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.

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. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Boulder City Primary Election Predictions 2019




Several people have asked me if I was again going to make predictions this election, like I did last election. I have been somewhat reluctant, mostly because I have not been as involved this year. This is largely because I have decided to continue my schooling. But, as I walked into city hall to vote today (a mistake, since voting at BC city hall doesn't start until tomorrow) I decided I would go ahead and make my predictions public.

To start, I want to say that I am very impressed with who we have running this year. I don't know all the candidates but all those I know, care about the city and would all do a decent job. I think no matter the outcome, the city will be in good hands.

Second, I want to make clear that my predictions are not my votes. We are all biased by our views and I'm no different, but I try to make predictions on what I think will happen, not on what I want to happen.

Let's start with City Council. Let's review the rules of the game. In the primary, which is on April 2nd (early voting tomorrow at city hall). Each citizen gets two votes and if any candidate gets over 50% of the voters to put them as one of their choices, they get in and no general election is required for them. If no candidate gets over 50% than the top 4 candidates face off in the general election for the two available seats.

So, the eight candidates running are Peggy Leavitt, Rich Shuman, Tom Tyler, Trenton Motley, Brent Foutz, Judy Dechaine, Claudia Bridges and James Howard Adams.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Now onto the Mayor. Back when I wrote for the paper I encouraged both Rod Woodbury and Warren Harhay to run (you can read the articles here. Woodbury Harhay.) I am very excited to see them both running. And I think all three candidates are good options, which has made this hard to predict.

But here I go.

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%.

I will digress a little bit to tackle an incorrect idea that I have seen a lot of. I have seen those who are opposed to Mayor Woodbury disparage either Harhay or McManus for both running and splitting the anti-Woodbury vote. This is crazy, and shows some basic misunderstanding of how our primary/general election works. They can't split the vote because which-ever one gets more of the votes will go head to head with Woodbury. In fact, both of them running actually hurt the Mayor. If he had only one to run against in the primary, when voting is more limited, he would be more likely to take over 50% and not even need to run in the general. (I think of the two electorates, the general election and primary, the primary is more favorable to Woodbury).

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.

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.


As always, if you think I am crazy. Get out, vote and prove me wrong.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Campaign Principle #3- Running on a Budget

Campaign Principle #3- Run on a budget.

This may not be the most controversial principle but it is by far the least followed. Politics and fundraising has become as inseparable as college and student loans. Most feel you can't have one without the other. And while I am not opposed to all fundraising and campaign donations, the extent to which it is done is ridiculous.

In 2016 Hillary Clinton and her Super PAC raised over $1.2 billion dollars. And that is less than Barack Obama in 2012. Does anyone really think that if only she had a few more million dollars to throw out a few more adds in the swing states she would have pulled it off?

I wish I could recall the exact numbers but I recall that in 2012 with less than a week to go in the election, President Obama, and Mitt Romney both had some insane amount of money and I was getting calls and emails asking me to donate more every day. Both had so much money that they could flood almost every airway radio and TV, fill every mailbox, put a yard sign in every yard and still have enough to pay my salary for the rest of my life. (This may be an exaggeration but not by much.)

The problem is that one of the major ways we base how a candidate is doing is the "Money Race". How much do they have on hand? How much is in their "war chest"? Of course, their is legitimate reasons we do this. If someone is willing to put money into someone's campaign they are extremely likely to vote for them. Hence, why the "small dollar" donations are seen as an important metric. Yet, the majority of the money coming into campaigns is not "small dollar". This is true at all levels.

The fundraising flood that hits every major election cycle puts far more money into campaigns than is really needed for candidates to get their information out there. We encourage them to raise as much as possible and spend as much as possible. I see three significant issues with this:

1. We have them learn that the way to get things done is to spend, spend, spend and then we scratch our heads that they cannot find a way to put forth policies that maintain a reasonable budget.

2. Nobody is immune from influence. If someone pays us money we feel indebted to them, it's human nature. The more they give us the more indebted we feel. You can be the best person on earth but if someone pays you thousands of dollars to help get you elected, you are going to give them more heed when they come knocking on your door, than some else who did not.

3. Money spent on elections is money that could have been spent elsewhere. We all know there are many things that are needed in our community. Our schools are underfunded, with underpaid teachers, people throughout the world go hungry, and high school kids swim in pools that don't meet their needs. Shifting campaign funds to these issues would not solve them, but it would be a step in the right direction.

So what is to be done?

We could make laws trying to craft how much each person can contribute? (owe wait we did that). We could cap the total and dictate every aspect of fundraising?

That is not my vote. Rather I would love to see candidates run on a budget. And if I run for office that is exactly what I will do.  Pick a reasonable amount you feel it would cost to run. For example, if you are running for city council review what you feel it will costs you to to run an effective election, say, $10,000.  Then cap your fundraising at that. If I were to do it, I would say I would only take $20 donations from 500 people. After that, if you want to give more I would encourage they put the money to something more worthwhile than getting me elected. (That shouldn't be too hard to find.) If I were running this year for city council/mayor I would encourage any excess go to a fund to donate private donations to the pool, or other cause I feel is important.

This would do several things: show that I am able to plan and execute within a budget, and don't simply look to money to solve my woes. It would encourage small donations, because people would know how I plan to fund my election, and lastly it would ensure that I am not overly indebted to one person or organization. It's a very unique model, but I would love to see it catch on. If anyone tried it, they would go very far in winning my vote.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Campaign Principles #2

I have decided to draft the important principles I would follow if I were to ever run for office. If you have not read Principle #1 you can read it here. With no further ado:

Campaign Principle #2- Make sure I want and can do the job effectively, not just that I want the title, think I can win the election or am mad about one or two specific issues.

I will never forget several years ago, when I lived in Vegas, I had the opportunity to meet with someone who was planning to run for State Assembly. I asked them why they wanted to run for office. They rattled off how mad they were about a bunch of national issues and how poor our current president was doing. I asked them what they thought about several state issues and they had no idea. They wanted to get involved in "politics" but were going to do so by chasing a position they knew nothing about. The person was well connected in the community, well liked, and had many connections that would make fundraising simple. They asked me if I thought they could win. All I could think was, "that is the wrong question." I did think they could win, but I didn't think they should run.

I always worry about this with local political positions and I try to check myself whenever I have considered running. Most of the ones I've seen are not as bad as the example above, but some seem to think they would like the position, or they are hot under the collar about an issue or two, and so they throw their hat in the ring without really knowing what they are getting into. In city politics, there are those big issues that the citizens really care about. They get debated on Facebook and at the local cafe and you think to yourself. "If I was in there I would do so much better then these dingbats." And then there is the more mundane, day to day votes, committees, events, issues, and meetings that make up 95% of the job.

When the new feeling of being called councilman wears off, will I still have the commitment to really give it the time it deserves. And to do it right it takes much more than reading the packet and voting on the issues put before you. Good councilmen, councilwomen, and mayors will drive issues, and that takes research, meetings and a willingness to take risks.  That is why I look for someone and hope to be someone who has been involved prior to showing up to run. Have they been attending council meetings? Have they served on committees and given the time and commitment when there wasn't money and title involved?

Can they even answer what the role of the position is? I have spoken to many in our city who get very confused on the role that the Mayor and Council have vs. the City Manager, City Attorney and other city officials. It is hard to do a job well if you don't understand what the job is. (And as a complete side note that I will write about later, I think some of the biggest political issues and failures come from politicians doing others' jobs. Judges thinking they're in the legislative branch, legislatures thinking they should be executives, and executives trumping themselves up, thinking they should be all three.)

Also, what about my background helps me provide value in the position? A good council both challenges and provides a check on city officials. Without the right backgrounds City Council has difficulty effectively reviewing what staff gives them. It's hard to provide a good review and notice something is missed on an engineering report if you have no background in engineering. Just as an engineer will be hard pressed to provide a fair review of a legal issue. Good leaders can come from any profession, but this is part of the reason a diverse, critically thinking council is a benefit to the city.

So, in summary if I ever run for a position, I need to be able to clearly answer what the position is and does, what makes me uniquely qualified and able to provide value to the position, and can I honestly say that I can keep my commitment both in time and energy during the term of my position?

If I can't give clear, honest and affirmative answers to these questions, than I shouldn't run. I should get involved in other ways more suited to my time, abilities, and present experience and circumstances, like writing about campaign principles in hopes the right people will be inspired to run.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Campaign Principles #1

It is time of year again for people who want to run for City Council or Mayor in Boulder City to file. The filing dates are Jan. 22nd- Jan. 31st. It is no secret that I love Boulder City and City politics. As such, I do plan to run for City Council someday. Notice, I say someday, because today is definitely not that day. But I have wanted to write down my principles for campaigning for sometime and while politics is on my brain I will do so.

The reason is simple. I have been involved a little in a few people running for office and frankly I am not impressed. Not that they aren't great people who can do much for our community, but that I have seen them, get so caught up in the campaign that they do things that are not in their nature. I hope I would never do that and part of that is documenting my principles up front. Also, these are things that I look for in candidates. They are not deal breakers, but I take them into account in deciding who will get my support and vote.

Principle #1: Speak no evil of others running. My job is to tell you why I would be a good choice not why others would not be.

Imagine walking into an interview for a new position. The boss interviewing you says, "Why would you be a good fit for this job?"

You look her in the eye and say, "I saw Johnny just walk out, and I know you are interviewing him as well, so I thought you ought to know that Johnny is an idiot and would do a very lousy job."

"Thank you." She reply's, "but why would you make a good candidate?"

"Did I mention Johnny got fired from his last job because of drinking?"

"This is your interview, please tell me why you are the right person?"

"And by the way Johnny hates cats."

"Listen," She says in frustration, "I need to know why YOU would do good in this job?"

"Oh, all right...because, I'm not Johnny."

While this situation is utterly ridiculous. I have seen it played out in campaigns all across the county.  Politicians spend millions in telling you how lousy the other candidate/candidates are and essentially hope you will cast your ballot for them. Why? because at least they aren't the other guy. No wonder we so often feel forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. All we have heard about is the evil sides of both candidates.

I am a big believer in knowing what your job is and doing it. When you are running for office your campaign  is your interview. Your job is to answer peoples questions honestly and give them the information to vote for you or not.

In a regular job interview the person conducting the interview has several sources of information. The person answering the questions and of course the interviewer also has reference checks to verify information about the candidate. In politics, those reference checks do need to be done. These are done by media, endorsements, and talking to those who know the candidates best. Not by asking the other candidates.

I don't think we realize how deeply harmful the practice of mudslinging is to our politics and society. When 90% of what we hear about someone is negative, I don't care how good the person is, we will not trust them or want to work with or around them. Mudslinging downgrades the winners ability to govern once they are elected, no matter who wins. It erodes trust in our politicians and the process. It emboldens obstructionism. It encourages tribalism. And saddest of all, it works. That is why it is growing. That is why it is widely used in almost every campaign.

But work or not. It is wrong. It is harmful and at some point in the future if I run for office it is my commitment not to do it. In the meantime, I will look for candidates who avoid the temptation to fling mud across the bow. And encourage candidates to focus on the question, "Why are YOU the right person for the job?" And if their only answer is that they are not someone else, than I think we should pass.