Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Outsourcing a comedy of errors on TV and in PUSD

Note: This column appears in the 6/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/3 issue of the Peoria Times

There is a show on TV called “Outsourced,” which is not very funny and also kind of racist. But the show is accurate in that, in real life, being outsourced is just as unfunny and often as discriminatory.

The Peoria Unified School District is considering outsourcing its janitorial staff for the purposes of saving a projected 1.4 million annually. This means, lest we be confused by the gentle connotations and intended hilarity of the term “outsourced,” that Peoria Unified School District is considering laying off 150 workers and hiring instead cheaper labor from an outside company.

Gone will be the days of janitorial staff hired from within, in order to enable them to become a trusted part of the school community. After all, who better to place in a school setting—especially at times when no one else is around—than a person who nobody really knows? I can only imagine that good-natured, sitcom-like hijinks would be the end result.

Board member Diane Douglas was quoted in the Arizona Republic as stating, “I understand classes have to be cleaned but that’s not our major job.” In other words, teaching children is the only major job of a school, and all other jobs are expendable. By following through on this idea, the school district will kill two birds with one stone—save money and execute its major job by teaching children that loyalty within even a school district setting is limited to a budget. After all, why should children know on a personal level the one who has to come clean up their barf? That’s not a major job, and that is not a major person.

Other districts, such as Tolleson Union High School and Scottsdale Unified have outsourced their janitorial staff, according to the Republic, with mixed reviews. Sure, some items go missing from teachers’ desks, but other items are often found and returned. So, basically, items that are stolen are balanced out by the items that are … not stolen? I don’t know. The point is that it works, if you value saving money, but are willing to sacrifice a few personal items here and there, and some sense of community, which is overrated anyway.

Besides, children should know that it’s only unfortunate circumstances that have allowed someone to become a janitorial worker in the first place. Bearing witness to their expendability will only reinforce that they should strive to do something greater and more stable in life, like teaching, or working on Wall Street, or becoming a school board member.

And sure, outsourcing the janitorial staff may lead to an awkward conversation or two initially from children who mistakenly got to know someone. But they’ll get over it.

“Where’s Javier?”

“Oh, he’s uhhh … dead. But meet what’s-his-face! Hey—is that my watch?”
I certainly don’t envy the school board for having to make decisions such as this, but the money’s gotta come from somewhere, right? Hired brooms are cheaper than tenured employees. It’s math, not social studies.

"Why does my email smell like Indian food?"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stuff my parents said

My parents made their annual trek from New Jersey to visit us here in the Valley last week. It was a great time as always, and it was especially nice for me to have them there at the book signing, because not only were they a great help in putting the book together, their idiosyncrasies provided for much of its content.

Speaking of ... because I love them, here is a list of random phrases that were heard during their visit.

- “Where do you guys keep sandwich bags that I can fill with ice for my foot?”

- “I was thinking, the indigestion may be because I drank so much pool water.”

- “Do you like onions? The recipe calls for onions.”

- “What do you want me to do with this ice pack I used for my foot?”

- “I put your alarm code into my phone. Here, let me show you. It looks great.”

- “I think I accidentally cleared all of the downloads on your computer.”

- “Is the microwave on? I don’t hear anything.”

- “The vet called. Brittany is eating, thank God.”

- “If you stand barefoot on concrete for too long, the bone in your foot will disintegrate.”

- “Do you want the pita bread with the falafels?”

- “I’m allowed 10-to-15 minutes of sunshine a day, so this is fine.”

- “Didn’t you Google us a pitch-and-putt place last year? Do you remember the address?”

- “Can the dog have chicken?”

- “The seafood guy at Safeway said we should definitely eat the shrimp tonight instead of Thursday.”

- "I figure, we're all gonna die of something, anyway."

- "It's 2.4 miles from your front door to the pool and back. Daddy checked."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Azcentral.com, the website for the Arizona Republic and Channel 12 News, has a weird set-up in that, the main headline on the home page, and each individual city’s page, sits next to a picture that is for a different story. I don’t know why it’s set-up like this, but the contrast of headline and picture is a constant source of both confusion and inappropriate hilarity, for me.

Right now, at this very second, the headline on the homepage reads, “Arizona Supreme Court stops planned execution for inmate,” and immediately to the left of this headline is a picture of Hines Ward, in a track suit, and a woman wearing a … bikini (?), each holding up their disco ball trophies for winning “Dancing with the Stars.”

On Glendale’s homepage, the headline, “Glendale sex-abuse suspect arrested in Philipenes” sits next to a picture of a plate of sushi.

UPDATE: They changed the picture on the homepage. So just trust me that Hines Ward helped stopped a local execution by winning a dancing contest.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

City: ‘And don’t come out until I say so’

Note: This column appears in the 5/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I’ve got bad news for local criminals. Thought jail was rough? Try living at home.

Peoria City Council, following the lead of other like-minded cities such as Glendale and Surprise, granted approval to local law enforcement last week to draft an ordinance for a one-year trial run of home detention as an alternative to the clink.

But don’t fret, decent society. This doesn’t apply to murderers and arsonists. They still get to go to jail and become an active member of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s strenuous rehabilitation program, which includes lifting weights, sweating in tents, and the massive task of rehabilitating Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s image. But “minor” criminals such as shoplifters may have the option to stay home, which would be a real wake-up call to most shoplifters, who are notorious for always being at work.

The purpose of this plan, as always, is to save money. Who do you think pays when someone steals from Kohl’s? Technically no one, at first. Then Kohl’s, I guess, for the merchandise? I’m not sure. But ultimately it’s you and me, Jack and Jill Taxpayer, so that Stealy McStealerson can live comfortably in some local jail cell. Well, no more. Sort of.

The program begins in Peoria on July 1—better get your crimes in now, petty thieves—and although city attorney Steve Kemp estimates it will save the city $100-200,000 annually, it’s the program’s trial nature that helped initiate its approval. In fact, some in council, like Vice Mayor Cathy Carlat, wouldn’t have been on board were it not for it being a test run.

The major criticism, of course, is: how does house arrest deter criminals from being criminals again? To that I say, have you ever been at home for an extended period of time? It’s worse than jail. For one thing, there’s nothing on TV during the day. Nothing! Only judge shows, which are too painful for criminals to watch, lest they be reminded how they ended up at home in the first place.

Besides saving money, this new initiative also prevents overcrowding in jails, a major problem in the Valley as Sheriff Arpaio continues his quest to arrest everyone. By essentially “grounding” minor criminals, local cities are enacting the most effective form of punishment—public disappointment. Criminals will now have plenty of time to think about what they’ve done. Or, make a sandwich.

There have been hiccups in the home detention process, as to be expected. Recently, as covered in this very publication, Glendale’s William Willis, serving home detention with a monitoring device while awaiting trial on charges of burglary and child pornography, went missing, but was thankfully apprehended by U.S. Marshalls the next day. I’m not sure how alleged child pornography (!!!) warrants house arrest, especially when the house in question contained a massive and mysterious backyard tunnel, and the whole ordeal probably cost taxpayers $12 million in U.S. Marshalls fees, but hey—don’t blame the system. Blame … something else.

I, for one, will have my fingers crossed that this trial run takes to permanence. I don’t want to sound too harsh here, but we need to get criminals off the streets, and back into their homes where they belong.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vampire weekend

Last weekend my wife and I attended a vampire-themed adult birthday party. As I am wont to do when it comes to readying myself for a vampire party, I waited until the last minute to consider what I would do for a vampire costume.

My original idea was to wear two popped-collared polo shirts, khakis, and cons and go as Vampire Weekend. But I decided against that because I didn’t know anybody going to the party and I feared the outfit would go over like a lead balloon.

Me: Hi, I’m Mike.

Person Dressed as Vampire: Hi, I’m Mark. Looks at me up and down, awkward silence…

Me: I’m Vampire Weekend.

Person Dressed as Vampire: What’s that?

Me: Oh, they’re a band, kind of like, intentionally preppy, but actually pretty awesome …

Person Dressed as Vampire
: Is it a one-person band with no instruments?

Me: No, there’s a few guys in the band, but uhhh, I don’t have any friends here, so …

Person Dressed as Vampire: Oh, okay. Cool. I’m Dracula. Dracula is a vampire.

Repeat conversation 28 times throughout night.

I was trying to avoid dressing as a standard vampire because my wife had purchased vampire capes at Party City for each of us, and I wanted to return one because I thought it was way too expensive for a vampire cape purchased in May. Vampire capes purchased in May at Party City should cost three dollars. We talked about me wearing and then returning it, but I knew that I would definitely, without question, spill something on it, rendering me unable to return it, which would cause a fight later. Believe me—it wouldn’t be the first time my wife got upset because I spilled something on a vampire cape we were hoping to return to the store at a later date.

I then had the idea—only because I wanted to wear shorts—to go as Eddie Munster. There was much discussion as to whether or not Eddie Munster was even a vampire. My wife said that his dad was Frankenstein, but his grandfather—or was it uncle? I don’t know—was a vampire. We were too short on time to Google it, so I yelled downstairs to my parents to ask.

Yes, my parents had just gotten into town, visiting us from New Jersey. Two hours after their arrival, we left them at the house to go to a vampire party. But not before I loud-whispered to them, because our daughter was sleeping, from upstairs, asking, “Mom, dad, pssstttt! Was Eddie Munster a vampire?” My mom’s response was, “What about the mustard?” and my dad just laughed. They did not have an answer.

So I went as Eddie Munster. No one really questioned it, at least to my face, and I was happy, and my legs were cool, and I had lots of fun. Most of the vampire costumes were pretty awesome. In fact, almost every female there including my wife was wearing the same exact Party City cape, which was a nice ice breaker. There was also a couple there dressed as The Joker and a court jester. The offshoot theme was the Twilight series, so I am assuming that the Twilight movies, which I have never seen, feature The Joker and a court jester, especially since the court jester won "best vampire costume." I, however, won the award for "tallest Eddie Munster," which was not an actual award until I asked our wonderful host if it could be, and she allowed it.

On Monday my wife wrote on my facebook wall that Eddie Munster was a werewolf or something. I deduced from the commercials that there is at least one werewolf in Twilight, so I was okay, according to the two-degrees of Eddie Munster theory.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The survey says—you are inadequate at your present occupation

Note: This column appears in the 5/19 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/20 issue of the Peoria Times

I have fully immersed myself in the process of filling out and submitting virtually any survey that comes my way.

It used to be that I scoffed at surveys. If I had to call a customer service line, and the automated prompts asked me if I’d like to participate in a survey afterwards, I always chose “yes.” I did this because I feared if I chose “no” this would somehow redirect my call to the lowest rated team of customer service agents, which would be, in my mind, a team of high-functioning chimpanzees wearing headsets. Once my conversation was complete, however, I would immediately hang-up on the survey. Not because I was indifferent about my customer service experience—it was typically awful and not helpful and forced me to question humanity—but because I was lazy.

But now? I am less lazy. Every time I receive poor service, which is quite often, I want to voice my displeasure to someone, anyone, immediately. For example, the Dunkin’ Donuts near our house employs a revolving door of stoner teenagers who have the social and problem-solving skills of a telephone pole. Luckily, all Dunkin’ Donuts receipts include the chance to submit an online survey, which I do, each and every time. How would I rate my experience on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best? I chose negative-8. There is no negative-8 button? I will leave it in the comments.

Even better, you get a free donut with every D&D completed survey. The irony of unsuccessfully trying to redeem my free donut coupon to the very employees who helped me earn that donut by being terrible at their jobs is never lost on me. To the survey machine!

Unfortunately, I have yet to really see the benefits of filling out surveys. My experiences out there in the world have not differed much since my commitment to voice my constant displeasure. I have always had an inclination that surveys are a mere public relations tool, and that when I click “submit,” my survey is immediately routed to the recycle bin on some random server in Wisconsin. If that’s the case, so be it. I will crash that server.

It could simply be that my surveys are taken less seriously because I always choose that I would prefer not to be contacted directly about my experience. It’s typically human interaction that motivated the negative survey, so I don’t want more of it. I prefer my complaining to be as passive aggressive as possible. Besides, it’s all there in the survey. No need to call. Please just send me something awesome for my troubles, thank you.

Now, I have also made it a point to, on those very rare occasions when it’s warranted, provide positive feedback as well. The grading curve of service has been so skewed that I feel obligated to acknowledge those special individuals who can provide even minimal support without making me feel like burning something down. Way to go! You deserve a raise.

Also, we deserve a raise. Of standards.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Classic card of the week

Kevin Gross, 1989 Score

According to Wikipedia, Kevin Gross is a member of the Ventura County Hall of Fame. According to its website, induction into the Ventura County Hall of Fame requires that “athletes must have competed in a sport recognized by the Hall of Fame.” Makes sense. The website then goes on to list the sports recognized by the Ventura County Hall of Fame, which include Speed Boat Racing, something called Martial Arts Volleyball, and, of course, Winter Sports. Kevin Gross played baseball, which also qualified.

Anyhoo, what else?

Kevin, who has one of the league’s sharpest curves,

I just want to point out that if I did not know we were speaking about baseball, I would be left to assume that Kevin Gross had the most defined buttocks of anyone in his league. I would assume that the league in question was his fantasy martial arts volleyball league.

rebounded in 1988 from a dismal ’87 season.

When set against his career statistics, Kevin Gross’ 1987 4.35 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, for me, just reek of a herniated disc issue.

Kevin was hampered most of ’87 by a herniated disc in his lower back.

One of my absolute favorite things to do when writing these cards up is to pretend not to know what’s coming next. It makes my job as Information Consultant & Data Analyzer so much easier. Do you enjoy this as well? Not so much? Awesome!

He also was suspended for 10 days by commissioner Peter Ueberroth for sandpapering the face of a baseball in an August game against the Cubs.

Man, I miss baseball in the 80s. The bullpen car, mustaches, common maneuvers like sandpapering your balls. I mean, you can’t even bring sandpaper on a plane these days, much less hide it underneath your baseball cap during a major league game so that you can secretly use it to sharpen up your already legendary-sharp curveball. Also, according to its website: Candidates must have impeccable moral standing in the community. Sanctions by groups such as CIF, the Channel Coast Officials Association, Ventura County Football Coaches Association, school districts, etc., automatically disqualify a nomination.

I’m not sure where “sandpapering your balls” falls on the moral scale, but suffice it to say, Kevin Gross was not—I repeat, was NOT—sanctioned by the Ventura County Football Coaches Association or the CIF (County Initiatives for Fame). His inclusion in the Ventura County Hall of Fame is legitimate.

Despite all,

Despite all of the adversity Kevin Gross endured as a result of pitching relatively poorly and also cheating …

Kevin pitched over 200 innings for the third straight year.

"Pitching innings is probably the best testament to how a pitcher pitches. Because if a pitcher is pitching innings, he's pitching, and that's what pitchers do. They pitch. Kevin Gross was a pitcher, and that's why we're all here today." -- Joe Morgan, introducing Kevin Gross during Gross' induction into the Ventura County Hall of Fame.

Shhhh! I'm hunting house hunters

Welcome back to House Hunters International! Grant and Sara love their 12-bedroom home in a remote suburb of Orange Country, but Grant’s job as a financial whatever and Sara’s job as nothing leaves them stressed-out with the fast-pace of life in the States. Having vacationed on the island of Barbados many times, and under the impression that they are revered and welcomed by the locals, they are set on finding a second home there. Today they’re meeting their realtor, Mike …

Mike: Okay, so, first we have this awesome three-bedroom home near the beach. It’s got a pool, and uh, some other things. Also, it’s in Barbados, near the beach. Do you want to make an offer now? And of course by “make an offer,” I mean “provide HGTV consent to get the place for you without any of the red tape and logistical nightmares that face less-wealthy and not-featured-on-television homebuyers?”

Grant: Hold up, Mike. How much is this place going for?

Mike: Does it matter?

Grant: Not really. Still though.

Mike: $265,000 U.S.

Grant: What does that equal in Barbados dollars? Like, a billion?

Mike: Well, considering it's a British island, and it's 2011 ... (breaks out calculator, pretends to punch keys) ... two zillion pesos. Aren't you in finance?

Sara: This kitchen is kind of small, Grant.

Mike: I can see from your high heels and ability to open and close a microwave door that you know your way around a kitchen, Sara …

Grant: One time she almost made an omelette!

Mike: Indeed, this kitchen is a bit smaller than your sprawling, obnoxious, American kitchen, but the truth is – many in Barbados don’t have humongous kitchens, because they consider kitchens utilitarian as opposed to luxurious. Also because of the poverty.

Sara: These tiles are weird.

Mike: Excellent observation, Sara. These tiles are hand-crafted by local artists and pay homage to the rich history of Barbados.

Sara: I don’t know if I like that, Grant. I wanted brown tiles.

Grant: She wanted brown tiles.

Mike: Not to change the subject, but I’m not sure if you guys noticed the gentle ocean breeze coming through the open windows surrounding us.

Grant: You know, Mike. I’m glad you mentioned that. The beach looks so far away!

Sara: Yeah! TOO far.

Mike: I realize that it looks far away, from the 15th floor of this luxury condo, but the beach is a two-and-a-half minute walk. I timed it earlier.

Sara: (turns to Grant, puts her arm around him) You had your heart set on something on the beach, honey.

Grant: (turns to Mike, sadly) I think we were looking for something closer to the beach …

Mike: Okay. Indeed, that ride down the elevator and brief walk to more leisure can be burdensome. I’ll see what I can do …

Next day…

Mike: Grant, Sara. I see you brought your kids today. Fantastic.

Grant: This is Conner, Maddy, and Hunter! Their input is going to play a major role in our decision.

Mike: Wonderful idea. It’s great to bring young children, who have no idea what they are talking about, into the process of a major financial and life decision so as to elevate them to the level of responsible adults. They will come across well on television, I am sure.

Sara: Of course they will! Maddy, show the camera your toe ring ...

Mike: Anyway, today we have this 4-bedroom luxury villa, the only of its kind on the island. As you can see, it is on the beach. Literally. So much so that in 1986, a high tide washed it away completely and it had to be rebuilt from scratch the following year. You could not get closer to the water if you were (looks at Conner) … SpongeBob SquarePants!

Conner: (gives Mike middle finger) Where’s the pool, Daddy?

Grant: Hold on, buddy – Mike will get to that later.

Mike: Ummm, are you serious? There is no pool. The ocean is the pool.

Maddy: Daddy, no! That water smells!

Sara: Hold on, sweetie. Let’s at least go inside first.

Mike: Okay, yes, moving inside … as you can see, marble countertops, gas fireplace, balcony off of master bedroom has a golden canopy, fully furnished, brown tiles, each of the six bathrooms has a walk-in shower and a bidet, and, just as a reminder, we're still in Barbados. Also, the bedrooms are a decent size. In fact, let's check one out here ...

Sara: Yikes. Red paint? I don’t know about that, Grant.

Mike: Red is a vibrant color. One thing though, Sara, that a lot of people, like yourself, who are featured on HGTV shows don’t realize—you can actually paint over paint. With a paint of your choice.

Grant: Kind of screams “fixer-upper” to me.

Hunter: How are my toys going to fit in this room, Daddy? It's only 800 square feet. EXPLAIN THAT!

Sara: This is pretty far from downtown, too, don’t you think, Grant?

Mike: Would you like me to ask downtown if it can move here, closer to the beach, which is where you told me you wanted to live like, yesterday?

Grant: Can you do that?

Mike: Are you ... sure, hold on. (takes out cell phone, dials ... cell phone of an HGTV producer in the background rings ... he picks up) Bill? I quit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Come eat free onion rings and make me feel better about myself

Note: This column appears in the 5/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/13 issue of the Peoria Times

On Friday May 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., I will be at Firebirds Restaurant in Peoria signing copies of my new and only book, So, Do You Like … Stuff? I have absolutely no idea what this is going to be like.

My biggest fear, of course, is that no one will show up. To combat this, I have kindly asked all three of my friends who live in Arizona to come and support me. My plan, if no one else shows, is to pretend that I do not know these people, sign their books, pose for pictures (with the forthcoming captions describing them as “fans”), and then demand that they go home, change clothes, and come back. My only fear, of course, is that they won’t show up.

Luckily, my parents are almost certain to be there. They are traveling all the way from New Jersey, not so much for this as to, as my dad said, “check out more of Phoenix … do they have a zoo or something?” but still. It is certain to be a very emotional event for them. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was almost suspended from school because I, in an effort to make my friends laugh, walked into a nearby liquor store, picked up two bottles of something and danced like an idiot in the direction of the store clerk, put the bottles back then ran away, at which point the cops picked me up. It was the best ride home ever! Undoubtedly my parents wondered if I’d ever amount to something, and now they will proudly watch me sign copies of my book—one chapter is about clogging the toilet—for several friends who I am pretending are strangers.

Also, many of the subjects of my weekly columns will be there. For example, a stray shopping cart, some giant flying tacos, and several local dentists, pending approval by Firebirds. And who knows? Maybe a certain one-year old who I write about way too often will be in attendance screaming with joy, or anger, or for no reason whatsoever. She gives hi-fives now, so that should kill an hour or so.

Actually, speaking of her … Shortly after we adopted our daughter last summer and I wrote about it, we traveled back east for a mini vacation. When I returned to work, a pile of mail sat on my desk, as expected. As I sifted through the pile, however, I pulled out a few heartfelt, congratulatory cards from several loyal readers. Besides the overwhelming gratitude I felt towards those wonderful people who took the time to acknowledge such a life-altering event, it was a seminal moment for me personally, as it made me say—wow, people are actually reading my column.

So, if you are indeed one of the confirmed several people who enjoy, tolerate, or just indifferently read the column, please stop by Firebirds next Friday. I want to thank you. I want to thank you mostly by selling you my book, but also with a handshake, or maybe a hug if it’s deemed appropriate. You’re not a pervert, are you? We’ll see, I guess.

Bring your copy of So, Do You Like … Stuff? or buy one there. I will write or even draw almost anything you want inside the book. I’ll be set up near the bar area, where happy hour prices will be in effect. Appetizers will be complimentary. Also, please bring a change of clothes, and maybe a wig, just in case.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Classic card of the week

Mauro Gozzo, 1990 Score

Mauro Gozzo. Let’s gizzo:

Mauro, who is nicknamed “Goose,”

This is a true story. One time I was playing a baseball-themed board game, and one of the categories featured scrambled letters, and with those letters you had to figure out the actual player’s name. When I drew that category, my letters read: “ G O O Z E G O S Z O.” I was stumped, and as a joke I guessed “Pat Tabler.” I made up that story.

presented the Indians his credentials for a spot in their bullpen in 1991
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Goose Gozzo, dressed in an Armani suit that features a detailed stitched calligraphy of a goose head on the back of the sport coat, walks into the front offices of the Cleveland Indians. An executive rises to meet him …

Executive: Mauro, welcome. Come in, have a seat. Sanka?

Goose: No thank you.

Executive: It’s decaf … ?

Goose: I don’t want to waste my time or yours. May I present to you my credentials for inclusion in your pitching bullpen during this, the year of nineteen-ninety-one.

Goose hands the executive a manilla folder. In the folder is a single sheet of paper. The executive pulls the paper from the folder and gently puts on his reading glasses.

Executive: All this paper reads is, “Put me in your bullpen … or else!”

Goose: Turn it over.

The executive turns over the piece of paper, which reveals a drawing, in crayon, of a decapitated goose. There is lots of red crayon blood.

Executive: Okay, I’m confused. You’re “Goose,” so are you saying if we don’t put you in the bullpen, you’re going to kill yourself?

Goose: Darn it. No … it’s supposed to mean that if you don’t put me the bullpen, I’m going to kill a goose and leave the head in your bed, so as to convince you to put me in the bullpen.

Executive: Ooooohhh, I get it! You can see how I got confused though, right?

Goose: Yeah. I was going to draw you decapitated, ya’ know, but I didn’t know what you looked like until I walked in here before.

Executive: No, no, I like this better. Really. Anyway, uh … yeah, whatever. You can pitch the seventh inning and uh, during blowouts, okay?

Goose: Deal. Can I get that Sanka now?

He caused quite a stir at the end of ’89 when he came up from Syracuse and won the first four major league games he appeared in – three as a starter and one in relief.

The stir that Mauro “Goose” Gozzo caused in Toronto and all throughout America by winning his first four major league appearances equaled, as deduced by a Canadian mathematician: Fernando Mania times 100 + Michael Jackson “Thriller” premiere – all of that times 0.

Did you know?
Mauro Gozzo is the only Goose not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

City, Goldwater eat dessert, fight, document it all

Note: This editorial appears in the 5/5 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/6 issue of the Peoria Times

Have you ever read 100 pages about something and learned less? No? Then you should totally check out the transcript of the meeting between the City of Glendale and the Goldwater Institute. It’s chock full of nothing.

To recap the issue at hand: The City of Glendale reached a deal with businessman Matthew Hulsizer to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes so that the team can remain in Glendale. The Goldwater Institute, which is an organization that does … something, is challenging the legality of the deal, stressing the risk to taxpayers. These two sides came together for a meeting two weeks ago in which the goal was, apparently, to pretend they didn’t despise each other and to eat cupcakes.

Indeed, someone brought cupcakes to the meeting, and the first few pages of the report detail this fact. I’m not sure why this needed to be documented, but it did lead to Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs posing the question, “What does ‘ooey-gooey’ mean?” which was the only question of the meeting that was actually answered, albeit inaccurately. “Ooey-gooey,” according to Starlee Rhoades, “is chocolate and more chocolate and peanut butter.” Hmmm. I thought “ooey-gooey” meant sticky and messy—a perfect description of these proceedings. But hey, whatever.

The Goldwater Institute had “seven questions” regarding the Coyotes deal which they wanted to outline and then discuss. Goldwater CEO Darcy Olsen planned to go over each question individually, but Mayor Scruggs wanted them all at once first, and then individually, so she could “write them down,” even though this whole thing was being mercilessly recorded. This battle of wills ensued for several pages. Also, the questions were never answered.

Part of the reason the questions were never answered was because Mayor Scruggs expressed her inability to answer the questions because it would violate the council-manager city charter. City Manager Ed Beasley, who was all over print and radio when council approved the deal originally and who could have easily relieved Mayor Scruggs of the heavy burden of public evasiveness, was not at this meeting because … I don’t know. Why would he be? He’s only the City Manager. Besides, in his stead: cupcakes.

Neither side thought an independent arbitrator would be necessary for this meeting. The result was an embarrassingly immature display of political posturing and ego wrangling in which people interrupted each other and challenged the most basic topics of discussion for no apparent reason. Take this exchange:

MS. OLSEN: Yesterday, (City Attorney) Craig Tindall told our attorneys that negotiations with Matt are ongoing and no contract has been finalized, but in an email –

MR. TINDALL: That’s not what I said. (Blah, blah, blah …) I said that the possibility is that we may need to negotiate in the future …

Good. Great. Glad we cleared that up. Can we proceed? No? You didn’t say what you just said? Okay, please continue. I am going to sit here and jam this pen into my thigh. This type of back-and-forth went on for 113 pages, by the way.

The Goldwater Institute has valid questions but questionable motives. The City of Glendale wants to keep its team but is being blatantly evasive. This meeting could have resolved, at least somewhat, this chasm. Instead it widened it.

A few people have asked me which side I rest on in the case of the Coyotes. I am on the side of a calm, reasonable solution by mature elected officials and professional human beings that has the city and team’s best interest at heart as opposed to its own political, corporate or personal worth. When that side emerges, I will let you know.

At one point during this epic fourth-grade debate team session, Tindall accused a Goldwater rep of “eye-rolling” as a result of something Mayor Scruggs had said. Ummm, Mr. Tindall, Goldwater Institute (tapping them on the collective shoulder)? It was me. It was us. At all of this.