Memory lane 2016

Published 9:11 am Thursday, December 29, 2016

For the past few years, my monthly column for December included reflections on the columns I submitted to the Niles Daily Star over the previous year.
This year 2016 will go down in history as a puzzling, bizarre and maddening year for all American voters be they red, blue or purple (by the way, purple is the new red in demographics). As a consequence, it has been a bit strange walking down Memory Lane while reading over my 2016 monthly columns.
Overall, I wrote about local non-profits, school elections, the local and presidential primaries and the General Election.
One column covered the local Niles-Buchanan Meals on Wheels. Another column was about the Niles Education Foundation and their fundraising efforts.
For full disclosure, I am a board member of the Niles-Buchanan Meals on Wheels and a trustee of the Niles Education Foundation. For further disclosure, my mother Virginia Strayer was one of the co-founders of our local Meals on Wheels chapter back in 1972. I am also a graduate of Niles Senior High School.
How is that for transparency?
There were many references to “transparency” throughout the year. I wrote about the Tea Party and how badly they performed in primaries where they were intent on taking out moderate Republican incumbents. Major fail. They supported their leader Ted Cruz for president but Donald Trump beat them back. Another major fail.
The greatest need for transparency can be found in the Clinton campaign. Hilary was beaten because of her inability to be truthful about things important to the voters that her campaign tried to ignore. That is why my August 2016 column was titled “Liar! Liar! Pantsuit on Fire!”
Looking back on those words written right before Labor Day, I found that the bonfire was being laid for Sen. Clinton’s blazing and amazing loss to Donald Trump. Oh! The humanity!
My strangest column furthest from the facts was my suggestion that a third party candidate for president could get elected with just a small plurality. Boy was I wrong! In fact, the candidate with the greatest plurality of votes actually lost the election! Major fail for most.
But the most important column I wrote in all of 2016, was the March column about the Easter Bunny and the Salvation Army.
Hundreds of families in Berrien County rely on the services of the Salvation Army whether it be the food pantry, the soup kitchen, counseling or spiritual guidance. I wrote about the Easter Bunny possibly skipping many in need because donations to the Salvation Army were dwindling. Fortunately, as is usually the case, the citizens of Niles and the greater community rallied and helped keep the doors open and the soup flowing!
Once again, the Salvation Army is seeking your assistance as the year ends. Full disclosure: I rang the bell for the Salvation army kettle at a Berrien Springs grocery store for a few hours a week beginning right after Thanksgiving. Many of us in the Berrien Springs-Eau Claire Rotary Club pitched in again this year. Ringing the bell is an emotional volunteer effort because you get to see the wonderful expressions on people’s faces as they donate. It doesn’t get any more transparent than that!
A major win and Happy New Year!

A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).