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(4/13/22)  A word of advice to local candidates who won

Earlier this month, winners and losers were sorted out in local elections and the direction of various governing bodies, which have more impact on our lives than state and federal levels, were decided. 

 

Congratulations on the victory, but don’t forget that even those that voted for you found things they liked about your opponent.

 

You and your significant other may love each other, that doesn’t mean there are things your partner wouldn’t mind changing about you.  They love your heart, but maybe not the way you sit spread eagle in a pair of ripped underpants on the leather couch. Or, you may be their ‘soulmate’ but that doesn’t preclude them from thinking you opinion that steak should be cooked ‘medium rare’ is oft-putting.

 

Unfortunately, winners have a hard time remembering that because…well…they won.  The areas of difference or short-comings they may have,  were  overcome with the many strengths they have.

 

We learn more from losses more than victories, that is because if we fall we digest all the reasons as to why.  Whether it be pinpointing excuses or identifying true reasons, there is more of a post-mortem. 

 

It’s like taking a high school history exam.

 

If you get a disappointing grade, you go over what you missed in-depth, but if you get all but a couple of questions right and grab an A-, the paper gets put into the folder only to be pulled out to showcase proudly to someone else.

 

Winning an election is rarely a full community endorsement to a candidate’s ideas, methods and actions.  However, candidates treat it that way. Remember that even a “landslide” win is typically a 70-30 split, which means 30% don’t agree. More often then not, races are significantly closer.

 

This is not to devalue the time-honored notion of majority rules, but its not to be forgotten either.  To discredit the opinion of those who voted against youis part being lazy, part hubris and entirely underselling the community one represents.

 

Winning candidates need to take a step back and understand their audience. 

 

Its like being a Guns & Roses cover band and doing an entire set without playing “Paradise City” just because a couple people told your manager they didn’t like it.  The reality is many in that crowd came for that specific song.

 

Celebrate your victory and while you absolutely shouldn’t “bait and switch” your supporters with numerous reversals, be open to compromise. 

 

There will always be disagreements, and not everyone can be pleased at once but it’s important to recognize as a candidate you didn’t have 100% support to begin with. 

 

Represent the COMMUNITY and not simply those who voted for you.

 

A True Chippewa Valley Monopoly  (1/28/22)

 

The History Channel recently ran a series on the story behind various popular toys. The nostalgia so thick one nearly drowns after the program. It got me thinking as one of the items highlighted was the popular board game Monopoly.  It’s a favorite for the Montesanos, in fact, we have a game going on for the last month that we tend to every week or so.

 

And yes, trades are allowed and the money in the middle goes to individuals who land on FREE parking!

 

It got me thinking about a true “Eau Claire Monopoly” board game.  We know there are countless variations of Monopoly, branded for sports, pop culture, etc. 

 

Did you also know, legitimate, licensed versions of Monopoly exist for specific cities/communities?

 

I’m not talking these rip-off games that people make and slap “-“Opoly” at the end of.  I know a cheaply made game that mimics Monopoly, using Eau Claire has circulated around.

 

Well, how about a REAL Eau Claire version of Monopoly?  One exists for my hometown of Utica, NY.  Developed a few years ago and sold as a fundraiser for a local homeless shelter.  It’s a real Monopoly game, made at their factory in Massachusetts but uses Utica things as opposed to the original Atlantic City.

 

Now it’s time to have fun: What would be the Eau Claire equivalents to use on a Monopoly board game?

 

Boardwalk/Park Place = These are the faux “high-end” properties of the board game, coveted by all and usually held onto by the eventual winner.  Do we dare give these to Altoona’s River Prairie and Downtown Eau Claire’s Barstow Street?

 

Baltic Ave = This is that very first spot that doesn’t yield much return and sometimes goes unsold.  It’s not that it’s a rundown spot, just not that coveted and doesn’t earn much.  Is it too mean to say some of the lower-end shopping plazas, or some of the still empty newer construction?

 

Chance/Community Cards = Here you have all the creative freedom.  Like “Win the EC Marathon, get $100” or “Sneak onto the Fan Deck at Carson Park, go straight to jail”. 

 

I’d love to see a REAL Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley Monopoly.

 

And yes, landing on Free Parking gets the money placed in the middle!

 

 

22 Predictions for Chippewa Valley Sports in 2022 (1/7/22)

The calendar has flipped and with it the opportunity to forecast what we think, believe, hope and wish will occur over the next year.  As has become a low-key tradition, it’s time for list of what ole’ Scotty sees coming up for Chippewa Valley sports.  While I’m NEVER wrong, keep in mind that some lines below are legit, others not so.  It’s up to you to decide which ones I’m serious about and which are tongue-in-cheek.

 

  1. Eau Claire Women’s Hockey wins the National Championship at the Hobbs Ice Center. Hey, we might as well start off HOT and a bold prediction.  This is plausible and realistic, though far from a certainty. However, like the Simpsons, I’ll make sure to create a gif of this prediction and sear it into your brains if I’m correct

  2. Another local baseball training facility opens, this time inside Oakwood Mall.  I’ve seen it happen in other areas and while I don’t have any inside info, I just feel it’ll happen because we don’t go three days without someone grabbing some netting and starting up their own indoor academy

  3. As companies begin to increase personal connection again, so returns the “bonding activities” and this spring you are shocked to learn that one co-worker whom you thought a stiff breeze would knock over, is in fact a 175 average bowler with a crazy hook shot.

  4. Irritated by the cost and travel associated with youth sports, Scott’s frustration boils over when he is ejected from a local youth baseball game after his son is called out on strikes by a seventh-grader from South Middle School. In Scott’s defense, the middle schooler’s strike zone was inconsistent.

  5. By September, the new Valley Sports Academy in Lake Hallie takes the plastic lid off the juicy rumor of them building an actual spectator-friendly hockey-arena.  Now I’ll hedge my prediction with this. Maybe they’ll decide just to build a regulation 200x85 ice sheet with some bleachers but I’m optimistic it’ll be more

  6. In November, with the skeleton of the Sonnentag Center becoming more visible every week, experts at local bars float rumors of professional indoor football/indoor soccer, etc. renting out space.  Gus at (insert bar here) will tell everyone he KNOWS the Minnesota Timberwolves have an agreement in place to move their G-League team from Des Moines, IA for the 2024-2025 season

  7. Chippewa Valley Technical College surprises everyone with a stunning announcement in August. Dr. Garcia, standing in the large parking lot off Clairemont unveils plans for a 1,000 seat arena for the introduction of the school’s first competitive team in…E-SPORTS.  Before she can finish, riots break out across the area as people debate whether E-Sports count as being a sport and if not, why are they even on my list?

  8. Scott and a team from the Chippewa Steel office win the Chippewa Youth Hockey Golf Tournament, repeating the feat we accomplished in 2019.

  9. The Chippewa Steel qualify for the NAHL playoffs for the first time.  They would’ve been in back in 2020…I wonder what kept them out of…oh, that’s right.

  10. Another “semi-pro” football team plays in the area.  No one notices

  11. The Eau Claire Express win the Northwoods League title.  Why not?  They are due. Has it really been since 2010?

  12. The Eau Claire Bateaux FC soccer team is purchased by a Minneapolis resident who grew up in England and now makes his money through western North Dakota oil land he has.  He elevates the team to a professional minor league and comes to an agreement with the city to upgrade one of the fields next to the YMCA Indoor Sports Facility into a 2,500-seat soccer park for the 2023 season.

  13. In the fall, Eau Claire Memorial Football returns to the postseason while Eau Claire North Football will continue its progression by winning a Big Rivers Conference game.

  14. Speaking of football, the UW-Eau Claire program wins no fewer than five games with at least three of them coming in WIAC play.

  15. In August, a 7-foot birdie putt hits a stray pebble on #15 at Action City and you ultimately fall to your 11-year old son in mini-golf.  You pretend to be happy for him but you honestly aren’t and get your passive aggressive revenge by telling him you can’t get the post-round ice cream you had promised because you need to rush back home for something.

  16. Despite a number of new players in the starting line-up and regular rotation, UW-Eau Claire volleyball repeats as WIAC champions and returns to the NCAA Tournament.

  17. UW-Eau Claire baseball qualifies for the WIAC Tournament in their second season

  18. UW-Eau Claire men’s soccer qualifies for the NCAA Tournament in their second season

  19. In the spring, you and co-workers fill out March Madness brackets but after the first weekend no one pays attention. A quarter of the people didn’t even pay, but as the final game approaches you check in and realize you’re going to win and spend the next several days hounding co-workers to PAY UP!

  20. Residents complain that (insert media outlet here) doesn’t cover (insert local sport here)

  21. In May, citing a new found energy to try something new you purchase some pickleball gear with the intention of playing a weekly game with your significant other.  The pattern continues until a a humid morning in late June.  One missed week turns into a three-month pause and by December of next year the pickleball paddles have already been transformed into toys by your grandkids when they come to visit each Friday.

  22. We all have fun moments.  It’s easy, and has been easy (and arguably lazy) to complain about the state of things for about the last seven years.  Despite all of it, no matter how much dirt is throw on them, there are positive moments that take place.  Whether its watching your favorite team win a dramatic game or being there when your child accomplishes a personal best in a swim meet, or tries a new move at gymnastics or catches their first pop fly in Little League.  This, more so than any of the other 21 predictions, I’m willing to bet the house on that it’ll take place.  There will be fun moments in 2022 because their always are.

2021, Not as Bad but Not as Good  (12/17/21)

 

Before the calendar had flipped from 2020 to 2021, if we honestly think back, we already had labeled this as the ‘best year ever’. We were like someone who had meticulously planned every aspect of their birthday or wedding party and obviously we all know hiccups occurred.

 

This was clearly a better year than 2020.  Was it as good as our December 2020 selves thought?  Perhaps not, but there were positives.  It just feels as though the shine wore off as the days went by.  Oh, how that the shine wears off

 

Call it the ‘blunted’ great awakening:  As 2021 began, optimism was high with vaccines for the promised return of events. As it turns out it, much of it was muted.  Some events locally did well, others not as good.  The Northern Wisconsin State Fair had record attendance, UW-Eau Claire Football games set school records and a number of other outdoor events were at pre-pandemic levels.

 

Still, attendance at the Pablo is reportedly lower for many performances and  the attendance at Express games was capped.   Crowds are there for things in town, but not quite the ‘rolling 20s’ we believed would take place at least not quite yet

 

The Vaccination Push:  Even if it turned out not to be the end, there remains something communally magnificent about the mass vaccination sites we had in the area in the spring.  Seeing hundreds go through them daily was a gratifying exercise and marked perhaps the only time in our personal lives we were eager to get a poke in the arm.

 

One can doubt the efficacy or the rationale of the vaccines but what they can’t argue against is how it was one of the important moments for the area early in the year.

 

Hy-Vee: Oh how excited we were to have Hy-Vee.  Frankly, I think it’s awesome but has anyone else noticed it’s not as crowded as we imagined it would be?  Please don’t say price.  That is in your head and if you really consider saving 2 cents off a can of tuna fish “winning at life” I’m happy I’m not you.

 

The Hy-Vee’s location on Clairemont, replaces what had been an eye-sore for the community for many years including when K-Mart was still operational but clearly on life support in it’s senior years.

 

Lieske Giese: The virus mutates to stay alive and it felt as though Lieske Giese and her office did the same.  In the background, passive aggressively harassing local businesses and pressuring school districts.  Making them take the public heat for decisions she forces upon them.  She and her office refuse to speak openly (whereas Angela Weideman had a beer with us on Banker with a Beer).  Unless it’s a young reporter cub from one of the local TV news stations asking softball questions, she doesn’t grant interviews and hides behind a C-level journalism graduate as a publicist.

 

She went from a sympathetic person trying to do well, into a power-hungry character.

 

Still no Eau Claire city manager: We took a swing and miss this last year.  Simple as that.  In the spring, the council brought in three candidates including local county rep Kathryn Schauf.  In the end, they offered the position to a gentleman from Iowa who promptly passed to instead head to North Carolina.

 

We’ll step up to the plate again in 2022.

 

Sonnentag is happening: This will remain a story as construction starts in 2022 and eventually the opening in 2024, but one of the elephants in the room for our area (lack of an arena) is being addressed.

 

Local Dining Changes: Our area isn’t immune from the staffing and supply issues facing the restaurant industry coupled with people’s overall habits changing.  Few restaurants in town can completely fill ever table at their restaurant due to a lack of servers.  Operational hours, though stabilizing for many places, remain in flux

 

All the while, a few  local eateries equally push back on delivery services (for some good and some dumb reasons) creating a quandary for some folks.

And of course there is the Shanghai Bistro which has introduced a robotic server.

 

Downtown Changes Cranes puncture the sky over downtown Eau Claire, a true sign that what we thought was already a transformed downtown, may be unrecognizable again in another few years.

 

School’s re-open: By spring, most area districts had returned to at or near a routine schedule and as the Fall began the days of “hybrid” and wiggly-whack calendars were gone.  Some schools continue to mandate masks while others don’t but at least the schools are open.

 

Every district handled COVID differently and all have their wins and their losses.  What we SHOULD takeaway is that everyone is trying their best.  Sadly, many will cherry-pick the policies they like and dislike and grade districts based on that.

 

Local cases get closure: The stories of Renelle Laffe and Joe Luginbill had their final chapters written.  They weren’t quite the ‘pound of flesh’ people wanted.  Always remember, Google searches are hard to clear unless you want to pay lots of money and even then, the stink remains on your name.  So did they truly get off without issue?  If anything, mistakes they made (at the level of criminality or not) will be attached to them.

 

Joe Luginbill is the TV Show Young Sheldon. You can’t find people who like it, but it’s surprisingly popular and impervious to ridicule.  Despite pages of evidence and a significant case, he officially has skirted any legal ramifications. 

 

The saga of Daniel Peggs, the former Altoona superintendent, also was completed in terms of sentencing for his misgivings.

 

County DHS: A late 2021 update from the sheriffs office reminded us this case is still going and it’s going to have a wild ending one way or the other as significant players in the area have gone all in on one side or the other.

 

In 2022, we should have this move forward with findings from the sheriffs office.  Even if the DHS is innocent, it’s been a case-study in how to look guilty.  If the County DHS turns out to face litigation, one shouldn’t forget the names Diane Cable, Kathryn Schauf and Nick Smiar.  Those three have been antagonistic against citizens AND elected leaders who dare question what could be up. 

 

If the DHS is cleared, they equally deserve an apology and true vindication.

 

This is not a story that will have a middle ground and frankly, I’m already rubbing my hands in excitement over the storylines that will occur no matter what the next chapter is.