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Monday, October 15, 2007

Screennames and Meeting the West Hartford Town Politicos!

Often there is debate on West Hartford Blog regarding the use of screennames and such when posting. During one of my first postings, Joe Visconti ripped into me for not disclosing my real name while posting. Well, Joe and I have had a talk about it face-to-face and we have come to some sense of understanding about it, although I do agree that proponents of full disclosure have their points.

But alas I make a few points here for the reasons for using a screenname:

About two years ago, I interviewed this woman who apparently decided to research me on the Internet prior to interviewing with me. I had given a comment to the Yale Newspaper during the 2000 presidential election. It was a neutral comment about how enjoyable it was to see a close neck and neck race between Bush and Gore. So the lady, having read my comments mentioned it to me during a discussion. That sort of made me think about how powerful the Internet can be, and given the competitive if not cut throat nature of business - how damaging it could be to a career given the small-mindedness of some individuals who hold political beliefs higher than merit when making promotion decisions.

The truth is that some people simply cannot separate political position from the person. And while we all banter back and forth on West Hartford Blog taking this or that position - admittedly, it can get rather heated, and sometimes it gets personal. People should take public policy seriously and depending upon your viewpoint someones argument can be seen as an attack. Discussing a politician's failed record fairly is also seen as an attack unless its packed full of praise.

I think myself fairly normal in the scheme of things. Obviously, I like to joust with my nemesis' on WHB, but I leave the thoughts on the webpage and don't take them beyond my computer portal to the world. But there are some people out there that can't handle debate and banter without going overboard. And the last thing you want is someone showing up at your house or calling you on the phone about this or that. Frankly, there isn't enough time in the day, and no one is paying me to be a politico. I do care, but not enough to spend my free time tracking people down over their personal views, or wishing to respond to people as to why I have mine.

With that being said, I do want to disclose a few things. First, when I knew I was going to start posting regularly on West Hartford Blog, I sent an email to Whdad pretty much telling him who I was and where I lived, etc. I also offered to speak with him and introduce myself. Unfortunately, Whdad never took me up on the offer (and I did try to reach out a few times). But I didn't take it personal. I was disappointed but I truly understand.

I did this out of courtesy and of course it was a risk since he could easily have published all my information on his site. Fact is that he runs a the Blog with great measure of dignity and restraint. Some of my friends on the GOP side feel he's a liberal hack, but I see no evidence that he is any such thing. and people are allowed to have a bias. He gives his opinion and opens it up for debate. As a moderator, he does a fine job to separate himself from his role and avoids pushing his views on others.

But you'll also notice that he remains anonymous too. Can you blame him? The last thing he needs is some wackjob calling him at home over this or that. I assume he has a family (thus the screenname: West Harford Dad), so it makes perfect sense to me.

The second disclosure is that I have disclosed who I am to a few political folks in town. Most of them give a quick laugh when they find out its me. So naturally that tells you that I've disclosed to many in agreement with my ramblings. Here are few stories about that:

About a month ago, my wife needed to pick up a few items from the grocery store. So I pulled up in front of Stop & Shop so she could run in. Lo and behold, there was Joe Visconti - clipboard in hand, animated as ever, soliciting signatures for his GOP bid. My wife looked at me and smiled - we were thinking the same thing. At first, I said no maybe I won't tell him. Then I thought oh what the heck. The worst thing he could do is punch me, right? And Joe isn't that kind of guy anyway... he's actually a great family man, a fun-loving guy, but incredibly passionate about West Hartford.

So as my wife starts to go in the store, Joe asks if she's a registered Republican (and for the record she isn't by the way - she's Independent and hates politics), she responds, "No, but you should talk to my husband over there in the car. So over comes Joe with my wife in tow. He gives me his 2 minute spiel about how he's trying to get on the ballot - jadda, jadda. I told him that I was a big fan of his and I'd be more than happy to sign his petition.

I took the clipboard, and paused, looked up at him and asked, "so... should I sign my name or simply sign it - "The King". Joe reeled back in laughter and said, Oh my God. And he sort of dropped the political thing for a minute and shook my hand. It was a great moment and a lot of fun. I introduced myself and family and we talked for several minutes.

I tell you, Joe is a stand up guy, and I'm happy to be a supporter of his - even though we disagree on a number of key issues. Of all the people I've met, I really do hope he gets elected. I think he'll bring excitement and passion to the Council. He's down to Earth, and a blue collar Republican. He's what the party needs ... a guy that works by getting his hands dirty and who loves live, family and God. But I digress.

Last week, I was at Waldbaums (seems like all I do is grocery shop, eh?). So outside are two Republicans... Steve Adler and Leon Davidoff.

I've actually known Steve for several years - I think about five or so years. You can't ask for a nicer guy to run for Council. Steve and I commuted together for a period of time and discussed everything from Sports to family to job to politics. When I heard that Steve finally made the move to run I was very happy. Steve has a great mind and a wonderful personality. He has great command of the issues and can articulate solutions and thoughts in an organized fashion. Steve has known that I post but he really hasn't taken any interest in it whatsoever. I think he sees a lot of the Internet banter as a distraction. I doubt he even reads WHB on a regular basis. He more of a doer than a talker. So in that respect, he's very engaged in getting things done. His wife is very nice too.

So as I walk up, he yells "Here's West Hartford's number one Republican." Leon looks at me, and probably wonders who the heck I am. So the three of us chat for a few minutes.

I told Leon that it was great to meet him and that we have a mutual friend - Mark Pappa. Mark ran for mayor of Newington last time around. Mark is a great friend who I met in College and we've been friends ever since. I told Leon how well Mark speaks of him, and told him that if Mark thinks highly of him than I should vote for him too. Leon and I talk policy for a few minutes and in particular focus on taxation and spending in West Hartford.

Then suddenly, up walks Theresa McGrath who's running in Waldbaums to get a few things to make a pasta salad. So I say, "ah, you're Theresa McGrath. Great to meet you. You did a nice job, jadda jadda."

So the four of us sort of blab for a few minutes. She relates how one of the Democrats, out of nowhere, started screaming and accosting her in public at the Park Road Parade, and how immature it was to be bushwacked by a politician [I can't recall the name] in public by a blithering idiot in front of families and such on a public street. We pretty much agree that that kind of behavior is uncalled for. So we banter longer, and West Hartford Blog comes up. She said a few things, and I "slipped" and said, "yeah I like to post a few things and get them going, etc." Keenly aware of what I just said, she looks directly at me and says... "Wait, wait... are you The King?" I say nothing. Steve smirks. I think I tried to dismiss the notion, by saying I wasn't going to say (which was sort of dumb because I was probably turning beat red). She asks more loudly and directly.. . "ARE YOU THE KING??!"

I finally nod and acknowledge, "Yes, I am The King." She cheers and says, "I got to meet The King." We had some friendly discussion. And she says, "Do you want to go to a party?" She was very nice. But in a hurry, she probably thought I was annoying when I approached her later in the store a few more times to make idle conversation, since she told me she was in a hurry. But it was still nice to meet her. She planned to meet later with Elliot Check. I do hope to one day meet Elliot. He seems like a guy I have a few things in common with.

I think Leon was a little taken aback when he saw me acknowledge I was The King. I could tell he wasn't a fan of the Blog. He rattled off a few screennames... I remember hearing him say "King, Turtle, West Hartord Dad" etc. He sort of stopped talking to me for a few minutes. So I asked him directly, "So what's wrong David... er Leon, not a fan of West Hartford Blog? You've sort have gone quiet. Are you mad? Didn't like something I wrote or what?"

I think he was taken aback by the seriousness of my challenge.

But he rebounded, and we chatted for a few minutes. He again invited me to the party that Theresa said she was going to. I thanked him, said good-bye to Steve, and resumed shopping.

You have to realize that even politicians on your own side can give you a sort of cold shoulder for participating in the Blog, which sort of goes to show you that you never know what kind of reaction you'll get when people find out who you are.

Leon's reaction post blown cover may not stop me from voting for him. It's policy that counts. But I'm still deciding who gets my votes. So far, I'm definitely voting for Joe Visconti and Steve Adler, and Theresa McGrath. And I'd vote for these three regardless, based on passion and position.

I do know a few others and they know me. But for now that's enough "exposure" for the time being.


Anonymous said...

Hey King,
I have not disclosed my identity to anyone, not even my own family, so don't take it personally.
It's interesting to read this post since I get little personal feedback about the blog.
I am a liberal hack, I suppose, but I believe strongly in fair discussion. Propaganda has its place, but I try not to push my own ideas much, partly because I remain so ignorant of much about my own town that I don't feel particularly qualified to say with much vehemence what should or shout not be done in West Hartford.
-- whdad

The King said...

Wow, not even your family?

I have to wonder if they would be surprised if they found out?

Rumors abound about who you are, but it makes little difference to me. Though I do wonder if we've ever met or talked in person. And I'm curious as to what industry you are in?

Again, I think you are fair in your handling of of the site. I admit I enjoy the bantering on there. Trying to write a few things in between this awesome game!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that any speculation about my identity is wrong.
Here is a hint, however: I will be watching Game 7 with rapt attention.
-- whdad

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Theresa McGrath's Blogspot
Seems to be for Informational use only.

I happen to know Theresa and think of her as a great friend. Your words of her are right on, KING!