Monday, November 4, 2013

On This Date in 1998

JoAnna went to bed at 7 o’clock this evening, a much-deserved early-to-bed time for her. When I returned home from a city finance committee meeting at 6:30, she was swaddled in a blanket, sacked out on the family room couch, not at all in tune with her surroundings. The TV was on for background noise, not for watching. She was out until 4 this morning, celebrating the Democrats’ good fortune and ending up at the Marriott Hotel for Russ Feingold’s acceptance speech at 1:45 a.m. Later Russ treated a small group of his supporters to breakfast at Denny’s.

I stayed up until 12:30 watching the election returns, getting a little nervous as Neumann started slicing away at Feingold’s early lead. Fortunately, all the money that the Republican National Committee poured into Wisconsin was not enough to buy a seat in the Senate – or in the House, for that matter. We were getting flyers in the mail on an almost daily basis on the “issue” of term limits, praising Jo Musser for her stand and exhorting the addressee to call Tammy Baldwin and tell her blah blah blah. I wish now I had saved one of these flyers, because I feel like writing some unknown and certainly disappointed folks a thank-you note – for all the money they wasted, for all the people they got fire dup to go to the polls to vote for the better candidate.

JoAnna went 3 for 3, the Senate Dems taking all three open seats. Jon Erpenbach here, Judy Robson in the Beloit area, and Jim Baumgart in your neck of the woods. The Assembly Dems actually lost 2 seats, thanks to an unfocused, late starting effort by their caucus staff. What a difference it makes when you have some vision and talent and spunk in the caucus director’s chair.

I watched Nightline last night. Ted Koppel’s guests included Orrin Hatch, Barney Frank, and Dick Armey. Hatch was actually somewhat complimentary of the Democrat’s efforts. He talked about the Republicans need to move on and pointed to the Bush brothers successful efforts in reaching out to women and minorities in their campaigns as a future model. Frank didn’t have much to rebut, but he did point out the growing schism within the ranks of the G.O.P. Armey’s appearance provided the perfect illustration of what Frank was describing. Armey acted as though the election had never happened. He said something to the effect, “We just have to hold our noses and proceed with the impeachment proceedings.” He rambled, he made outrageous claims, he contradicted himself, he irgnored Koppel’s efforts to get him focused on the election results. He got himself all worked up, on the verge of a Texas-sized hissy fit. At that moment, he became the ideal poster boy for everything that is wrong with the Republican party, its dishonesty, deceptiveness, and demagoguery. He was petulantly unrepentant for all of the Republican’s recent excesses. He obviously wants Clinton’s ass on a platter, and he wants it now. An earlier commentator on Nightline, a current or former White House staffer whose name I can’t recall, suggested that the Republicans might want to consider a change in leadership. After viewing Armey’s pathetic performance, which had me chuckling smugly from start to finish, I can see his point. What makes people so crabby and vindictive?

At today’s meeting, the finance committee approved a preliminary budget for 1999, which includes the library’s request for Sunday hours. The final hurdle will be a public hearing and council vote on the first Tuesday in December, a pro forma matter. Nobody appeared at least year’s budget hearing, (the only people in the audience were the city department heads), and this year no council member has expressed any reservation about the cost of opening the library on Sunday. We’ll probably be able to initiate this service on March 7. We’ll need the first two months of the year to hire additional staff and reconfigure our work space. I’ll be moving into what is now the conference room. Two other staff members will then share my current office, a move that will free up some much needed space in our staff workroom.

I had to miss Eddie’s teacher conference as a result of my meeting today. Since she wasn’t in a very communicative mood when I returned home, JoAnna gave me only the briefest of reports. I did learn, to my great pleasure, that Eddie has made great strides in the development of his learning and social skills since the beginning of the school year. This positive result is a combination of his special education reading classes, parents who work very closely with him on h is homework assignments every night, and the medication he’s been taking for the past six weeks. Eddie’s reading comprehension improves a little bit each week. What’s even more satisfying is his increased ability to deal with the occasional frustrations that occur when he encounters an unfamiliar or difficult word. This week, for example, I’ve noticed he has a lot of trouble with words that begin with “th”. This. That. There. Think. Thing. Every time he comes across these words, he has to stop and use a “pounding” technique he learned at school to sound out the words. I need to ask his reading teacher why that is. I would think they’d be part of his sight vocabulary by now. At least he doesn’t shut down and give up like he used to do.

I just checked on the boys, 15 minutes before their usual 9 o’clock bedtime. Andy was already asleep, his room dark but his portable stereo groovin’ to the sounds of the Will Smith CD I bought him a couple weeks ago. (He likes falling asleep while listening to music.) Eddie wanted me to tuck him in and turn off his light. I didn’t even have to tell him, “Time for bed.”

I’m looking forward to the remainder of the year. There’s going to be more time for family activities.

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