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Friday, February 8, 2013

Michael McCready: 2012 Person of the Year. Part 2.

McCready as  Downtown  publications had implied the spring previous  was also a  clever politicians . In fact he commissioned a study that told him what everyone already knew. McCready as an unknown would not win, but a brief explanation of who he was  produced a favorable response  in a field where not all the candidates for a variety of reasons were viewed favorably. That  made McCready a contender in what would be a close race.

In the campaign that followed, McCready was his biggest volunteer. Other volunteers never numbered more than ten and usually were less than five.

 What was  interesting was what  people in far way places Like West  Bloomfield  (which some  City resident might equate with  the far side on the moon) already knew without any prompting about McCready. The reputation of the people's mayor had traveled. It was either that or McCready's ubiquitous legion of friends which covered the district and went out state as well.   It befitted a man who was polite and well mannered to a fault, who had great sense of humor and seemed interested in what you had to say. 

That  last item  if you were the of pig  headed boring persuasion  could be a little off putting. Nothing one  had to say could be worthy of twenty minutes, but that's how long McCready said he had to his next meeting, and pleasure of your opinions  on almost anything  would be welcome to fill the time.  McCready an inveterate multitasker,  would sort papers or whatever while getting  a different view on the world. On one such visit  involving 

 a lot of  scribbling  and tossing of papers in a cardboard box, a visitor asked the Candidate what he was doing. PACS, was the reply Various groups sent out forms  seeking  a candidate's view on the issues in exchanged for a possible endorsement. The Visitor remarked that City Commission candidates never  receive any of those. " I guess it goes to show we weren't as important as we thought we were." McCready offered.

As Mayor and  Candidate McCready's  candor was  surprising. Once when a volunteer  failed to complete a task  and said it was because his wife took an unexpected day off. McCready nodded and said campaign-wise he couldn't get anything done with wife at home either.

Volunteers  quicly learned  the election would be more about  connecting  the dots rather than convincing.

 "McCready ?  He's on my good  guy list." a West Bloomfield Hills resident said without elaboration

And in the City of  Bloomfield Hills  an elegant elderly lady  stared  at the proffered McCready brochure with a slightly puzzled expression  and asked  "Is he local ?". Yes he is. In fact his wife grew up on Marblehead in Rudgate,.  A  glimmer of recognition would appear  and the lady would say, "He  married a Fisher  didn't he ?" 
Apparently he did and that was something.because  the conclusion was  "We know him !."

And others were still getting acquainted   At once candidate's forum the topic of Junior Colleges and student loans came up. McCready said he was familiar with both having had to work his way through school, mixing and matching credits  earned at a less expensive Junior college with those of Western Michigan University where he eventually graduated from. That  was a result of his father's business  suffering in the early 1980's recession. When he graduated he had to repay $5000 in student loans a  small sum by today's standards but substantial then. 

The odds in the election were formidable. In the primary  McCready received but one newspaper endorsement, that of  the Detroit Free Press . The paper endorsed McCready citing his municipal experience as an asset to the state  where many communities were facing financial difficulties. One publication endorsing Potts gushed that in Lansing said Mr Potts would "hit the ground running". The Eccentric published a candidates guide including all candidates but omitted. McCready altogether. As oversights go it was unusual.

On election night the early (absentee) returns from Bloomfield Hills,  City and Township favored McCready who was hosting a party at a local restaurant. Then came the machine votes from those communities which also favored McCready. Then clock struck ten and the  returns spigot turned off. No results from  Birmingham. or West Bloomfield. The latter was also counting a local  trustee election as well. 

"How important can West Bloomfield be ?"one  McCready party goer asked. He was told there 64000 voters in West Bloomfield half of which voted in McCready's district. "You mean 6400," the person replied. 

No 64,000. 24,000 more than Bloomfield Township. Almost as much Troy. 36,000 from West Bloomfield and 20,000 in Birmingham with no precincts reporting meant 56,000 ptential votes were still out there. Even if McCready had won Bloomfield Hills City and Township with a unanimous vote of 100% of the population (which he hadn't) he would have only 40,3500 votes with Birmingham and half of West Bloomfield  still holding  an unreported  56,000.

Around ten thirty the Candidate  offered newly arrived well wisher a drink. He declined saying he would wait until the good news came in.  He was advised to have it now because the news  when it came might not be good.

A gentleman  from the Press stopped by and wondered where party was. He might  have been expecting a balloon drop. He thought  it was mind blogging that Birmingham,  despite the lateness of the hour was reporting nothing. He said he would  shake things up but after a few emails and phone calls no  he gave up.

 The restaurant closed at midnight and just before the door was closed and locked the phone rang. The West Bloomfield Results were coming in  and a the campaign might wish to send a representative.

A volunteer was dispatched to West Bloomfield City Hall which was all lit up and a beehive activity. Uniformed police were present as were important looking people in suits with plastic name badges The important looking people talked to other civilians using the side of their mouth while looking straight ahead.  People pushing carts came out of doors that locked when closed and then went across the corridor to other doors which locked also when closed.

Whenever the volunteer got close enough to read a  name on a name tag that person disappeared behind closed doors.

Then the Birmingham numbers appeared on a computer belonging to one  of the other campaign volunteers.  A  flickering light meant the battery was in the process of dying which it soon did. Then as if on cue, The West Bloomfield  numbers came in. McCready had lost West Bloomfield by only 500 votes and that was pretty good because when coupled with the Birmingham number gave McCready a 250 margin of victory.

The Friday previous was his daughter's birthday and  August  7th  Election Day was Michael McCready's Birthday. He is 51 years old.  His mother said so. She had  had written  and distributed  hand written notes urging a McCready vote  to the residents of her  new condominium in the City of Bloomfield Hills. Then she campaigned at the West Bloomfield library where Precinct 15 (the one that runs all across the top) votes. That is where  her old condo used to be  and she ran into many old friends.

"I was afraid what with move and everything I wouldn't be able to vote for Mike," she said.
When  told that Mike didn't say a word about his birthday, she replied  "That's right. He'd never do that."  

One week later Primary Winner and the Republican Candidate for State Representative 40th District did something he never did before. Deciding after a long and grueling campaign  to spend a week vacationing with with his family. He missed a City Commission meeting,

At meeting the Commission discussed campaign signs which had  become an eyesore . In fact it go bad the City Managers said his department had confiscated quite a few. Commissioner Dul wondered aloud how any many were McCready signs and Commissioner Zambricki  said that was why McCready wasn't at the meeting. He was out picking up all his signs. Then they both laughed  uproariously.

The fact is McCready posted very few signs in the city. The exceptions were on consenting private property and respecting the road right of way. That is because  McCready always  excruciatingly polite does things by the book.  In West Bloomfield where the  500 votes  he received were rather important only one sign (a request  by a  homeowner) was posted. People did not vote for McCready because they saw his name on cardboard.

In the General Election that followed McCready ran his own campaign and did what the Republican Party asked of him terms of the State and  national ticket. He urged his supporters to do the same.
On election day McCready won big. In many precincts he topped both national tickets.

 A day  later he called a volunteer to verbally keep him company while he retrieved campaign signs. McCready was talking on his portable blue tooth  and one could hear the sounds of traffic, car door slamming  and the occasional  click, click, click of a turn signal indicator. The discussion covered common ground like elections  and City Commsion . Things on which they didn't always agree  but this time they did. 

The volunteer  did most of the talking and McCready punctuated sentences . 

"That is an interesting point. I am sure others have thought that. We might look into that.  I now where your coming from. " McCready said at intervals.

It took the volunteer, who was rather  slow on the uptake a couple on minutes to figure it out. McCready always multitasking was practicing for Lansing and the onslaught of constituents.

Later the  the volunteer's  Mrs. who was off that day asked the volunteer who he was talking to.  He  told her which prompted the response  "and you are doing all the talking ?" . 
The nuances of  the conversation was then explained to her which prompted "And your just company ?". The volunteer said beat having to help picking up signs.

That brings to mind the original  question is McCready lucky or good.

Since the election most would say good.  People who don't know him or who  have never even met him  say they admire him. Especially the part about winning the election which they equivocate to Hannibal Crossing  the Alps.

But he wasn't always "good ". The people of the City of Bloomfield Hills rejected him four times. Why ? Because he was young. New. Unknown. His School wasn't impressive enough. There were better candidates on the ballot.

Of the last last  three Mayors in the City, McCready  was the only one who took office without an  agenda.

To some that might imply a lack of preparation The the last two Mayors have been very well schooled and have either three degrees or a degree from the Ivy League and it is only the beginning of all the good things one could say about either in terms of lifetime achievements. 

In the competitive  arena of Government however,  which all chose to participate in McCready is a step ahead . Why ? Because he listens to people particularly "the people."  Let us say this attribute which so few have can only be dispensed by a fairly waving a wand on the night of a full moon. Let's refine that a bit to say listening skills are more the result of one's parents, upbringing, perceptions,and empathy.  Bottom line call it luck. 

Therefore it was McCready's luck in listening skills  that made him good and put him a step ahead of his Mayor colleague who's goodness and potential was limited by their most unfortunate lack of listening skills.

Woodrow Wilson, the only Democratic President of the United States in the 20th Century before Franklin Roosevelt, was before he became President, President of Princeton University.  No one ever doubted his brilliance . He had 14 points which he took to the Versailles Peace Conference. They were never accepted by the U.S. Senate  or an isolationist American public. 
When told of Wilson's 14 points, the French Premier Georges Clemenceau scoffed,"Why ? The good Lord had only 10".

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