… is right here!
Today I talk about:
- The real reason local retail is failing – bad service!
- Now the Courier-News takes on U-46 school board candidates Holt and Essendrop? Be still my beating heart!
- Blago’s gonna be in jail til 2024
- Governor Rauner’s PMS flairs up again
- We need a march for science?
- And I’m taking on Demitrius Smith in the Elgin Fox Trot 5K
This will be the first of many podcasts that will feature Larry Jones, Kurt Kojzarek, Jeff Meyer and other fascinating guests.
If you want to make a First Ward appearance, or there’s something you simply want to see us cover, leave a comment here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s continue the conversation!
Can you say “indulgent?” I knew you could!
Apparently I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack, because I made the mistake of walking the dogs through my south Fisher Farms neighborhood yet again. And sure enough, just when I thought that my fellow Genevans can do nothing to surprise me, they did just that.
On a sunny, 61 degree last week morning, parents were driving their middle-school children to the bus stop. Not to school, mind you – to the bus stop! Then, this morning I noticed they were dropping their ill-mannered progeny off at the south Heartland Elementary school paved path entrance.
And when I say “parents,” I mean at least ten to fifteen of ‘em.
That daunting 2.5 block walk must be too much for their delicate flowers, so why not abandon all pretense and buy them one of those electric scooters so they don’t get winded walking around the house.
Is it any wonder we’re facing a childhood obesity epidemic?
But don’t say the word “oppressed!”
In my earlier column on white people acting gangster, I may have mentioned that, with the exception of the Geneva Police, I wasn’t all that oppressed. And that’s just one of the many reasons it’s not appropriate for me to appropriate black culture.
Ah! But the fascinating result of that eminently satirical statement was to have the GPD drive slowly through my cul-de-sac a number of times the next day. The irony there is, I couldn’t get them to do that the week after my pickup truck was torched.
Why, one of the officers even took the time to glare at me as I was getting the riding mower ready for the season.
Shortly after writing my first 2006 column for the Tri-Cities Suns, former Kane County public defender and former Geneva resident, Sandi Byrd, warned me that the Geneva Police would not take kindly to any criticism of themselves or their city. And I thought she was just being paranoid. Silly me!
On the bright side, it’s good to know someone’s reading my stuff!
Keep them on a leash!
Since we’re already on the Geneva subject! And I mean dogs, by the way, though it might not be a bad idea to apply the same principle to your children.
When I got back from my four mile Sunday run, I abruptly realized that I hadn’t run into a single unrestrained hound. Who says there’s no such thing as miracles? Perhaps I should look into a Powerball purchase because I typically run into two to four of ’em.
On a good day, I’ll simply stop and wait while the owner re-assumes control of their errant canine. It’s not the end of the world, but if I’ve gotten into a good rhythm, it’s annoying to have to start over.
On a bad day, the incoming beast will send my terrified dog into a 180 degree five-foot flight and, constrained by her leash, I’m thrown completely off-balance only to be taken out by a perfect doggie chop block.
That’s happened twice in the last two years. Who needs two good knees anyway?
The bizarre thing is, if you politely inform these west siders that those pesky leash laws tend to prevent this kind of thing, they don’t take it too well.
In one case, a veterinarian – yes! A veterinarian – got rather terse with me for getting between his 90 lb. and my 40 lb. dog. When I didn’t find his attitude particularly amusing and started dialing 911, he started screaming at me to throw down the phone and fight.
Normally, I’d be happy to accommodate someone’s insistence on an ass-kicking, but not in Geneva for all the reasons we covered in our second story.
But my favorite off-leash dog story is the 60 pounder who ran right through me to get at my dog. Trust me! The Bears could use this creature. Thankfully, it happened on a grassy, gravel path so I survived, but my favorite Steve Prefontaine t-shirt has never recovered.
And the woman didn’t even bother to have a leash with her, so her dog kept coming at mine even after I got back up.
When I threatened to call 911 if I ever saw her dog running free again, she went back to her car, followed me, and did three Bricher Road drive bys complete with yelling, swearing, and bird flipping.
It’s not that some of what she said wasn’t true, but we’d only just met so how would she know? I finally had to call the police to put an end to it, though I did decline to press charges.
Wouldn’t life be a lot easier if y’all just kept your dogs tethered? Sadly, I’m going to have to insist on it going forward.
If you haven’t already availed yourself of it, please read Part 1.
6. Send out the worst mailers I’ve ever seen.
And by “worst,” I mean sending out blank postcards would’ve been exponentially better than the drivel they produced.
The raison d’etre of a campaign mailer is to get the voter to read the candidate’s last name, the office and perhaps one bullet point in the 10 seconds it takes to get from the mailbox to recycling. And you do that by keeping it very simple.
When I posted that postulate on Facebook, a commenter joked, “Why not send a mailer that simply says “Jones for Mayor.” Why not, indeed! It would actually be a very effective piece.
But instead of following that most basic rule, Joe Stanton followed in Melville’s footsteps by sending a series of pre-planned mailers that all started with, “Call me Ishmael.” Put more simply, they were:
- Way too wordy
- Written by Yoda – “Vote for me, you will!”
- So small they got lost in the junk mail
- Mean spirited
- Factually inaccurate
And they said nothing positive about candidate Tom Simonian. My favorite was the mailer that read:
Current and former alderman supporting Tom for Mayor – 9
Current and former alderman supporting the current mayor – 0
Someone needs to buy Joe a dictionary because he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between the words “support” and “endorse.” So not only did this mailer set off the kind of firestorm that kills a candidate, but four aldermen immediately endorsed Mayor Burns as a result.
In a bleepin’ hilarious hoist by your own petard irony, those “sudden” endorsements forced Stanton to pull his final mailer. It takes real effort to be that incompetent.
7. Use EDDM so your terrifying mailers scare non-voters into voting against you
For the uninitiated, EDDM, or Every Door Direct Mail, is a sometimes lower-cost Post Office mailing methodology that hits every residence on a postal route or Zipcode. It’s a great way for that new pizza place to reach out to their neighbors, but it’s not the best political tool because:
- It’s rarely less expensive than using targeted mailing lists
- It’s addressed to “Current Resident” instead of the “The Smith Family.”
- Most of it goes to people who don’t vote in local elections
- If you don’t understand mail routes, it can go to out-of-district families.
To put that in a Geneva perspective, if you send junk mail to Mill Creekers who don’t vote in local elections, it’s probably not going to help your cause.
But just when you think Stanton could possibly screw up more, EDDM turned out to be the nail in Simonian’ mayoral coffin! Did any of you notice the 2017 Geneva turnout? That’s right! It was a record 38 percent! That’s twice the typical number of voters.
Stanton’s mailers were so terrifying that he managed to accomplish something that no one else has. He actually got people who don’t vote in local elections to go to the polls. The problem was, they all voted against Simonian and anything he touched.
This is, bar none, the best shoot yourself in the foot campaign I’ve ever seen. Even Hilary Clinton is jealous!
Sadly, that also meant great candidates like Alderman Ron Singer and city council hopeful Mike Oleson were swept away by the anti-Simonian tide. The only alderman who survived the bloodbath was Rich Marks who was smart enough to ignore Stanton and listen to the right people.
I also may have mentioned that library Marketing Director Paula Krapf should send Simonian a thank you card. He’s the only reason that referendum passed.
8. Send out a Moby Dick closing statement
Forced to pull their final pre-planned mailer by those eminently predictable aldermanic Burns endorsements, Stanton sent out an 8.5 by 11 mailer instead. Joe actually told someone, “People read paragraphs, not bullet points.”
That’s about as a bad as it gets folks.
Voters will never read a full page diatribe and it didn’t even make it to my west side neighborhood.
9. Offer absolutely nothing positive
Negativity does not play well at the local level so I refuse to run negative campaigns. When confronted with an opponent who goes low, my consistent advice to my candidates is to shut up and let them talk.
That Kane County Democrat’s mailer supporting Burns should’ve been his swan song.
Had Stanton and Simonian simply kept their mouths shut and let the Mayor hang himself – something at which he’s quite adept – they would’ve run away with it. But like I said, Joe Stanton never gets tired of being wrong.
10. Continue to listen to Joe Stanton when it he’s only interested in using your money to exact revenge
Simonian’s campaign had nothing to do with getting him elected and everything to do with Stanton getting back at Burns. I’m not sure exactly what broke up our dynamic duo, but it must’ve been a doozy!
In the end, Simonian spent $40,000 to lose by two points more than Bob McQuillian did in 2013. And McQuillian only spent $3,000!
Like I said, this kind of rare incompetence takes a real effort and it would’ve been far funnier to watch had Stanton not taken some really good people down with Simonian.
To summarize, the Simonian “campaign” was the worst I’ve ever seen. Kevin Burns didn’t win this one, Joe Stanton lost it. And that comes from someone who’s covered and run campaigns for 11 long years.
But all is not lost my astute friends! Perhaps this debacle will be the stake in the heart of Joe Stanton. His consistent single-handed effort to destroy Geneva for his own personal gain has finally been exposed.
Though the Shakespearean tragedy we’re about to discuss is somewhat Geneva-centric, the moral of the story applies to any political endeavor anywhere. So if you want to go down in electoral flames while taking your political allies with you, here’s exactly how to do it:
1. Hire a really bad campaign manager because he tells you exactly what you want to hear.
Considering the Geneva disasters over which he’s presided, I cannot fathom how self-proclaimed “kingmaker” Joe Stanton gets anyone to listen to him, much less pay him to run a campaign. The best evidence of this swath of destruction propensity is that Stanton turned a sure mayoral victory into an abject rout.
Though let me make it clear that Tom Simonian’s certainly no prize. When provided the paperwork that proved Stanton’s utter fabrication in regards to what the Burns campaign spent to beat Bob McQuillian in 2013, Alderman Simonian simply ignored it.
I suppose if you’re going to lie, lie big!
2. Put $75,000 in your campaign fund in September
I tried to warn Simonian’s confidants that, were I the opposition, I’d frame the story as another Donald Trump trying to buy another election. And the Burns camp did exactly that.
Apparently, Stanton’s theory was this kind of campaign kickoff cash would send Mayor Burns scurrying from the race like Bill O’Reilly from Fox News. The one thing you can say about Joe is he never gets tired of being wrong!
3. Attack city employees, Del Nor hospital, and the library right out of the gate
We all know Mayor Burns let’s city employees get away with murder, but there’s a right and wrong way to make that point. Saying “The inmates are running the asylum” is the wrong way, because it makes those folks rally their family, friends and neighbors to vote against you.
Something along the lines of, “We have great city employees, but there are times they need more guidance from the mayor,” would’ve been much better.
When you consider that Del Nor makes an average 200 percent yearly profit, they should pay their fair share in taxes and fees. But you have to frame that message correctly so you don’t come off as a scorch and burn kind of candidate.
That never plays well in Geneva.
Not one to stop while he isn’t ahead, Simonian insisted upon wading into the library referendum fray in a way that made folks very nervous. What’s the point of that, when the voters had the final say?
4. Put 4 by 8 yard signs on front lawns
Again, a number of people reached out to Simonian’s campaign to warn them that no one wants to see a billboard on their neighbors’ front lawn. The curt response was that voters were asking for larger signs.
Yes! And my son wanted to drive the Honda when he was 10, but we wouldn’t let him do that either! Every last one of those subdivision behemoths cost Simonian far more votes than they got him.
5. File an ethics complaint that makes you look small and petty.
No one within the sound of my voice believes the yard sign caught under the city vehicle unknown cell phone number returning it directly to the Mayor’s house story. A Heartland Elementary third-grader could come up with a better lie than that.
And yes! The City’s Ethics Commission is a joke. (Shame on you Tim Moran!)
But when one of the biggest knocks against you is you file too many lawsuits, you probably shouldn’t file a lawsuit. Not only does it makes you look like you’re trying to kill a fly with sledgehammer, but it cedes the messaging high ground to your opponent.
More to come!
Why do y’all insist upon aggravating me on my runs? Is it too much to ask for four short miles without having to see some sort of stupidity? Isn’t dealing with 263 off-leash dogs in that short span bad enough?
Apparently not, because today I encountered two Genevans doing their best to be gangster on my morning run.
Look! When rappers turned their baseball caps around and wore large clocks around their necks, I thought it was kinda cool. Why, it even made me want to fight the power!
To revolutionize make a change nothin’s strange
People, people we are the same
No we’re not the same
Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
But even though I appreciate the dulcet tones of Chuck D., I never considered trying to be just like him, if for no other reasons than:
- I can’t sing.
- Other than the Geneva Police, I really haven’t been all that oppressed.
- You may have noticed I’m not black.
In fact, if I get any whiter, the glare would cause multi-car collisions while running along Randall Road.
So I’ll just leave the whole rap thing to the experts like Kanye and Drake. The truth is, I’m happy in my Levi’s, large-tall Port t-shirts and running hats with the bill in front. It’s the simple things in life, right?
It’s just that, when I saw my two middle-aged neighbors with baseball caps askew, I wanted to tackle their sorry white butts, hold them down, and staple the hat to their heads in the position God intended.
Of course, the problem with that course of action is, most Genevans don’t take that kind of constructive criticism as it’s intended. Instead, I’ll simply say that wearing a bill-in-back cap does not make white people look gangster, it makes them look stupid.
Not to worry my fine Tri-Cities compatriots! I’m nothing if not magnanimous. Here’s a simple checklist to determine if you’ll ever be gangster:
- Do you live in Geneva, Illinois?
If you answered “yes” to that question, then the answer is no!
Short of becoming a serial killer, something I don’t often recommend, you’ll never be Ice T, so stop trying! Turn the bleepin’ baseball cap around before I do if for you!
Black folks! You gotta start coming up with shit Caucasians can’t appropriate. C’mon! When Nelly’s hawking Honey Nut Cheerios with a leather clad, medallion wearing, rapping cartoon bee, you know it’s almost over.
It won’t be easy! We’ve already stolen blues, rock ‘n roll, high fives, fist bumps, rap music, twerking, corn rows, your right to vote, medical breakthroughs, Oprah, Michael Jackson and, of course, you!
Someone should tell Ben Carson what an immigrant really is.
You still have the whole getting stopped by the police on a regular basis thing because white people aren’t quite ready for that. Apparently being a counterfeit gangster only goes so far. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to end the Caucasians co-opting black culture scourge if I have to do it one bleepin’ Genevan at a time.
I’m gonna have that peaceful run yet!
First, I want to express my immense gratitude to all the people who reached out to Larry and me in the past week. It’s heartening to know that Ward & Jones had a place in so many of your hearts. I certainly put mine into it.
Larry and I continue to talk, and he mentioned the possibility of a scaled down version of the show with other co-hosts. If that’s the case, he has my full support.
Meanwhile, there may be other possibilities with WRMN, but considering how good that station was to me, I felt even the mildest “it’s gotta be this way not that” declaration would’ve amounted to extortion.
And I refuse to do that. Moving on was the right decision.
Through navigating this particular dark night of the soul, I’ve discovered that, like the refrain from ‘Tubthumbing’ by Chumbawumba, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, cause you’re never gonna keep me down.”
So while I’ll focus on finishing ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election,’ running campaigns and my communications consulting business, I will also continue to post my thoughts here. Despite Larry’s and my best efforts, the playing field is not nearly level enough.
I may also unleash the philosophical side my closest friends see a little bit more. Kurt Kojzarek said something about choosing to be victim that completely changed my definition of that word.
It will be more than the written word too! With most of the audio equipment already acquired, thefirstward.net podcasts are inevitable and some of them will certainly feature co-hosts.
So (time permitting) I’ll be back tomorrow. We’ll start by covering the Geneva city council races and move on to Chairman Lauzen’s attempt to co-opt the Aurora mayoral race for his own benefit.
The privilege of exacting your own karma doesn’t come along very often!
But most of all, having been the victim of a Class-X Felony, I will spare nothing in taking on the utterly dysfunctional Kane County “justice” system. It needs to be completely broken down and rebuilt. That means:
1. Exposing a State’s Attorney’s office in which an absentee boss with higher aspirations let it get completely out of control. I’ve already started that process with the series of columns on the ill-gotten public defender emails in the Rak case.
2. Directly taking on the judges who believe the black dress gives them right to ignore the law, press personal vendettas and basically bully and disrespect anyone and everyone in their path. There’s three I have in mind.
3. Writing and working to change the law so prosecutors don’t treat crime victims exponentially worse than they do the defendants. Illinois desperately needs a victims’ rights bill with some teeth.
Who said being fearless wasn’t a fascinating proposition?