Monday, March 8, 2010

Keep The Leaf Collection Program

Monday, November 16, 2009

Now On Facebook

Time has become a precious commodity in my life. I wish I had more of it for all of my passions, this blog being one of many. This is by no means a complaint. I am truly happy to say that my cup runneth over. I am enjoying time with my family, I have managed to climb up another rung on the corporate ladder, and I have enjoyed the company of many a friend (new and old) during cook-outs, dinners and game nights over the past six months.

So what is a person to do who is still passionate about the voice of the common man? In the near term, I am moving to a world of soundbites, and hopefully build some new friendships with those who share a passion for civics in our city of village charm, regardless of party affiliation. So with that, I'm am moving to facebook. I would be honored if you became a "fan" of the Silk City Independent on facebook. You don't have to agree with me to be a fan :-)

Plese note: as a Facebook "page," editors cannot see the profiles of those who become fans of a specific page. It essentially allows you to see the new posts to the Silk City Independent on the "wall" of your home page.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

"Knocking Down Doors"

We are now in the home stretch of the local election races. On the Manchester, CT Message Board, Steven "Moose" Edwards, a member of the Manchester Board of Education, posted his rules of thumb for knocking on the doors of potential voters. Mr. Edwards' remarks were very informative. With his permission, I wanted to re-print them for the readers of the Silk City Independent.


Actually, there are rules (of thumb) about who's door to knock on... I'll give you the lowdown of how I did it, and it is largely the conventional wisdom of "knocking down doors" as the [politicians] call it in the inside circles...

The "walking lists" are generated from voter registration information. There is a lot of information there, including your name, address, birth date, phone number, and most importantly, your voting history. [Editor's note: the voting history only tracks when you voted. The registrar has no way of knowing who you voted for.]

The voting history is largely what drives the decision. Information is available for EVERY election and primary since the late 90's. If you voted, the registrar knows it and it comes with the data you get from them.

So, suppose you are walking down a street, and you've got a well sorted list (I've made dozens of these at this point - I was the geek who did it for the [Manchester Republicans] for the last 10 years or so)

[The list] will tell you for any given address, how many registered voters live there. In addition, you can see the party affiliation of every voter, along with their voting history. I would typically condense this information into the number of times [the person] voted in local, state, and federal elections. Again, primary [voting] information is there, but it isn't really necessary to figure out whether or not you want to knock on the door.

You'll see patterns emerge quickly as you walk down the street. For instance, there is the Presidential voter - this person will have voted in the last few Presidential elections, but never in a state or local election. If all the voters at the house fit this profile, it probably isn't worth your time knocking on that door. Why? Well, if they haven't voted in anything except a Presidential election, you probably aren't going to convince them otherwise. Especially in a local election year, where there are few/none national/state offices up for grabs... It's a bit egotistical to think that your charisma will change their minds.

To a lesser degree, you'll see the State/Presidential voter... they vote in even numbered years. They never vote in odd years, when local elections are held. It MIGHT be worth knocking their door down, and I will say that I've done that. It's still a crap shoot... they probably won't be going out to vote at all... so probably not worth your time.

Then there is the "Never Votes" voter. This is a little more complicated. If they are young, then this is understandable. I'll knock on that door. Also, you may find that the person isn't young, but still hasn't voted. For that you may want to look at the registration date on their registration... if it's recent, then they may have just moved in from out of state. (If they moved in-state, their records move with them) Again, worth knocking. However, if they are older, registered years ago, and haven't voted... well, they don't vote. This puts them into the category of the Presidential voter - probably not worth your time.

(Aside: I've talked to people who say that they vote in every election, swear by it in fact. I can see that they are lying in some cases. Very funny)

The pot o' gold is the voter that votes in EVERY election. You knock on that door regardless of party. It's ALWAYS worth your time to talk to a likely voter... If they are not in your party, say you're a Republican and they are a Democrat... if you can get them to vote for you, you've swung 2 votes - the one for you and the one the Democrats didn't get. Same holds true of the other way around.

So if your house has one or more people who ALWAYS vote, you knock on that door, no matter what. And it is interesting. When running as an Republican, I've met Democrat's who wouldn't think of voting for the Democrats. I've met Democrats who ran me off their property and told me I should be ashamed of myself for being an Republican. It runs the gambit. Same with Republicans... I've had them tell me I have their vote... and I've had them tell me they would NEVER vote for a Republican again... For those that haven't done it, knocking on doors is almost always fun in that something new will happen every year. I've met crazy people, people who want to know my views on abortion when I'm running for the [Board of Education], people who want me to privatize the whole thing... and the stories are incredible some times. Anyway, unless you've done it, you can't really appreciate how odd the whole experience can be. But mostly you meet nice people. And the largest subgroup I've met are folks who say something like, "Well, you knocked on my door, so I'll vote for you." One on one works.

You should also know that it matters WHERE you live. Do you live in a relatively flat neighborhood with lots of other voters where the houses are relatively close together? Your door will get knocked on if you vote. Do you live in billy goat country where the big houses grow? Don't count on me knocking on your door. I might call you instead. Do you live in a district that is predominantly my party? I'm more likely to knock. Do you live in a neighborhood that is flat and the houses are close, but nobody votes? You probably won't see me.

Knocking doors is both art and science... hopefully this gives you some idea of why someone knocks or they don't...


The Silk City Independent would like to thank Mr. Edwards for giving the citizens of Manchester a peek in to one of the processes of running for a municipal office.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I heard about a website on NPR a few days ago called SeeClickFix. The premise of the website is to have us (you and me) be able to document infrastructure issues, and then have them fixed by our local government. What a fabulous idea! Here is the very first sentence on their "about us" page:
"SeeClickFix encourages residents to become citizens by participating in taking care of and improving their neighborhoods."
With this being all about advanced citizenship, how can I not get behind this?

I'm going to give it a shot by documenting and submitting a deteriorating seam between two streets near me. As the saying goes... the squeaky wheel gets the grease. I will let you know how it turns out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Per Chance To Understand

Every year that I get to experience this life, I gain a deeper understanding of the cliché, "The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know." This does not stop me from trying to, at the very least, understand what is going on. So I read. I read anything and everything that I can get my hands on. On some nights I wish I didn't need eight hours of sleep so that I had more time to read.

Lately I am trying to understand two things, at least at a basic level: the current recession and the health care system debate. I think if people read more, and tried to understand more, there would be a great deal less shouting at town hall meetings across the land. I could be wrong. It may very well cause more.

These items gave me some greater understanding today:

On the recession:
How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?
Paul Krugman, NY Times

On Health Care:
How American Health Care Killed My Father
David Goldhill, The Atlantic

Bending the Curve: Effective Steps to Address Long-Term Health Care Spending Growth
The Brookings Institution

I must give a nod to yesterday's David Brooks column for pointing me in the direction of the two items on health care.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Celebs Dogs Slept Better Than Most Last Night

Normally, I avoid any news about celebrities. In my opinion it is a contributing factor to the dumbing down of America. One of my guilty pleasure is a website that posts daily funny and absurd photos from the web's zeitgeist. Well, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." Anyhow, this morning I just happened upon some photos of a very nice house. A house that a celebrity paid $250,000 to build... for her dogs! I followed the link for the photos to the original blog that posted them. The blogger said it best, "Paris Hilton’s dogs sleep in a better place than me."

Yes folks, the world is definitely out of whack when a spoiled brat can build her dogs a better house than most of us have. It makes me chuckle and a little sad at the same time. I'm sweating these past few days in a New England heatwave, but Paris's dogs have AC. The irony... that high school history classes taught us that the French and Russian revolutions were started in part due to the disparities between the upper class and.... not the poor, but the "working class." (In my opinion the "middle class" is a modern American euphemism.)

Are we headed in the same direction? I think that if Paris were told about the plight of everyday American's, she just might say, "let them eat cake."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Generation M

I stumble upon something most every day that makes me stop and think. This next link was today's lightning bolt. It is called the "Generation M Manifesto," by Mr. Umair Haque. It is a very quick read, and I highly recommend it. It succinctly captures a great deal of how I have been feeling since before the slide into our current recession.

I hope you have been enjoying your summer. I have seen a great deal in the papers lately about each party picking their slate for November, the Manchester Redevelopment Agency's plan for Broad street, the proposed $8 Million bond referendum, and pots calling kettles black. I haven't been snoozing, just enjoying as much of our short New England summer as possible. "Doing meaningful stuff that matters the most."
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