Sunday, October 31, 2010

657. What happened to October?

Before October slips through the hourglass into the history books let me write a few words. First, Happy Hallowe'en. Hallowe'en has long been my favorite holiday for a variety of reasons. Of course, one of them is its proximity to Election Day, which is also a favorite day of mine. Through the magic of calendars, Hallowe'en and Election Day fall as close together as possible this year. I have no idea if that is good or bad, I just know that it is.

With Election Day starting about 46 hours from now, at least in Kentucky, a few comments are in order, but only a few. I will no doubt have more afterwards addressing what I believe will be the manifestation of certain decisions which were made or were failed to be made resulting in certain results for this or that candidate.

I should start by saying that I am a paid adviser to two of the campaigns, those of Greg Fischer for Mayor and John Yarmuth for reelection to the Congress. I expect each of those candidates to be successful on Tuesday and that will be a good thing for the voters of Louisville and Jefferson County, which, technically speaking, can still be considered as separate entities if one is speaking geographically. Louisville, in this case, represents the former City of Louisville, now known as the Louisville Urban Services District. Jefferson County is a constitutional subdivision of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. For the record, the only thing in this town known, erroneously, as Louisville Metro is the government which, for the record, is officially called Louisville-Jefferson County Metro. Nomenclature matters. But, I digress.

In addition to the races for mayor and congress, residents of Jefferson County will also be choosing one-half of their government's legislative council. While there are several being contested and more than a few may turn out an incumbent, one being closely watched is the 25th District, in southwestern Jefferson County, where Democratic candidate David Yates is working far harder than many candidates usually do to defeat Republican Doug Hawkins. Councilman Hawkins has represented the area since the new government's inception and is well known as casting a NO vote on each of Mayor Abramson's budgets since his election. Another council race being monitored is that in the 6th District, which covers territory in Old Louisville, California, and the South End, and, for the record, has no territory in Russell or Shelby Park, which is counter to what the Courier-Journal and at least one major party candidate regularly report. The race in the 6th was created by the unfortunate death of George Unseld. Through a series of interesting machinations, which for a local political junkie was like finding the proverbial pot o' gold at the end of a rainbow, the majority-Democratic council seated a registered Independent to serve until this upcoming election is certified. The local Democratic Party then selected a candidate whose presence in the district dates back only fifteen months. There is also the specter of a write-in campaign by a very popular Democrat which many locals pols give more than a fighting chance at winning. And, in this overwhelmingly Democratic district, there is even a Republican candidate whose husband appears to be supporting the write-in Democrat. I've done my best to avoid it all as I am very aware there are people interested in having me removed from my Democratic Party post should I cross any By-Law -placed bars while doing my usual election processes. I'm well aware of who these people are and I am watching them as closely as they are watching me, which, frankly, is a lot of fun.

We've also got quite a bit of our local judiciary on the ballot and while I haven't participated in any of those races other than a few contributions here and there, I am hopeful all of them are successful. Four judges which have recently been appointed to the bench by Governor Beshear are worthy of being retained for the balance of their respective terms. They are Circuit Judges Olu Stevens and Brian Edwards, and District Judges Sadiqa Reynolds and Erica Lee Williams. I am also supporting and voting to reelect District Judges Claude Prather and Katie King. Finally, where I live in Jefferson County, we are also having a race for the local school board. In that race I am supporting the appointed incumbent, Ms. Porter.

That's all for now. We've two full more days of campaigning left. But for now, I'm off to church on this All Hallows Eve, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

Happy Hallowe'en.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On the passing of Cyril Allgeier

Wednesday afternoon my plan was to go home and take a nap after work - I've been keeping early morning and late evening hours as this year's campaign season is progressing ever more closely to 6:00 pm on Tuesday evening, November 2nd, the hour the polls close and the counting commences here along the Left Bank of the Ohio River near Milepost 606.

On my way home, I stopped at the John Yarmuth for Congress headquarters at 600 E. Main Street in downtown Louisville, about three blocks from my home. There my plans for a quiet evening were changed as I agreed to accompany Elizabeth Sawyer, the campaign's chair, to two events on the evening schedule. In between I had her join me at one which wasn't on the schedule, held for Adam Edelen, a friend of many years who next year is seeking to succeed Crit Luallen as Kentucky's Auditor of Public Accounts.

We left from there and headed out towards Buechel and the American Legion Post on Bardstown Road where Congressman Yarmuth was hosting a Question-and-Answer session for Louisville's veterans. Along the way we got into a discussion about friends old and young. I made the comment to her that as I started attending political events at a very young age - usually in the tow of my late grandmother, Tommie Hockensmith - there are a number of people I've known all my life who are no longer of this world. One of the blessings I often count is that as those older friends pass on, I have managed to befriend a number of younger ones. Many of my latest political friends were born either in the late 1970s or somewhere in the 1980s. It is a little startling to think that kids born as late as November 2, 1992 are eligible to vote in this year's elections in eleven days. Within the Yarmuth campaign community, three different staffers have had or are having birthdays during the election season, and to my knowledge only one of those will have attained the ripe old age of 30. Elizabeth herself is 28 with a birthday due shortly after the election.

Having said all this to Elizabeth as we were driving out Newburg Road, I took the time out to call Mary Allgeier, who with her husband Cyril and their family, have been a part of my life since before I was old enough to drive. Cyril had been suffering from leukemia and its complications for many months and we all knew he wasn't long for this world. Mary and I had a short conversation and she and Cyril remained on my mind throughout the evening.

Very early the next morning, I received word that Cyril had died shortly after midnight. Word of his death travelled through Camp Taylor in minutes. Anyone and everyone who lives in Camp Taylor has had their lives touched by the Allgeier family in one way or another. Indeed, the family itself is one of the largest in this south central Louisville neighborhood, nestled between the Norfolk-Southern Railroad, Illinois Avenue, Audubon Park, and the Watterson Expressway. I've known of the Allgeier family since I was a student at Prestonia Elementary in the early 1970s. I graduated from Durrett High School with Tim, who is four days older than me, as well as his cousin Michelle, at whose home I spent many afternoons playing pool in the garage. There are very few streets in Camp Taylor, if any, that aren't populated by at least one Allgeier family.

In 1975, Cyril ran for office the first time in a group of nine or ten candidates seeking election to the old City of Louisville's Fourth Ward. He ran again in 1977, the year I became more involved, an election which also involved the election of Bill Stansbury as Mayor of Louisville. Mayor Stansbury died, tragically, when I was 24 but I considered him a friend despite the well-known errors of his administration. In the 1977 Fourth Ward Aldermanic Primary, Stansbury and Allgeier had a headquarters operation in the old Beasley [I think that was the name] Hardware, on the southwest corner of Indiana and Sherman avenues. We painted it, fixed it up, and put an orange, red, and white sign on the front announcing it to the voters in Camp Taylor. I was 16 at the time.

Mayor Stansbury went on to win that race but Cyril didn't. He sat out the 1979 race and returned as a candidate in 1981. Cyril's early races were ran by Jim Reddington and Don Noble, the former being the father of my friend Greg Reddington; the latter a former Fourth Ward Alderman himself, as well as my uncle, my father's older brother. Both are now deceased. Jim involved Greg and Don involved me in great measures in that campaign. Greg and I had worked together two years earlier in the unsuccessful campaign of Thelma Stovall for governor of Kentucky. (I also met Harry Johnson in that 1979 race and we, too, remain both active in politics and personal friends). Oddly, Greg and I will this afternoon, 31 years later, be walking a precinct together with Darryl Owens and Greg Fischer.

In my career of many, many political races over time, four have stood out. This election, the 1981 Primary, which was tantamount to election, is the first of those four chronologically. We worked very hard and very creatively to come up with an electoral margin of victory which remained in doubt until the votes were counted. The night before the election, in a somewhat drunken state, I predicted we would win by 37 votes. My Uncle Don said 100, Greg had said 99, and Cyril said 101. Even after the polls had closed and the counting was underway, there was some question as to who won the race and therein is one of the great, funny (and importantly true) political stories of all time. I won't tell it here but I will say it involved me, Greg, Charlie Schnell, and Mark Vincent, the latter whose only true involvement in the campaign was in the events of this particular story. When the Allgeier campaign group victoriously arrived at Executive Inn West where the Democrats were celebrating that night, WHAS-11 was reporting that we had lost and the our opponent has won re-nomination and thus the election. They had based their prediction on reports received, second hand, from someone within our opponent's camp. That person had (thought he had) gotten them from someone with the Courier-Journal named Mark Vincent. For the record, Mark was a friend of mine as well as a C-J delivery boy. Other than that, he was not invovled. In the end when all the votes were counted, Cyril Allgeier had defeated Mary Margaret Mulvihill, the incumbent, by thirty-seven votes. It was a thrilling and stunning victory.

Cyril stood for re-election nine more times, victorious in each one. His last election was at the creation of the present Louisville-Jefferson County Metro Government to the office of 10th District Councilman. He did not seek reelection in 2004. Thus Cyril served from January 2, 1982 to January 3, 2005. There isn't enough space here, nor enough memory in my head, to cover all the ups and downs of his political career. I argued with him over a few votes here and there, most especially the Fairness Ordinance, which I strongly supported and he strongly opposed. For many years he cast "no" votes on the matter but before his retirement changed his mind and ultimately voted "yes" to pass it in the new government. I also disagreed with him on the expansion at Standiford Field, an expansion which included the blighting of several Louisville and Jefferson County neighborhoods; an expansion which began in 1986 and is still growing. Cyril supported it because of its jobs component and I cannot argue with that point. I opposed it due to the forced relocation of nearly 1/8 of Jefferson County's population, some out of homes that had been in families for generations. While there is no doubt the expansion has been an economic boon for Louisville, I still have my doubts due to the cultural ramifications. But, I greatly digress.

Outside of politics, Cyril's life centered around two things - church and baseball. He was a lifelong member of Holy Family Catholic Church, a church I was a member of for many years. Cyril's life included for many years, prior to his illness, attendance at Daily Mass and service to the church in many and any imaginable ways. But he is mostly known as "Coach" of every sport played by Holy Family School. Several generations of students got their athletic coaching from Cyril Allgeier. Cyril was also active in the local and national amateur baseball community. Along with several others, including former alderman Bertrand Heuser and Jim Lenihan, he formed Derby City Baseball, Louisville's affiliation with the National Amateur Baseball Federation, an organization which, coincidentally, was formed at Shawnee Park early in the 20th century. Cyril not only ran the league but coached its star team, called, appropriately, the Stars, long sponsored by Louisville Star Drywall. His teams scored several NABF World Championships over the years and he remains one of the winningest coaches associated with the league.

Suffice it to say between church, politics, baseball, and family, Cyril lived a life well-lived. Two verses from Scripture come to mid as I reflect on this life. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew 25:23, in the Parable of the Talents are the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant." Elsewhere, in the New Testament, at II Timothy 4:6-8, Saint Paul, at the hour of his death, proclaims "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." So, too, has Cyril Allgeier.

Rest In Peace, Cyril. See you in the movies. Motion to adjourn.

From the Courier-Journal obituary:

ALLGEIER, CYRIL L. SR., 74, of Louisville, passed away Thursday, October 21, 2010 at his residence.

He was retired from General Electric, a life member of Holy Family Church, a life member of St. John Sick Benevolent Society, a member of the Louisville Board of Aldermen 1982-2002 and retired from the Louisville Metro Council in 2004. He was a board member of All Wool and A Yard Wide Democrat Club. He also coached all sports at Holy Family School and was president and founder of Derby City Baseball and was a member of the National Amateur Baseball Federation where he coached four national championship teams. He was also a veteran of the Air National Guard.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Nicholas B. and Catherine Snyder Allgeier; a brother, Anthony R. Allgeier and sisters, Imelda Garrett, Doris Dahl and Carolyn Benton.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Hulsman Allgeier; children, Cyril L. II (Marisol), David G. (Karen), Tim P. (Kelli Husband), Kenneth J. Sr. (Lana), Anna C. and Kevin J. Allgeier; brothers, Nicholas B., Louis B. and Henry F. Allgeier; sisters, Thelma Garrett, Catherine Thompson, Jo Ann Hayden and Lois Bryant; grandchildren, Cyril III, Bryan, David Jr., Aaron, Tara, Kenny Jr., Joey, Mallory, Macy, Zachary, Sharai (Jesse) and Doren; as well as his great-grandchildren, Jace and Rylan.

His funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday, October 25, 2010 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 3926 Poplar Level Road, with burial in St. Michael Cemetery. Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Saturday and 2-8 p.m. Sunday at Ratterman & Sons Funeral Home, 3800 Bardstown Road.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Family Church or School or the charity of your choice.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Clinton and Conway

I wasn't there. But I can't resist posting the photo. Election Day is three weeks hence. I back Jack.

654. Well, first, there is this election going on

Hello - HELLO - to my seven faithful readers. I offer apologies for not writing since September 24th. As Led Zeppelin would say, "It's been a long time, been a long time . . ."

The truth is I've been busy with the elections. I work a full-time day job, then in the evenings we do politics - not from Pikeville to Paducah or, as I prefer, Ashland to Arlington [google it if you don't know where it is], but here in Jefferson County, where the extremes would be from Valley Station to Prospect or Fisherville to Portland. Saturday was a prime example of a full day which mixed all my jobs.

My day-boss, Louisville Metro Councilman Brent T. Ackerson, had a morning neighborhood meeting, then the rest of the day was filled with events here and there or planting yardsigns for Congressman John Yarmuth, mayoral candidate Greg Fischer, or US Senate candidate Jack Conway. Saturday evening the Kentucky Democratic Party held its Jefferson-Jackson Dinner with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin as the keynote speaker. My friend Michael Garton joined me for that, as well as a trip to the Garvin Gate Blues Festival over in Old Louisville later that night. Somewhere in there was a brief meeting with Greg Fischer outside of Central High School after his most recent debate. It was a long day and long night. I enjoyed every minute.

But such a schedule precludes spending much time doing two things I really like doing - travelling the backroads of Kentucky then writing about those travels in the blog. This morning I received a strong reminder of my missing pastimes based on a Facebook posting by my college friend Buddy Vaughn of Lexington. Buddy has been posting birthday reminders of Kentuckians from history and today's entry was that of John Preston Martin, a Prestonsburg merchant and one-term congressman for whom Martin County was named.

I responded to Buddy's post by noting, after a discussion about the family name Preston, that I have not been to Martin County in over twenty-three years. My last visit there was during the gubernatorial summer campaign on 1987. It is one of two counties with such a distinction - the other is Elliott. As many of you may recall, I maintain a map in my office of the counties I visit in a given year as well as an EXCEL sheet which covers all the county visits since 1979.

Once this election is over, I hope to get to a few more counties before the 2010 map is retired and the EXCEL sheet is updated. One of those will have to be Martin, now that Buddy has brought the absence from there to my attention.

Election Day is three weeks from tomorrow. Polls will open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m. It cannot come soon enough.

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.