Quick Hits – Joe Maddon tried not to suck but that’s all he did!

I know The First Ward doesn’t typically tackle sports, but with even my scurrilous Sox fan friends bidding him a fond farewell, someone has to set the record straight, and it may as well be me. I understand the cultural norm dictates a glowing eulogy of the dearly departed, but the truth is, Joe Maddon is, bar none, the worst Cub manager we’ve ever had to endure.

And you can “print it!”

We’ve had to tolerate some real Clunkers, too! But even Leo “The Lip” Durocher was a better manager, as were Herman Franks, Lee Elia, Gene Michael, Jim Lefebvre, Jim Riggleman, Don Baylor, Dusty Baker, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum, and Rick Renteria. In his own words, Joe Maddon “tried not to suck,” but that’s all he ever did.

“But Jeff! What about those 471 wins?”

Even I could’ve racked up that record with the current cadre of core Cubs players. There’s a reason they have the highest payroll in all of baseball and the only reason Joe Maddon had any success at all was the Cubs’ front office made it virtually impossible for him to fail.

And I say “virtually,” because this year, Maddon failed miserably.

“But Jeff! What about their fist pennant in 108 years?”

Joe Maddon

Nope! That was David Ross providing the appropriate “corrections” and Jason Heyward delivering the kind of rousing rain delay speech that Manager Maddon should’ve provided. But no! Joe was always more than happy to simply sit back and watch things unfold, which, in his case, wasn’t always a bad thing because whenever he did do something, it generally sucked!

The truth is, the Cubs won the pennant despite Joe Maddon, not because of him. His World Series pitching moves will go down in the annals of Chicago baseball bizarrities alongside the Cubs’ College of Coaches, Lee Elia’s fascinating rant, and Disco Demolition.

And it all starts with the average IQ’d Maddon firmly believing he’s the smartest person in any room, and then consistently trying to prove it. You can see the same phenomenon among local politicians like Geneva Alderman Mike Bruno, former Kane County Board member Phil Lewis, Aurora Alderman Judd Lofchie, and Elgin City Councilman Terry Gavin.

Always trying to be cute, Maddon’s inexplicable lineup changes were absurd to the point that players never really understood their role on the team. In a 162-game 2019 season, the most he used the same lineup was nine times! That’s a lot like going to a restaurant that regularly rotates the cooks, bus boys, waitresses, and managers. Do you really want the busboy making your sushi?

Anthony Rizzo is not a leadoff hitter. Addison Russell shouldn’t even be in the lineup, much less batting third. Javier Baez should’ve batted second, not fifth. David Bote isn’t a cleanup hitter, and Jason Heyward, with 110 strikeouts, isn’t a leadoff man.

And what did Maddon do about the plethora of shifts proffered against pull hitters like Bryant, Schwarber, Rizzo, and Heyward? That’s right, nothing! When teams started shifting against baseball’s greatest left-handed hitter, Ted Williams, he started bunting to third base until they finally relented.

Relying on insipid launch angles, instead, those players tried to hit more homeruns, striking out a combined 496 times. Didn’t Maddon notice that, by hitting to all fields, late season acquisition Nick Castellanos racked up a mind boggling 58 doubles?

Then Maddon refused to employ shifts much to the Cubs’ defensive detriment!

But as poorly as he did with his hitters, Maddon was beyond bad with his pitchers. He loved to give ‘em the hook when they were sailing along and let ‘em give up five runs an inning when they were clearly out of gas.

He allowed closer Pedro Strop to bat late in a game, only to watch him pull a hamstring trying to beat out an infield hit, and it quickly became a chronic injury. Maddon should’ve been fired that day.

He insisted upon inserting rookies and underachieving relievers in the kind of dire situations that required Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler or Kevin Ryan. Despite a whopping 6.13 ERA, Brad Brach somehow managed to make it into 42 separate games. And it took sports talk show host Dave Kaplan to tell Yu Darvish to get out of his head and pitch the damn ball!

But the absolute worst managerial BS of his inexplicably lengthy Cubs career was indulging Jon Lester in his throwing-to-first-base-ophobia. Oh, my bleepin’ lord! If a Little League pitcher can hold a runner, then shouldn’t we expect the same of a 35-year-old professional? Even my baseball-hating wife said, “I’d make him practice that throw to first base three hours a day until he got it right.”

And if he refused to get it right, I’d sit his ass down until he did.

To be fair, Joe Maddon does have a talent for getting the most out of young players, but the problem with that is, young players only stay young for one or two seasons. Then they become veterans, and the veteran mindset is an entirely different proposition.

I’m not saying Joe isn’t a nice guy, because I think he is. But the in words of the aforementioned Mr. Durocher, when it comes to managing, “Nice guys finish last.”

The great Jim Palmer credits the even greater Baltimore Orioles Manager Earl Weaver for getting him into the Hall of Fame. Palmer was a notorious headcase, but Weaver would have none of it and he always responded positively to Weaver’s verbal ass-kickings.

Say what you will about infamous New York Yankees’ Manager Billy Martin and his unique brand of “motivation,” but his former players told reporters they were afraid to lose, and that’s exactly what this Cubs team needs – a little bit of fear.

Just like he did in Tampa Bay, Maddon will go on to destroy the San Diego Padres, and despite their declared intention to interview multiple candidates, the Cubs will hire former backup catcher David Ross, who will put the Cubs right back into the playoffs. And he’ll win more than four playoff games in three seasons, too.

But fond memories of Joe Maddon? Not me! With the exception of Sunday’s firing, there ain’t a single one. I’ll say it again, he was the worst manager in the general futility known as Cub history. So, all I can say is, “Goodbye and good riddance, Joe! Don’t let the screen door hit ya where the good Lord split ya!”

 

Quick Hits – September 27, 2019

It ain’t just yellow cars!

I took some crap for the column on my son’s new yellow car being the proximate cause of a sudden flurry of traffic tickets. I will grudgingly give some of you credit for pointing out that yellow cars’ relative rarity tends to draw attention, but I still firmly believe the police believe they contain an Hispanic driver.

And I know this, because I surveyed a number of Latino elected officials who unanimously agreed with my amarillo theory. And they should know!

I’m also a bit baffled by the bleeps who summarily said my son was a lousy driver. Not too judgmental, are we? As his attorney pointed out in court yesterday, despite driving 20,000 annual miles, until this year, he’s had a stellar driving record. The only thing that’s changed is the color of his car.

And speaking of court, given that he’s in the process of getting his license restored, I drove him to the Kane County Branch Court on Randall Road yesterday morning for the St. Charles, Illinois, call where I discovered yet more evidence of my law enforcement bias theory.

Yes! Unlike my adoring throng, I deal in hard evidence and not just flappin’ gums!

The first thing I noticed was 60 percent of those in the waiting area were minorities, with 66 percent of them being Hispanic. Think about that for a minute! St. Charles is 88 percent Caucasian, 5.5 percent Hispanic and 1.7 percent African American, which means that courtroom may be the only place on the planet where minorities are vastly overrepresented.

minority traffic stops

Please don’t give me any bleep about Hispanics and blacks being bad drivers because I’ve seen the kind of havoc you white folks wreak on traffic. It’s far from pretty. White men can’t jump, and they can’t turn left, either.

We won’t count non-Indian Asians because we all know they can’t drive.

Though I’m sure they’ll take this the wrong way because the men in blue tend to be somewhat sensitive, I’m not picking on the St. Charles Police Department. Geneva is far worse in this regard while Batavia is about the same. And don’t tell me minorities had a bad week because I’ve been in that building enough to know those stilted statistics hold true for any Tri-Cities traffic court call.

So, if there’s absolutely no law enforcement bias, as so many of you insisted, how is it that Latinos are “invited” to appear before the judge at 7.2 times their demographic rate with blacks and Asian-Indians appearing 5 times more often than they should?

That’s what we journalists call a statistically significant bias.

Don’t try to tell me that white folks simply plead guilty and pay their fine online without proof of that possibility, or, trust me, I will hunt you down and call you a name.

And then my Caucasian compatriots have the nerve to wonder why militant minority groups like Black Lives Matter exist and minorities quickly learn to despise the police.

 

Now the press is doing it?

So, an Iowa man, through a fascinating beer promotion, raised more than one million dollars for an Iowa children’s hospital with Anheuser-Busch donating $350,000 of that amount. They also created beer cans with this gentleman’s gleaming visage, referred to him as an “Iowa Legend,” and promised him free beer for life.

It’s the kind of feel-good story we could all use as the Trump era sputters to its inevitable tragic conclusion. But because a Des Moines Register reporter didn’t quite see it that way, there ain’t no happy ending.

The first thing this sad excuse for a journalist did was review our fundraiser’s social media history, and as it turns out, when our 24-year-old hero was 16, he managed to unleash some rather racist and homophobic tweets.

Of course, as is par for the 2019 course, Anheuser-Busch cut him loose, there will be no free beer, and our fundraiser is being forced to go on the liberal hand wringing and uncontrollably weeping apology tour:

Obviously, I’ve made mistakes in my past; everyone has, and I really hope people see at this point in my life, I’ve grown, I’m caring, I’m generous. I hope that’s what people focus on.”

First, this is exactly why the term “fake news” has caught on and why so many people generally despise and distrust the media. Had I attempted to do what the Des Moines Register just did when toiling for the Sun-Times, Managing Editor Rick Nagel would’ve had my ass in a sling.

And second, HE WAS BLEEPIN’ 16!

carson-king

That doesn’t mean what he did was right, but have any of y’all ever dealt with 16-year-old boys? It’s a truly terrifying prospect, particularly if they’re your own children! Their brains aren’t fully developed, they have boundless misdirected energy, impulse control is nonexistent, and they tend to come up with some rather fascinating ideas and execute them without a second thought.

Considering every adult male on this planet was once 16, I’m completely confounded by our species’ continued survival. We should’ve gone extinct the first time a group of teenage boys decided that throwing a rock at a sleeping sabre tooth tiger was a good idea.

So, this man raised more that a million dollars for a hospital, something 99.9999 percent of us could never be bothered with, and now he’s being excoriated as a homophobic racist? Could the press and liberals possibly suck any more than they do right now?

Please don’t answer that, because it would be far too depressing.

But then, in one of the most delicious ironies I’ve ever seen, irate Register readers uncovered a series of homophobic and racist Tweets by the reporter who “broke” the story, and the paper just fired him. Truth really is far stranger than fiction.

Iowans! If you haven’t already, please cancel your subscription to the Register, or better yet, move out of Iowa because there’s more to life that dirt, corn and cows. I’d add that I will no longer drink Anheuser-Busch products, but I don’t drink them now because they’re some of the worst concoctions on the market.

Budweiser? There’s a reason they put those Clydesdales in their commercials.

Quick Hits – Was I just sexually harassed?

As if life wasn’t good enough already, not only do we have Dave Chappelle’s brilliant new comedy special, but Bill Burr’s recently released ‘Paper Tiger’ is equally as good. His bit about how today’s feminists will inevitably react to the first male “First Lady” is bleepin’ hilarious.

But I found another one of his riffs particularly fascinating, too. I won’t go into the specific details because they’re kind of gross, but his recounting of being blatantly sexually harassed by a female celebrity was both funny and profound. The incident clearly gave Burr a far greater understanding of what women have had to endure.

He doesn’t say who the harasser was, but I’ve figured it out. And I just had a similar, but somewhat less troubling experience.

But before we go there, it’s important to note that, despite my self-professed perfection, I’ve been trying to improve myself on a number of levels. After years of abysmally crooked teeth, I’m in the final Invisalign stages and the results have been nothing short of miraculous.

Inspired by Johnny Lee Miller’s ‘Elementary’ wardrobe and tired of t-shirts, I signed onto Stitch Fix and that transformation has been equally amazing. It’s kinda nice to have random people compliment you on your attire.

So, I was recently at an event where most, but not all of the people know each other to varying degrees. And shortly into the proceedings, a woman walked up to me, said “That’s a really nice shirt” as she firmly ran her open palm down the entire front length of it.

I can’t tell you how hard it is to live with that level of irresistibility.

Women Harassing Men

Now, I was a bit taken aback by the gesture, but in the end, I was more amused than annoyed. Though that’s not the word I’d use to describe my wife’s reaction to it when I told her on the way home.

Of course, my first thought was, “What dire fate would befall me if I had similarly ‘complimented’ one of the female participants – and my wife didn’t manage to get her hands on me first?” I would be summarily arrested, charged and convicted, but that wouldn’t be the least of my worries.

I’d soon have my own hashtag, the news coverage would be endless, and women would scream at me on the street on my way to being completely convicted in the court of female public opinion. It’s a fascinating double standard, isn’t it?

Before you hit the send button, in no way am I minimizing male sexual harassment. My regular readers are well aware of the vast amount time and money I’ve put into exposing rampant sexual harassment in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office. But shouldn’t what happened to Bill Burr and I be taken just as seriously?

Boundaries are boundaries, right?

But we all know my complaint would simply be dismissed because today’s brand of feminism, which damages women beyond anything any man could ever do, utterly marginalizes men, and especially boys, with the “toxic masculinity” label. The MeToo# movement requires no evidence whatsoever before embarking upon another one of their gleeful public lynchings.

Their motto is quite simple – “Women Good, Men Bad.” And by the way, who raises boys?

The truth is, bullies and predators come in all shapes, sizes, and sexes. Have any of y’all seen how women treat other women, particularly on social media? Yikes! And this incessant neo-feminist bullying is every bit as insidious as the males who’ve preyed upon women in the workplace, most notably in our school systems where there’s a concerted effort to turn boys into girls.

As a result of being consistently chastised for the most benign masculine traits and being forced to sit still for six hours a day, boys are failing at an alarming rate. Here are some frightening statistics:

  • 70 percent of ADHD diagnoses are boys
  • Boys are suspended more than twice as often as girls
  • Boys are expelled three times as often as girls
  • Boys get 70 percent of the Ds and Fs and 40 percent of As
  • 80 percent of high school dropouts are male
  • 22 states have criminalized male adolescent behavior

In the introduction to her amazing book, ‘The War Against Boys,’ Christina Hoff Sommers writes:

This book explains how it became fashionable to pathologize the behavior of millions of healthy male children. We have turned against boys and forgotten a simple truth: the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal males are responsible for much of what is right in the world. No one denies that boys’ aggressive tendencies must be mitigated and channeled toward constructive ends. Boys need (and crave) discipline, respect, and moral guidance. Boys need love and tolerant understanding. But being a boy is not a social disease.

And what happened after it was published? Feminists forced the publisher to change the subtitle from ‘How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men’ to ‘How Misguided Policies…’ And I thought men were supposed to be the epitome of evil!

But clearly, I wuz wrong!

The bottom line is, both men and women are exceptionally equal when it comes to promoting themselves, their own interests, and their stilted agendas. Maybe that’s a commonality we should actually be celebrating – I think!

As for me, I suppose inexorable allure is yet another burden I’m gonna have to live with for the rest of my life. Though, I’m thinking I should tone down the wardrobe a bit. After all, I was wearing shorts at the time!

Quick Hits – On Winning a Public Relations Battle

There are days I’d pay you good money to take this gig. As Dave Chappelle told the audience in his beyond brilliant new ‘Sticks and Stones’ Netflix special, “Cause y’all [N-words] are the worst [expletive deleteds] I’ve ever tried to entertain in my [expletive deleted] life!”

I can’t tell you how much I love it when, despite my vast due diligence, you [expletive deleteds] decide something’s not true with no other evidence than your flappin’ gums to back it up. And then there were all the bleeps who took Friday’s column seriously. Really? So, you actually think SCARED or The Society to Combat Accursed Roundabouts Everywhere, Dammit! is a real organization?

I’m gonna go bleepin’ broke buying some of y’all a [expletive deleted] sense of humor.

But then there are days when I wouldn’t trade this gig for even a case of my beloved Bass Ale. And today is certainly one of ‘em, because Shaw Media, once again, picked up on my ongoing battle to get 255 pages of sexual harassment documents from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

My regular readers already know that, after State’s Attorney Joe McMahon refused to abide by the Illinois Attorney General’s ruling to turn those complaints over, I sued his office to force him to comply. That lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in Kendall County courtroom 110 at 1 p.m. on November 6.

mcmahon

Though I do object to Shaw calling it a “gripe session,” at least they had the cojones to cover Chairman Chris Lauzen’s attempt to call McMahon and Civil Division head Joe Lulves on the carpet for their inexplicable lapses that continue to cost Kane County Taxpayers millions of dollars.

As usual, the delicate flowers at the Daily Herald were nowhere to be seen.

I know the Chairman can be difficult and demanding, but how many of you have bosses who are difficult and demanding? And when you consider our countywide elected officials’ and County Board members’ propensity to go off on tangents that cost you all kinds of money, I want a county chairman that’s difficult and demanding.

And while the Chairman has admitted he’s been wrong on more than one occasion, you will NEVER find or hear a similar admission from Joe McMahon or anyone in his office.

Tired of his attempts to communicate with the KCSAO falling on deaf ears, Lauzen sent the them a 103-page memo outlining exactly how they’ve repeatedly failed the people of Kane County. And when you consider their greatest hits, I’m surprised it wasn’t three times as long.

Let’s see! They:

  • Blew the Campton Hills rehab center process so badly that, not only did the taxpayers have to shell out $5.6 million to the developer, but the rehab center is coming in, anyway.
  • Botched that and so many other lawsuits, the county’s insurance carrier dropped us, and our premiums doubled as a result.
  • Refused to exercise any discretion on felony cases which is a blatant abrogation of justice and costs the taxpayers thousands of dollars in unnecessary trials.
  • Signed off on the wrong county labor contracts costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll costs going forward.

While all this and a rampant sexual harassment scandal was engulfing his office, Joe McMahon was far too busy prosecuting Jason Van Dyke in Cook County with most of his senior staff. To say I agree with the Chairman’s efforts in this regard is the mildest of understatements.

But back to the “gripe” session. As always seems to be the case, McMahon and Lulves didn’t even bother to show up. Nope! They sent ASAs Michelle Niermann and Erin Brady, instead. The irony of the top two KCSAO male officials sending two female underlings to face the heat and address the Board’s sexual harassment inquiries certainly isn’t lost on me.

And when I say “addressed it” that’s a massive overstatement. Here are their three main contentions:

1. The harassment reports are confidential

As far as the names of the victims go, I’ve never asked for them, but the complaints themselves are not confidential because the law of the State of Illinois clearly says they’re not!

Again, the fact that McMahon did nothing about this and other predatory prosecutors for eight long years, is far more deleterious to the harassment reporting process than releasing any complaints. And the Attorney General’s office agreed with me at every turn.

2. The AG’s ruling is an opinion

NO, IT’S NOT! In a rare moment of lucidity, the State of Illinois set up the Public Access Counselor as the adjudicator of all FOIA disputes. And they did this so court costs – $377 in this case – wouldn’t become a deterrent to appealing an illegal FOIA denial.

Imagine what public bodies would do if they knew every FOIA appeal would cost a journalist or newspaper $400 a pop, before any potential attorney’s fees. They’d never answer another FOIA request again!

Where the State erred is assuming that public bodies would automatically abide by any AG decision, and thus, they gave the FOIA statute no teeth. Outside of the court of public opinion, there are no consequences for flipping the PAC the bird. But trust me, it’s a ruling and not an opinion.

3. The disciplinary action has already been released

What utterly floors me is Niermann actually had the nerve to tell the board that the discipline involved has already been released and that should be good enough. Yes! A whole 1.5 pages of the 255 pages sought. And exactly what was the “discipline” Joe McMahon handed down to this six-plus year serial sexual harasser? They moved him to the other side of the office. Then more of his victims quit.

All I can say is, per the Chronicle piece, at least the County Board is finally taking this sad scenario seriously by finally asking some tough question. Rest assured, I’ll be back in front of that body in October to be sure those questions get even tougher.

Quick Hits – They’re Clearly the Devil’s Handiwork!

Much like cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light, I tend to believe evil is the absence of good. That is, I believed that until I found myself regularly travelling through the intersection of Sullivan Road and Highland Avenue in Aurora, Illinois, this summer.

Now, I’m convinced that some things actually are inherently evil.

(On a side note and for the record, my wife’s hands and feet are the only things in the Universe that actually do emit cold.)

Yes! Just like those debunked crop circles, these demon spawn devices seem to spring up overnight, and, like that friend who said he’d crash on your couch for just a couple of nights, once entrenched, it’s virtually impossible to remove them.

Roundabout

Thankfully, I’m only aware of three of ‘em in the area. There’s a smaller variety somewhere near Howard Street in St. Charles which isn’t much of a problem because I’ve never seen two vehicles enter it at the same time.

There’s a brand new one at Route 47 and Burlington Road, and though it’s still a crime against humanity, it was correctly constructed by the KDOT (Kane County Division of Transportation) so as to make movement through it much more obvious. But then there’s the iteration at Highland and Sullivan which I’m convinced is a gateway to another satanic dimension.

All three should be ringed by a series of signs reading, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” and if Europe is any indication, they’ll start spreading here like Chicago alley rats during a three-week garbage strike.

Of course, we’re talking about those nefarious traffic flow impediments known as “roundabouts.” Aside from comprising the nine circles of hell Dante described in his ‘Divine Comedy,’ their purported purpose is to provide a continuous traffic flow, but that’s just about as oxymoronic as “act naturally,” “temporary tax increase,” and “free love.”

With a summer consisting of both a broken foot and fallen arches, I’ve found myself heading to the Advocate Dreyer facility on Highland more often than usual. And as soon as I turn left onto Sullivan from Randall Road, I start trembling uncontrollably, break out into a cold sweat, and start prayin’ like a wounded soldier in a foxhole.

All I can say is, Odysseus wasn’t nearly as nervous at the thought of facing Scylla and Charybdis on his journey back.

And if an older driver happens to be at the head of your roundabout “entrance,” trust me, time will start to move even more slowly than it does at the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. When Chris Rock said there’s nothing sadder than watching and old black woman try to use a credit card, he was wrong. Watching an old white woman trying to navigate a roundabout is far more tragic.

Part of the Highland/Sullivan problem is, even though it’s only a three-way contraption, it’s far too small, and a slew of left-turning westbound drivers completely compound the general confusion. Because the average American isn’t nearly accustomed to these perverse purported perpetual motion mechanisms, nobody quite knows what to do so they have a tendency to do nothing.

Cue that Ennio Morricone score and it would be a lot like the three-way standoff between Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef in ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.’

You don’t dare honk your horn, either, because that might solicit those already daunted drivers into creating the kind of epic traffic tie up that would make the rush-hour Dan Ryan look like child’s play and require 27 police officers and ten tow trucks to untangle it.

So, you pray, you wait, you gird your loins, close your eyes, stomp on the accelerator and hope for the best.

I understand that former three-way stop could get rather backed up in all directions, but when you consider that Rush Copley, the Kane County Health Department, and Advocate Dreyer are all right on top of each other, that intersection screams for a traffic light and Sullivan should’ve been expanded to four lanes years ago.

A traffic light would’ve cost less than half of what the roundabout did ($525,000), too.

My first thought was to purchase a late model army surplus armored car, but it turns out they get terrible gas mileage and the police tend to frown on drivers blowing up other vehicles just because they don’t know how to turn left.

So, here’s what I’m gonna do! In the vein of MADD, AAA, and the NHTSA, I’m creating “SCARED!” or The Society to Combat Accursed Roundabouts Everywhere, Dammit! It has a really nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

We may require the services of a priest, a rabbi and a minister, which we should be able to find in any bar, but I promise you that SCARED members will not rest until we’ve exorcised these cruel contrivances from the American landscape, once and for all.

Well, either that or we’ll just take a different route.

Quick Hits – September 18, 2019

A lesson in law enforcement bias!

My youngest son is a really good kid. He may have inherited my foul mouth, but he also picked up my work ethic such that he quickly moved from cook/deliveryman to General Manager of a major pizza chain store. And I’m quite proud of him, too!

But aside from hitting the workforce ground running, he’s learned a very hard lesson in law enforcement bias lately. Please allow me to explain.

Given his propensity to deliver pizzas, he’s racked up many more miles than your average driver has over the last four years. But despite that insistently fast-forwarding odometer, when he drove our now-retired 2004 bronze Honda Accord, he didn’t receive a single traffic ticket.

Not one!

Yellow Car

Like most teenage boys, tiring of driving the “family” car and flush with cash, he set his heart on a bright yellow newer model Chevy. I tried to talk him out of it, but even my car enthusiast friends said it was a really good deal on a great car.

So, what could I do? He was 19 and he wasn’t about to listen to his father.

But since purchasing his dream vehicle, despite his driving habits and mileage remaining unchanged, he’s suddenly racking up tickets. You see, the reason I advised against buying a yellow car is, before they started catching on with white folks, it was our Hispanic brothers and sisters who primarily owned them.

And law enforcement hasn’t quite caught up with that sea change. They see a yellow car and…well…you know. So, a good kid who’s quickly risen through the corporate ranks and simply wants to earn a reasonable living now has to shell out at least a thousand dollars in court and legal fees to protect his driving record.

For the record, the DeKalb Police, who have, and are still having, all sorts of race-based issues, are particularly egregious in this regard.

Though this certainly has been a hard lesson for my son, at least he’s white. Between a recent Chicago Sun-Times expose and a 2019 Illinois ACLU report, Black and Latino drivers are pulled over twice as many times as white folks, and I’ve seen how some of you Caucasians drive!  Police are also 1.4 times more like to search Hispanic vehicles, despite the fact that white folks are 1.3 times more likely to be carrying “contraband.”

This is exactly the kind of blatant racism that drives minorities to despise law enforcement and eventually brings the federal government down on some “overzealous” police departments. And then the police wonder why a large swath of the public end up loathing them.

So, now my son wants to have his car painted blue. But I told him, just like every Latino or black driver already knows, he simply has to drive much more carefully. And even that might not be enough.

 

Like I said, it ain’t just me!

As a result of Monday’s column on the plurality of Geneva teachers who insist on attacking everyone and anyone who didn’t support them during the recent strike, an unexpected high-ranking local official reached out to me regarding that very issue.

You see, most local politicians hang out with other local politicians. Considering all the feuding and infighting that goes on, you’d thing the converse would be true, but, as it turns out, it’s the nature of the beast. And this official has even more friends on the Geneva School Board than I do.

GEA

So, he called me specifically to say that the teacher attacks on board members phenomenon is even worse than I wrote on Monday. As he put it, “One of those board members described going through hell after the strike was resolved.

As for me, I fervently hope Geneva teachers understand they’ve completely lost the public relations battle they’ve fought so hard to win. Monday’s piece received over 10,000 hits (not everyone reads the whole thing) and of the more than 60 to 100 responses, only three were negative.

What they also fail to understand is, there are any number of ballot referenda questions that can rein in rampant school district spending. The Daily Herald reported on 18 such Illinois referenda in the 2018 general election alone.

But those eager folks made a mistake. Tax cutting referendums should always be inserted into odd-year consolidated elections when only older and more conservative citizens tend to vote. Believe it or not, the average age of a Kane County consolidated election voter is rapidly approaching 60! And they don’t have children in school, and they’re sick and tired of being taxed out of their homes.

Has anyone checked their recently reassessed Geneva tax bill?

So, when you finally understand that politics is nothing more than a series of equal and opposite reactions, I can promise you that 2021 will be a fascinating proposition. Considering that some of those teachers cover The Bard, I’m rather surprised they don’t understand what “Hoist by his own petard” means.

But methinks they’re about to find out!

 

Quick Hits – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I’d like to think that, despite whatever disagreements we might have, in the end, we can all be adults about it. I know the Tweeter-in-Chief has made civility a much more difficult proposition, but in the words of that Superfan saint and great philosopher Mike Ditka, “This too shall pass.”

The happy truth is, for 13 years, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of readers who’ve respectfully disagreed with me in person. It’s one of the best parts of the gig. And my favorite instance of this phenomenon occurred immediately after the Geneva, Illinois, School Board and teacher’s union narrowly averted a 2012 strike.

D304

Not Really!

I’d written a number of columns on the subject, the central thesis being, since D304 did not renegotiate their contract downward during the Great Recession as most districts did, the teachers should take that good will into account during the stalled negotiations.

It’s a rather simple argument.

So, when my wife left me unsupervised at the conclusion of our ensuing Geneva High School parent-teacher conferences and a teacher asked if I was Jeff Ward, I was a little apprehensive. But upon the appropriate admission, he said, “I don’t agree with what you wrote about the possible strike, but it was a fair and well-reasoned argument. I generally like reading your stuff.”

Five minutes later, another teacher approached me to say the same thing.

Not only did those interactions greatly enhance my estimation of Geneva teachers, but I left that building walking on air. That’s exactly how it should be, and particularly when it comes to teachers, right? At least that’s what we’d like to think.

But before we continue with our main contention, let me further set the stage.

I know this will completely ruin my reputation, but another one of my favorite endeavors is my morning dog walk. I may, at times, have a little fun with my Fisher Farms compatriots, but the truth is, after 19 years of two-mile walks with the pups every morning, I’ve come to know almost every dog walker, runner, and many of the Heartland Elementary moms who regularly escort their children to school, dog leash firmly in hand.

Even the crossing guard and I wave at each other, and he does it with more than one finger, too! Unless it’s monsooning or polar vortexing, I don’t miss a day, but I kinda wish I missed last Friday.

As I made the turn into the back of Heartland Elementary for the likely 6,664th time, a teacher, who’d clearly been waiting for me, leapt out a side door and, completely ignoring my hearty “good morning,” launched into a bizarre and rather loud tirade about children arriving with dog allergies.

It was one of those strange situations where you wonder if you’re still in bed dreaming and you start to question if it’s actually happening. My dogs were looking at me as if to say, “What the bleep is her problem?”

I fully expected her to order me to stop walking the critters through the school and that would be the end of it, but it never happened. Instead, she simply continued with her entirely bizarre verbal assault. I wanted to ask her why I was being singled out among the dozens of parents walking their dogs to school that day, and why it was suddenly a problem after 19 years. But when you consider the Geneva Police tendency to arrest me for breathing, and the NFL irony that it’s always the guy who responds to an indignity that draws the flag, I simply said “OK” and walked on.

Suddenly lacking my legendary keen perception of the obvious, I asked my wife what she thought of the one-sided confrontation. Without missing a beat, she responded, “Ummm, Mr. journalist! Don’t you remember writing extensively about the 2018 teacher’s strike? I’m surprised this hasn’t happened before.”

But I thought “no!” My opinion columnist persona may, on occasion, present quite the ego, but the truth is, if you asked 20 random Genevans who Jeff Ward is, only one would respond affirmatively.

But I shoulda listened to my wife (please don’t tell her that), because when I vented about the incident on Facebook by applying my trademark sarcasm and hyperbole, word quickly got back to me that those Heartland teachers bitterly complained to the Principal about it. And how would they know to go to my Facebook page unless they knew who I was and they knew I’d likely react?

Only a Geneva teacher could go from attacker to victim in ten short seconds.

Though I’m getting tired of being publicly confronted and I’m taking the necessary, and fully legal, countermeasures to make it a far less enticing option, I’m not nearly worried about me. As my favorite attorney likes to say, “Jeff, you tend to ‘confront’ people in print, and since we’ve all become delicate flowers, some of them will confront you in public.”

That’s as good an explanation as any.

What I am worried about are all the other folks who’ve had to endure the teachers’ and their rabid supporters’ post-strike wrath, because I’ve heard all the stories. I know board member Mike McCormick’s children were bullied by other children in this regard and his family isn’t the nearly the only one. Virtually every other board member can recount multiple personal teacher incidents like mine, and now some board members are questioning if it’s really worth serving. Parents who supported the board’s strike position are still being targeted by these educators, their union, and their supporters.

It a far cry from 2012, isn’t it?

All I can say is, it’s utterly beyond the pale that the individuals tasked with preventing bullying in its earliest stages have no problem doing it themselves. To be clear, I’m not indicting every single Geneva teacher, but if I know about these incidents, trust me, they do, too. And their complicity through silence is worse than if they were an active participant.

Since some of us clearly can’t behave like adults, I’ll simply adjust my dog walk so this won’t happen again. And I’m even more ecstatic that my sons are well beyond D304’s grasp. To be fair, Geneva has some magnificent teachers, administrators and support staff (I named many in a previous column), but as a whole, it’s a mediocre school district fraught with the most massive teacher entitlement mentality I’ve ever seen.

To wit, 90 percent of D304 educators wouldn’t last two weeks in East Aurora where my wife’s taught for five years.

Lastly, for those considering a move to Geneva for the schools, considering what I’ve seen in the last year, I’d seriously reconsider it.