, well, nothing to love.

Beginning with the office of Township supervisor, the incumbent retires. At the request of his chief deputy, he exercises his considerable political influence to clear the way for her to be unopposed. Then, when the fat is completely in the fire, she announces that she is filing under the banner of the opposite political party. There are few things as unlovable as betraying your boss' loyalty. And that is just how the election cycle began.

The incumbent city treasurer is an estimable, engaging person from a fine family. Her opponent is an engaging person, even to the point of being a raconteur, also from a fine family. The Challenger started out trying to redefine the duties of the city treasurer and went on to attack the city treasurer for supposed involvement in an unfortunate venture. This later morphed into an undocumented slogan to the effect of "12 years of nothing…" Without getting into the merits of any of these allegations, there is nothing more guaranteed to render one unlovable than to make allegations against a person of otherwise good repute. For her part, the city treasurer has conducted a reasonably well-documented campaign on her credentials and achievements. While this was probably the right thing to do, it didn't emphasize her warm connections, charitable acts and welcome personality within the community. People unacquainted with her may have been moved to find her competent and qualified but nothing much about her campaign was lovable.

So that moves us to the mayor's race. When we cut through all the sloganeering, the challenger's race boils down to "vote for me because the incumbent mayor made a big mistake!" Additionally, in a master stroke of unlovable, the Challenger has broken the indoor world record for running one, and one only, TV ad for the most consecutive weeks. Even people who do like him can be heard to scream "make it stop!"

The mayor's situation is a little different. Most of the people in our city have a fixed opinion of the mayor. He certainly did not have to reintroduce himself. But his opponent committed to this race in October. It is been clear for many months who was going to face whom in the general election campaign. At a minimum,, the mayor had all of December and January to tell the people of Quincy the differences between him and his then unknown opponent. He waited till March, after the opponent had had an ample and unfettered opportunity to define himself and, for that matter, the mayor. So, even if the mayor had begun this cycle considered lovable, by giving his opponent 60 to 90 days of "free fire zone," he allowed himself to be rendered unlovable. Then, probably realizing that he had squandered the opportunity to define his opponent, he responded to the opponent's theme – remember, "vote for me because the mayor made a big mistake." – With one of his own "vote for me because the newspaper says I am better." If all of that sounds like a recipe for rendering oneself unlovable, that's because it is.

The conventional wisdom for a negative campaign is that it depresses turnout. Here, I don't know if this is so much a negative campaign as it is a desultory one. Certainly, in the Mayoral campaign nothing much uplifting took place.  That was a total bi-partisan effort.

So, how does one handicap an utterly unlovable election. We first begin with the proposition that human behavior tends to repeat itself. Certainly, it is useful to look at recent trends but individual elections are not necessarily indicators of recent trends. 2010, for example is not as good a barometer of citywide behavior as the last five or six city elections. The plain fact is that the electorate showing up today maybe a subset of the 2012 electorate but it is smaller, probably more discreet and probably motivated by different factors than the folks who came out to vote in the presidential election. To some extent we also have to take into account election day conditions. It was beautiful this morning in the forecast for this afternoon is rough. How do we process that information?  We have to look at when people in the high turnout precincts traditionally vote.

All of which gets me to this super Duper lead in. At 7:01 PM this blog will post another version of the basins utterly useless election predictions. Fair warning: I'm very good at guessing turnout and really marginal at picking winners.

Now, get out there, hold your nose and vote for the least unlovable choice… Of your choice.