Blowback the Donald -- Doonsbury

Garry Trudeau has just launched his second comic strip salvo at The Donald.  This one is portraying Donald's love for Donald.  Trudeau's first attack came in defense of the little guys being pushed off of the properties adjacent to Trump Plaza way back in 1996, when the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority filed under eminent domain to allow Trump to acquire two businesses and a private residence.  The comic strips depict attempts by Trump to coerce the owners of  Sabitini's Restaurant to sell, according to the NY Times , in order "to put up a few bushes and a limousine staging area for his newly expanded casino."

Nuking Potholes For Fun and Profit

Transformation (no --  I did not misspell Transportation) Secretary Ray LaHood  declared during a  NY Times interview last year that "America is one big pothole and Americans are ready for their streets and roads and bridges to be fixed up"”  Of course, he also advocated that the best way to make this "straw man" go away was for Americans to cut back on the number of cars driven per family and to use public transportation instead.
"About everything we do around here is government intrusion into people's lives," he said. "It is a way to coerce people out of their cars. Yeah."
But the government is not the only intruder in our lives.  According to Potholes,Info, the lifeblood of a nation is its roads and history traces roads, complete with potholes, back some four thousand years to the Silk Road that linked Europeans to Asia from the middle east and back. Indeed improved roadways fueled the rise of the Roman Empire and ultimately its demise. Pax America, as we know it today, was largely attributable to Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System, which surely and permanently linked Americans to their automobiles.

Potholes are caused when the base beneath roadways are weakened by erosion, usually when the ground releases its frost layer during warming periods in the winter and early spring here in the Earth's higher latitudes -- but water erodes even in warm climes.   There are some 3.9 million miles of public roads in the United States alone, so potholes are now and forever a problem -- a very expensive problem.   Damage done by potholes averages $330 per year per vehicle driven and patching costs are probably incalculable.

In modern times, repairing potholes has largely been a two step process.  During the winter, road crews shoveled cold-patch asphalt into the dangerous holes in the road only to return in the spring to permanently repair the potholes with hot-patch asphalt.  Road crews took 10-15 minutes per pothole to do even the temporary repair.

American ingenuity has now begun to triumph over government bureaucracy.  But first the answer to the unasked question: How many men does it take to repair a pothole?   I count 11.

In Massachusetts they call the new-fangled trucks "Pot-zillas" and in New Jersey the trucks are known as "Pothole Killers." As you can see below, Minnesota is now experimenting with microwave-assisted permanent patching in the winter using taconite tailings as the raw material for the patch.  The new technology  averages about 30 seconds per pothole repair.

And if you are interested in getting into the mobile microwave patching business, go here -- but under no circumstance should you ask for advice from Ray LaHood or Prez Zero.

Poking Into Politics To Find A Conservative Mayoral Candidate for Fort Wayne

 Pig in a Poke
Ben Grader - Flickr

"As a descendant of many 18th century and even a few 17th century ... Scots, ... I know what 'a pig in a poke' means. You are a lucky buyer if you find a sleek piglet in the poke when you neglect to open it before paying over your coins. If you didn't open the poke, you might, at least in earlier times, have gotten home with cats, rats, or hedgehogs in your sack ...."    ~   Professor Hershel Parker, University of Delaware
May 3 is Primary Election Day in Fort Wayne when Republican voters (and Democrats bent upon influencing the Republican's choice) will pick the opponent for incumbent Democrat Tom Henry in the fall elections.  Supposedly-conservative Fort Wayne has been unable  elect a right-wing Mayor in over 20 years and it will not be easy this time either.

The election race is down to three viable candidates, former Allen County councilwoman, Paula Hughes, current at-large city councilwoman Liz Brown and political newcomer Eric Doden, a business executive.  The campaigns for all candidates have been disappointing to date, with the advantage matriculating across party lines to Mayor Henry. I have a vote decision to make on May 5, so this piece is an attempt to put into words my assessments of the candidates. The mayor of Fort Wayne is a big job which will require an even bigger commitment to righting the ship that is the city.

Paula Hughes:"After almost a year of working to lock up the nomination, she didn’t."

I will start with Paula Hughes because she announced her candidacy early last year. Paula Hughes, with the help of mouthpiece Sheriff Ken Fries, claims to be the "proven conservative leader" and most experienced candidate running for the Republican nomination for Fort Wayne Mayor. She has served on the seven-member Allen County Council since 2002 and has been its president twice. She was conveniently given that title by the Republican-dominated council in 2010 -- just ahead of her resignation to run for Mayor.

She somehow takes credit for seemingly single-handedly turning a funding deficit in the county to a $22 million surplus. I guess we can forget the other six council members and the three County Executives! The real questions about the county funds surplus is: "Why were county taxpayers being overcharged during the past 10 years and why won’t potential voters see through the  contradictory  claim?"

Hughes joined the council at a time when the most populous portions of the county had just been annexed by the City of Fort Wayne. Maintaining services for the rural sections of the county is obviously much less costly than servicing the county’s densely populated suburban areas, even with a decline in the tax base. It is interesting that Paula is pledging "No New Taxes" but she and the other members of county government made effort toward a reduction in taxes either.

Candidate Hughes has managed to "insert foot in mouth" on at least several occasions during the campaign by lamely criticizing Mayor Henry’s social networking scheme when she obviously knew little about the subject, by attacking the mayor’s salary level as if he had set it, and by offering criticism of the city’s failure to use "reverse auctions" to reduce costs only to be told that the technique is used on occasion by the city. When asked about the latest kerfuffle regarding public unions, Mrs. Hughes said:  "Unions are not the problem. Management is the problem,"

Mark Souder, writing in Howey Politics Indiana, thinks Hughes has concluded that she is in a dogfight.
Paula Hughes served on the Allen County Council, and was a leader of the downtown business association. She announced early, raised quite a bit of money, and lined up key supporters such as Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries. People, who meet her, like her. Hughes is working hard. She has a political strategy. Her problem is best summed up by this statement: After almost a year of working to lock up the nomination, she didn’t.

I am not compelled by what I see as an artificial campaign to put herself at odds with the Mayor.  Interestingly, much of the wasted spending that conservatives like me attribute to the last two Democrat mayors was ironically begun by plans she helped develop as head of the Downtown Improvement District. Would I vote for her as mayor?  No.

Liz Brown: "She's drawn praise and criticism for her blunt positions on issues . . ."

In many regards, Liz Brown is my hero in her seemingly never-ending fights on the floor of the City Council.  She came out of nowhere to win an at-large council seat three years ago in the wake of the city's anti-smoking ordinance which did in fellow Republican, Doctor John Crawford, who talked the conservative talk but was unable to keep from imposing government control over the individual rights of citizens.  Obviously a staunch conservative, Brown veers very little from the straight and narrow, but her inexperience and straight talk have far less effect on the Democrats and RINOs now on council.  With much more experience maneuvering in this political circle, for example, Crawford got what he wanted most of the time.

Some people, including Mark Souder, believe that Liz Brown's inability to "play nice" would be a disadvantage as Mayor. On the the other hand, the ex-congressman is bullish on Brown:
Brown is ahead, and would possibly top 50 percent right now, for multiple reasons: (1) she’s run and won city-wide; (2) she’s on TV regularly because of her council work; (3) she’s smart, articulate and photogenic, which are critical for TV; (4) she has a simple, consistent message; (5) she has a strong Catholic base; (6) she has a record of pro-life support; (7) she has a message that has attracted more of the Tea Party activists and new State Rep. Rob Morris, who had the best grassroots organization in the last election; (8) her base is in north to east side of the city, which will dominate the primary vote; and (9) her name is Brown.
I personally believe that if Liz Brown  is to win the election, it will be  because of grassroots support since the power brokers in the party are obviously placing their bets elsewhere.  Liz only raised about  $22K in campaign contributions through December --  about half of which came from her husband.  But a  win is entirely possible because of her stance against the constant assault on taxpayers of increased union benefits.  She has been at this for three years and  the city council continues to turn a blind eye -- but that cannot last because the dirty politics of unionism are paramount across the country in 2011.  Liz Brown diappointedly tells  Ben Lanka of the Journal Gazette that "she hoped the unions would be open to being flexible in the work they’d be willing to do."   Vomit!  Unions and union work rules have brought down many companies and now public union politics are bringing down local California governments and for that matter,  the entire state of California, as we speak.  If she wants to win, she needs to advertise a stronger line against the danger of growing public unionism in Fort Wayne.  Sadly, none of the Republican candidates will bite this forbidden fruit.

Would I vote for Liz Brown -- maybe --  but her ineffectiveness after three years on City Council bothers me a great deal.

Eric Doden: "Government shouldn’t be in the business of picking and choosing winners and losers."

Who is John Galt? More to the point -- Who is Eric Doden? It turns out that he is the the son of Ambassador Steel founder Daryle Doden.  The senior Doden has established himself and his family as generous and God-fearing and in the end has guided his son through schooling stints at ultra-conservative Hillsdale College, Moody Bible Institute and Valparaiso University.

Democrats will be quick to criticize Eric for hanging onto Dad's coattails before and after Ambassador Steel was sold in 2008 but even Ben Lanka of the Journal Gazette liked him enough to call him "Mr. Sunshine:"
With a perennial smile on his face, Eric Doden is always happy to talk about his life and his ideas. Just don’t ask him about his opponents and Mayor Henry: He’d rather not go there.
From Mark Souder we get the opinion that "Doden has a strong campaign committee and impressive evangelical connections."
The Dodens are historically associated with DeKalb County. His resume doesn’t include a previous elected office or Fort Wayne leadership. His assets include listening, intelligence and ability. But in this race, that would put Doden a weak third except for his other asset: money. His family is wealthy and the major wealthy Republican businessmen are pouring money into his campaign. Doden’s campaign website looks like that of a wealthy businessman.
Notice that I have little substance to discuss about Mr. Doden because he has chosen the high ground in the campaign so far and he has no public record to assail.  I really am warming to the idea that this man, silver spoon and all, might  be the best choice for Mayor simply because he has not been hardened by the realities of public service through politics.  Someone pointed out that that just being male might be the best attribute Eric Doden has because Fort Wayne has never elected a female Mayor.

So I am down to two, Liz Brown or Eric Doden  -- with a little more than three weeks to finally decide.

Public Union Shakedown

For readers interested in a more detailed discussion of the takeover of all levels of government by their public sector union employees, a video of Steven Malanga's lecture at the Heritage Foundation can be accessed here.