“Lies sound like facts to those who’ve been conditioned to mis-recognize the truth.”
― DaShanne Stokes
People in power lying to the public stretches back to prehistory. For the past fifty-years, platforms based on hopes have given way to campaigns built on the foundation of fraud. In too many cases, we’ve taken our snake-oil salesmen out of the carnivals and put them in political office.
The lies that flow from the lips of Washington politicians have been a graduate school in conning the public as the crude techniques of deception filter from Pennsylvania Avenue to Main Street. Over the past five decades, we’ve seen politicians with sleight of hand tricks formerly reserved for the circus midway finding their way into policy positions.
Con men always play the angles. When facts don’t exist, they create their own. Neither science nor logic can stand up against the rap of a talented grifter. Those who have nothing to say play the angles and that is happening in Bradley, Illinois.
“Some have conscience some others have con science. Beware you’re not conned.”
― Vincent Okay Nwachukwu, Weighty’ n’ Worthy African Proverbs –
Local garbage collector Mike Watson is the interim mayor of Bradley, Illinois. He’s a slick operator who plays the angles rather than having substance. Like most grifters, he believes his own stories.
The local mall was once the retail heart of Kankakee County. Major retailers anchored the four corners of the large indoor structure, providing the foot traffic for the smaller retailers dotting the hallways.
The mall is mostly empty, with a few businesses trying to make a go. Mr. Watson has a story he tells about turning one of the spaces abandoned by an anchor tenant’s bankruptcy. Mr. Watson weaves a tale about economic good from turning the space into a convention center.
There is no plan, no independent studies by experts, no typical business structure of what makes a convention center successful. Moreover, Mr. Watson has no training or experience in hospitality which is needed to pull this off.
Feeling the heat that perhaps the con is wearing thin, he is now touting his most prominent contributor, a Physician who owns a local hotel, will put in over a million dollars to fund the dream.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
For a grifter, words are the fuel that powers their scams. Has money changed hands, or are these mere words from a barker’s lips?
The words appear in the local newspaper, so they must be true, right? The local newspaper supports any Republican and will never ask hard questions of one. Mr. Watson is a Republican and has been getting wet kisses from the local paper.
The truth is hard, and propaganda is easy, especially when no pesky reporters are fact-checking.
There is someone in the race who does know what it takes to pull off conventions and tourism, Mr. Watson’s opponent.
Lori Gadbois is running against Mike Watson for Mayor. Ms. Gadbois is everything Mike Watson isn’t: well educated, honest, experienced in government, and experienced in conventions and tourism. Ms. Gadbois brought a successful billiard tournament to town. It was a big deal, as the Village competed with other cities and towns to host this large tournament.
The Con Man’s Sting.
Her competence and education are a threat to Mike Watson. So, how does a grifter tilt the table?
In Bradley, IL, the local political parties are not the Republicans and Democrats. Ms. Gadbois is not in the same party as Mr. Watson, so what did Watson do to confuse voters?
Conveniently, he got a pal of his to run as a Democrat. The man has been a Democrat for only this race. The friend is a colleague of Watson’s and ran with Mike Watson an election or two ago. He is a ringer. He’s like the testimonial the snake-oil salesman uses to talk the gullible into buying an elixir.
This ringer relieves Mr. Watson of a couple of problems. Watson doesn’t have to attack Ms. Gadbois directly. He has his hand-puppet do the dirty work for him. That was apparent in the Mayoral debate.
Mr. Watson sat at the podium, taking a moment or two to adjust his halo, as his lap-dog nipped at Ms. Gadbois as a distraction.
Watson also uses the age-old trick of playing on voters’ ignorance of public finance by proclaiming he has balanced the budget. No city, County, or state ever grew new and good jobs with a balanced budget.
The government works because the village board should budget the deficit, and if done correctly, it will have a surplus. Watson’s predecessor used that strategy and grew the Village from pathetic into the community’s economic heart.
Watson’s attack on the tax base is coming at a price. He sees it, and he has a plan: do away with the local fire department and put the burden of fire protection elsewhere.
That is a workable plan if one is the mayor of a declining community, sliding into a place of ghetto status.
With Watson at the helm, that is what will happen.
What’s Watson’s endgame? Nobody knows, and that is the mark of a grifter. Never let the mark know the real story.