Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Scoring the Tosa Mayoral Debates

Gas Pains, Just For Fun, Politics-Tosa, Public Policy


I have been to a couple of the Tosa mayoral candidate forums and it is time to unveil the -

Gas Pains Debate Index Calculator

I just recently thought this up and it is very scientific.

It might possibly be brilliant.

Stay with me on this as I explain the intricacies.

I begin with the premise that certain terminology, tossed-about without any context, such as: crime, tough on crime, fiscal responsibility, balanced budget, free universal health care, free beer, no new taxes, I will lower your taxes, Jim Doyle is my drinking buddy, or a chicken in every pot, are mere pandering.  Candidates shouldn't receive credit for pandering to the voters. Politicians only do it because they think it works.  (Hint - don't encourage them - it's like feeding pigeons).

To discourage pandering the index deducts one point every time a phrase like this is uttered out of the context of an answer to a question requiring the use of the word.

Similarly, the Index deducts two points with every utterance that resurrects the past - when used out of the context of answering a question requiring it.  The past is history.  There is no voting on the past - only the future.

The index has a positive bias.  Therefore, utterances that are righteous and hopeful along with clearly outlined visions (as opposed to vague and nebulous generalizations) are to be rewarded.  Candidates earn ten points each time an uplifting and positive point of view or clear vision is articulated.  Details are critical which is why the points are higher.

The index encourages healthy debate and takes a dim view of negativity. 

A candidate who takes a cheap shot - an assertion not supported by factual evidence - gets five points deducted from their score.  The index is neutral on snarkiness as a candidate who engages in it does so at their own peril.

If things get really out-of-hand and a candidate uses a disparaging term such as cat poop or booger to describe their opponent they get a ten point deduction.

Each candidate starts at zero and the candidate with the highest net score (their index) is the forum winner.

The beauty of the Index Calculator is that you can score the candidates yourself.

The absolute scientific genius of it is that any personal biases are built-into the complex algorithm.

Clever, eh?

Yes - you can even delude yourself into believing a candidate without a hope can possibly win reelection - if they show-up for a debate.  A certain former State Senator comes to mind - but I digress.

As for the February 25th Forum at Eisenhower School - here are my results:

Didier - Score +50


1.  Reduce pandering.  Unsolicited use of the word crime almost 20 times.  (Remember - no penalty for words used to answer a question requiring their use).

2.  No resurrection of the past.

3.  I think regular town hall meetings are a terrific idea.  Has potential to be more righteous and hopeful (candidate's strong suite) if can overcome lack of detail - see #6.

4.  Clear vision suffers from lack of detail - see #6.

5.  No cheap shots that counted.  Some snideness about the challenger running over time.  The moderator offered the candidate additional time.  The candidate struggled to fill the additional time.  Dead air isn't good in a debate - refer to #6.

6.  Needs more detail.  Routinely falls-back on clichés such as:  reach across the table, come to the table, hit the ground running, new blood, keep the ball in the air - at the expense of furnishing details.  Can do a better job of staying on topic and being certain to answer the question directly.

The candidate pooh-poohed the challenger's endorsement by the Tosa police union - insinuating that endorsements require the mayor to be beholding to other interests.  The candidate must have forgotten her own endorsement by the Magnificent Six announced in a press release written in her own hand only a couple of weeks ago. 

The cops' endorsement is bad, but political cronies' endorsement is good?  No impact on points but a faux pas that left a bad impression. Ugh.

I was puzzled at the glowing suck-up to Alderman Donegan - no change in points but what the heck was that about?  

Intangibles - Likable public presence.


Stepaniak - Score +166


1.  Little use of pandering terms.

2.  No resurrection of the past.

3.  I liked the comment early-on about raising the level of discourse.  Righteous and hopeful was good - could be better.

4.  Outstanding on the issue of clear vision.  Good command of the facts and excellent detail.   Thoughtful and substantive.

The candidate needs to be mindful of time limits.  If you get too windy you get the hook.

Intangibles - Might remind you of your favorite uncle. 


My Forum notes are here:  Eisenhower Forum.pdf

The Calculator still has some bugs in it and I want to get them resolved.  After April 1st, I expect to have a viable tool for use during the Presidential debates.  I already know I have to redesign the sheet for spacing.  I can probably save the Potty Mouth category for presidential debates.  Any opinions about adjusting the point system?

The Tosa mayoral race is an ideal proving ground - so your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

I sense the Calculator will be around to score forums featuring McCain and Obama.  That's gonna be a real gas.

In my continuing effort to provide a valuable public service you can conveniently print a copy of the calculator from here:  Debate Index Calculator.pdf .  

Take a copy along with a pencil to the next forum which will be: 

Monday, March 3rd - 6:30 PM at St. Matthew Church meeting hall - 1615 Wauwatosa Avenue.  Sponsored by St. Matt's and the Milwaukee County League of Women Voters.

Good luck and have some serious fun.



Edit 2-28-08    Here is a copy of WPOA's endorsement of candidate Stepaniak

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