Thursday, December 12, 2019

Scrooge Vs. Fred

Image result for carolers

“No Mom, we aren’t going.” It would be the only time our voices would be in unison all night.

“Get your coats on, we’re going.” She stated emphatically. Upset by our lack of any reaction besides the rolling of eyes and huffing in disgust she enlisted reinforcements. “Honey, tell the kids to get their coats on.” She looked down at Dad who was reading the evening Deseret News. Getting closer and adding volume she says, “Honey! We need to go, tell the kids to get their coats on.”

Putting the paper down he began to grasp what is going on, something he failed to note despite a very vocal argument having occupied most of the last 10-15 minutes. He shifts in his chair uncomfortably. Even with the amazing talent of being able to ignore sounds far beyond the limits OSHA would consider safe, he still deep down really just wants peace. As such, he hated taking sides, but quickly realized that there was only one side safe to be on. “Kids get your coats on.”

“Fine.” We know we have lost, but we know this is only the first battle. So we ad, “but we are only going to go to the homes on our street.”

“Okay, then grab some windex bottles, and a stack of newsletters.” Every year we handed out the family newsletter that always focused around the same joke, how Dad and the kids hated doing a float in the South Salt Lake City 4th of July Parade and how Mom had forced us to yet again. With the newsletter Mom gave a gift to the neighbors. So this year our living room was filled with a hundred bottles of windex.

The gifts were always something practical and cheap. She didn’t really have many other options. Dad for the past several years, had worked on and off as a substitute teacher, tutorer and newspaper delivery man. All jobs that made for hard work but little income. But what they lacked in income they made up for with conviction. Conviction to never take government or other forms of welfare. That is except the bags and bags of hand me down clothes that everyone knew they could drop off at our porch any time and that Mom would put them to good use.

“These pants I think would fit Megan, we can send those to the Millard’s.” She would say as she pulled the jeans from the large pile of clothes she had dumped out of the bags, carefully folding them and adding them to the stack she would take to the next family, since they didn’t fit any of us.

But now was not time for sorting clothes, she was preparing to give something else to the neighbors. We pulled on our hand me down coats and hats and headed out into the snow. Marie Landace, a kind widow, who lived next store since before I was born and her pet turtle were always our first stop.

“Hark the Harold,” Mom called out.

“We don’t know that one. Let’s do Jingle Bells.”

“No, here we go, she’s coming. Hark the Harold angels sing.” Mom started out loudly.

“That’s too high.” Dad interrupted but not loudly enough to stop her.

“Glory to the new born king.” She continued. By this time, the door was opened and slowly we each joined in, some even in the same key as Mom.

After the song ended Mom would say, “Who has the card and gift?” One of us would walk up and hand the newsletter and Windex bottle which Mom had added a note on the bottle saying, “May you see clearly this Christmas Season.” Or something, a little more clever but no less corny. “What’s your favorite Christmas Song?” She’d ask. Most people would then say Silent Night and we’d sing that. Then we would begin walking away as we sang, ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’

As soon as we finished the street as we predicted she would push us to go to the next house and the next, and the next. With each house the murmuring and mumbling would increase. We would look for any sign of hope we would be on our way back home. When the windex bottles ran out we thought for sure we’d be done. But Mom would just plow on and carol even without the great gift. That was one of the advantages about giving out windex, you could be fairly sure neighbors weren’t going to brag to each other about the great gift they got from the Gee’s and thereby let out of the bag that one of them had been robbed out of there free cleaning supplies.

At some point Dad would sense that if we went on any longer he would end up with Children lying in the street refusing to take another step, and at that point he would say, “Honey, maybe we should head home.”

She would glare at him, adding, “Don’t you start to,” but she could sense things were falling apart as Children sang further and further from the doorstep and started trying to sing, ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas’ for the opening number hoping to shorten the performance. We would trudge home feeling frozen and hard done by, only to go out and do it the next night.

Caroling to the neighbors was as much a part of my Christmas as Santa, the Nativity, or presents. I loved Christmas and couldn’t wait for that day when I’d get presents. We, like most kids hoped to get the latest game console or other big ticket items but deep down we knew that wasn’t in the cards. Many of our friends would get those things but our presents were always less expensive, and our gifts were just as often practical as fun. Socks were almost a guarantee. My whole outfit may have been hand me down, but I had a brand new, fresh out of the wrapper, socks at Christmas.

As much as I complained you would think I and my siblings hated caroling but I loved how it made me feel. I wouldn’t admit it to my Mother and I’m not sure I even was mature enough to admit it to myself when I lived at home. But I remember one of the first Christmas’s I spent away from home. I was in Wisconsin on my Mission in the town of Beaver Dam. Christmas Eve can be a tough night for missionary’s. People are with families and busy and not usually up for visits. Our mission president said we could stay in after 6 that night. An unusual treat since most nights we stayed out proselyting until 9PM.

As I prepared to spend the night just shooting the breeze with my companion I thought of all those nights caroling back home. Part of it was simple homesickness but I knew that what I wanted to do more than anything was to go caroling. I asked my companion and being a brand new missionary he said sure. I don’t recall how many people we sang to that night but I recall one home very vividly. It was a small white home in need of some paint. It has steps leading up to a small 3 foot by 2 foot porch. The stairs had an old splintered hand rail made of 2x4s along it. We knocked and began to sing, “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing or the plains...”

As we sang an elderly women slowly opened the door. She couldn’t have been younger than 80. As she listened tears fell from her face. We sang as she wept. When we finished she said, “This is the first time in my life I have ever had carolers sing to me.”

From that time to this, I don’t think there has ever been a Christmas that I have not caroled. And while at times this has led to awkward moments. We caroled to a couple and the wife was from Eritrea. She looked very confused as we stood at her door singing. She turned to her husband and in her native tongue asked what we were doing. He thought and said, “Well, in America people...actually no people don’t really do this.” We went on to become very close friends after this.

Near the beginning of Charles Dickens the Christmas Carol, Dickens gives us two conflicting views of what Christmas is. First Scrooge gives us his view after his Nephew Fred says, “Don’t be cross Uncle.”

He replies, “What else can I be, when I live in such a world with fools as this. Merry Christmas? What is Christmas time but a time for paying bills without any money. A time for finding yourself a year older and not an hour richer. A time for having your books balanced and having every item in them presented as dead (debt) against you.” He then says to Fred. “What good has it (Christmas) ever done you.”

And Fred reply's, "There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round-apart from... the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

To which Scrooge replies, “Humbug.”

These two views of Christmas may seem contradictory, one right and one wrong. Yet the truth is, they both simultaneously exist all around us.

I have no doubt that at times, Christmas was a great stress to my parents. They knew they could not get us the gifts we really wanted. Indeed, if it wasn’t for them, doing what they both hated to do, rely on the welfare of loving neighbors and friends there may have been several years where I may have not even gotten socks. No doubt, in those years it would have been tempting to see things in the light of Scrooge. I’m sure at times my parents felt a year older and not an hour richer. That they were paying bills without any money and that if they spent almost anything it would simply add debt to their lives, something they refused to do.

But that is part of what’s so beautiful about these two descriptions of Christmas. They are describing the same thing, the same situations, only different viewpoints.

Too often, we get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, buying things for people that they don’t really need with money we don’t really have. When we do, we allow Scrooge’s view of Christmas to seep into our lives and drowned out, what Christmas is really about.

That was the beauty of caroling with my family. When the only gift you have to offer is a bottle of windex, your presence and a song; you begin to see what Christmas is really about, what he who’s birth we celebrate wants us to focus on...People. To make it a good time, a kind, forgiving, charitable time.

I know that my parents like everyone else, struggled in a world that can’t decide between Scrooges and Fred’s view of Christmas. The conflict of these two perspectives and figuring out how to make Fred’s the more dominant in our Christmas season is what A Christmas Carol is all about. In my mind, the key difference is found in Fred’s phrase, “men and women seem to open their shut up hearts.” That is what we get to witness every time we watch A Christmas Carol, one man’s journey through the process of opening his shut up heart.

Most of us won’t be visited by three spirits in order to guide us through such a journey. Instead God has placed people and loved ones who can help us change from someone who is shut up and looks inward to someone who truly opens up and begins to see ‘people below us as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.’

I now realize that was what my parents were slowly helping me to see, with each door knocked and carol sung. How grateful I am for this time of year when I can once again head out, Christmas newsletters, and grumbling kids in tow and remind myself what Christmas is all about.

If you liked this article please consider subscribing to my blog by entering your email below.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Chapter 2 - Following Honey

Image result for A&W homeless

(If you are new to my John York book here is a link to Chapter 1.)

The waves crashed against the rock cliffs hundreds of feet below. The moon was just bright enough to make out the white foam from the waves as they kept up their rhythmic dance along where a vast sea met the land. “It’s been too long.” John York thought to himself. Work took John all over the world but there was something special about California’s coast line. It drew him in even as he avoided it. For amidst all its beauty it carried with it, great pain. Ocean breeze had become a cliche with every air freshener or candle maker trying to provide you access to it, even if you lived in the dust bowl of Kansas, but only the true fragrance reminded him of her.

How long had it been? He tried to stop his mind from asking the question, one whose answer he knew perfectly: 7 years. It was hard not to know the answer to a question you ask yourself multiple times everyday. When he woke up, when he was in the shower, when he sat down for lunch, anytime he tried to clear his mind, there it was. The only thing that entered his mind as often was the thought to stop asking, to let it go, to move on, and then the inevitable thought. “Will I see her again?”

But he wasn’t here to be dragged into his past like surf back into the vast ocean from whence it had come, nor was he here to simply enjoy the view. At least, not the view that anyone's eyes would naturally be drawn to, from this particular vantage point. It had taken him over 45 mins of hiking through thick brush and far too many thorns to get to this view. Below sat a mansion that was vast enough that even the word mansion seemed lacking. Arnold McMaster’s Father had owned the property before him back when coastal property in Southern California could be afforded by your everyday millionaire. Had that not been the case, even a fortune like the CEO’s of McMaster Mattresses would have been unable to purchase this much land, in this perfect a location.

Located far enough north of Los Angeles to have the amazing cliffs and yet close enough to make the commute to the mattress factory in the metropolis reasonable. Not that traffic was really an issue for the McMaster family. Arnold McMaster, the Master of the McMasters had his Chauffeur leave every morning promptly at 4:30 to be in the office by 4:45, priding himself that he beat even most people on the east coast to work. This had been his practice since his youth, and the business had been propped up by no shortage of sheer grit and hard work. He used to stay late enough that there was also little traffic on the way home, which, in LA, meant some very late nights. However, since his 80th birthday he was not putting in the hours he once did and often left the office in the early afternoon.

The other McMasters in the house, the pudgy man who spurned root beer floats and called himself Jake and his sister Adaline, who went by Jennifer, (John York regretted that he would be unable to give her the same lecture he had so eloquently given Barnaby about the world being chock full of Jennifers, but he knew such an opportunity would not present itself given the circumstances that she and he would meet under.) They too had very regimented schedules. They both held high positions in the mattress company, at least in pay, not necessarily in responsibility. They left every day shortly after waking up around 11:30. After stopping for a nice lunch and catching up on facebook and latest news from buzzfeed, they would wander into work just as their father was on his way out. They would leave promptly at 5, unless they felt like leaving earlier. Traffic at this time would have been horrendous but luckily their favorite bars, and clubs were all a short distance from the office.

This was John’s fourth trip to this particular look out, it was one of his many stops that he had made in order to understand the goings and comings of the McMasters. But the persons whose goings and comings he had spent the most time studying wasn’t a McMaster at all. Exactly on que, the small pink porsche boxster pulled up to the gate. John York wished that all the people he had to follow would chose to drive custom made bright pink cars, not that he needed it. He could track a rainbow through a gay parade. Yet he was always grateful when life made things easy.

Mrs. Honey’s habits were much more mundane then her vehicle but no less expensive. She worked very hard at her chosen profession, shopping. John York had seen the insides of more jewelry shops, hat shops, clothes shops, pet shops and even soap shops than he hoped he would ever have to endure. The one establishment that she went into that she didn’t do any shopping at was McMaster Mattresses, several times a day she would stop by to see how the old man was doing. From a distance, it became very clear that to Mrs. Honey the business was not only useful as a place to manufacture sleep aides but also a very useful bank. The best bank you could possibly think of, one that allows withdrawals without requiring any deposits.

Tonight was exactly what John York had hoped for. While the going and coming of the McMaster Clan was his primary interest, the other thing that he hoped to gain by these late night house watch parties was a decent layout of the home. From his studies, he had figured out which of the guests homes belong to each of the children, and most of the layout of the main home. But several rooms, particularly on the upper floor had remained a mystery. But tonight with perfect weather, the curtains had been drawn and windows opened.

Despite his profession often requiring him to expand the limits of what was strictly legal, he liked to keep such activity to a minimum. Sneaking around someone's home without permission was something he generally avoided. But, at times, it was necessary, and when it became necessary he had learned the two most important rooms to be prepared to enter were the bedroom and the study. He now knew where both were located.

But with this information in hand it was time to be on the move. The past few nights had always had a surprising ending, and that was with the pink porsche making an exit. There could be many reasons for such an exit. While the number of people who waited until marriage to consummate their relationship seemed to be ever shrinking, John York did know such people existed. Mr. McMaster was a devout Catholic, who each Sunday after putting in a few hours at the office, attended mass. But John York had known many devout Catholics, who contrary to Billy Joel’s theory, didn’t start much too late. The other possibility was Ms. Honey’s morals, she did not strike him as religious in anyway. However, if one was after an old man’s fortune, it would be wise to find or feign morals and hold out the goods until you have secured your spot in the family tree as rightful heir. But wise, was not a word regularly coupled with Ms. Honey. It is true that if she had been in a battle of wits with a jellyfish she would have likely won, but that is only if it happened to not be a particularly smart jellyfish. There was also the possibility that she helped the old man to bed, as it were, and then departed. After all, at 85 some people keep some rather early bedtimes.

So, this left John York with a particularly hard choice. With the bedroom window open he could observe at what time the old man did chose to retire, and even perhaps his activities prior to laying down for the night, but more importantly he wanted to know where that little pink boxster went to each night. With the decision made, he packed up his high powered binoculars and headed to his car. As noted earlier, it was quite a hike, but he would have to do it at a rapid pace if he was going to make it.

Forty five minutes later and he sat quietly with his headlights off, on the side of the road. The pattern of what time she left and in what direction had been the same for the past few nights. Knowing this allowed John York the rare opportunity of not waiting long. Five minutes after picking his spot, he saw the unique headlights of the little Porsche coming up behind him. As she passed he began to follow. It was now a little after 9 and the roads were busy but not packed. This made keeping track of her car more difficult as she carelessly cut people off and sped around semi’s. Usually, John York took care to ensure that there was no chance the person could figure out he was following them. With Scarlet, such precautions were totally unnecessary. She didn’t seem to notice anyone or anything on the road. Given her driving habits, John York would have put her life expectancy on par with that of Mr. McMaster. If Barnaby had seen her drive, he thought, maybe he wouldn’t have been so worried.

The neighborhood in which he now found himself was very different from the one they had left. Apartments were everywhere, people and litter lined the streets as they drove by pawn, smoke, and liquor shops. The car pulled up to one side of a yellow rundown duplex that sat back no more than 5 feet from the street. There was no shortage of vagrants throughout the neighborhoods but there was a particular gathering outside the home she pulled up to, as if they had been waiting for her.

As she pulled up they gathered around. Two questions instantly came to John York. One was how her car stayed unstolen in this neighborhood and more prominent on his mind, why the conflagration of homeless acting as a greeting party. John York could see the disdain in Scarlet’s eyes as she walked out of the car.

“What you got for us tonight Ms. Honey?” one of them called out.

Her hands were filled with shopping bags and she carefully selected two bags and handed them over. “You know the deal. Keep the car safe.” The group crowded around the bags and began to riffle through the contents as Ms. Honey went inside.

Given how generous Master McMaster seemed to be with his money he was surprised to see his girlfriend living in such conditions. Especially since two guests homes remained unoccupied.

As he thought his eyes caught a beautiful sight just down the street, an A&W sign. A smile kept across his face. Tonight he would get to do two things he loved, drink root beer floats, and interview the homeless. A pretty good way to spend his last night as John York.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

1 year Election Day Goal

Today is election day in the US. That means in 1 year we will be electing the person we want to be the president of our country for the next four years. At this point it will likely be Trump, Biden, Warren, or Sanders. Of course, there are many more on the democratic side and who knows, maybe an independent or two will throw their name in the hat.

I am making a goal, a simple one. To say nothing negative about any of them over the next year. Not to focus on where I disagree or why I think they will be bad for our country but rather focus on their good traits, what we have in common and how they could help our country. Everyone of them is hard working, successful people in their own right, and that is what I will focus on.

This is stupid and ignorant, some may say. You are simply putting your head in the sand. You need to know the truth and expose them for what they are. I am not at all blind to the fact that these are not perfect people. They often have policies or proposals I disagree with, they may not live their lives to my standards, but trust me, the negatives of each and everyone of these candidates will be covered ad nauseam. Unfortunately, there is so much effort in telling you why they are bad for our country, no matter who the candidates are, we are likely to feel we are stuck with the lesser of two evils.

And much of this is our own fault. If it bothers you to hear or acknowledge anything good about Trump, or vice versa, Biden or Warren, I think that is a shame and might say more about you than about them. I will still weigh, the good and bad of all candidates on the ballet. But my hope is by focusing on the positive I can actually go into the voting both excited about voting for our next leader, instead of fearfully voting against their opponent.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

John York- Chapter 1

Image result for root beer float

Bugs flicked in and out under the only street lamp left a glow. The sidewalks had long ago been rolled up. The quiet of the desert enveloped the small town as the street saw its first guest in hours. A large coyote striding through the landscaped rock. Lone headlights appeared competing with the street light for the bugs attention. The sleek Tesla pulled up into the parking lot of the small brick building.

The building had no signs, descriptive paints, signs or logos. The gap in the wall where once stood an ATM and the abandoned drive thru bore testimony that this building was once the trusted establishment of people's hard earned money, their hopes and dreams. No dreams seamed stored inside now. The building was completely dark and void of life.

The man who stepped out of the car as it’s electric engine purr grew silent did not match the sleekness of the vehicle. The suit was of similar caliber but a tailor can only do so much and buns and roles were as plentiful as they were in the all you could eat buffet in Las Vegas, the town that still it up the horizon only a few miles away.

“This idiot better show up.” The man muttered under his breath, as he broke the silence again and again with each step towards the front door. After staring into the glass doors for a moment and with nothing else to do he pulled on the front door and was surprised to find the large door unlocked. But having entered, he found the place no more life like on the inside of the threshold.

The once bank lobby was vast and void. And the man's blood pressure, already high, began to rise. “Drag me to the podunk town and doesn’t even bother to show up, what a”

“What exactly am I?”

The man jumped about a foot off the ground, which is the highest he had jumped since over a hundred pounds ago.

“What the devil. What’s the idea of creeping about in the dark?”

“Darkness in my profession is very often required. Not that I enjoy it. I believe in light, rainbows and lollipops but one must do what one must do. Shall we?”

They walked over to a massive metal door that bore a large wheel on it’s center. If one has ever wondered why bank vaults seemed to be adorned with pirate ship wheels, well blood sucking pirates had to do something in retirement and never seemed willing to give up the helm.

“Um...why the vault?” The man asked with trepidation as the stranger took the helm.

“Ah, this cozy little place is where I keep my office.” With a couple of well placed turns the door began to open. The door had barely cracked when light began to poor into the void in which they stood. Once fully opened, the man stared inside. The office was in perfect contrast to its surroundings. Light from several antique fixtures, lining the walls, filled the room. The floor was an antique carpet of reds and golds. The entire office looked like it had been transplanted from the 1800’s.

“Well, have a seat...Barnaby.”

“Thank you...and the names Jake.”

“No it is not. Barnaby Jacorum McMaster is the name. I find birth certificates most reliable.”

“Fine. I go by Jake.”

“What a shame. Parents give you a unique jewel in the name Barnaby, and to really make you an individual they top it with the middle name Jacorum and you cast it off to be one of the millions of Jakes in the world. My boy, the world is stock full of Jakes.”

“Isn’t your name John?”

“No, while the monosyllable is among the world's best, my name is John York. Always, John York. John is the vanilla ice cream, but York is the root beer. Speaking of which, would you like one?”

“A root beer?”

“You have completely missed my point. Always John York. I’m offering you this. He handed his guest a large root beer float in a classic glass mug.

“No thank you.”

“Well you don’t mind if I indulge do you?”

“No, go ahead.” Barnaby, or Jake as he preferred, was anxious to move beyond strange analogies that produced deserts. “Mr. York”

“Call me John...York. Always John York.”

“Okay, John...York. I wanted to meet you because I heard you may be able to help.”

“I could help you to an excellent root beer float. This really is amazing. You know, when I retire I think I’ll turn this place into a soda shop. Everyone loves soda.”

“Can we get back to the point?”

“Oh sure, go on. But now that I think of it, forget the soda shop. I think a mortuary would be better. Anyways, continue.”

Barnaby was beginning to doubt if he’d come to the right place. Dillon, a trusted friend, said he had heard that John York was a miracle worker, the only thing for such situations. And given the job, perhaps a healthy level of insanity was required.

“I have come here for your help.”

“As you know, I am no detective, but that much I gathered.”

“Remind me again, Why couldn’t do this over the phone?”

“I never take a client I don’t meet in person. You can appreciate that.” John York said as he drew in a huge slurp of root beer from his mug.

“I understand. Well, it’s my Father.”

“Ah yes, the master of the McMaster’s. And CEO of the family business, McMaster Mattresses. Dream masterfully on a McMaster. I believe your commercials say.”

“Quite. Well two years ago my dear Mother died.”

“Ha. Your dear Mother? You hadn’t spoken to her in years. Ever since she said she’d cut you off if you wrecked another company car. Why does a mattress company need a Jaguar?”

“I see you do your homework.” But ignoring the question, Jake continued. “While we had our rifts, I loved her and so did my Father. Life without Mother has been hard on my Dad, but I am worried that he is about to ruin his life.”

“Strong words. How exactly is he going to effect this ruin?”

“Well, there is this girl.”

“There always is.”

“She is after my Father.”

“Oh, she is lurking in alleys and bushes hoping Master McMaster walks by so she can leap forth and stab the man?”

“No. But I do believe she plans to kill him. But not until after she marries him.”

“Are you sure? I find that most people do not possess the strong desire to dash one another to pieces until after they’re married. But you say she wants to now, but for good form will wait until after the I do’s.”

“She is after his money. She’s a gold digger.”

“A hefty accusation. May I ask you a few questions?”

“Go ahead.”

“How much cabbage would you say your old man has socked into these mattresses of his?”

“My Father's estate is around 100 million dollars.”

“No wonder you all dream masterfully. And what is the name of this girl you say works so hard mining for precious metals?”

Jake had to think for a moment but eventually caught on. “Her name is Scarlet Honey.”

A snort escaped John York’s nose as a small amount of root beer escaped it. “Excuse me, but just to clarify, you did say, Scarlet Honey?”


John York snorted again. “Okay, moving on. When your Father lays down on the mattress smothering his hundreds of Benjamin Franklins are his masterful dreams filled with Honey?”

“Can you drop the riddles?”

“Life is a riddle, my dear Barnaby. But to clarify for you, Jake. Does your Father fancy himself to be a bee after this Honey.” Jake was not amused. “I’m sorry it’s just so perfect.”

“My Dad is a bit taken by her, which is the problem. He doesn’t know what he is getting into.”

“Love can strike at any time, why stop this young, sweet couple?”

“He is 85.”

“Good for him.”

“She is 30.”

“Well as they say, to the victor goes the spoils.”

“I don’t believe this. You make me drive to this pathetic town, drag me into your creepy vault and you are not even willing to help.”

John York stood up with a start. “Barnaby my boy, Boulder City is not a pathetic town.” softening he continued. “And I am perfectly willing to help. What is it you want? Me to swoop in and save your inheritance from the clutches of this hussy?”

Barnaby was clearly hurt, that struck too close to home. “No, it is for my Father. I just don’t want him hurt.” He paused and thought of the best way to add something, “Also for the sake of the company. He loves that company, if he married and she ran it into the ground and lost it’s money, it would kill him.”

“I agree that he would at least find it difficult to sleep at night.” Before Barnaby could respond John York continued, “I’d require half my 40,000 dollar fee upfront and all expenses covered.”

“I understand.”

“So be clear. What is it you want me to do?”

“Do what you do, get rid of her.”

John York paused, looked closely at the overgrown mattress heir, disappointingly noticed his root beer float was gone and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What do you do with Crazy?

Steven's hat

“What can I do? This is the third promotion that I have been passed over for?”

“Steven, you are doing a good job. We appreciate what you do for us, you play an important role in coming up with drugs that save lives.”

“But am I stuck? Can I ever move forward?”

“The man who got the supervisor position has a PhD and is a well published doctor in chemistry. At the end of the day he was more qualified. We appreciate what you do but I have to go with the most qualified candidate.”

“I understand.”

Steven went back to his office logged off his computer, jumped into the car and headed to his condo, both of which he hoped he'd be able to make the payments on this next month. The sun had several hours earlier given up after a long day of unsuccessfully trying to win it’s battle with the snow and ice that perpetually clung to world, keeping it as cold as Steven felt inside.

That night, sitting alone Steven turned off the T.V. and pulled out his old bible.

“Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He saith unto him, Which?

Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Steven had been raised in a good Catholic home but with all the work and school had not had much time for church. Suddenly after reading about this young man he found himself asking, “God is that what you want me to do?” Steven prayed in his heart. “I’m not rich, but I guess. I’m doing okay. Am I just going round and round. Am I ever going to get any further? There will always be someone with another degree more than me, always someone ahead of me, perhaps it’s time to dedicate myself to God."

And that was it. He sold the condo and everything in it. Quit his job and drove the car to San Francisco, after all Chicago has tough weather to be going without purse or script. Once in San Francisco the car was sold and he took to the streets. At 30, he was wandering the streets, attending mass every day and spending up to 5 hours a day reading from a Catholic prayer book.

“I walked to San Diego and was there for a few years, when in 2009 I decided to do a walk across the country. I walked from Pacific Ocean to Myrtle Beach. It took me a little over a year. There were too many bugs over there, and prophets always seem to wind up in the dessert, so I walked back.”

San Diego was home base for a long time but eventually he got sick of landing in jail. “The police kept sending me to jail, the judge would always let me out. If you are good and don’t cause any trouble and just tell the truth the judge knows what is going on and will give you a ‘get out of jail free card.' But you get sick of it, so I finally decided to leave. I spent a few months in Brawley and then Blythe and now Yuma.

Why not become a priest? “To be a priest you have to fill out applications and get approved to a seminary and you can’t really do that while you are homeless. So, I promote, I am a promoter, promoting the religious life style. I’d say I am like the cover page on a website. I’m there to get clicks and get people on the site, if they want to find the subscribe or donate page they can find it, but I help them get there. You don’t need to be a priest of monk but everyone should have a religious lifestyle, so that is what I promote. If you are reading prayers the way you should, 1 hour morning, 20 min, midday, lunch and afternoon, 1 hour evening and some time for readings in between you won’t have time to do the sins that can get you in trouble.”

Steven explaining his daily prayer routine

“It’s almost six so I need to get to mass.” He starts to pack up and we walk the 15 minutes to St. Frances of Assisi Catholic Church. There I get to listen to mass the way people did for ages, in a language they didn’t understand. The mass was in Spanish and Steven who is not fluent in Spanish does know every prayer, and some are quite long.

Steven and I stand out like sore thumbs, (I don’t particularly notice sore thumbs but we did really stand out). For one thing we were both under 50. The only others being a group of three teenage boys who were dragged in by the ears a few minutes late. We were the only non-Hispanic people in the audience, we were the only ones with beards, but perhaps what made us stand out most of all was Steven’s hat. This hat is a sight to behold. “I got this straw hat in Ojai California, but in time it began to wear out were I grabbed it to take it on and off, so I reinforced it with some sticks I glued. I just kept gluing things on and over time, I now have this hat. The other thing that stands out on Steven is that he is scared, on his neck, ear, chest, arms and hands from a very bad burn that he says he doesn’t recall, because it happened at age 2.

People smile and nod as they walk by Steven and I. Steven participates in every way possible, singing loudly with the songs, in a falsetto higher than mine (and that is saying something). Reciting all the prayers, standing at all the right times, except for one thing. Steven doesn’t go up to get the sacrament. Why? I am not sure. I don’t understand all the rules with sacrament and the Catholic church but what is clear from the people around him is they are not comfortable around Steven. They are unsure why he is there, unsure if he is crazy, but they are sure he doesn’t fit in. I am fairly confident one of the reasons Steven does not partake of the sacrament is he doesn’t want others to feel uncomfortable.

We enter the church, attend the whole mass and then stay after for Steven to pray for a bit. We walk by dozens of people and no one, not one tried to talk to us. One could argue that they had a valid point, we didn’t speak Spanish, but I’m not sure how they would have known that. After all, he did recite every prayer and song in Spanish. And don’t take this the wrong way. This is not to attack the many people who attended mass that day. I don’t think they are hypocrites or bad people. My guess is that church was full of wonderful people who serve others and love others and do their best to follow Christ. My point is that we struggle to know what to do with people who are different than ourselves, different race, culture, religion and probably more than any of those, different levels of sanity.

I bring this up because I am right there with these people. True, I got to sit down and get to know Steven, but I have no clue how to help him. I am not a doctor, but I think he has a mental illness of some kind. Is it an anxiety about work and religion provides a convenient scapegoat? Does it have to do with the severe burns he received before he has memory of it? I have no idea.

But whatever it is, he is kind, happy, keeps himself cleaner than most people who live on the streets and really mostly keeps to himself. What would 'help' for Steven look like? An institution? Drugs? He doesn’t want those things. The easy answer might be to just leave him alone.

If your hoping for an answer on what should be done about the Steven’s of the world, and there are more than you think, don’t ask me. Because the answer to this one is: I really don’t know. But what I do know is, we will never find it by pretending he and the thousands like him don’t exist.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Mover Moves on

My Dear Friend Troy working in the front yard, with a few helpers along for the ride.

One of my earliest introductions to Troy Selinger was the same introduction that hundreds have had to Troy Selinger, helping my family move into Boulder City. The Saturday that my family moved into Boulder City was a long one. Several men from the ward packed up trucks full of my belongings and hauled them all the way across Las Vegas. Unfortunately, one trip was insufficient to get all our stuff and Troy along with a few other stalwarts made the long trek back for a second load. It took almost the entire Saturday. But there was no complaints and rather than any irritation, all I ever felt from Troy that day was love.

Troy has quite possibly moved more people into and out of Boulder City than anyone else, and Troy really was ideal for helping with moves, for so many reasons. Not only did he show up, but he often organized and made sure the move was successful. I recall many calls and texts encouraging me to join him in an opportunity to help someone move.

Troy was strong. More often than I care to admit, I would walk into the Uhaul of some kind family that we were moving and would pick up the small box, or pillow, knowing Troy was behind me to get the large box of books, the heavy chest of draws or the piano.

His strength came not just by genes or good luck, it was from hard work and preparation. Many early mornings on my way to work or evenings as I returned home from an errand I would drive by Troy, running or biking. He kept himself in great shape and then used his strong body to serve others.

Troy was a hard worker. As long as boxes still remained to unload, or furniture remained to unpack or pack Troy was working. He not only stayed until the job was done but stayed busy until the job was done.

Troy was also a great packer. We loved it when Troy took the lead in packing the trailer or Uhaul. We knew he would find room for everything, no matter how awkward or odd it was, he found the perfect spot for it.

But despite all these the greatest reason he was the best person to have at a move was that Troy knew moving was not about boxes or furniture, it was about people. Troy had a way to put his arm around you and talk to you that made the new acquaintance feel like old friends. And a way to comfort and love his long time friends that prepared them to make the journey to a place where all they had was new acquaintances. No matter how awkward or odd you felt or how much you felt you would never fit, Troy made everyone realize that they did fit and there was a place for them.

It’s a funny thing about moves. Moves at times come during great times in our lives, new jobs, beginning a new family, or an upgrade in a home. But sometimes moves come during the challenging time in our lives. Foreclosures, bankruptcy, job loss, or breaking up of families. Such moves may come due to winds and waves beyond our control, but at times they come because of our own poor decisions and mistakes. No matter the reason, Troy was there. There to love and there to support. He was as void of any judgement towards others and he was full of love.

Troy at this time has made a move. And just as he was always there to help, love and support others I know that there is someone there to support him. A master at helping us through the moves of life, good or bad, his brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jeffery R. Holland said, “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you think you have made, or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home or family or God you feel you have traveled. I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”

I know that the atonement continues to play a part in Troy’s life just as it does for each of us. I know that he is blessed to feel the divine embrace of our Savior as he goes through this trying time in his life just as he helped all of us feel it when he was here with us. I know that because of our Savior Jesus Christ, I will be able to once again embrace my friend and brother, Troy Selinger, and I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

If you liked this article please consider subscribing to my blog by entering your email below. Why subscribe? You get emails when I write these amazing articles and it really helps me. When I go to publish books or articles my number of subscribers is a big deal to them, so taking the time to subscribe means alot to me.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

When did you get out?

Allen and I at Arby's
“We will go in and collect the weapons, you watch him. One false move and you know what to do. We’re counting on you Allen.”
The Commander took several of the men into the small house that had been used as a weapons stash, leaving Allen staring into the face of a young man, a boy really, he couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. Allen kept his machine gun pointed at the boy. He wasn’t much of a threat to the marines except in his ability to run off and warn others. They had no desire to take any prisoners, so the mission was simple, get the weapons out of this small home and once on the road allow the boy to run off. The plans changed with one small movement as the boy reached for his pocket.
“Keep your hands out of your pocket.” Hadn’t they searched him for weapons? But as his hand continued into the pocket Allen realized that the others hasty search could have missed a small detonator. Every-man on this mission except him was potentially about to be blown to bits and there only hope was for him to act quickly. Most shots would still allow for muscle movement and even a slight movement would allow for a detonator to be triggered, only one shot would guarantee the men's safety, Allen took it.
“I’m fine, let me go out.”
“I’m sorry Allen, you aren’t ready to go out on patrols yet.”
“It’s been three days. You expect me to just sit hear all day and go crazy.”
“I’m your commanding officer, you will go when I say you are ready.”
“Worried I’ll shoot up a village of innocent children.”
“Allen, that’s enough.” His voice was stern, but softened as he said, “Allen what you had to do would have shaken up any of us. And it was the right call even though it wasn’t a detonator, you didn’t know. But I need you to get it together, I will send you out as soon as I think it’s right.”
Allen walked off. His three closest friends died that day when there vehicle triggered an IED. “I am not proud of what I did. It haunts me to this day. And the fact that I did it ended up saving my life a few days later only makes it worse.”
He came back from the Gulf War and went back to doing exactly what he did before the war, construction. “My dad was a general contractor and I worked for him both in Washington before the war and in the Phoenix area after. We built custom homes. I can do everything on a home from the ground up. Framing, sheet rock, tile, stucco, plumbing. You name it.”
The company did well and even survived the great recession but what it couldn’t survive was the death of his Father. “He died seven years ago and my brothers didn’t want to keep the business going, so they sold all the equipment.”
Shortly after that Allen found himself on the streets for the first time. And once on the street he learned a hard truth. You are under a lot more scrutiny of the law once you are homeless. He had smoked marijuana for many years. “It keeps me calm when I have episodes about the war.” Smoking, buying and using pot had never really been an issue for him, but once on the streets he began to have run ins with police and they found the pot. Soon he was cycling in and out of jail. It was the same pattern, they would let him out, he’d search for work and every decent prospect would find out about his record and it would fall through, he’d sleep on the streets and at some point they’d catch him with pot again and he’d be back to jail. “They follow me around and tell stores that I am going to steal from them. I have never once stolen anything in this town, but the police feel the need to tell people I do. The only charge I have ever had is for marijuana.”
“I refuse to steal, can’t find work and have to eat, so I sit on the corner with my sign.”
This pattern allows him to survive, barely. “I usually get $15 to $20 a day. It’s enough for food and I save a little so that I can go to the truck stop and shower for $11, at least once a week.”
Today you can see him on the outskirts of town far enough out into the dessert that temperatures might actually drop below 100 degrees in the Yuma nights. “I stay further out because I don’t really get along with people. I refuse to stay in the shelter because I am prone to get violent in my sleep. I don’t want to wake from a dream only to find I have hurt someone.”
I realize as I speak with Allen that twice I end up asking him the same question. “When did you get out?” First as I learn about his military service and again when I learn that he has been in jail. Funny, that we move from town to town, or leave one job to another but when it comes to the military and jail, we “get out.”

Generally, we use the term ‘get out’ to describe a situation we didn’t want to be in. War and prison would likely both qualify. Both are experiences most of us wish to never have, both are very different than most of the lives we live. They are hard, they can leave us wounded and scared. Sometimes the scars are physical, sometimes mental and sometimes they are scars on our record. Funny things about scars, they make people different, and we don’t always accept people who are different. What I realized about Allen is that he may have gotten out, but I’m not sure we are ready to let him back in.

Election Results (How I did)

As always I promise to tell how I did in the final election results. So, here I go.

  • Prediction #1- Both pool questions will go down. I think this town wants a new pool and I think the yes on 1 and no on 3 strategy is a smart one. Basically give the money for design so we have better plans and numbers without giving the $40 Million dollar check. But they will go down together. As much as we want a pool, $40 million is a big ask, and people feel, I think justifiably so that Council and Staff really have not done enough to explore other options besides bonding for the full amount. The idea that they will bond for $40 million but then use other funding does not fly with most people. They simply don’t have that kind of trust.

Result- I was correct on this one. Question 1 to give $5 million for design definitely out performed the $40 million dollar pool, going down with basically 60-40 vs. the dismal 70-30 split for the pool. This will put a tough situation for the current council. They have an electorate that wants a pool but doesn't want to pay for it. I think there is some good ways to get there and I think real leadership can find a way to use other funds besides a direct increase in property taxes but it won't be easy.

  • Prediction #2- Question 2 will go down in flames. What is question #2? You don’t know and that is exactly why it will go down in flames. It has to do with restructuring debt and those type of questions need a champion and someone to clearly explain the benefits to voters. This question doesn’t have one and will therefore bomb.
Result- I am very pleased to say I was wrong on this one, it passed. Not by much, only 100 votes, but this is great news. It really made sense to allow the council to refinance debt but I didn't think without people pushing for it that it had a chance. But people of Boulder City proved me wrong, they made the right choice and passed this one.

  • Prediction #3- Question 4 on off road vehicles will pass. There is a lot of people who love these vehicles in our town and while there are those who worry about the noise, the yes side is definitely more passionate about this. In fact, this may be the question that improves voter turnout more than anything else.
Result- I was wrong again. There was a lot of people who really wanted this to pass and they ran a good campaign but clearly there are more people who worry about noise. I missed judged this one.

  • Prediction #4- Rich Shuman will loose his bid for reelection. Rich did too little too late for his reelection. Personally I think Rich will enjoy the break and having his Tuesday nights and other time back. He has served us well but others have been more engaged in the election process and that will hurt him. I think he will be in the bottom of the four running.
Result- I was correct. I think Rich has done a great job and we owe him a debt both for his time on council and his time on the planning commission. I wish him the best. In the end his level of effort simply felt like less. I don't think people saw him as engaged and he got almost 700 votes less than #3.

  • Prediction #5- Peggy will win reelection. She was so close on the primary and while she may not pick up large amounts of votes from those that are no longer running, she has to pick up so few to win, she will do it. What the primary really showed me is that Peggy is really loved in the community. I figured she would do well but how much better she preformed compared to the Mayor and Rich Shuman really surprised me. It shows that many people who may not align with the incumbents have a positive view of Peggy and that will pay off for her.
Result- I was wrong but it was close. Peggy lost, but by the razor thin margin of 39 votes. Goes to show you that every vote counts. I too think Peggy deserves our gratitude. I think she has done a wonderful job and I was surprised to see her loose, but she did have some great competition, which leads me to:

  • Prediction #6- Claudia Bridges will be elected to the city council. In the primary she and James Howard Adams were only separated by 35 votes. I think again they will be extremely close. But ultimately I am not going to underestimate Claudia again. I think she will get the second slot and win. I think she connects well to the city and has been running a really good campaign.
Result- Mostly correct. Claudia did win and outperformed James but also out performed Peggy. Claudia has run a great campaign worked hard and really connected with voters. I think she will do an excellent job on council and can't wait to see her in action.

  • Prediction #7- That leaves James Howard Adams not making it in. I cannot say how impressed I have been with James Howard Adams. I think he has run a good campaign. I have not been to every event but largely what I have seen, he has been very positive. But I don't think he connects as well as Claudia and others to those in the community and I think he will loose. However, I think he will be positioned well to run and win in the future.
Result- I was wrong. Again only by 39 votes but James did it. The times I drove by during early voting I saw that he, Claudia and Kiernan were out at the credit union. And that extra face to face push, I think really helped. I think James will bring a unique perspective to council and I am excited to see him in action.
  • Prediction #8- Mayor Woodbury will win a second term. As close as it is, he has good name recognition and the moral victory of winning the primary (some people really want to back a winner). Again, I don’t feel very strongly about this one but in the end that is my call.
Result- I was wrong and not only that Woodbury lost but I thought it would be much closer. In the end, I assumed the Harhay votes going 60-40 to Kiernan's favor and new voters that didn't vote in the primary going to Woodbury with similar 60-40 split. I think Kiernan got more Harhay voters than I predicted and also beat Woodbury on those that hadn't voted in the primary. In the end, we got a Mayor McManus by over 400 votes almost a 10% victory.

I have always like Rod and still do. I think he did an excellent job as Mayor and deserves our gratitude. But I think this change will be good for him and for our city. If he was a good mayor why would it be good that he lost? The truth is, as the vote showed he was not able to garner the trust of the people. Rod has always come off as somewhat snooty (I hope this is the right word). I don't think he is and the more I have gotten to know him the more impressed I am with him, but due to his more shy and reserved nature he doesn't come off as that personable. I think this has led to many mistrusting him and therefore the need for a change.

I also always like it when you see that money is not everything in politics. Rod way outspent McManus and Rod made some significant blunders during the election in my mind that really hurt him (in some ways because he spent too much and sent out too many flyers). He was more negative than he needed to be and should of focused on his accomplishments and not tried to drag Kiernan down. I never like negative politics and while I didn't see everything I would argue that from face value Kiernan ran a cleaner campaign. (And I mean Kiernan himself, there were many who supported him that were very negative, but you can't control what others say.) Also Kiernan, defiantly ran a more grass roots face to face campaign. A wise man once told me when I originally didn't think Harhay had a chance at city council, "I have seen him face to face, with people, and he makes sure to get face to face with people. You can't underestimate that type of campaign." Interestingly enough, the person who told me that was Mayor Woodbury. I think the Mayor may have had things on his plate that limited his face to face campaigning but for every flyer, I think Kiernan had a hand shake and that, in the end made a big difference.

What about Mayor McManus? I think he will do a good job. I think he ran a good campaign and I think he is honest about his love of this city. I don't always agree with him, but he is well thought out and seems to be very fiscally conservative with city money. I think he has a chance to build some trust with the citizens given that many of those that are most distrusting of the city are very supportive of him. That should give him a lot of room to accomplish some good work. I look forward to seeing him do well and will happily support him any way I can.

A big thank you to everyone who ran, helped others run, and got out and voted. Here is to a great next four years.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Primary Predictions: How I did, and Ballot question predictions.

Every Vote Counts
As promised here are my general election predictions.

A few thoughts.

First, a few thoughts on the election. Every election cycle in Boulder City I have some of the same thoughts, here are a few.

#1 Gratitude that there are those who are willing to sacrifice a significant amount of time and effort it takes to run and then serve in our town. True they get some compensation but it is very small compared to the level of commitment, especially if they do it well.

#2 Gratitude that I live in such an amazing town and community, a community that is engaged and votes in much higher numbers than most places.

#3 Impressed with the level of candidates. All four candidates for city council and both for mayor are good men and women who will serve our community well.

#4 Sorrow for people in the campaigns, but mostly people outside who use this opportunity to take wonderful people and process and make it negative by exaggerating weaknesses, pretending they know what candidates think. I do not wish to dwell on this but I will give two examples. For mayor, I have heard people say that Mayor Woodbury does not care about historic preservation. You may not agree with how he approaches historic preservation, but you are not one to say he does not care about it. He and his family has done a tremendous amount for historic preservation. I believe, without his and his families involvement we would not have saved the hotel. How sad would that be. And why you may think he should have done more, or done differently it is unfair to say he doesn't care about historic preservation. 

Likewise I have heard people say Councilman McManus is a big spending liberal. This too, is unfair. I have seen nothing about what he has said or done that shows his a big spending liberal. To the contrary, he seems very conscientious of taxpayer funds. Fiscally he appears to be very conservative and his views on national politics should not be a basis for weather he is a good candidate for local office.

I could go on, but there has been many unfair attacks on all candidates and that saddens me. I think every candidate running has many positive qualities and I wish people would focus on those. But while many will call this an unrealistic dream, it is my dream, and I'll keep dreaming about it.

#5- I am only making predictions not endorsements. I have my opinion on who I think will do the best and I will vote that way. But I have not been as involved as in times past and don't feel the need nor so strongly that I will make any endorsements. My predictions are just that, but how I will vote and who I predict will win are not the same in all cases. I attempt to be as non-bias in my predictions as possible. 

All right enough about that here are my predictions.

City Council

Prediction #1- Rich Shuman will loose his bid for reelection. Rich did too little too late for his reelection. Personally I think Rich will enjoy the break and having his Tuesday nights and other time back. He has served us well but others have been more engaged in the election process and that will hurt him. I think he will be in the bottom of the four running.

Prediction #2- Peggy will win reelection. She was so close on the primary and while she may not pick up large amounts of votes from those that are no longer running, she has to pick up so few to win, she will do it. What the primary really showed me is that Peggy is really loved in the community. I figured she would do well but how much better she preformed compared to the Mayor and Rich Shuman really surprised me. It shows that many people who may not align with the incumbents have a positive view of Peggy and that will pay off for her.

Prediction #3- Claudia Bridges will be elected to the city council. In the primary she and James Howard Adams they were only separated by 35 votes. I think again they will be extremely close. But ultimately I am not going to underestimate Claudia again. I think she will get the second slot and win. I think she connects well to the city and has been running a really good campaign.

Precition #4- That leaves James Howard Adams not making it in. I cannot say how impressed I have been with James Howard Adams. I think he has run a good campaign. I have not been to every event but largely what I have seen, he has been very positive. But I don't think he connects as well as Claudia and others to those in the community and I think he will loose. However, I think he will be positioned well to run and win in the future.

Mayor Election

The mayor race is incredibly interesting. You have a very well connected, and well funded incumbent against a sitting council member with a strong base. As noted in an earlier article Woodbury had only 56 more votes than McManus in the primary.
I think primary voters who voted for each man will stay with them in the general. So, that leaves two groups of voters up for grabs. HarHay voters and voters who will vote in the general but did not vote in the primary.
HarHay votes, conventional wisdom tells you would go mostly to McManus. I think this is correct, but not nearly in the numbers that some would guess. Some would say 100%, or at least 80-90%. I think the numbers are closer to 60-40. So, that would mean 379 for McManus and 252 for Woodbury. This would put Mcmanus on top.
However, the second group. Those that will vote in the general and not the primary, I give a similar advantage to Woodbury, about 60-40. Why? McManus supporters are very committed, so much so, that most will and did vote in the primary. General election voters, who are less engaged may vote more off of name recognition. When it comes to name recognition Woodbury definitely has an advantage. So, the question becomes. How big will voter turnout be? I think large turnout favors Woodbury. The problem is that at 34% turnout for the primary, we are all ready near top numbers. I don’t think this off cycle election will have big turnout. So, I am not sure how many voters there will be to pick up. So if there are additional 400 votes at play. 240 would go Woodbury and 160 McManus by my calcs.
No matter how I look at the numbers I see this being extremely close. It will truly come down to turn out, honestly every time I go to make a prediction I keep changing it. At first I had McManus because of his primary showing and likelihood to sway HarHay Voters, then I had Woodbury predicting that turnout may make up more than the 100 or so votes, which is all he would need. Then I went back to McManus because I think some of Woodbury's adds have and will hurt him. Then I have seen many begin to rebuttal many of the attacks against Woodbury in an effective manner and thought that might help him. My gut is to stay with toss up but that is too weak so,
Prediction #5- Mayor Woodbury will win a second term. As close as it is, he has good name recognition and the moral victory of winning the primary (some people really want to back a winner). Again, I don’t feel very strongly about this one but in the end that is my call.
As always, if you think I am wrong, get out and prove me wrong with your vote. I hope we can all be excited about those willing to serve no matter who wins. I wait anxiously to support and help whomever will be leading us in the future. See you all at the polls.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Primary Predictions: How I did, and Ballot question predictions.

So, early voting is about to start for the general election and I still haven't gone over how I did on the primary. So, here it is. I made a total of 9 predictions, 6 related to city council, and 3 for mayor. So, here is each as they appeared in my first article and how I did on them. I also cover what my predictions for the general election ballot questions. I will give my predictions on city council and mayor in a future post.

City Council Predictions

Prediction #1- No candidate will get through in the primary. There are far too many people on the ballot, all of which have connections in the community and will pull a decent amount of votes so we will be onto the general.

Result- 100% correct. Although Peggy Leavitt got surprisingly close, only 120 votes shy. Her out performance of the others was truly impressive. But as predicted no one got enough votes to avoid a general election run off.
Prediction #2-Sorry Trent and Brent, but you two will get the least amounts of votes. I do not wish to be negative about either of these candidates, but I have not seen one sign, mailer or Facebook post promoting them. In fact, I have hardly heard of them, and I don't think I am alone. People need to feel like their candidate has a chance and really wants this to put their vote for their name, and these two haven't convinced the public they are serious candidates.
Result- 100% correct. Trent got 303 votes and Brent got 97. Trent may have done better than Brent but they both were clearly less than any other candidates.
Prediction #3- Peggy Leavitt and Rich Shuman will make it to the general election. Had I written this prediction a week ago, I might have not given Rich Shuman as much chance. He seemed MIA, as far as marketing his campaign, but he has showed up and will get past this first round. Incumbents by nature have some natural advantages, and disadvantages. But the advantages are sufficient to ensure that they will both be on the general election ballot. I will even go so far as to guess they will both be in the top 3, mostly because the anti-incumbent vote will be very split with the remaining candidates.
Result- I will go 75% correct. While Peggy and Rich made it. Rich was definitely the under performer of the primary. I kind of like his, “Vote for me if you like me, don’t if you don’t” attitude. Focusing on his record rather than a lot of campaigning but it is not going well. He had no business not being in the top 3 given that the anti-incumbency vote was very split.  So, I overestimated his performance but was correct that they would both make it and correct Peggy being in the top.
Prediction #4- Tom Tyler will not make it to the general election. I know Tom and he is a wonderful man, has good connections in town and through the Emergency Aid of Boulder City but he has not been as involved in city politics and doesn't have a natural base. This will prove too much for him to overcome.
Result -100% correct. Tom is a good man that did well but I think my prediction and basis for it were fairly accurate.
Prediction #5- James Howard Adams will make it to the general election. James has been involved in BC politics for sometime. The endorsement of the Boulder City Community Alliance (BCCA) was big for him and he has proven worthy of the endorsement. He has really out performed expectations . I think he will be in the top three.
Result- 100% correct. I think James has been exactly as I laid out. A great candidate all around and really has performed well.
Prediction #6- This is where I would get in toss-up territory. I had a very difficult time guessing who I would list as the #4 slot in the general election, Judy Dechaine or Claudia Bridges. Claudia got the endorsement of the BCCA, which is big. But even those in their own ranks questioned if the process was above board. Last year, they had a candidates forum with all the candidates and after they had heard all their viewpoints voted as a group on who to endorse. This time, the BCCA founders met separately with people they wanted to run, had them present at a meeting and choose to endorse before candidate filling had even ended. This left for an awkward position for people like Judy. Judy is very connected and involved with BCCA and their causes, but the endorsement went to Claudia before she had even filed. But despite this, I think Judy has been a surprisingly good candidate, and pulled much of the BCCA base to her side. She has been more engaged than Claudia and I think she will get the #4 spot and Claudia will be in #5
Result 0%- While I did say this was a toss up my ultimate prediction was very wrong. I was very impressed with Judy’s campaign and I felt she did outperform, but clearly not as much as I thought she would. Claudia was where I was clearly the most wrong. Clearly, her natural connection with the town and hard work was more than I estimated. She came in second in votes and really out performed my predictions. This was definitely where I was most incorrect.

Now onto the Mayor predictions-

Prediction #7- No one will get 50% of the vote and win in the primary. All three of these candidates are good viable candidates and they will split the vote enough that no one will get above 50%.
Result: 100% correct. Not much else to say.
Prediction #8- Mayor Woodbury will get the most votes in the primary.  Until recently I really felt the Mayor was in serious trouble (and he may still be in the general). But he has used his strengths, good connections, and a well financed campaign to his advantage. I think with others on the ballot splitting the anti-incumbent vote he will get the most votes.
Result- 100% correct. He did indeed, but how close it was. (He only had 56 more votes than McManus.) So, I was 100%, but who could have really guessed it when it was this close? I will admit to a bit of luck on this one.
Prediction #9- This one is hard for me to write, and while I have tried to be neutral as I write this, I hope I am wrong. But, Warren Harhay will not be going onto the general election. He is the moderate, middle of the road candidate, and the middle is a tough place to win primaries from. And while I applaud his self funded candidacy, it has hurt him. Signs and mailers are not everything, but they are something and that is how some people will be introduced to candidates. What is so funny about this is that I think Harhay could potentially win against either of the other two candidates in a head to head. Why? because most people who vote for Woodbury in the primary would rather have Harhay than McManus, and most people who vote for McManus would rather have Harhay than Woodbury. So, you could see a 35% for Woodbury, 35% for McManus, and 30% for Harhay. But head to head Harhay would potentially beat both 60/40. But those are the rules, and so that is how it goes. So in the end, I think it will be McManus and Woodbury in the general election.
Result-100% correct. The final result was basically, 40% to Woodbury and McManus and 20% to Harhay. I will admit that 20% is a little lower than I would have put HarHay but I still stand by that I think Councilan Harhay would beat either of the other candidates head to head but as stated, the center is a tough place to win primaries from.
So, I am giving myself an 8 out of 9 for the primary. Not bad. So, here are my general election predictions.

Ballot Questions

So, there are four questions. Here is a quick summary, in my very non-legal, non-official terms.

Question #1, should we spend $5 million to design a pool?

Question #2, should we let city council refinance debt over $1 million without making them ask the voters?

Question #3, should we spend $40 million dollars to build a new pool?

Questions #4, Should we let people drive their really cool dessert vehicles (They should call them RCDV, but use OHV instead) in the street?

Prediction #1- Both pool questions will go down. I think this town wants a new pool and I think the yes on 1 and no on 3 strategy is a smart one. Basically give the money for design so we have better plans and numbers without giving the $40 Million dollar check. But they will go down together. As much as we want a pool, $40 million is a big ask, and people feel, I think justifiably so that Council and Staff really have not done enough to explore other options besides bonding for the full amount. The idea that they will bond for $40 million but then use other funding does not fly with most people. They simply don’t have that kind of trust.
Prediction #2- Question 2 will go down in flames. What is question #2? You don’t know and that is exactly why it will go down in flames. It has to do with restructuring debt and those type of questions need a champion and someone to clearly explain the benefits to voters. This question doesn’t have one and will therefore bomb.

Prediction #3- Question 4 on off road vehicles will pass. There is a lot of people who love these vehicles in our town and while there are those who worry about the noise, the yes side is definitely more passionate about this. In fact, this may be the question that improves voter turnout more than anything else.
Stay tuned for my City Council and Mayor General Election predictions to follow.