There are issues that the local race for Village President of Arlington Heights has clearly illuminated: Residents are frustrated with their voices not being heard regarding rising property taxes, government spending, and user friendliness of opening a business.
Hidden in plain view is the campaign of Ron Drake for Village President, who hopes he can take advantage of those frustrations and get the votes he needs to take the election.
Hidden in plain view
Drake is a man who never misses an opportunity to piggyback on an opportunity, an issue, a neighborhood cause, or a voters list. His campaign is based on emotion, not facts and detailed plans, but promises for everyone, and occasionally some outrageous ideas — like tearing down foreclosed homes and replacing them with reservoirs. Drake is a man who places on his Facebook page Photoshopped or real images with his signs in strange, remote places — in a view on a beach in Florida (presumably) or the dunes. His campaign has been focused on being cute, not substantive. He’s also filled with drama: He accuses opposing politicians and elections of a conspiracy because local elections are held during the cold and lousy weather when it is hard to get out and talk to people — a so-called disadvantage to the newcomer, who he hopes the common voter will relate to as underdog.
“I thoroughly enjoy NASCAR fans. They are the greatest sports fans in the world.”
— Avondale Mayor Ron Drake (2004)
[Translated: Arlington Park horseracing fans are the greatest fans in the world]
Drake Genuine? Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test
Drake and his campaign supporters, boast about his boost of business in Avondale. As mentioned in an earlier article, the expansion was part of a major expansion in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Avondale grew by about 35,000 and the entire Phoenix area grew by almost 1 million people between 2000 and 2010. [Translated: He’s exaggerating his credit for Avondale business growth, which was affecting the entire Phoenix metropolitan area anyway.] Drake compares the local economies of Arlington Heights and Avondale, and of course he implies Avondale is much better than Arlington Heights. But that just isn’t true.
During the terms of Mayor Ron Drake and during the years following his terms as mayor, both local economies (Arlington Heights and Avondale) had their ups and downs. However, during almost every time period when sampled data was collected after June 2009, Avondale had significantly higher unemployment than Arlington Heights. From 2000 to June 2009 Arlington Heights and Avondale had almost identical unemployment rates. Interestingly enough, Avondale failed to achieve better unemployment rates than Arlington Heights, even though a business expansion was occurring in Arizona. The business boom and growth in Avondale after the Global Financial Crisis was followed by higher foreclosures, and more unemployment compared to Arlington Heights. Avondale has serious problems with foreclosures.
The city suffered a large number of foreclosures because it grew rapidly during the housing boom.
— Avondale Mayor Marie Lopez Rogershas (quoted on Mar. 1, 2012 on azcentral.com)
And there’s a much higher crime rate in Avondale, compared to Arlington Heights [Translated: Reckless business growth without careful planning is correlated with higher crime rate and lower quality of living.]
The crime rate in Avondale is also much worse than Arlington Heights. Regarding overall crime rate, Avondale is safer than only 8% of cities in the United States (same as City of Chicago). Arlington Heights is safer than 63% of cities in the United States. The chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Avondale is 1 in 315, compared to 1 in 1571 in Arlington Heights (1 in 233 in Illinois). The chance of being a victim of a property crime in Avondale is 1 in 20, compared to 1 in 69 in Arlington Heights (1 in 37 in Illinois).
Unemployment rates compared: Arlington Heights and Avondale. Unemployment is essentially the same from 2000 to June 2009, but the stable planning of Arlington Heights shows a significantly lower unemployment rate compared to Avondale after the Global Financial Collapse.
Unemployment rate of Avondale, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona side-by-side.
Arlington Heights has a lower unemployment rate differential compared to Chicago than the differential unemployment rate of Avondale compared to Phoenix.
Also, Drake has not been completely open about his performance with the Phoenix International Raceway. The City of Avondale was caught flat-footed in responding to the growth of the NASCAR track. The track brought in a lot of money, but unfortunately less money went to Avondale than expected because Avondale didn’t have enough restaurants in the area, and didn’t have any hotels.
“Another huge economic benefit came to the City of Avondale in conjunction with efforts of the Phoenix International Raceway (PIR). A second NASCAR race was awarded to the racetrack in Avondale. The economic benefits to the Phoenix metropolitan area equal that of a Super Bowl and now Avondale and PIR host two NASCAR events a year.”
Supporters credit Drake with bringing a second NASCAR event to the area.They point to the millions of dollars spent in the area during the races. In 2004, Daily Herald writer Kirby Arnold (Everett, Washington) reported that a study conducted by Arizona State University showed that race fans from every state in the country converge on the NASCAR track at Avondale and “add more than $300 million to the Arizona economy each year. The NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend in the fall is reported to account for more than $100 million alone.” The writer was researching the NASCAR-Avondale relationship because NASCAR was planning on building a track in Snohomish County, Washington.
“Had we been paying attention, we would have more hotels, more restaurants, more amenities that the race-goers and race teams rely on.”
— Jeff Fairman, Avondale’s economic development director.
The writer reported that the Avondale officials admit they missed a huge revenue opportunity, because years ago the City of Avondale officials didn’t envision the NASCAR speedway’s potential. In 2004 there wasn’t a single hotel in Avondale, and only a few restaurants, so race fans didn’t dine and lodge in Avondale. The visitors spent much of their money in nearby cities, such as Phoenix.
What Ron Drake Really Likes About Term Limits
During the campaign, Drake participated in an interview with canned questions from Avy Meyers, of NINM, North Town News Magazine. One of the topics was Term Limits. Drake mentioned that “a gentleman” [Translated: Someone I know well because I worked to gain votes off of his petition] actually brought a petition around with “more than enough signatures to get a referendum deciding term limits.” Ron Drake said, the petition “ironically was judged by the mayor who’s been there 22 years and my opponent who’s also been there 22 years on the board, and somehow it got tossed out. He got the referendum signed by over 4,000 people, and then found that he wrote it as non-binding, went back in June and got it signed by another 2,700 people. So he had over 7,000 (4,000 + 2,700 ??) people in Arlington Heights sign this petition for term limits, and the mayor and my opponent tossed it. I think what’s going to happen actually when we get to the election, and we get to the polls, maybe the mayor and then my opponent will hear the people then.” [Translated: Didn’t the guy ever watch Jeopardy? And don’t you know a referendum in the State of Illinois is required to be asked in the form of a question? And since you’re running for mayor and already knew Mr. Gnech, oops, the guy; don’t you think you would have had the smarts, Mr. Drake, to know the law? If you’re such a superstar mayor, that is.]
Staged interview with canned questions from Avy Meyers to candidate Ron Drake. Notice at 1:00 (and following) Drake struggled so hard NOT to say he grew up in Arlington Heights.
Narrator Avy Meyers: That’s pretty major. I mean that’s Chicago level dirt all the way.
Drake: Yeah. You know it happens. In respect, what they’re saying is that it was on a technicality and a legal thing. Well if you’re judging, you’re supposed to judge on intent, and the intent is term limits, so … I just … no one’s buyin’ it. [Translated: High taxes, because if Drake judges on intent instead of following those pesky technicalities and laws, Arlington Heights will get dragged into court and sued, and the taxpayers will pay for it].
How about values? Drake agrees with Narrator Avy Meyers that Hayes and “the Mayor” played dirty politics to keep out term limits. Drake apparently believes that unlimited terms are bad. But then Drake busts with pride over his endorsement by Sen. John McCain. Senator McCain is on his FIFTH TERM. How does Drake disrespect Tom Hayes for his unlimited terms and have no problem respecting Senator McCain, who is on his fifth.
[Translated: The reason Drake likes term limits is because he knows over 6,000 voters signed term limits. He believes he can convert those term limit votes into Drake votes, by stirring up the negativity and exaggerating any dissent about term limits.]
Drake is an ad man. Advertisers are experts in studying people and finding out what they like. There’s software in major ad agencies that can learn what products a consumer uses and make a prediction of the likelihood they will like a third product. Advertisers might look at people who like Michelob Light and Ford 150 pickup trucks, and with this software they can analyze what the chances are those people will like a third product — like Pringles, or Doritos, or rice cakes. [Translated: That kind of thinking can work well studying voters and votes, but there’s a big difference between an ad man/politician and a good government leader.]
The Term Limits issue was a slam dunk for Drake. Bill Gnech had over 6,000 signatures for people who “wanted” term limits for local politicians [Translated: A lot of people signed the petition without putting much thought into it, because they had nothing to lose if term limits were at least considered]. Strangely enough, a supporter for term limits [Translated: and apparently Bill Gnech], was at the library working to acquire signatures. As soon as a person signed the paper, the term limits supporter handed out a Ron Drake brochure [Translated: Ron Drake piggybacks on the term limits issue because he wants your votes, not because he believes in the principle of term limits — else he wouldn’t have so much respect for 5-term Sen. John McCain].
Army of Trolls with Spam-like Dedication
A large number of Drake “LIKES” on Facebook don’t even reside in Arlington Heights. Comments from Drake supporters have flooded all local publications. Many of the same people have copied and pasted the same comment on articles across all publications.
HOW TO DETECT A TROLL? NO FRIENDS, 1 LIKE, NO LEGITIMATE IDENTITY PICTURE, NO PHOTOS, NO COVER PHOTO, AGENDA-FILLED.
We’ve gotten you several votes just wearing your buttons!
— Facebook supporter
[Translated: People are so dumb they don’t even check the issues, they just love your buttons.]
Way to go Daily Herald! The truth comes out about Hayes and Tinaglia’s back room crooked deals.
— Facebook Troll Jorge Lopez
[Translated: I have no facts to back up my statements, but I will trash anybody who is against Ron Drake (me???)]
The Virtualization of Political Baby Kissing
Baby kissing was a common practice where politicians would kiss babies in order to garner public support and elicit a gush of emotional bonding. Ron Drake understands the common voter support. Instead of kissing a baby, he has an infant/toddler holding a Drake sign, or a photo of himself donating blood, or visiting a senior. Cynic or not, most of these acts are viewed by voters and politicians as cheap, sly efforts to get votes — skirting the actual issues.
Many leaders in the community, who didn’t want to go on record, called The Cardinal and told stories of Drake attempting to get photo-op shots in front of company logos or club logos to imply endorsement.
Drake as Drama Queen
Drake: I still don’t understand why we have elections in April.
NINM Narrator Avy Meyers: Oh that’s simple. The reason is … so … because you … anybody going against the regulars has a disadvantage. [Translation: Canned Answer.]
Drake: That would be my logic as well.
NINM Narrator Avy Meyers: That’s definitely the idea. [Translation: That’s definitely a Canned Reply.]
Drake: If you do want to have an open government with term limits, and that got tossed out…I would like to see us move it into either September or coincide in November with an election, and then you allow the people that are running for office to have all summer while its good weather to go out and campaign, versus try to walk through the snow and cold on weekends, because you can’t even go out at night because its so dark … no one’s going to open their doors. It makes it very difficult. And I’d like to pose that question if I get elected to the board. And I know there’s a cost to it [Translated hidden message: RAISE TAXES to change the whole voting process]. We all recognized that, but is it better? … is that cost overcome by the benefits to the community of having people that can get engaged in the government? Is that better?
I’d much rather campaign in the Winter in Arizona, ’cause it’s hot [Translated: Everything should revolve around me .. the people should hear my message when I’m most comfortable delivering it].
Ron Drake As Sensationally Off Target and Often Irrelevant
McCain’s endorsement of Drake is off-target and irrelevant. [Translated: Drake asked McCain for a favor. How could McCain know Benghazi from Biggby Coffee about Arlington Heights?]
Drake has no endorsements from any Village Trustees, except one former Village Trustee. Drake has not endorsed any Village Trustees. That should be a huge warning signal.
The Drake campaign’s Facebook photos showing the presence of Drake’s campaign signs in remote places, such as a sunny, warm beach in March, sand dunes, and with the Easter Bunny should be a strong “HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT” WARNING that Drake is not all HERE. He wants to be somewhere else. He’s about creating numbers for his future political ambitions, not the quality of living in Arlington Heights. The City of Avondale and Arlington Heights are completely different communities. A community all about business growth means Arlington Heights becomes Potterville instead of Bedford Falls (referring to It’s a Wonderful Life) — a community that could be stripped of its quality of life values.
There aren’t many fans of [NASCAR] racing at Mel’s Hay, Feed and Pet Supplies, an old-time store located for 25 years on 115th Avenue about two miles from the speedway. That road provides a major access to the speedway from Interstate 10.
Owner Daryl Crouse said traffic jams caused by racing fans ruin his business during the 12 to 14 days a year when the speedway crowds are large. He said he averages $500 in sales on normal days, but on race days he makes virtually nothing because the traffic keeps customers away.
Drake talks about saving taxpayer dollars, and not funding Metropolis, but turns around and introduces hopes for a regional sports stadium that would bring more visitors to Arlington Heights [Translated: More taxes for Arlington Heights taxpayers to build a sports facility that won’t even make a profit. Some Major League Baseball franchises are barely making money, how does he expect some regional sports facility to make money?]
Drake’s entire campaign has been based on Facebook fluff, and angry, disrespectful attacks on Arlington Heights government leaders — people who have worked hard to balance business growth with quality of life for residents. Is there room for improvement? Always. However, the race for Village President is serious business, not a popularity contest.
Voters: Get out and vote.
[Translated: Voters should check the facts, avoid being fooled by false promises and highly spun messages. Then Vote. Then PLEASE realize your work is not done by the simple act of punching the ballot. The work has only started. You can’t just sit back and watch your trusted savior do all the work. Whoever is elected, we need to push to work for more transparency, closer daily watch on the purse strings, and the daily expectancy of a user friendly, thorough, detailed, and responsive government.]
See also …
HeraldNet Warming up to NASCAR
azcentral.com Avondale mayor to seek re-election; no opponent yet