Culture, Environment, Government, Legal, Politics

Butterfield: A Look Back

Dear Reader: The following is primarily of interest to Libertyville residents. The 19 points below are a review of the concerns about a housing development on Butterfield Road in Libertyville, proposed in August 2016. A final court decision is due shortly.

For my many readers who may not live here, if you are interested in the potential impacts of housing development in your neck of the woods, read on! These were originally posted March 24, 2017.

“The proposed Planned Development at 901 Butterfield is not in keeping with Libertyville tradition, standards, or our treasured quality of life. Here’s why:

1. While R6 zoning may allow as much as 232 dwellings on 40 acres, the developer’s proposal of 148 is not a salve. Indeed, those 148 homes are built on 15.2 acres, or approximately 9.7 dwellings per acre. This is an urban solution in the midst of spacious, open R3, R4, and R5 subdivisions.

2. The developer’s proposed sell prices for the homes are virtually unobtainable. The attached neighborhoods’ single family dwellings, have median sell prices of $550,000, vs. the $750,000 proposed for the tightly packaged single-family dwellings. The total property assessment of $109,000,000 is most likely unachievable. The more likely assessment will be $76,000,000, affecting tax revenues significantly.
3. Surrounding neighborhood values will decrease as a direct result of the removal of open space. The additional traffic and registration pressure on Butterfield School will also be a negative to existing property values.

4. An additional 104 students at Butterfield will require 3-5 additional classroom equivalents. Using the developer’s Fiscal Impact Study model, District 70 will be underwater financially when property assessments are realized at only $76,000,000, requiring incremental tax dollars.
5. School bus transit will be required for all students in the development, further stalling any LCDOT decision to add a signal at the development’s entrance.

6. There will be an additional 300 cars in the immediate vicinity. Traffic on Lake Street will increase from 3,800 car trips per day to 5,000.
7. Commuters exiting the development during rush hour may incur accidents turning left, northbound, onto Butterfield in order to reach the Metra Station.
8. Commuters exiting the development during rush hour turning right, southbound, will use Ridgewood Lane as a cut through passage to the Metra Station, disturbing residents on Hillcrest, Sedgwick, Blackthorn and Paradise.
9. Left turn lineups on southbound Butterfield at Park Ave (176) will increase, causing illegal stacking of cars.
10. Pedestrian traffic across Butterfield is in severe jeopardy regardless of time of day, every day, especially drawn to the Butterfield School campus. 23,000 cars per day, average car speed: 47mph. There are estimated 150 school-aged children in the proposed development.

Butler Lake Pollution
11. Private contractor snow removal in a high-density subdivision leads to expedient salting practices. Chlorides are permanent, non-removable threat.
12. Butler Lake pollution is a real risk from indiscriminant use of chlorides which will be washed away by 20,000,000 gallons of storm water run off from the development, into the Bull Creek watershed annually. Libertyville spent $3,450,000 in taxpayer dollars to clean Butler Lake.

13. The 6-foot-high, white vinyl fenced yards are minuscule, with limited opportunity for school-aged children to play near home. They will be lured to parks out of sight, or across Butterfield highway to the school campus.
14. Street designs are straight, encouraging dangerous car speeds.
15. Alley loaded homes are fraught with challenges: traffic, unsightly storage, litter, pet disturbances and fouling, parking, ambient pedestrian traffic , loitering, noise and unwanted gatherings.
16. The 1,000-foot long, 8-foot-high reflecting sound wall on Butterfield is a visual obstruction, and a road noise nuisance to Ridgewood residents and to Butterfield School. The wall will encourage driver speeding as well.
17. The design hides the development’s open space from Libertyville residents, tucking the park out of sight from commuters and local residents alike.

Zoning Compliance
We do not believe that the proposed development is in the best interests of the citizens of Libertyville. It is not a fair offer to be made to potential first home buyers or “moving down” buyers either. We ask all responsible to acknowledge accountability in respecting these considerations as stated in the

Village Zoning Code:
18. Planned Development approvals are subject to Libertyville Zoning Code Article 16-9.5 . This development does not adequately comply with our guidance for adverse impacts, interference with surrounding development, adequate public facilities, traffic congestion, destruction of significant natural, scenic features in the vicinity.
19. According to Article 16-9.5-c Special Use Permits are dependent upon meeting the standards of public benefit, assessing alternative locations, and mitigating adverse impacts. “

The Village and Archdiocese of Chicago are awaiting the final decision of 9th Circuit Lake County Judge on whether the development will go forward. The crux of the argument is traffic congestion and traffic safety. Decision is due on or around January 31, 2019.

Culture, Government, Politics

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

We don’t, as a social strategy, plan ahead to get involved in every thing that is beyond our comfort zone. We just want to live our lives. In local politics, that can be hazardous.

Once, a young couple were the parents of an infant boy, who from his first appearance in the world, never uttered a sound. Not a peep.  They worried over his silence as he grew into a young scamp. He had friends at school and played with the others, but without a murmur from his lips.

A long progression of doctor visits in those early years were fruitless. Specialists shook their heads, and told his despondent parents, “We don’t know what ails him, we are sorry.”

One morning, as his mother stood beside him at the kitchen table, he picked up his knife, and cracked his customary 5-minute egg. The yoke splashed out of its shell and onto the plate.

All at once, he exploded, “What the…?? What is this??”

Shaking his dripping fingers at the plate, staring at his mother, he spat out, “I can’t eat this! Look at the yoke! It’s all runny and gooey. The egg’s cold, and the toast is all soggy…yikes.. this is..this is… yucky, Mom!!”

His mother, at first shocked, stepped back, and then hugging her son, she beamed and looked up to the ceiling, and cried, “It’s a miracle! You can speak! Thank merciful heavens!”

Then she looked tearfully at her boy, and sobbed, “It’s wonderful! I am so overjoyed with happiness! What happened to you??”

The kid looks up, shrugs and says, “Well, up until now everything’s been okay.”

This may be a hyperbolic analogy of our times, but it certainly illustrates our typical lifestyle: as long as everything’s okay, leave it alone.

The continued public dialogue over the troubling, denuded 40-acre parcel of land that sits within our view is a good example of how we can be divested of our comfort zone.  And perhaps just in a nick of time.

After living for 27 years within the forest shadows of the sunsets over the property, we woke up one day to find the woods gone, and loggers carting away the trees in wood chip containers.  With the blessing of our village government, too.  Only then did I realize I should have spoken up earlier.

Regardless of my regrets, I now pay much more attention to those events that happen outside my daily environment, and in the process, extend my comfort zone to include them.

I suspect it is like that for many of us.


Thanks for reading!  I hope you too are mindful of how things pass us by without much ado, and how they often present themselves later in startling poses.  Thanks for sharing! 

Culture, Government, Politics, Thank You

Small Town Choices


The bridge in the park at Butler Lake. Early freeze.

You know you live in a small town when people drop by without calling first.

Tuesday morning a smiling lady appeared at our door presenting a mardi gras King Cake. She explained it was thanks for speaking up at our town hall meeting.

A couple days before that we found a handwritten note in our mailbox from a gentleman a couple blocks away wishing for good luck.

This morning another note came the same way, saying thanks.


148 “lock and leave” homes for those just passing through.

The cause of these overt gestures is the disturbing proposal to plop 148 homes on 15 acres of a 40-acre parcel of recently cleared land at the edge of our pretty little town.

We call it a Village, which is kind of habit in these parts, but it’s a real town, not a little collection of thatched roof cottages with small people running around in leggings and buckled shoes.  Over 20,000 people live here.

Anyway, because of the collective rejection of the idea, we formed a group of residents in the Village to make our case for stopping the development.

I won’t bore you with the politics.

What I do want you to appreciate though is the essential goodwill of the people who live here, and who love our little town.


Lunch in the park, on a sunny Friday.

We moved here 27 years ago.  It was a corporate move, and we had the benefit of shopping around the far north suburbs of Chicagoland.  Our first obligation was interviewing three school principals, each who presented their school’s achievements.   One school had computers in every room, which was pretty special in 1990.  Carpeted hallways.    Another school was brand new, and shiny.


School’s out and the midway comes to town.

The third, was older, but in the center of our little town, bordered by a ball field, festooned with flags, and shaded by ancient maples and oaks.  As the vice principal marched me around the classrooms, the students all smiled and helloed.  It was a very warm May morning, and as we marched through the heat of the second floor, I offered, “Guess there’s no air conditioning?”  He bounced back, “Nope.  Isn’t it great?”  Rugged, smiling enthusiasm.


Canopied streets and open space set the tone.

I have for years thereafter said that moving here was the best decision we ever made.  On the July 4th weekend when the moving trucks pulled away from our new home, two of the neighbors’ kids brought over a plate of cookies to welcome us.

A couple of years ago, after a car demolished half of our house, a lady from blocks away appeared at our door one day with a gift card from Panera’s.  She said, “I just wanted you to have this, and hope that you are okay.”  A complete stranger, but not really, in the greater sense.


One very dog-friendly town, these two await their family in the Homecoming Parade.

For sure, the schools are great.  Top-tier nationwide, the high school is launch pad for our next generation of leaders.  The junior schools are our pride and joy.

But beyond that, our little town is a hive of busy optimism, set on a picturesque palette of heritage buildings, generous parks, a network of lakes, streams and wetlands, and threaded with neat roads and lanes through open, treed neighborhoods.


Two young parade watchers celebrate the downtown alley.

In the summer the town square is thronged with picnickers and market vendors.  In the days leading up to Christmas, Santa is taking last minute orders, and come the end of school, there’s a pretty spectacular fairground set up with horrendously noisy and garish rides.  A great venue for kids to escape for a while as summer approaches.

Even though there are 5-lane roads quartering the Village, its geography exudes community: a oneness of safety, children, exceptional schools, careful planning, well-being and promise.

I mentioned the goodwill of the folks who live here.  Many came to the town hall meeting last week and in front of a couple hundred neighbors, gave passionate testimony in defense of their small town.


The village’s architecture is preserved and treasured.

One lady made a simple statement, but with profound meaning.  Before her, the discussion had recalled the past,  and how developers had walked away from our village to build their shopping mall in a neighboring community.  Another developer took its plans for a millionaire’s subdivision complete with golf course to another neighboring village.

Clutching the mike with both hands, she said, “We chose this village to live in because of its character.   We didn’t lose the shopping mall.  We didn’t lose the golf community.  We simply chose not to develop, and not to have them.  They aren’t what our Village is about.”

The debate on whether the 148 dwellings will materialize will continue.  They are described as low maintenance, “lock and leave” buildings for the travel and retirement set.

In the mean time, we’ll still be here, and the front door is open.


Thanks for reading!  I hope you will share this with your friends who also treasure the small town.


Culture, Environment, Government, Politics

Trouble In The Back Forty: How We Got To Here

January’s public hearing on the 40-acre development up on Butterfield attracted a sometimes reasoned but also fiery rejection to the idea. The authorities went away ruffled and straightening their ties. The public filed out, quietly fuming, and baffled.

Bafflement prevailed because the question was asked how we ever came to this point: a 148-unit, high density housing development on the site of a recent clear-cut of over 2,000 60-year-old trees. The flames came from a few who castigated the developers and planners alike for taking advantage of the Village rules and a complacent, uninformed and trusting public.

So what happened?

The ground started to move in 2009 when the Archdiocese of Chicago signaled to the Village that they wanted to develop 97 acres of open land at the east end of St.Mary’s Lake. The Village looked at its Comprehensive Plan map and noted the parcel was drawn and zoned as Institutional Building, (IB).

Every smart village government has a Plan. This blueprint provides guidance to control against undesirable development. Our Plan had reserved the 97 acres for church buildings.

The Church however saw housing: affordable housing for Libertyville’s younger families. In a deftly cadenced move that any professional card shark would have applauded, the Church suggested to only develop the northern section, about 33 acres nearest Butterfield Road. South of that, another 7 acres of woods would be “untouched” and the bottom 57 acres would be left institutional. They asked that the 33 acres be redrawn as Residential.

Following two meetings and a lot of questions about Planned Development housing, traffic volumes, safety, isolation, tree preservation, housing affordability, open space and the wisdom of an unscheduled, redrawing of the Plan to suit the Church, they voted.   The Plan Commission went 5/2 in favor, April 2010.  The Village Trustees gave it a green light too.   33 acres were redrawn on the Plan map as Residential, and 7 acres left as Institutional.

However, the entire 97 acres are still today zoned Institutional Building.  While the Plan gives guidance, it’s the zoning which is law.

Only years later did the Church find a developer who would be happy to buy the land if they could build nearly 200 homes on the 33 acres, and take the 7 acres of woods south of the development site as well.

The developer quickly began to design the site, and eventually reduced the residential count to 148 single family dwellings, 3 & 4 bedrooms,  2,000-2,900 square foot, two-story units on tiny, fenced lots.  The designs didn’t comply with residential zone codes, but because they are a Planned Development, they got a pass.

Meanwhile the soft sell on the development commenced as multiple sets of beautiful drawings were dropped off at the Plan Commission office, with the Village Trustees, the engineering and public works departments, as well as the police, fire and the many other committees who need to vet the process.

Unfortunately, the public didn’t get wind of the proposal until a registered letter was sent to a few souls who lived within 250 feet of the site, net of any roads.  A public hearing in September hosted a small crowd of residents who, scratching their heads, asked what the heck was going on.

Even then, the public didn’t fully understand what was about to happen.

The Church, now very much on a roll, authorized the developer to get Village permission to remove 2,500 trees on the property.   After considerable expense and due diligence, the Village Trustees approved the logging on October 10.  By Thanksgiving, the trees were gone, authorized with a site development permit.

Yet no approval had come from the Village to re-zone, let alone develop the site.

The next Plan Commission meeting was postponed until January 9.  With time to study the proposal, it became clear to many that the development was off color.

Many emotional, esthetic issues entangle this debate, but high above them is the reality of traffic congestion, child safety, school crowding and Butler Lake pollution.

In addition to these challenges, the developer is attempting to sell very expensive homes to buyers who will have tenuous and dangerous access to and from their neighborhood.   The stark reality is that there is no convenient way to turn into the site, and nightmarish opportunities to exit.  A deal killer for the rational homeowner.

The Church has been suspected perhaps of disconnecting the site from Libertyville if we kibosh the deal.  Rumors run rampant that the land will host high rises, fast food stores and muffler shops if we were to lose the land to the neighboring village.

The probability of that happening is remote because none of the developer’s challenges go away.    In fact they are compounded by very expensive infrastructure needs and delays statuted in Illinois law.

So we now find the issue coming to a head with a February 27 vote:

  1. To re-draw the Plan map to include the 7 wooded acres as Residential;
  2. To re-zone all 40 acres from Institutional to Residential;
  3. To get a plat of the subdivision;
  4. To grant a special use permit to build a Planned Development;
  5. To develop a concept for the Planned Development.

The Village Trustees painted themselves into a corner back in 2010, but have had to wait 7 years for the floor to dry.  Whether they can find a solution to the conundrum is a toss-up.

Rest assured that the public is now paying attention.

Culture, Environment, Government, Politics

Warning, Sign Ahead


The sign, like fine print, hints at bad news.

In Libertyville we are looking up every few moments to see what else has happened.

Last summer, without much ado, a sign was posted on an old playing field on the north side.    A little time later, a huge scraping of topsoil appeared, mounded like a two-story pyramid of dark chocolate.  It was soon iced with a frosty mantle of green weeds.   Five condo buildings are soon to follow.


The new view from the treetops, sort of.

On the west side, a sign went up announcing a hearing about a corn field bordered by a tangled, but mature stand of 60-year-old trees. By October, the trees had come down. The plan calls for 148 homes.

Further south, another sign announced a hearing for a modest development of 19 houses over a small parcel of land and wetland.

Meanwhile there is a sign in front of the train station.   It’s the site for a multi-residential complex that will make rail commuting an adventure in the future. Some 150 units will be in place to hear that lonesome whistle blow, as some 46 trains roll by every day.


Winchester: one up, and four to go.

All of these signs are caused by the popularity of a Village which has every reason to be proud. Founded in 1882, it was a remote outpost for Chicago travelers heading to Milwaukee.

Today it is a thriving, pretty town of 20,000 souls in the country, home to the #1 school district in Illinois, and #2 nationwide. It has a bustling main street that sees 23,000 cars daily, but still offers free two-hour parking on both sides, to visit the big-windowed, filigreed stores selling everything from $30,000 motor cycles to $10 hair cuts.


Lunch in the park, in front of the Cook home.

In the Village Center,  residents lounge in a treed park hosting a vibrant, manicured rose garden, summer band concerts, lunches on the lawn, Thursday market and the view of a picturesque antiquity, the city father’s mansion now restored as a public museum.  Hungry for knowledge? The library is right there.  Just plain hungry? The Village lists over 70 restaurants and bars.

We are at the center of a giant societal magnet: everyone wants to live here.  And that is the challenge.  How do you keep that small town feel that brought you here 5, 25, or 75 years ago?


Another housing plan, neatly drafted.

Fortunately, we have considerable oversight.  The Village has a Plan which is the blueprint for planned growth.  It has a commission that executes the Plan, and that includes sub commissions that monitor appearance and zone codes.  Hardly a tree goes down or a roof goes up that doesn’t get a committee say-so first.

Still, none of these measures and controls work if we, the residents, don’t read those pesky little signs.  Like fine print, they often signal bad news.


School Street an urban success: asking for over $1,000,000.

The trouble is, the signs keep popping up, like Village-sponsored graffiti, and our only choice is to pay attention.  Which can be a full time job.

The Village Hall posts a schedule of committee meetings.  There is at least one meeting every night, virtually all year.  If one is diligent, the meetings could be met, except that the school boards have their monthly meetings too, so it’s difficult.


Downtown: the Metra station gets a makeover.

Meanwhile, the developers move in, longstanding property holders look to reap their reward, and the borders of our Village are eroded and pushed, like impacted molars, causing pain with every new sign.

We can’t stop progress.  But we need to trust our Planners and Trustees to watch out for us.  In return, we do need to show up when those signs pop up.

As the saying goes, “if you don’t go to the meeting, the meeting doesn’t go your way.”

The next Public Hearing for the Butterfield proposal is February 27th, at the high school, 7pm.

Thanks for reading!  If you want to keep informed by the Village of new meeting agendas, click here.

Please share!

Culture, Environment, Government, Politics, Wildlife

If A Tree Falls In The Forest


The woods that colored our view.

This past October has been a searing lesson in keeping one’s antenna up. The teachable moment was the watching of a highly efficient logging crew cut down a thousand or more trees from the lot across the road.

The clear cut was requested by the church which owns the land, and it was approved by the village after due inspection.

You see, where we live we have a village administration which has pretty strong rules about keeping up appearances. You can’t just cut down a tree unless it’s sick, damaged, or dangerous, and if so, you need a permit first.   I used to think too much government is a rein on individual freedom, but this set of rules is a good one.


This old gentleman looks forward to a questionable future.

It turns out that the church is in the mood for selling the land for development. The challenge was to make the parcel more attractive, and to that end, counseled with its lawyers to build a case for removing a wilderness of 60-year-old trees.

The trees in question were part of an abandoned tree nursery. Fifty-five  years ago, they were planted 10 feet apart, and do you know what happened? The owners gave up the business, and Mother Nature took over.

In fitting out her arboreal family, she attracted a host of wildlife, from deer, coyote and other furry creatures, complemented by boisterous flocks of birds who populated the tree tops with a chatter of music all day.


20,000 motorists enjoyed this view every day.

Meanwhile, the trees matured to their full 5-story height, and spawned a wilderness of jungle under the canopy.


Not a winner: this tag identifies a tree that didn’t make the cut, ironically.

The critters loved it; the church not so much.

Then about a year ago, a developer sniffed out a golden opportunity to build a settlement of new homes on the property, and before long, a deal was made. The developer became the authorized agent for the church to get the trees removed.


Every summer and fall a corn grower leased the land for this harvest.

The new agent petitioned the village government, pointing out the church’s liability if, God forbid, a tree might fall down and clobber a hiker foraging in the woods for morels. It hadn’t happened in 50-plus years, so odds were likely that the jig would soon be up.

With detailed, supporting testimony from professional arborists hired by the developer, and then double-checked by the village’s own arborists, and ultimately inspected by the mayor, the village gave the okay to axe the forest.

Each offending tree was tagged, and given a C.V. page in a three-ring binder. 2,500 candidates were put on the rolls, and 38 were deemed salvageable.

The news finally broke when the local reporter headlined an article on the pending clear cut. Then, and only then, did the public wake up.


The loggers, like good executioners, did their job swiftly, and well.

But sadly, too late!


A 57-year-old bleeds a story for the arborist.

In November the heavy machinery came in, and in a matter of a few days, decimated the woods which had pleased passers by for decades. Today, there is a giant mountain of chipped wood on the lot, over 20 feet high, and enough to fill the village swimming pool three times over.


Three winners. 38 trees survive the cut.

I mentioned passers by.   Approximately 20,000 motorists pass the woods every day. Year after year the woods have been the backdrop to the driver’s view on a seasonal corn crop that has graced the parcel forever, accented by a colorful palette of leaves each fall.

One day it’s there, the next, it’s gone.

Driving north today we see a sodden battlefield of tree stumps, roots and tangled branches, exposing fresh, grainy wood under torn bark and up-ended logs.  A water tower overlooks the scene, never before visible from the road.  Behind that, the once sheltered golf course now presents a naked 20-foot-high wire fence used to catch wild golf balls.


The new view. Passers by witness the harvest, and drive on, chastened.

As we drive by, our eyes are drawn to the carnage, and then we avert our gaze in disgust.  The sight is sickening.

One wonders if the village will have the gumption to direct the church to clean up the stubble and make it pleasant, minimally, just to keep up appearances.

Though the word “development” is attached to every discussion about the deforestation, we are assured by the village that the decision to remove the trees is not connected to any housing proposal.


This row of trees is no longer a threat to the hiker.

The questionable proposal to crowd up to 147 houses on the parcel of land is nebulous.  Despite the best drawn plans, it has earned no approvals for re-zoning, plats or building.

In the face of the public’s nausea over the decisions to date, the development may never appear, or perhaps hover in limbo indefinitely.


2500 trees, reformatted.

Meanwhile, the steam and fumes of fermenting wood chips fill the air with a bitter tannic scent that drifts across our neighborhood.

The lesson we have learned from this smoldering string of events is that despite our best wishes, bad things happen if we don’t pay attention.   To that end, there is an aggressive interest among the population to watch what’s going on down at village hall.


While all the time, we grieve, and get on with it.



Thanks for reading! Please take a moment to share this with your friends. 

Culture, Government, Media, Politics

A Note To My Canadian Friends

Leading up to the final election results today I have received a pretty consistent flow of commentary through social media and the occasional conversation that suggested perhaps we have all gone nuts in the land of milk and honey.

Since this morning, I have been presented with sound bites of disdain, disgust, and some pithy, intellectual thoughts about the decline and moral decay of America.

The latest was a clipping from the New Yorker “An American Tragedy” with my friend’s comment, “A sad day…”

First of all, let me say, I totally get it.

It is extremely difficult to swallow the language, the rude, boorish nature of the President-elect. But before we blame the winner, we need to ask why such a perceived lout could still mop up the electoral college with such surprise and certainty.

It reminds me of a story the late Art Buchwald told a gathering of we Canadian direct marketers back in the ’80s. This was a luncheon of about 200 business folks at the Boulevard Club alongside Lake Ontario in Toronto.

Buchwald, columnist from the Washington Post, was introduced after lunch to give a few comments. Like a good speaker, he started with a story. Buchwald was about 70 years old at the time and had a dry, gravelly voice that tumbled words out of a mouth you’d swear was filled with marbles.

He was recounting his conversation with the cabbie who drove him downtown from the airport. “I said to the driver, ‘I love coming here. The people are nice. The streets are clean. The architecture is superb. What a wonderful city!’ The driver looked in the rear-view mirror and said, ‘You wouldn’t say that if you lived here.’ ”

The punch line drew lots of laughs predictably.

But you can say the same thing about the view from inside the U.S. today.

By the way, Garden Collective, a Toronto ad agency put together a wonderful 2- minute piece about, “America You Are Already Great“. Watching it on TV, I was speechless, with a lump in my throat, overwhelmed by the kind and complimentary upbeat tone of the message. It was a warm, nice message.

It reflected well on a population which has elected a young, progressive, educated, well spoken, photogenic and popular leader named Trudeau. We Americans can only be jealous, political ideology aside.

But when the verdict is that today was a “sad day” in the United States, let’s be sure why.

Undoubtedly, the election of a person who may personify “bully”, is hard to stomach. I am sure that the nose plug counter at the voting booths cleared its inventory faster than Cubs shirts in one day.

The question is, how many voting Americans picked the winner because they like mysogyny, crudeness, xenophobic language and gratuitous swagger. Not many, I’ll bet.

The reason they held their nose and checked the box is because it has already been a sad day–sad for many years.

Trump won his votes because of the raw facts: only 62% of the U.S. workforce has a job. 45 million Americans are below the poverty level. 43 million Americans live on food stamps.

There are twice as many tax-payer funded civil servants as there are manufacturing employees.   Our enemies disrespect us, and our allies don’t trust us.

We have a $365 billion trade deficit with China, and a $20 trillion national debt, exacerbated by a limitless annual budget deficit.

The economy has poked along at a 2% growth rate annually, for 8 long years.  We are engaged in a middle-east conflict that seems to have no end, with heavy weights like Russia and China picking a piece of the pie.  The icing on the cake: a $12 billion payment to Iran for a nuclear arms deal.

Today there are 61 million immigrants in the USA, myself included, and approximately 25% of those are here illegally, absorbing their share of welfare, medical, educational and social services.

While the numbers may lead to numbness, they add up to a diminution of happy times.  And they have done so for at least 8 years, perhaps longer.  So for a family which is struggling today, to hear the same promises again from the same mouths as the past, the pot finally boiled over.

We all depend upon the media for our news.  And it is the mass media focused on their one dimensional narratives on Obama, Trump and Clinton that have glossed over the very real problems which exist in the U.S. today, leaving you the viewer to wonder how could Americans could elect such an impossible choice for President?

We have been manipulated by pollsters, pundits and reporters who just didn’t see what was happening at street level.  And then in a moment of surprise that only Wile E. Coyote could express, they ran off the cliff.

So I get your disappointment.

I know you are hurt inside that America voted as it did.  But don’t blame it on the electorate.  The numbers are a record– over 120,000,000 made it to the polls, and split the vote like a giant slab cake right down the middle, with just a few crumbs left over on one side.  But hopefully you won’t call out every other American as the stupid one.

More likely, they are holding their breath, like me, and hoping that this sea change, continental shift, tectonic grinding will really change things, and for the better.

In the mean time, thank you for your goodwill and take advantage of a huge dollar exchange advantage: it is a great time for us to visit Canada.

Thanks for sharing!  And don’t stop coming south, we love to see you.



Government, Politics, Sports

Performing Under Pressure

Pats & Pres

Number 12 couldn’t make it.

In the locker room~

“Everyone listen up! Step forward everybody who wants to go to the White House!

Scrambled scraping of chairs, shuffling and stamping of feet.  Clearing of throats and nervous coughing.

“Uh, not you Tom.”

Sometimes it’s just not in the cards, and my suspicion is that we didn’t get the whole story when the New England Patriots visited the White House, on their own, without star QB Tom Brady.

The official excuse from the Brady household was that he had a family commitment.  More likely, he was rushed to find one after a round of calls between the back offices of the NFL, Ted Wells, the White House, and of course, the Patriots.

Is there anyone who really believes Tom Brady blew off the President and the Oval Office for a family picnic?  This is the same NFL star who managed to leave town and his family for 12 games during the season,  including the SuperBowl.

Political writers suggested he was a staunch conservative and anti-Obama.  And would never show.


Keeping Up Appearances At The White House

My hunch is that the powers that be had set up their dance cards about two days after deflategate hit the news. There’s no way that the obsessive meeting planners at the White House only thought in February to ask the Super Bowl champs to visit.

More likely they cued the caterer and photographer last November, don’t you think?  They probably had brackets displayed across the kitchen wall for months.

And the adminions-in-charge would have their antenna up for any possible smudge that could sully a Presidential photo op.   Remember, Aaron Hernandez, another Patriot, was on trial for murder at the same time.

Without question, the President would have to tap dance a bit if the deflated football story didn’t turn out well.

And it didn’t.

Special investigator Ted Wells was assigned to the case February 14, and May 6 he delivered his verdict.

The timing was precisioned too. With the deftness of a Manhattan social maven, Wells stalled past March Madness. Got beyond the MLB spring opener. Stretched it through tax day. Slid through the White House visit.   Let the NFL draft event take place.  And then 4 days later dropped the hammer.

The President was spared the embarrassment of hosting a person who was under a cloud. But to be sure, they burnt his invitation.

Their hunch was right, and they probably had it confirmed by Wells, or NFL’s Roger Goodell, weeks before.

To save face everywhere, Tom Brady stayed at home to see the fam, because after all, when it comes to what counts, politics is definitely low  priority.

Or is it?

Marketing, Media, Politics, Sports

We’ll Never Hear About Those Balls

Ball Pressure


January 18, 2015 the Indianapolis Colts had their hats handed to them by the over-ripe New England Patriots. Moments later the incredible tale of the deflated game balls levitated the media for two weeks until the Super Bowl eve.


“Quickly Roger! The game is afoot!”

By then, suspicions were suspended long enough for the NFL to crown Tom Brady, dispense Rings, get Bill  Belichick a new hoody, rush Roger Goodell back to his limo, hustle Katy Perry and her Sharks back into her bus, pack Lenny Cravitz into his box, and to astutely hire Ted Wells, locker room attorney, to chase down every possible lead to get to the bottom of this horrifyingly regrettable schmozzle, and effectively bring a calm rational end to the controversy that has rocked the very foundations of the NFL.

In other words, kill it.

Mr. Wells however has been diligent, and we have been able to get an inside look at his case book.  Dates are omitted, but you can follow the subject line pretty well:

Iron Ball

Volume X Temperature = Pressure

~ Pigskin or Naugahyde? ….  Steer hide!   Who knew?

~ Cage free steers… more relaxed?

~ Check laces.  Proper bow?

~ Left handed or right handed balls?


~ “Let it Go”… Roger singing this…why?

~ Bratwurst steamer in locker room.  Why?

Aaron Rodgers

“I had trouble getting these in so I bled them off a bit…”

~ BP station in Glendale.  Check pumps.

~ Gluten free steers… more relaxed?

~ State Farm “Pump You Up” commercial.  Code?   What’s with Aaron Rodgers?

~ Belichick… Ideal Gas Law??  Physics degree??

~ Mythbusters test lab– put in call 

~ Mental state of footballs?

~ Presidential PAC for Roger.   Too much?

Mythbuster Lab

“Yunno what we need to try next?”

~ Get plane tickets, sunscreen

~ Set up out-of-office voice mail

~ Empty shredder

   The report may come out soon, but it will be as light as the victimized footballs.   The next time we hear about the infamous footballs will be on Cold Case, or on Discovery Channel’s expose on Stonehenge.  Stay tuned!




Media, Politics, Sports

Complicated Is Right


Will Estes and Tom Selleck tackle a dilemma.

Our favorite TV police commissioner is Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck, Blue Bloods, CBS) who presents at least one pithy moral judgement at the Reagan family dinner table on Sundays.   Lately, he said: “Doing the right thing may be hard, but it’s not complicated.”

So it probably was hard, and not complicated for NBC to say ‘anchors away’ to Brian Williams, who will go without work or pay for 6 months.

As a loyal fan of the NBC News show, I will miss Mr. Williams, but at the same time, the quick action of his management will save his reputation for another day.   (It begs the question, when he returns in August, will he have a weathered tan, beard and shaggy hair, shod in Birkenstocks?)

This week the American audience had another cold shower when the International Little League stripped the Jackie Robinson West baseball team of their 2014 U.S. Championship title.

The flames haven’t quite burnt out in this issue, as a legal suit is now underway against the League contesting the decision.   But there might be kudos for the individual or group who made the vacating decision.   We’ll wait to see.

In these two instances however, one must respect the gumption of the decision makers, to essentially throw away the enormous investment of public goodwill and the positive momentum directed at both Williams and the Little Leaguers during their respective arcs.

The Jackie Robinson West team, reputedly disadvantaged Chicago south siders, practiced and played their way to the top of the heap, a great story.   Brian Williams, hardly disadvantaged, but still trusted and loved as America’s #1 rated news anchor… could he just be a celebrity entertainer after all?

These are huge disappointments.   But due to some tough decisions, the integrity of the Little League, and of the NBC News can be preserved.   There won’t be any nagging thoughts and “yeah-buts” in the future.

Which raises another troubling question: what about those deflated footballs?

Is it possible that the NFL will escape the painful compression point of making a decision some day?   Does the investigation, effectively in place since January 22, continue long enough that the public loses interest as MLB Spring Training hovers on the horizon?

It must be tough in NFL headquarters, especially when the public saw one of the best games ever, with impossible catches, Tom Brady with his 4th Super Bowl ring, Katy Perry and her sharks, and the incomprehensible Lenny Kravitz dazzling us at half time.

Against that euphoric background, and pumped up with countless $4.5 million ad spots, it will be very, very hard for the NFL to stick a pin in the balloon if the investigation turns up any factual details of malfeasance.

In the mean time, we’ll coast through to the next Super Bowl, but always with a nagging thought, a “yeah-but” on our conscience.

Which brings me back to another observation that Frank Reagan tells his family a week later at the table: “Doing the right thing is easy.   Deciding  what is right is hard.”


Just my point of view obviously, but tell me if you have another perspective I didn’t consider.  Thanks for reading!