This is the February 26 edition of Left, Right and You!

Larry and I want to thank U-46 candidate and current school board member Traci Ellis for coming on the show and blowing our socks off! If you’re thinking of running for local office folks, it would pay to listen to how Traci got her points across with energy, brevity, and by using more than just platitudes.

Traci2Then the Smiling Conservative and I discussed Governor Rauner’s proposed cuts and, though it pained him to no end, Larry agreed with many of my assessment that they really aren’t cuts. We also want to thank Todd and Bob for calling in and adding some very interesting points.

(I will keep my promise when Mayor Kaptain comes on on Monday, Todd!)

Don’t forget! The very first installment of the new Monday Left, Right, and You will be on from 9 to 10 a.m. next Monday, March 2nd! Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain and Police Chief Jeff Swoboda will help us kick off the morning festivities! Until then…

It’s almost time to get your Left, Right and You…

…groove on!

Today, that dastardly Smiling Conservative, Larry Jones, and I will discuss the U-46 School Board race. And I gotta tell ya people, I really regret convincing those Tea Partiers to run at the local level.

Then, U-46 School Board incumbent Traci Ellis joins us to make her opening statement. We hope she’ll explain why anyone in their right mind would ever want to run for school board.

Traci Ellis

Traci Ellis

Governor Rauner just fired his opening budget cut salvo! Larry and I will tell you why these cuts aren’t cuts at all. And we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic too at 847-931-1410.

That’s Left, Right and You with Jeff Ward and Larry Jones today at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM1410. Don’t miss it!

She’s not white!

The media coverage of the 23 year-old Geneva woman who was apprehended in Canada before she and some co-conspirators could shoot up a mall on Valentine’s Day has officially moved into the patently prurient. And if you dare challenge the local papers to justify this particular form of pornography, they’ll inevitably claim they’re simply trying to provide the “answers” their readers so desperately long to hear.

But the truth is, they only manage to come up with the answers their readers want to hear because these editors and reporters aren’t adding to or advancing this story in any way.

And what we want to hear is, “Here are all the gory details that clearly prove this young woman was born with the kind of defect that doomed her from the start. There is nothing that could’ve prevent her descent into darkness and thus, once again, we good Christians bear absolutely no responsibility for failing to be our sister’s keeper.”

Then we all get to heave a collective sigh of self-righteous relief, safe in the knowledge that nothing like this could never happen to our child.

souvSo now everyone’s convinced themselves that this young woman’s preoccupation with National Socialism and white power, which apparently started at Geneva High School, was actually the underlying disease and not just one of the symptoms.

To those folks I would say, “Have you noticed that she’s not white?” And isn’t it kinda strange for someone of mixed race to espouse white power? It’s the kind of blatant and bizarre disconnect that comedian Dave Chappelle nailed in his brilliant character, Clayton Bigsby, the blind black white supremacist.

C’mon! Isn’t it obvious that something else is going on here?

Perhaps the real answers to this young woman’s psychological and spiritual demise involve something more akin to an intense self-loathing, a desperate attempt to internalize some distasteful external experiences, and then a means of reflecting those experiences back to gain attention.

Again, as we already explored in a previous post, the west side of Geneva, Illinois is not the place to live if you’re different in any way. A friend and I talked about this over the weekend and, despite working here for 12 long years, she still feels like an outsider.

But we don’t want to hear those kinds of explanations because they make us very uncomfortable. They force us to take responsibility for the least of our brothers and we realize there’s no guarantee that that this won’t happen to one of our children.

Please let me repeat that, despite whatever external events help shape, we are all ultimately responsible for our own lives. But if we’re truly seeking answers for this Geneva woman’s now obvious decline, then this becomes a necessary exercise.

What bothers far more than the insipid media coverage, are all the former classmates, teachers, and professors who’ve suddenly come flying forward with all sorts of ex post facto insights that basically conclude, “We knew she was gonna try to do something like this all along!”

One former classmate said, “The school [Geneva High School] should have known but no one stepped in and did anything.” While I will certainly admit it was bizarre that her “nightmare Nazi” drawing made it into the yearbook, what I have yet to hear from any of these supposed friends and mentors is, “Her behavior bothered me so much that I went to a counselor/administrator/social worker to have it addressed.”

So somebody else shoulda known, but none of these fine folks who did know bear any responsibility whatsoever?

And Coe College professor Charles Aukema is a real piece of work. Not only did he violate FERPA laws just to get is 15 minutes of fame, but despite going into great detail about this young woman’ bizarre schoolwork, he fails to mention any attempt to get the school to intervene.

So here are the answers we all so desperately crave.

A very introverted mixed-race young woman had difficulty fitting into a community that doesn’t always tolerate differences. Perhaps more fragile than most, she tried to deal with her isolation in ways that would likely generate a lot of attention. But when they didn’t, she decided to strike back at an existence that, in her mind, had failed her.

And all along the way, the people who could’ve raised that red flag failed to do so which allowed her to sink even deeper into a self-inflicted abyss. Again, misfits don’t magically pop into being, we allow them to happen.

Shame on us.

Substitute teachers generally do a great job!

Substitute teachers have no contract, no benefits, no paid time off, vacation, or sick days, and they don’t necessarily have to be licensed teachers (U-46 requires a college degree). To put that in some sort of perspective, with a simple state license, I could be a substitute teacher in many local school districts.

Ain’t that a terrifying thought?

A school district the size of U-46 uses upwards of 150 subs a day (I checked), not only to cover teacher sick days, but those in staff, parent, and student meetings, in training seminars, and chaperoning field trips.

'I presume you're the substitute teacher?'And being a sub is a lot like that proverbial slab of raw meat that’s about to be thrown to a pack of hungry lions. The lovely little darlings know you’re just a place holder and they can sense fear far more acutely than a pit bull in a room full of rabbits.

If you manage to survive the students, there’s the automated 5 a.m. calls, the Affordable Care Act making it much more complicated, and if you’re a really superb substitute teacher, the district won’t hire you full-time because you’re much more valuable to them as a pinch hitter.

It’s a bleeping great life all for $80 to $100 a day. If any of you ever catch me saying I want to be a sub, you have my explicit permission to beat me senseless with my carbon fiber baseball bat. But despite those difficulties, on any given midwinter day, there are probably 600 substitute teachers toiling in U-46 and D300 alone.

So let’s crunch some numbers. Using that U-46 150 sub average, that means, over the course of a 175 day school year, there are 26,000 separate sub days in that district. And until this week’s incident, how many substitute teacher issues have popped up in the last 10 years? I’ll wait…

To fill in the blanks, instead of ending it, a U-46 sub encouraged a classroom effort to make fun of a 330 pound peer by adding an absurd caption to a roughly scrawled smart board depiction of said student. The young man took a video of those proceedings and his family posted it on Youtube.

But even though the local newspapers would have you believe this lone sub who sank to the level of his freshman charges is news, the real news is the 259,999 separate U-46 substitute teaching sessions that have transpired over the last decade without incident.

The way the local tabloids are going out of their way to pick this lowest of all low hanging fruit continues to be utterly infuriating.

Without denigrating the great work of 99.99999 percent of substitute teachers, they are in no way full-time contractual teachers who can be “suspended” or “fired.” The school district simply won’t call them to come in. No substitute teacher is ever guaranteed the next day’s work.

So it is exceedingly disappointing that, not only did the Courier News and Daily Herald insist upon referring to this as a “fired teacher” scenario, but they went out of their way to avoid applying any perspective whatsoever.

In a piece that’s poorly written and difficult to follow, at least the DH’s Madhu Krishnamurthy correctly reported that U-46 safety coordinator John Heiderscheidt said, “We are not allowing this substitute teacher back in U-46.” She also noted that, “Substitute teachers are licensed by the Illinois State Board of Education and hired by school districts as needed.”

But that didn’t stop her from using the terms “teacher” “suspended” and “fired” over and over again.

My beloved Dave Gathman (Courier-News) was even worse because I expect perspective from someone of his caliber and there was none. Shame on you Dave!

And here’s the bottom line! Would someone please tell me why neither reporter mentioned how this aggrieved family put a bullying bullseye squarely on their son’s forehead by going to Youtube and Facebook BEFORE they went to the district?

Ah yes! Victimhood at its best!

I spoke with U-46 CEO Tony Sanders immediately after the incident went public and he essentially said this sub would not be called to teach pending an investigation and, if the facts held up, he wouldn’t teach in U-46 again. That’s it! Problem solved. End of story.

No school district is going to put up with that rare rogue sub for a second because they simply don’t have to!

And yes! Despite some rabid parents’ pronouncements to the contrary, there does have to be an investigation. Even if you’re caught shoplifting on camera, you still get your day in court. Some folks really need to start taking their Ritalin.

There is no excuse for what this substitute teacher did, but there’s also no excuse for the blatantly lazy and sensationalized news coverage of this non-event either. Because, when you consider the vast number of subs and just how difficult the job is, the only thing that surprises me is this doesn’t happen more often.

The February 19, 2015 edition of Left, Right and You…

…is a wrap!

First, Larry and I thoroughly discussed the reality of cheating in youth sports. And that reality is, they all cheat. There is no doubt in my mind that if the ruling Little League body delved into the newly crowned 2014 Little League champions, they’d find problems there too!

Elgin Civics ClubThen, that smiling conservative and I want to thank Elgin Civics Club members Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson, Keith Perry, and Francine Romero (from right to left), for coming into the studio and sharing their vision for a more involved Elgin electorate. Take note! This is how you effectively get involved folks!

Until next week with U-46 school board candidate Traci Ellis…

Please let Left, Right and You…

…warm you up!

Today, the Smiling Conservative and I will tackle Jackie Robinson West and how cheating is rampant in youth sports. For god sakes, the team that turned the champs in admitted that they cheat too! And I’ll give you plenty of examples on how local youth sports clubs regularly bend the rules.

Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson

Tonya Lucchetti-Hudson

Then, Tonya Lucchetti-Husdon and three members of the new Elgin Civics Club will join us to discuss how they plan on getting get Elgin folks involved in the political process. Larry and I certainly hope they have better luck than we have! Finally! Someone getting involved in the “right way!”

That’s Left, Right and You with the Smiling Conservative Larry Jones and the Liberal Curmudgeon Jeff Ward, today at 3 P.M. on WRMN AM1410 because we know – you can handle the truth!

Exactly what is a “murderous misfit?”

Can someone please tell me? Anyone? How does one become a misfit? I mean, are some folks born that way? Do misfits simply pop into existence like some sort of subatomic particle? Can we pick them out of the crowd based on bizarre behavior like participating in role playing games and writing short stories about death as some newspapers seem to think?

Really! I want to know.

Because when Canadian Minister of Justice Peter McKay referred to a 23 year-old Geneva woman as a “murderous misfit,” I want to know exactly what he means. C’mon! If we can identify “murderous misfits” right out of the box, wouldn’t we all be that much better off?

So I suppose the real question is, do murderous misfits occur in a vacuum, do some of us do our damndest to help create them, or do too many of us sit back and simply let “misfitness” happen?

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the aforementioned Geneva woman who, after plotting with two or three young Canadian accomplices, was apprehended at the Halifax airport en route to perpetrating mass murder at a crowded mall on Valentine’s Day. There are numerous accounts on the web if you’re unfamiliar with the story.

And this young woman happens to live two and a half blocks away from me.

LindsayOver the years I’ve talked with her parents a number of times, not as much as some neighbors, but more than most. The mother would occasionally comment on my columns and the father and I frequently found ourselves walking our dogs at the same time. All I can say is, from all outward appearances, they’re eminently normal people.

Well, there is one obvious difference. The father is Laotian, and you don’t see too many people from Southeastern Asia walking around the west side of Geneva. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that the average Genevan would be hard pressed to find Laos on a map.

But before we continue, I want to make it abundantly clear that, despite whatever trials and travails any of us have to endure in this often tumultuous existence, there is no excuse for embarking upon a path of self-destruction that includes taking out as many of your fellow human beings as possible along the way.


And God bless the Canadian tipster, who took the mile long trail this group left seriously and went to the authorities before the worst could happen. There certainly is a lesson there too.

But even though we’re talking about a truly evil act, to summarily dismiss a fellow human being as damned from the outset does both them and us a vast disservice. The Daily Herald’s and Tribune’s all-too-obvious inference that all overly quiet kids who participate in role playing games and write a short story about a young boy exploring the prospect of death are bound to become mass murderers, isn’t much better either

So where does that leave Rod Serling, Stephen King, and Marilyn Manson? None of them have ever murdered anyone that I know of. And M. Night Shyamalan certainly did alright with the story of a young boy who could see dead people. Shame on the newspapers for, once again, going after the lowest of the low-hanging fruit.

Of course, my fondest wish is that I could explain why some people can suffer a series of interminable setbacks only to come back stronger, while others with every advantage on the planet can’t handle their first real misfortune. But here’s what I can tell you. The Internet has changed everything.

Every last one of us has had to endure those youthful dark nights of the soul, but the difference between now and then is the ease with which you can find folks who are similarly sinking into the same abyss. Back in the 70s, you’d talk to your friends or parents about it and they’d help you work your way out. But now, you can immediately go online and find any number of similarly afflicted souls willing to talk you into it.

The Internet may be a marvelous tool, but it also allows us to indulge our deepest and darkest addictions like nothing before it.

Then there’s this. Though the west side of Geneva is not nearly the only suburban enclave prone to this kind of thing, I haven’t lived anywhere quite like the Fisher Farms subdivision. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great people out here, but to put it as diplomatically as possible, this ain’t the place to be outwardly and inwardly different.

Three years ago, on the same block this young woman lives, some of the local teenage darlings decorated various driveways with anti-Semitic slogans. And just last year, at the corner closest to her house, the same nitwits (I’m sure) wrote “F U [N-word]” on the pavement. I still have the pictures of that one.

Could the fact that being the only half-Laotian, half-Caucasian in a rather intolerant neighborhood have taken its toll? Again, there’s no excuse for mass murder, but most of the white folks I know would fold in their first half hour of having to being black out here.

Yes! In the end, this young woman failed both herself and us and she will suffer the consequences for that failure. But we failed her too.

Perhaps they did reach out. But what I’d like to know is, did those Geneva High School teachers who’ve so recently spoken up about how quiet this young woman was, ever get a counselor involved? After all, GHS has some of the best social workers on the planet.

Did the college professor, who’s suddenly reeling off all sorts of revelations about her “sick” writing, make any effort to reach out or to engage the appropriate college interventionists?

Did we, her neighbors (myself included), make the mistake of allowing this young woman to silently descend into her own desperate and dark world without a second thought?

To answer my original question, unless some sort of mental defect is involved, the only way anyone on this planet can ever become a “murderous misfit” is if we allow it to happen. It is the very essence of human nature to want to belong to something. And despite whatever the newspapers might say, the only way we can prevent it is by making sure that no one’s every truly separate.

Because if you really do believe in the Christian Bible, then we really are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

A day late and a dollar short!

Nobody loves a citizen David versus governmental Goliath story more than I do! My radio co-host, Larry Jones, and I consistently encourage our listeners to get out there and get involved. And there’s nothing quite as exciting as watching one determined individual change the world.

But the only thing worse than not getting involved is getting involved in the wrong way. Not only will you utterly fail to accomplish anything, but you’ll end up doing more damage to your cause than good.

So there I was sitting at last Tuesday’s county board meeting when a patient group of five citizens finally got their turn to speak. By then, most of the crowd had departed, but I stuck around to hear what these concerned Carpentersvillians had to say.

KC BoardBut my boundless enthusiasm quickly turned to abject dismay when it became clear this group was trying to quash the Longmeadow Parkway Fox River bridge slated to pass through Algonquin, Carpentersville, Barrington Hills, and unincorporated Kane County.

You see, these sudden citizen activists’ fervent pronouncements and overzealous comportment was all for naught because the fat lady had long since sung before the first one of ‘em got up to speak. To wit, the Longmeadow bridge, an infrastructure improvement that’s been in the works for two bleepin’ decades, is well into its second engineering phase. In the more common vernacular, it’s a done deal!

So, in the end, these overeager folks were engaging in the moral equivalent of trying to get Kane County to ban cell phones. It’s kinda cute, but you’re not gonna get anywhere. And the fact that they hadn’t been paying attention did nothing to deter this group from pressing their agenda. One of ‘em tried to tell the board this county endeavor hadn’t been in any of the newspapers!

Now, you know I’ll be the first one to chide the local tabloids for their sometimes fascinating coverage choices, but not even I can find fault with them this time because this project has been in the papers – ad nauseam – since I relocated to these parts some 15 years ago.

It’s been all over the County website. It’s been discussed at many a city council and county board meeting. And it’s been the subject of many heavily advertised public hearings. Why, if I were subjected to a Freudian word association session and the therapist said “longmeadow,” without hesitation, I’d respond “bridge!”

But when confronted with their Rip Van Winkle tendencies, one of the women said “so what!” and claimed they were just gettin’ started. She said they were going to do whatever it takes to derail this bridge folly and then she demanded to come on Left, Right and You to make her point.

I don’t often feel sorry for those governmental gaggles because no one forced them to run, but after dealing with this group for a mere five minutes (thank you for rescuing me Monica Silva), the County Board has my deepest sympathy.

All I can say is, I’m glad it’s you and not me.

So, since simply telling people to get involved seems to have invited some interesting and unintended consequences, here’s Jeff and Larry’s getting involved checklist:

  1. Don’t show up 20 years after the fact. Occasionally read a newspaper or simply avail yourself of your county board or local city council meeting agenda which will be prominently placed on the Net at least 48 hours in advance. If you don’t know what’s going on in this social media day and age, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
  2. Don’t show up 20 years after the fact and demand that any board accede to your wishes NOW! That’s not how government works. In order to accomplish anything you have to build a consensus which typically starts with enlisting your specific county board or city council member.
  3. Don’t show up 20 years after the fact just to read overly long and flowery speeches in which you ask board members to imagine they were a particular species of bird. Trust me, those folks are crazy enough as it is and if they start acting like birds, those meetings will never end. And, holy crap! The last thing anyone should ever do is encourage T. R. Smith to be even nuttier than he already is.
  4. Don’t show up 20 years after the fact and behave so obnoxiously that a radio show host and the head of the Transportation Committee simply walk away from you. Your utter unwillingness to listen doesn’t help this or any future cause you may espouse. Local representatives generally respond to well-reasoned and well-articulated arguments, not bullying.
  5. Don’t show up 20 years after the fact and somehow believe your viewpoint is more important than all the folks who put countless hours and a vast amount of input into a project that’s been discussed since some board members were in junior high school.

And lastly! Please don’t relegate yourselves to a pain in the ass status by fighting against something that, through a boatload of hard work and a massive amount of consensus building, will go forward despite your best efforts. Being a pain in the ass is my job.

Here’s the February 12, 2015 edition of Left, Right and You!

Larry and I want to thank Ancel Glink’s Derke Price for explaining Illinois’ Internal Control Statute and where the Sheriff and County Board showdown is likely to go. This is going to be a fascinating one to watch folks. A $2.5 million deficit ain’t small potatoes.

LRY2And speaking of fascinating, we also covered the conservative Elgin City Council candidate who, despite running on a platform of less regulation, asked South Elgin for more taxi regulations. Unfortunately for Ms. Hjelm, South Elgin didn’t quite see it her way and now they have no taxi regulations. Who said conservatives were boring!

Until next week!

Please prepare yourself for the next thrilling…

…episode of Left, Right and You!

Ancel Glink’s Derke Price will join us again to the explain the intricacies of the Internal Control Statute by which elected officials can run their office as they see fit. But what happens when a Sheriff decides to cut his revenue by $2.5 million? What action can the County Board take to mitigate the damage?

Jeff and Larry2Then Larry and I will discuss the irony of a less government Elgin City Council contender who went after more taxi cab regulations and came up with less. This, of course, begs the question, why are so many conservative Elgin candidates so  willing to go out of their way to entertain us?

And we look forward to your calls at 847-931-1410 as well.

That’s Left, Right and You with me, the Liberal Curmudgeon, and Larry Jones, the Smiling Conservative, this and every Thursday at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM 1410. Trust me! You don’t want to miss this one folks!