Monday, June 4, 2007

We've never been the fanatic types when it comes to science; in fact, we're just not good at it. Theories of relativity and objects in motion - it can get dizzying after a while. But if you're looking for parables that pertain to real-life situations, then science is a great predictor of what will happen in the future.

Stars are always growing. Like the sun. It's constantly getting bigger and bigger and always bigger. The only difference between stars is how fast they expand. In a way, its all about how much initiatve they have - sort of like snowballs down a mountain. It starts out slow, but as it picks up more snow, its gets bigger and thus, faster. Why the science lesson? Think of the Keep the Team committee as an ever-growing star or a rolling snowball. But think back. Start with Bob Gwin, the former GOP county chair. And more recently, Mary Lewis, who's relationship with current chair Vic Stabile was, well, let's say less than amicable. The ball is rolling down the hill now. Throw in some folks like Matt Best, who spoke out against the general direction of the committee and paid the price. Now toss in some folks who have a growing interest in politics throughout the county, but aren't involved in the committee itself. Now its 2006 and the snowball is chugging along. Throw in Frank Rankin, who is the party outsider's party outsider, who bucks the system and narrowly loses to Will Gabig (thanks a lot, Keith Naughton). You've got one hell of a snowball now. The coup de grace? Gary Eichelberger. Here's the point where the star gets so big that it actually consumes itself.

We're at a point where the minority is actually bigger than the majority. Those on the outside outnumber those on the inside. The result? The party consumes itself. The inner circle has no choice but to give way to the outer circle and allow change.

We're getting pretty good at this, so here's what we expect to see over the next few weeks. While Keep the Team is going to be a cyclone of change, its not exactly going to be a revolution. From what we've heard, there are plenty of old ideas that are coming back around the bend. 1) Expect to see LOTS more of Bruce Barclay, who has been kept at bay by idle threats from the committee itself. The Spruce Bruce has a lot of great ideas for the committee we think, and now is his time to shine. 2) Here's comes the integration. Short of Pol Pot, we can't remember anyone who has ruled a group with such an Iron Fist as the current chairman. As we know, there are no atheists in foxholes, and Stabile has seen his own demise. Expect him to have a "change of heart" and appoint plenty of "reformers" to ranking positions. 3) Keep the money in the bank. With a little help from his friends, the chairman will realize how much money is wasted on in-fighting and push for the abolition of endorsements, which will fail before the committee.

Keeping the Team is an interesting concept and frankly, we see unlimited potential, but you've got to change hearts before you change minds and that committee needs a lot of work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Jim Morrison said it best when he said, "Love hides in the strangest places." That's pretty accurate. You never know quite when or where it will creep up, or where it will leave you hanging. Commissioner Eichelberger just found that the strangest places of Cumberland County are his own backyard, since thousands showed up to show him just how much love they had. As such, you're looking at the newest poster boy for the Reform Movement. We hate to even use that term, as it lends credibility to a sluggish movement of angst-ridden politicos who see themselves as the Captain America of a corrupt system, but in this case, there's no other way to describe it. And with his new red, white & blue shield in hand, the Commish has promised nothing short of a full-scale house cleaning.

Now, we bring you back to reality. There are plenty of targets to choose from, but to pull the trigger on a majority is just wasting ammo. We've said it before and we'll say it again - pick your battles and seperate the weak from the herd. We never like to see an embarrassing, lop-sided fight, so we're also adding suggestions for the targets of said aggression (because we're sure you all read this blog).

The county House delegation: Don't bother. Rep. Nailor might have been holding a serious grudge for years, so it looks like a perfect time for payback, but we wouldn't recommend it. The county is better off with Nailor where he is and he isn't Strom Thurmond. Let this candle burn itself out - two more terms, tops. Grell remained loyal throughout, which only leaves western Cumberland County. Its no secret that Gabig has been vulnerable since he fell out of the DA's office and landed in the seat, so if you're going to fire away, do it with accuracy. Put up someone who has a fighting chance and don't leave him or her out to dry. Make sure they have some clout out in the boonies and then simply throw money into Carlisle.

The county chairman: Stabile is a slippery one. It should be a tough call to decide whether or not this one is really worth it. Stabile is excellent at pointing the finger elsewhere, so it won't be easy to get rid of him. And forget about him stepping down. This is the crux of the fight and it goes all the way back to 2004, so if getting rid of the chairman is the goal, you'd better make sure its worth it. If this fails, the primary victory is useless.

Cumberland County Democrats: While we hate to rip off Sinead O'Connor, here's the real enemy. The Reform fury should be directed this way and should put a big crack in the strong foundation that county Democrats have built since 2000. The greatest revenge a man can have is to be humble in victory, and there is no better weapon to strengthen the county Republican party than putting by-gones aside and focusing on winning the next decade of elections in an increasingly Democratic county. And that is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So, we're a little late. We tried to get a post or two in before the election, but we just couldn't find the time. But if you add up all the winners from the past blogs, we're running 1 for 1. Not bad.

This was a big victory for the Eichelberger camp. Big. Democrats built a strong machine and in almost every race, filled up the ticket, but discouraged in-fighting and kept things civil. Only Republicans had the stones to go toe-to-toe with each other. Think of all that money wasted, hours and hours of effort down the tubes, and names that have been linked to losing campaigns. While you might be thinking that a loss in a municipal election isn't that bad, ask the candidates who lost. While we're sure some will be back again, we place the blame squarely at the feet of the chairman, who did nothing to discourage Republicans from eating their own young. And with Eichelberger at the helm now, here's our new prediction: Stabile will be ousted before the leaves turn. Take a look at the current state of the party and you'll see enough evidence to know that he won't step by and let nature take its course. In fact, we've got a pretty good idea what the Cumberland County Republican Committee is headed toward.

Since we were asleep at the wheel, we're in last place when it comes to accurate and expedient reporting. The commissioner story is huge, but we would like to take a look at a few other races than no one else seemed to cover.

While incumbency reigned supreme in most of the county's hot spots (Carlisle, Camp Hill, & Mechanicsburg), Silver Spring Township was a spot we had our eyes on. The Republican side had 4 candidates running for 2 open supervisor spots and the Gunnison folks threw their weight behind Mary Lou Pierce McLain. We thought Chris Latta, who serves as Sen. Gib Armstrong's chief of staff, would have been a good pick for one of the seats, but he finished dead last. After years and years in the state government system, what would he know about legislating anyway? While we're not surprised by the outcome, this race was a real litmus test for the building strength of Republican women in the county. While they're not quite strong enough to carry a candidate to the commissioners board, they can manhandle a township race with ease, which means that they're gaining steam. Cumberland County's Republican women are gaining power and clout - this is a group to watch out for.

The last place you'd look for a squeaker? Dickinson Township. The Republican primary was half circus, half Gladiator. Louise Keckler only lost by 62 votes to Allyn Perkins, but the real story is that Keckler ran on a push that Perkins favored Partial Birth Abortion. What that has to do with township governance is beyond our scope of comprehension, but its a good example of classic campaign strategy.

So the winner this time? Well, Gary Eichelberger, of course. The key now is for the commish to use his power effectively. Deal with the right people in the right way because a bloodbath harbors resentment and in a place like Cumberland County, that can last years. So while Gary is the king of the day, we do have a caveat: treat it like the Serengheti - seperate the weak from the herd and take them down. The greedy lions try to take the whole herd and what happens? No dinner.

Since the election is over, we're going to keep the focus on Cumberland County politics and if things should come up, we'll be on it, but we're already starting to speculate for 2008 and the status of the county reps, who all endorsed Gunnison at the last minute. Challengers, begin your training regimen.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pulling the trigger

Anonymity can be an amazing thing. Some of history's greatest charitable contributions have been made anonymously. Some of the most famous quotes have been anonymous. And in this day and age, most people like to express their opinions anonymously. We've been digging through local media, blogs and forums and have found a whole e-subculture of thinkers who have laid out their grand ideas. The Sentinel's bulletin board, the Patriot's forums, blogs, letters to the editor, the list goes on. Some people pay no attention, but others - well, others literally hire consultants to manage their online image. That says a lot about the credibility of anonymous opinions.

We've been keeping up on the comments on most of the boards in the region and frankly, haven't been impressed. They lack substance, information, and background - in short, the average level of information that a voter goes into the booth with. Shameful.

We found one comment amongst a pile of horrid, offensive comments (which is why we won't be posting a link here) that got us thinking. It was critical of Commissioner Barclay's efforts to construct monstrous billboards across the county in a sort of countywide homage. While the poster blamed it on an out of control ego, we started thinking about the wide array of campaign tools that "insiders" use and swear as effective, but plenty of other people swear are useless. Giant billboards, "robo"calls, door knocking, phone banks, the list goes on. People don't like to be bothered these days. And plenty of people have told us that these invasive efforts make them sway the other way.

Well, since you asked, here's our theory. There are really only three outcomes that can come from an invasive grassroots political strategy. 1) The egotistical billboards and annoying recorded calls make a voter bitter and vote against a candidate on election day. 2) They make the voter stay home to protest the candidate's "over the top" efforts. 3) The calls and signs actually work and name ID burns a hole in the voter's head. Now, if you ask most people, they say that the percentages point toward the first option. But you know what? We just don't believe it. Look, in a primary, option 2 or option 3 is acceptable (after all, you may not be getting a vote by a stay-at-home voter, but neither is your opponent). So, going in, you've already got a 66% success rate. And how many people show up and vote out of protest? If the claims were accurate, we think that voter turnout would be a heck of a lot higher.

So, who's the winner? The candidates, thats who. Because we don't believe you, angry voters. You might be angry, but we don't believe you have the chutzpah to get up, go out, and vote in protest. You'll either stay home, or give in. And you wonder why they put up those obnoxious signs and blast you with recorded phone calls?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Death Rattle

Politics is a funny business. Someone once said that in tough times like these, you find out who your friends are. And while we tend to agree, we also can concede that this is a business unlike any other. Normal rules don't apply to this game, so while you might have spent years defending the actions of comrades, you can't take your friends into the batter's box with you. Its just you and you.

Over the past few weeks, we've seen Commissioner Eichelberger step into the box. It's a lonely feeling to have to step up to the plate alone.

Where are we going with the sports metaphors? Well, lately we've been wondering where all the elected officials have been. We've made no secret about the fact that Senator Vance has been grinding an axe with Commissioner Eichelberger, and is looking to pull him from the game (ok, that was the last one). But what about everyone else? It's ironic to the point of comedy that of all people, members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives have nothing to say. To misquote Will Rogers, these people never met a reporter they didn't like. So why all the mum's the word now?

We've heard rumblings of some folks working one way or another - placing bets but not putting the farm on anyone. But here's what we think: 2008 is just around the corner, and we all remember what happened to the last guy who chose poorly. Despite more than 30 years of combined legislative tenure, things got a little too close for comfort for Cumberland County's Three Musketeers last year. And ending up on the wrong side of the fence this year could make things even worse next year.

This bitter deference toward the potential of Commissioner Eichelberger is frankly, well....impressive. For all the comments that complain about his bad attitude and anti-social behavior, he's got three State Representatives afraid to open their mouths and that isn't an easy thing to do.

Things have gotten so bad that it almost looks like Gunnison is polishing the brass on the Titanic. Not only has half of the Republican committee split, but the Carlisle Sentinel reports that Commissioner Barclay won't even be seen with Gunnison in public. And, just for the record, we'd like to point out that our prediction came true - Chairman Stabile just couldn't resist. A simple "no comment" would have worked wonders.

While we have a soft spot for the underdog, we do hate to see such a potentially well-executed campaign go up in flames. I mean, after all, Gunnison has one of the best teams we've seen in a long time: Zaborney, Cliff Jones, beloved ex-commissioners, and an entire fleet of Anstine women. We know, we know; you're probably saying: Well Bill, look how successful they've been - Swann got trounced, Cliff Jones has never held office, ex-commissioners are just that, and the Anstine women haven't dropped a female into power since...well,...are we counting Catherine Baker Knoll? We didn't think so. What do we have to say to that? Well, the "Reformers" have yet to unite behind a single candidate or even a single issue. But powerless? Ask Bob Jubilerer how powerless they are.

Today's winner is Commissioner Eichelberger. Aaaaagain. (We're running out of gold stars, Gary) But we would like to offer Gunnison a chance to make it through one more round, so here goes: Drop Barclay, who is now dead weight and personally go door-to-door and instead of telling people what's wrong, listen. You'd be amazed at how impressed people are when you manage to listen to them without rolling your eyes or drifting off.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Guns of the Navarone

First of all, we'd like to preface our newest post. We don't want anyone to get the wrong idea and start thinking this is a Republican blog. It's really not. It's just that...well, the Democrats have just been a little boring so far. You remember when you got that Ant Farm and for the first hour or so, it was so cool to watch the ants scurry around and start digging? Then, you woke the next day and couldn't care less about what they were doing? Working again? How boring. Well, it's sort of like that. The Democrats are busy, all right. Busy building a quiet faction of candidates for offices all over the county.

Now that that's out of the way - it looks like we're the first to comment on tonight's Here's the thing about debates...errr...forums: you can go in with the best intentions, but in the end, sometimes it turns out like this.

Gunnison showed up with cheat sheet in hand and looked like she was ready to pull some "Making the Great Wall of China Disappear" tricks. But it never happened. It was more like a "Look like Bob Casey" trick. The only guy to win on the "I'm not the other guy" platform. She didn't really lay out the plan for reform that we were expecting, but rather took shots at Barclay, Eichelberger, Rovegno, maybe even Cecconello.

It was very West Side Story-ish: campaign crews were rolling deep - Barclay had his (why else would half of the Republican State Committee show up?) and Eichelberger had his (we saw you, Matt Best). We thought that Gunnison swung for the fences and came solo, but as we left, we saw Dave Harris, lurking in the shadows. What can we say? The beatnik Joe Trippi must know his stuff.

While we're not sure how to sum up, we can say that things went very...expectedly. It looks like Desperation City for Gunnison, so we'd recommend she reins that in post haste. Focus on a Five-Year Plan toward countywide success. The winner of the day? Today is a tie. Rovegno constantly impresses us with his everyman demeanor and his Encyclopedia Brittanica brain. I mean, what other county commissioner knows although the LA Dodgers won the 88 World Series, the highest amount of homers posted was 25? (Kirk Gibson, by the way) The other winner? Gary Eichelberger. Again. As time goes on, we see less and less reason to try the New & Improved version. He might be a Republican, but we think we like it.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Shifting Tide

Looks like we picked the wrong time to take a vacation. In the 8 days that we enjoyed (ever so blissfully), it looks like quite a bit has happened. Why didn't anyone tell us?!?

Less than 30 days out and the commissioners race has begun. The gate is open and its an all-out horserace from here on out. We've seen several yard signs for the Republican candidates, and we're impressed. What's ironic is that everyone knows that yard signs don't contain any substantive information, so its not like they're going to sway voters one way or the other. So what's the real reason for yard signs? Well, its popularity, of course. The more yard signs you have out, the more support it appears you have. What's the irony, you ask? We're glad you asked. The irony is that Commissioner Eichelberger's signs boast "Principles...not Politics." To get the joke, you have to keep in mind that the slogan of this camp is that the whole race has been a popularity contest - image over ability. I guess what tickles our funny bone is that yard signs are all about image. Oh well, maybe there's a deeper strategy that we don't get.

The PAC. While the idea of this is intriguing to us, we see two options. Obviously, County Chairman Vic Stabile isn't happy about it, as it undermines his authority and ability to support the endorsed candidates. The Eichelberger camp must be ecstatic. To have Bruce Barclay give the wink, wink nod, nod to his donor friends is gift in and of itself.

Human behavior is fascinating. We claim to be the top of the food chain and the supreme being, but sometimes, the animal way is just plain better. When animals hear loud noises, they run the other way. Humans are curious and walk toward the noise. When animals find food, they keep it. Humans barely consume 40% of the food produced every year. And it would be in Chairman Stabile's best interests to kill the PAC story. No media comment and then maybe go out at midnight and yank some yard signs out of intersections. Keep things low. But he can't help himself. We've already seen a quote from him and we're betting there's more. Gunnison isn't going to benefit from Stabile making it a bigger story than it already is.

We didn't pick a winner last time, so we're going to go with Gary Eichelberger this time. Between Bruce Barclay's silent but deadly help, and the county chairman aiming the gun at his own foot right now, Eichelberger better start baking pies, because there are a lot of faces in the county committee.