It’s 9:04pm on Friday night and I made the mistake of laying down for a short nap at 4pm and just woke up. Sometimes you don’t know radio exhaustion is there until you lay down on a Friday evening and your wife’s not around so you sleep for five hours. And I swear to the three or four of you – I didn’t even have anything to drink.
When the wife goes away
Don’t hire an elf.
My phone’s blowing up with reports from the Bishop Noll at Andrean basketball game, which we are not broadcasting on WJOB. We’re doing the battle of 119th Street between Clark and Whiting. Bishop Noll just beat Andrean in a close one. Those two Catholic schools don’t like each other.
There’s others who don’t seem to like each other. This time it’s in politics. You know how Donald Trump says what he wants when he wants with almost no filter. Some of the stuff is simply outrageous – Mexicans as rapists and murderers, for example. But no matter what Trump says, somehow there’s a decent chance that he’ll be running for president on the Republican side. Have the three or four of you been following this? I’m sure you have.
We have our local version of the unfiltered politician. This morning it played out on WJOB.
Won’t wake up early
Without a cup of hot Joe.
Alexis is in New York City visiting our daughter. I long for the days that daughter Jeanie was three hours up the Interstate in Madison, Wisconsin, instead of in The Big Apple. But that’s another story for another solitary Friday evening. Normally, Alexis comes on the radio with me for about 45 minutes on Friday mornings, and then Hammond mayor McDermott buys the next segment from the station. While the mayor’s doing his show, Alexis and I usually slip out for some breakfast.
Not today. With Alexis not around, I sat in the office editing my JEDgolfvinyl videos… and am I glad that I did, for Hammond mayor Tom McDermott did his best attempt at imitating a Donald Trump on a roll. Here’s some of the background.
McDermott used to be the chairman of the Lake County Democrats. He left that post, he says, to coach baseball at Purdue Cal and spend time with his four kids. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich took over the rather powerful post – this area is about 70% Democrats – and has been ruling the party with the powerful hands that contain what I joke on air as his “sausagefingers.”
Who really cares if McDermott and Buncich get along? Not me, really. Except that if they were to feud in some way it could be interesting to watch and comment on. Maybe that’s happening. According to my sometimes "co-host" Verlie Suggs, it has become “The Clash of the Titans.”
Here’s why there may be some truth to that.
Half truths for you.
If you don’t shut up,
I’ll shut that mouth for you.
There’s this judge George Paras, who’s elected to one of the most powerful judgeships around here – Lake County civil judge. He’s been there for almost six years now, so he’s up for re-election. As an aside, Paras got his judgeship in a rather curious way. Paras and the former judge, the respected Lorenzo Arredondo, drove to Indianapolis, and a couple of minutes before the filing deadline was to expire, Arredondo removed his name from the ballot.
And, you guessed it – Paras put his name in. What this effectively did was to keep other possible candidates from running for the post. With what some see as suave political maneuvering – and others see as deception by members of the jurist sect – Arredondo in essence handed the job to George Paras. Some in the legal community got pissed, arguing that no one was set to run for the position out of respect for Arredondo. Judge Arredondo is a leader in the Hispanic community and a longtime jurist. One lawyer put it this way – “Arredondo abused our trust. Out of respect, no one was gonna run against him. If we had known the position would be open, a lotta people might have run.”
That’s the point. Don’t you get it? Evidently, Arredondo didn’t want anyone to run. Neither did Paras. They must have both wanted Paras to get the job. The three or four of you plus Carole Terry be the judge – was it cunning or was it deception?
My jury’s out on this one… no pun intended.
Anyways, fast forward six years. Now, the wife of Hammond mayor Tom McDermott – Marissa McDermott - has filed to run for the position. Like Paras, she’s a competent member of the bar, so this sets up a battle royale. Whether it is, as Verlie says, “The Clash of the Titans,” I have no idea. I’m a sports guy, remember? With a little business mixed in. I am relatively confident talking about the effectiveness of a zone press and about trading ranges in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but when it comes to politics, I’m often dumbfounded. I’ve taken to observing our local politics as you might watch a match of Austrailian football that you stumble on late at night when you can’t sleep.
You really don’t know what’s going on, but it’s interesting as hell when people knock each other over and others get so excited about it. That’s as good as explanation as any for Austrailian football… and Lake County politics.
Peat moss, peat moss
When my stepson was in high school,
His friends called me “Jim Hoss.”
I’ll have to finish this later. Bishop Noll beat Andrean and a couple people want me to meet them for pizza to celebrate. I’m not sure if I’ll actually celebrate the victory – my wife went to Noll and my daughter to Andrean – but I’m hungry as hell after sleeping for five hours. A greasy cheese pizza and a couple Diet Cokes sounds just about right. Talk to the three or four of you later.
It’s 11:40pm now so even though Alexis is gone I was a relatively good boy. Producer Ryan Walsh and I met Shannon Whelan and her family for pizza at a place that doesn’t sponsor WJOB so I won’t mention them. According to Shannon, who used to produce for WJOB, the Andrean cheering section may have done things that could be considered racist and let’s see if anything comes of it. I doubt it. As mentioned before, the two Catholic high schools in Lake County don’t get along.
So back to the McDermott-Buncich-Paras story….
Marissa McDermott, the wife of Hammond mayor Tom McDermott, is running against judge George Paras, who evidently grew up with Sheriff John Buncich. In Verlie’s world, it’s the two McDermotts and all their peeps against Sheriff John Buncich and Judge George Paras and all their peeps - The Clash of the Titans.
That sounds like a decent enough contest, one which should generate voter interest (and possibly ad revenue, I suppose). But since it’s Lake County, Indiana – it’s turning kinda nasty. Take a look at the flyers that are all over the internet claiming McDermott to be a racist. These are reportedly being circulated around Gary, which is mostly African-American, as we all know. And it’s the Gary vote that may be crucial in the upcoming judge election. In Democratic politics around here, if you win Gary you often win the primary.
And how do you control the Gary vote? I don’t really know how that works. I hear stories of if you spread some money around, then the word gets around who you’re supposed to vote for… and voila, we have a winner. But those are only stories. I can’t believe that after all the people who have gone to jail around here for political shenanigans that it could still exist that you could essentially buy votes in Gary or anywhere else.
But then again, I’m a sports and business guy. Politics confuses me… a cat pawing at a ball of yarn.
So there’s these nasty flyers going around Gary saying that Mayor McDermott, and by implication his wife, are racists. This wouldn’t be good for a petite, blond white woman trying to get elected to a judgeship. Never mind that the guy she’s running against is a large, Greek white man who reportedly hasn’t lived in Gary for a long time. Slap “racist” on someone and they’re gonna lose, whether it’s true or not.
Yesterday, the Sheriff came on my show and said something to the extent that he had alerted the FBI to the flyers and he was hoping they would get to the bottom of it. The agitated Sheriff went so far as to say that it was this kind of hatred that fostered terrorism.
Today, Mayor McDermott countered on the air by saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if it comes out that Judge Paras and/or the Sheriff had an idea who was doing the flyers and turned a blind eye. I was sitting in my office area – which is only a pane of glass away from the studio – and Ryan came over to me.
“You have to listen to this.”
So I pulled my headphones off from Neil Young and listened to the mayor. He was on a Trump-like roll, insinuating that a sitting judge and maybe even an elected Sheriff (I can’t recall if he implicated the Sheriff also) had some sort of inkling about racist flyers that the Sheriff himself was calling in the Feds to investigate. You can’t make this shit up.
It gets better. The mayor, again invoking his inner Donald Trump, went on to say that Speros Batistatos, the head of the local tourism agency, doesn’t deserve to be in his position. The mayor hinted that the only reason Batistatos has his job is because of the local billionaire. I don’t remember the mayor mentioning billboard magnate Dean White by name, but the implication was loud enough. I’m guessing that Speros is a supporter of fellow Greek, Judge Paras.
In the span of ten minutes, the mayor of Hammond basically insinuated that a judge and a sheriff could be integral in a possible federal investigation… and he took on a billionaire. Now that’s Donald Trump-like balls. And Donald Trump-like arrogance.
Oh, and did I mention that during the mayor’s show that Judge Paras (or at least someone claiming to be him) had the courage to call in and defend himself? I’m not kidding. There was so much going on, with all of the veterans arriving for the next show and talking to me, that I didn’t get to hear much of what the (alleged) judge said… but is that the point? There’s only so much of the Lake County politics merry-go-round that you can take before you throw your hands in the air – No mas, no mas. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s interesting… but only to a point. After a while, it's time to think about sports.
Speaking of which… If the seven moons of Capricorn line up, I may go to the Purdue-Maryland game in the morning. Good night to the three or four of you. Sweet dreams.