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Friday, July 11, 2014

General election leftovers best served cold and digested slowly

Friday, November 9, 2012

(Photo)
ERIC BERNSEE -- Daze Work
As a connoisseur of leftovers -- especially delicious remnants off the grill or following a feast like Thanksgiving more so than those carried home cradled in styrofoam -- trust me, leftovers can be as good or better than the original.

Reheated in the oven, nuked gingerly in the microwave or served up cold, the leftover is a staple of life.

Especially after Election Day in the newsroom. So let's dig in with some nuggets that should whet your political appetite.

First off, voter turnout in Putnam County ended up just a whisker under 60 percent (59.13 to be exact). A real feel-good story at the end of an election campaign that was contentious at best outside the friendly confines of Putnam County.

Hooray for us. Pats on the back all around, especially for county chairmen Darwyn Nelson (R) and Dave Bohmer (D).

But I'm left wondering about that 40 percent that didn't vote. If some of the issues at stake and the personality differences playing out in this election couldn't lure you to the polls, what ever could?

Granted, of that 40 percent there are probably five or 10 percent still registered here who have moved away or passed on since the last voter registry purge. A few might be incapable physically or mentally as well.

Even so, that means at least 25-30 percent of the public chose to not participate, either on Election Day itself or during any of the easy early voting opportunities now available.

It's trite but true, but those non-voters really have no right to gripe and moan about how things are run locally, across the state or around the country.

We know that will never happen.

* * *

Best news of the night?

That's easy -- that 2013 will be the year without an election.

The Clerk's Office confirmed that for us. Wild celebrating ensued.

Next election will be of the county variety in 2014, followed by a city election in 2015 and the next presidential election in 2016.

Consider yourselves warned.

* * *

Probably the person I felt the sorriest for during Tuesday night's result was Jeff Blaydes, who ran as good a race for county commissioner as has likely ever been run.

That's not to say David Berry isn't a good guy, too. Met him for the first time sitting across from each other at the Lincoln Day dinner. He'll do a fine job as commissioner.

But talk about putting blood, sweat and tears into something. Blaydes shook so many hands, he had to have surgery during the waning days of the campaign.

He also kept his sense of humor while knowing that getting elected to a Putnam County office as a Democrat occurs about as often as the return of Halley's Comet. On Halloween, Blaydes even donned a mask and trick-or-treated Republican headquarters in a lighter campaign moment.

But countywide voting results again basically prove Blaydes was doomed from the start by the "D" for Democrat behind his name on the ballot.

Locally, the Democrats were able to field just two countywide candidates this time, Blaydes and auditor hopeful Wilma Phipps. Although quite capable of succeeding in the positions they sought, Blaydes and Phipps each captured just two of the 31 Putnam precincts on Tuesday.

Democrat Chairman Dave Bohmer has to feel like a ship's captain trying to assemble a crew for the reunion voyage of The Titanic. Seeing someone like Blaydes work as hard as he did and still end up with less than 30 percent (29.64 to be exact) of the vote in a three-man race doesn't bode well for filling the Democrat side of the ballot in 2014.

* * *

In this day of cell phones, email and Twitter, is there anything so preciously American, so perfectly Midwestern as watching election results being posted by hand on a giant chalkboard as they trickle in to the courthouse?

Take that, CNN.

* * *

I have a question about the issue of retaining Judge Judy or Judge Roy Bean or whoever it was at the end of the ballot.

How is it that virtually every person I talk to either admits to not voting on that portion of the ballot or says, "I always vote no"? Yet without exception, 60 or 65 percent of those votes come out favorably for the justices' future. I know that the Bar Association and others recommend their retention, but the results seem to belie how most people say they voted.

Straight-ticket votes don't skew the results either as those votes still require a person to individually decide on referendum issues or school board races.

Sorry, apparently I haven't been able to retain the answer ...

* * *

And finally, we have the amazing race for superintendent of public instruction.

Incumbent Republican Tony Bennett was upset Tuesday by Democrat political newcomer Glenda Ritz, the Indiana teachers' pet. Every teacher I know advised me to vote for Ritz.

Many teachers apparently felt Bennett blamed them for school failures. Many educators opposed changes under Bennett that included expanding charter school access and basing teacher pay raises on annual evaluations.

One of those local teachers whose opinion we value greatly shared with us an interesting perspective on the issue.

"This answer could take quite a while," she said, "but I'll give you the short version. Since Tony Bennett pushed through the new evaluation system, I swear I spend so much time documenting how I'm highly effective that I don't have any time left to be highly effective.

"I was rated highly effective last year but my students suffered; I know I wasn't doing as well as I had in the past. I was spending time on test analysis that I would have rather used planning creative activities. I don't mind being evaluated every year or even every day -- bring it on! -- but I am resentful when I have to spend so much time documenting all the ways I'm a good teacher.

"Ritz's slogan, 'Just Let Us Teach,' is an excellent summary of my attitude. If I'm rated ineffective, then fine, make me jump through all those other hoops; but if I'm already doing my job well, let me do it."

Now that's an explanation even I can understand.