Paul Osborne's
McCrady Moving From City Manager To EDC President Was Complete Surprise

When City Manager Ryan McCrady sent me an updated photo of himself a few weeks ago to replace the one I had been using with this column, I almost wrote back, after receiving  the new photo, with: “Is this the photo you are sending out with your bio in your search for a new job?”
Of course, I would have been joking because I thought McCrady would be city manager for years to come -- and the photo wasn't anything but an updated photo.
That’s why receiving the news on Friday that McCrady is leaving the city manager’s position at the end of the year to become President of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County was a shocker! 
I had no idea that he was thinking about making a move out of the city manager’s office.
Apparently, the move caught a lot of people by surprise.
  The EDC board members are overjoyed that a proven leader in Decatur is now going to be its president.
   It’s a good fit for McCrady and the EDC as the city moves forward.
Councilman Larry Foster said: “Ryan McCrady is an outstanding city manager.  I was part of the council who hired him and I firmly believe that was one of my best and most important decisions as a councilman.  The City of Decatur will miss his leadership as city manager, but we will gain his wisdom and knowledge as the head of the Economic Development Corporation at a very important time for our city.” 
Although, as mayor, I helped start the wheels turning in hiring McCrady by selecting a search firm to find candidates for a new city manager back in 2008, I left office before the council interviewed candidates for the position and made the selection.
Assistant City Manager John Smith became Interim City Manager following the resignation of City Manager Steve Garman.
I don’t think Ryan McCrady had as much experience as some of the other candidates, but he apparently impressed most, if not all, of the council members with his attitude and approach to the position -- and McCrady was hired.
That was six years ago and two years ago, the city council approved a five-year contract with a 5% raise  each year in order to bring McCrady’s salary up to where it was competitive with many other city managers in communities the size of Decatur.
Obviously, the mayor and council were pleased with the job McCrady was doing and wanted to keep him. 
His present salary is $153,000.
When the announcement was made Friday that he would be leaving for the EDC position, it was exactly 6 years and four days since his first day on the job as Decatur City Manager.
His first day in his new position with EDC will be Jan. 5, 2015.
It’s a real good indication of success when the people you work with for six years are praising you and the people you will work with are excited about you joining their efforts.
Thanks to Ryan McCrady for his service to our city and best wishes to him as he serves Decatur, and the area, in his new position.

• START LOOKING:  The mayor and city council now must start the search for a new city manager.
Since the new city manager will be hired before the next municipal election, the present council members, who have worked with McCrady to get several projects completed, realize how important it is to get the right person to fill the position.

• PARK PEOPLE:  Every day, regardless of what time I walk through Central Park heading for the downtown post office, I see a group of 6-10 young adults gathered on a bench next to the Transfer House.
They appear to have all of their worldly possessions with them in backpacks and sacks.
According to some business people in the area, they are in the park 24-7 and some are sleeping on pieces of cardboard they have with them.
They’ve been there for several weeks and show no sign of leaving. 
An employee of one of the businesses across from the park told me she finally had to stop them from constantly coming inside to use the restrooms -- after a young man and woman went inside the same restroom together.

• NOISE:  I was mayor when we (city council) passed the noise ordinance years ago in response to many requests from citizens who were being kept awake at night and parents who said their children were unable to sleep.
I think everyone agrees that the noise ordinance is good for the city (except those who get ticketed) but some feel that towing a person’s car, where he or she has to pay the associated fees as part of the punishment, is too harsh.
The city council is looking at punishment options.
It’s only my opinion, but I believe the car towing punishment is too harsh, especially the first time someone is charged.
I would think the council should use some type of escalating punishment for repeat offenders -- if that is not a nightmare to implement.  Paying the fine itself will be more than enough to teach a lesson to some people -- especially those driving their parents’ car. 

Today's Candidates Must Endure Relentless Attacks On Their Character

I’ve been covering and writing about political candidates and campaigns for this newspaper going all the way back to the 1960s.
I’ve never seen politics in general any dirtier than this election cycle.
Any candidate, Democrat or Republican, who dares to run for a district or state office, must be ready to have his or her character dragged into a cesspool of misleading statements, half-truths and flat-out lies.
There’s always been “back-room deals”, “money under the table” and a host of other “creative negative tactics” that taint some campaigns -- but a lot of that kind of activity was not seen by the general public.
When I first started covering campaigns, most candidates would not even mention the name of an opponent because that would give him or her some free publicity.
The opponent’s name was “my opponent” and that was it.
Today, candidates’ advertising mentions the name of the opponent more than they mention their own -- and it is always in a nasty way,
This year, campaigns are more about destroying the character of an opponent through negative commercials than running on solid issues.

EXAMPLE:  Let’s consider the commercials for the 13th Congressional District, which has Decatur within its boundaries.
Former Chief Judge Ann Callis is portrayed as incompetent and an embarrassment to the court during the many years she served Madison County. 
Her opponent, Congressman Rodney Davis, is accused of spending a lot of time eating steak at Washington restaurants -- with tabs totalling $40,000.
I know and have talked with both candidates several times and I must admit the people portrayed in those commercials are not the people I know.
Davis told me that he started his campaign by running family-type television commercials, but had to change because Callis attacked him in her commercials.
 “Unfortunately, you have to respond and tell people, when your opponent is lying about you, that what your opponent is saying about you is a lie,” said Davis.  “Otherwise, people who don’t know me may believe some of those lies.”
Davis said the claim in a commercial that he flies first class “is absolutely crazy”.
Davis said that people who know him know that he has never purchased a first class ticket on the taxpayers’ dime.
“They know I’m too cheap to even buy one on my own dime,” added Davis.
As far as spending $40,000 at a Washington restaurants, Davis said, “I can’t remember one instance where I have charged any item of food or drink to the taxpayers.”
Davis said his friends sometimes jokingly say “Let’s go out for a steak”, but they believe the accusation is “crazy”.
Of course, the first class flights and $40,000 at restaurants commercial is still running -- long after it was debunked.

MORE LIES:  Ann Callis has also responded to lies and distortions about her record on the bench.
A Davis commercial indicated that Callis was rated as the worst judge in Madison County.
The Callis camp responded by stating: “This misleading charge was based on survey of lawyers nearly twenty years ago that was taken just a few weeks after Callis became a judge in Madison County. Once legal professionals and law enforcement officers were able to see her work firsthand, she was regularly recommended by the Illinois State Bar Association. Callis was retained by the public in Madison County with more than 72% of the vote in 2006 and 68% of the vote in 2012, receiving more votes than any other candidate on the ballot.”  
Another anti-Callis statement in a commercial currently running on television states “Ann Callis was overturned 10 times because of Callis’ mistakes.”
The response: “Callis has tried thousands of cases as judge. Rulings can be overthrown for a number of reasons, including new evidence and testimony, which is the reason we have an appeals process.”
I wouldn’t consider 10 times out of thousands of cases “excessive”. I guess that’s why the total number of cases she presided over was conveniently left out of the commercial.  

DECEITFUL AND DISHONEST: Overall, the campaigns of 2014 have been the most deceitful and dishonest of any I can remember -- and I remember a lot of them.
Where else can you intentionally lie about someone’s character and drag them through the mud -- and not face legal action?
You can do it at will if it is a political race.  
It’s sad that our political system has evolved to the point that campaigns attempt to prove the integrity of candidates by destroying the reputation of their opponents.
In essence, we often elect people who tell lies about others in order to get elected -- and the half-truths and lies contribute to the victory.
Why do we expect candidates who resort to such tactics to be any different once they get into office?
I can’t remember any election where input from readers has been as anti-candidate, as it has been this year.
Most of that feeling of disgust has been created through false messaging in television commercials.
The readers who have contacted me are overwhelmingly fed-up with all the negative advertising. 
I have been disturbed by the tone of most campaigns in recent years and there are no signs it is going to change anytime soon -- as long as it works. 

Listen to the “City Hall Insider” hour with Paul Osborne on Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning over NEWS/TALK 1340 WSOY.  




Paul Osborne
Editor & Publisher

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The photo at the top of the page shows downtown's Central Park with the fountain and historic Transfer House.

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