Sunday, September 26, 2010

I just don't get it

You know, maybe it's because I'm getting old or something, but I'm finding a lot of things/people unfunny that other people think are hilarious.

"Saturday Night Live" comes to mind. With the exception of Tina Fey's Sarah Palin last year, I think the skits are generally dull. I watched the premiere Saturday night and can't say that I had any LOL moments. (See, I'm hip.)

Then, of course, we have Stephen Colbert, who was a guest of Congress last week. He testified in character about immigration.

One might ask, "What the hell was Stephen Colbert doing testifying before Congress?" Actually, Megyn Fox, er, I mean Megyn Kelley, of Fox News asked that question to a Republican guest.

I found that funny. But Stephen Colbert? No, I don't get such a kick out of him, although I do like his mentor Jon Stewart. Colbert is too contrived for me. He makes me wince. Stewart's gig is more straight forward. I like that.


So, what the hell was Colbert doing testifying before Congress? Maybe next they'll invite Charlie Sheen to testify about how women are mistreated in the Middle East.

Oh, Congress. You don't seem to be paying attention. And that's not funny.

* * *
When I was writing for the newspaper, I was pretty much assured that someone had my back. When Copley Press owned The T-R in the early part of this decade, we had 24/7 access to attorneys on retainers and they were experts on media law. If I had a legal question or needed advice on a story or column, they would gladly provide it.

Copley Press believed in pro-active reporting and commentary and stood behind its publishers, editors and writers.

This blog writing is somewhat different because no one has my back now. Ted Diadun, an old buddy of mine from The T-R's Horvitz Newspapers days, writes a terrific column for the Plain Dealer as the newspaper's reader representative. This week's column is about how "citizen journalists" are being held liable for what they write. And that includes the folks who leave those nasty messages on newspaper websites.

I encourage all of you who occasionally chime in with your thoughts to read Ted's column here.

* * *
Another Ted -- Ted Strickland -- is catching up in the polls.

From Sunday's PD: "(John) Kasich, a former congressman, Wall Street executive and Fox News personality, leads the state's top Democrat, Gov. Ted Strickland, 49 percent to 45 percent, according to a Plain Dealer/Ohio Newspaper Organization poll of 852 likely voters."

Last week, you'll remember, I said Ted Strickland was toast. That was way back when the polls said he was almost 20 points behind. That's just more evidence, I guess, that you can't trust the polls. At least not totally.

* * *
We watched a movie over the weekend that I thought was only a couple of years old. But there was something strange about the props in it.

All the telephones had wires or were those old clunky wireless home phones that you had to hold with both hands. One of the characters used a pager, for goodness sakes.



OK, I didn't really get upset about the movie's technological shortcomings. But it was interesting to note that the movie was made in the year 2000.

We've come a long way, technologically speaking, in the short span of a decade. Consider: In 2000, there were no iPods, no You Tube and Google wasn't used as a verb. Most people accessed the Internet via a dial-up connection. Computer users did not use flash drives to store large amounts of data. They used Zip drives.

I won't belabor the point. If you care to learn more about how our lives have changed in 10 years, check out this Wikipedia link. And keep in mind that you should not cite Wikipedia as a legitimate source of information if you are in high school or college because teachers and professors get really angry about it.

* * *
Former Dover mayoral candidate Chris Penso is now a referee in professional soccer. I have to give Chris props for his ability to reinvent himself what seems to be numerous times over his relatively short life.

Sportswriter Roger Metzger has authored a nice piece about Chris in The T-R. It's nice to read about the successes our kids are experiencing outside Tuscarawas County.

Congrats, Chris.

* * *
See you next time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hey, you there? I'm here

I apologize for not updating this blog more frequently. You can help motivate me.

Talk to me. Leave a comment. Agree or disagree, but let me know that you're reading. Send the link of this blog to your friends, neighbors and relatives.

I can track readership because of a special Google Analytics code on this page, so I know how many visit on a daily basis. If readership grows, it will motivate me to leave something here so you can at least have something to read on Sunday morning.

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Several readers have asked for my take on the Dover Police Department's Frank Alesiano saga. Alesiano resigned after allegations that he improperly accessed the state's criminal computer database, apparently in an effort to mine for dirt on whomever.

What disturbs me more than anything is the city's inability to come clean with bad news. The story apparently came to light after "the street" heard rumors of a situation involving longtime officer Alesiano. The powers at City Hall apparently were asleep for this past summer's public relations disasters, including the BP oil spill, and were of the mindset that if  "we don't talk about it no one will find out."

Thankfully, the local newspaper pursued the lead and asked questions. If it hadn't, the citizens of Dover still wouldn't know of Alesiano's shortcomings as a police officer.

To be fair, there are plenty of communities in Tuscarawas County that hide bad news.

Ever notice there's no crime in Sugarcreek?

Going forward, my fear is that as the press weakens in Tuscarawas County -- economics already have had an impact obviously -- government oversight also will suffer, opening the door to Cuyahoga County-like corruption. That's not to say that dirty deals haven't already been done.

And we know now that someone at city or village hall, or your local school board or on any level of government will try to keep bad news from going public.

I think most -- if not all -- of our county officeholders are honest, decent people. Perhaps a strong press has kept them that way. Former County Auditors Matt Judy and John Beitzel come to mind as exemplary public officeholders. They were good watchdogs of your money.

We've been lucky because we've had plenty of decent candidates (and our fair share of not-so-decent slugs). But in four, or eight or 10 years, there might not be a hard-hitting reporter to interview the candidates, or even pay attention to their backgrounds or qualifications, allowing a Frank Russo or Jimmy Dimora to slip unchecked into power.

As for Alesiano, well, he is but a small player in the scheme of things. He's just not that important.

Keep your eyes on the people you elect.

* * *
A friend was complaining the other day that his supervisor was addicted to managing by e-mail. It brought back memories.

I had a manager like that. He sat in his office and fired off e-mail after e-mail to subordinates, all of whom were located steps from his office. Open-door policy? Hardly. In my mind, he became the poster child of bad management.

If you would rather fire off an e-mail to your employees rather than talk to them face-to-face, you should resign your position and admit to higher-ups that you, indeed, are further evidence of the Peter Principle and do not deserve to be placed in a position of authority.

* * *
This week's Slow-As-A-Turtle Award goes to the contractor who is tearing down the old Dover Elks Lodge on N. Wooster Ave.

This week's Thank-God-For-New-Business-In-Dover Award goes to the pawn shop on N. Wooster Ave. at the bridge.

I will take nominations from readers for additional, future awards.

* * *
Least enviable political position to be in right now: Incumbent Democrat in Cuyahoga County.

Second least enviable political position: Incumbent Democrat anywhere.

Third least enviable political position: Incumbent anything anywhere.

I sense the voters have a throw-the-bums-out mentality right now. This is not rocket science.

* * *
Some things I believe right now (subject to change):

-- The Bush tax cuts should be extended.

-- The Great Recession remains great.

-- Savers are being penalized; spenders are being rewarded.

-- Good financial strategy includes preserving principal.

-- Sarah Palin wants to be very wealthy and has found a way to do it legally.

-- Obama tried to do too much too soon and therefore accomplished little, leaving vast amounts of uncertainty in the minds of employers. Result: No new jobs.

-- I think Gov. Ted Strickland is toast in the upcoming gubernatorial election. (See above.)

-- Tea Party supporters are very angry people.

-- Cutting Medicare payments to health care providers is not the answer.

-- People post a lot of nonsense on Facebook (but I still look at it).

See you next time.