| Schutze |

Is it Too Late to Give Tom Leppert a Nickname?

Tom Leppert prepares for a mayoral forum. We are so kidding. Or...are we?

I attended mayoral forum other night at Paul Quinn College, where about 100 students and faculty gathered to hear the candidate posse tell their stories. I had been away from the forum scene for a while, and things have changed.

Sam Coats, easily the most assured and polished, made a nice personal connection with the crowd by walking around a faulty p.a. system and speaking with his own human voice. A student asked a question that was really a racist diatribe against Mexicans, and Coats -- alone among the lot of them -- declined to pander. He said we don’t need to hunt for divisive issues. Got a decent hand for it too.

But the big change was Tom Leppert.

He’s still an effective speaker, and I may have caught him on an off night. These guys all have to be sick of this stuff by now. But, man, he was off his game. If anything, he seemed rattled or distracted.

Most of the students asked smart thoughtful questions, but Leppert just cannot get himself off those freeze-dried pre-packaged answers that Carol Reed has written for him. Here he is with a room full of smart kids, and he can’t get beyond all that corporate-speak about team building and large complex organizations.

It scares me, because I already think he’s the Manchurian candidate. He gets elected. Ray Hunt sends John Scovell to sit in the audience at city council sessions with a deck of cards, so he can hold up different ones to trigger responses from the mayor.

Queen of Diamonds. Adjourned. --Jim Schutze

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