View from the Cheap Seats

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. In fact, I’ve always wanted to write a periodic newspaper column. My wife says it’s because I was born with a little known mental impairment called Recreational Self Abuse Disorder (commonly known as RSAD). Given a choice, people with RSAD will choose whatever action makes their life more miserable. In any case, when I saw the Observer and talked to the Observer staff, I came to understand how this publication works, and I got really excited (RSAD sufferers get excited any time they see an opportunity to make things more difficult for themselves). 

I have to tell you, though, having worked for some time at trying to get my first column off the ground, it’s not as easy as it sounds. First you have to be at least partially literate. Spell check helps. I highly recommend the “check spelling as you type” option in Word. A superficial knowledge of computers helps too since the Observer makes me submit my column online.  (Never did understand why they wouldn’t accept the version I wrote on a yellow legal pad with a purple crayon.)

Lots of time and gallons of black coffee are important as well. You'll need lots of time because every piece is going to need to be rewritten at least 97 times (that’s one of the reasons RSAD sufferers like to do this) and the coffee helps me stay awake through the torture. But the most difficult requirement is the topic thing. I mean you have to actually have something to SAY (imagine that). 

I sat down this morning to list the first five or six topics I wanted to write about. It wasn’t a big success. I showed my list to my wife and her reaction was less than enthusiastic. “Nobody’s going to want to read about that stuff – and that weed-eater column could get you jailed,” she warned. This scared me. “Look,” she continued, “this is September. In less than two months we’re having an election and we’re going to vote on who’s going to be the next mayor of Bay Village. This is the first time in many years we’ve had a multi-term incumbent running against just one credible challenger. Write about that.”

This didn’t sound like much fun. I mean, people are going to expect facts, analysis, research. When she went on to remind me that doing all that research would probably ruin my life and keep me away from my favorite TV shows, the RSAD kicked in and I was hooked. So the first couple of columns are going to be about the Bay Village mayor’s race in November. 

The two candidates are very different. Debbie Sutherland is the incumbent, a two+ term mayor who took office without an election and failed last year as candidate for County Commissioner. She says she’s experienced at the job and wants to continue doing what she’s been doing. Frankly, I think she’s the worst thing to happen in Bay since the Iroquois wiped out the Erie Indians, and I’ll tell you why. 

Jim Scott is the challenger. He’s a NASA scientist who’s been elected two times as councilman-at-large. He brings fiscal conservatism, reduced spending and what he calls “greater transparency in government.” I think he can do it and it’s badly needed. Stay tuned for the reason I feel that way about both of them.

So while I’m wrestling with my second column, which will focus on Jim, I’d love your help. Share your opinions on the mayor’s race in general or on either or both of the candidates – no matter who you’re for. For that matter, I’d welcome comments on any other topic that comes to your mind. I’d love to know what you think - post your thoughts in the View from the Cheap Seats forum on the Observation Deck (, click on Bay Village General Discussion).

So here we go, starting my third – no, my fourth career. The wife’s comment was “You’re gonna regret this.” See why I love that woman? She’s so supportive. If it weren’t for the RSAD and her encouragement, I’d be on the couch in front of “Ryan’s Hope” re-runs.

[Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in the above column are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of the Westlake | Bay Village Observer. We believe in giving every member of the community an equal voice regarding all matters, including politics. And furthermore, we think that writing for the Observer is fun, and not nearly as difficult as the author suggests!]

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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 2:58 PM, 09.05.2009