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Archives for June 13, 2016

KATIE BULMER-COOKE: Sunderland is such a great city to live in

Over the last week I’ve been watching, with big interest, footage, interviews and debates regarding the EU Referendum.

Now I’m by no means a political expert, in fact my knowledge on the subject is limited, but what I do know is that I want to use my vote, I don’t want to waste it.

My problem is, how on earth do I decide which way to vote? What is it about politicians that makes them completely incapable of answering questions?

I’ve watched loads of videos online to try and get to grips with who the listen to and which party to back, but so far I’m still no further forward. Why on earth can’t they just give a direct answer? It’s totally frustrating…so I’m back to the drawing board this week!

This week I decided to get to grips with the social media app Snap Chat. I’ve always been a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram girl, but now it’s time to have even more fun online with this quirky platform.

I was unsure about it at first, not knowing whether it was worth giving it a shot. Would my business benefit from it? Would it increase the engagement I have with my followers? Well, the Snap Chat deal was sealed for me when my friend and founder of the massively successful Facebook page Sunderland Now, James Procopis, said it was the most up and coming social media platform right now.

James certainly knows his stuff, so it made the decision a no-brainer!

So if you’re on Snap Chat, come and follow me, I’m ‘katiebulmer1’ and I’m using it to post everything like behind the scenes bloopers from Chatty Lasses to healthy recipe ideas and exercises.

Earlier this week I read a post someone put on Facebook, saying that Sunderland was a right dive and that Newcastle and Durham were much better and way more classy. This person actually lives in Sunderland too!

Comments like this really don’t go down well with me at all. We have so much to be proud of in our city. Yes, we may not be as big as Newcastle, but Sunderland is an excellent place to live, bring up a family, eat out and be entertained.

This week I popped into The Bridges, and you can’t deny it is a great place to shop, and it keeps getting better.

They have many major retailers in there and an excellent variety of shops all under one roof, with good parking and access. In addition to an ever improving city centre, there is also massive improvement happening down the sea front, with lots of new, super cool places to eat and the whole beach front looks really beautiful now following the building works and landscaping at Seaburn.

Seriously, what more do people want?

If you think Newcastle or any other city really is so much better than Sunderland, then why not go and live in it, rather than staying in Sunderland and slating it?

While so many people are working extremely hard to constantly improve the city, it’s such a shame that there are still people who want to be negative Nigels and rain on the parade of those who are putting so much energy and effort into making Sunderland the best place it can be.

With this in mind, I’d like to end my column this week by giving a massive shout out to everyone who is pumping major effort, enthusiasm and investment into Sunderland!

Article source:

Fence divides Sacred Heart Church neighbors, developer

The name of the condominium development planned for Sacred Heart Church is “Bienvenue,” which is the French word for “welcome.” 

But some neighbors aren’t feeling that way. 

Some residents of nearby Federal Street plan to raise concerns Wednesday evening at the Concord planning board, where developer Jon Chorlian will ask for approval to redevelop the historic church as 10 high-end condos. In particular, they are concerned about the location of a fence separating the new homes, saying it blocks off needed green space and compromises safety on a narrow street.

Chorlian has talked multiple times with direct abutters, and he met with a group of neighbors last month. He has since adjusted the fence, shortening it and backing it 5 feet from the curb, and he provided a new set of plans to the Federal Street contingent. 

Chorlian declined to comment for this story.

For near neighbors like Laura Culp, concern still exists.

“I just know that if I’m boxed in the way I’m going to be boxed in, it’s no longer a family home,” Culp said.

Federal Street is a narrow block on the west side of Sacred Heart, with a mix of single-family homes and renters. None of the properties have yards, but children have long played on a patch of grass on the church’s property. 

In his original plans, Chorlian drew a fence very close to the Federal Street curb, creating a barrier between that space and the nearby neighborhood. While several neighbors have said they are glad the former church won’t be torn down, they also raised concerns to the Concord zoning board about the location of a covered garage and the fence. The board approved his plans, and Chorlian set up a neighborhood meeting at the church one Saturday in May. 

At that gathering, Chorian listened and expressed a willingness to move the fence. But Culp said she wasn’t clear on what changes he had agreed to make. She is still worried a fence would block the line of sight for drivers on the narrow street, inhibit emergency vehicles or cause children to play in the way of traffic.

More than anything, Culp said she was hurt by the suggestion that a barrier was needed between the new residents at Sacred Heart and the Federal Street neighborhood.

“My hope is that Mr. Chorlian recognizes that just because a couple of houses on our street are not well kept, doesn’t mean we don’t care about our neighborhood and aren’t doing everything we can to make it a nice and safe place,” she said.

Recently, Chorlian delivered new plans to the neighbors, which showed changes to the location of the fence and noted landscaping he could provide on the Federal Street side. But Andrea Garneau said she is still concerned, and she has been circulating a petition, which had collected 19 signatures online by Friday evening. Last week, neither woman had talked directly with Chorlian about the latest version of his plans.

“Despite his stated consideration to our concerns, he is still intending to place the fence much too close, depriving the neighborhood of emergency access, necessary snow storage and safe green space for our children to play,” Garneau wrote in an email. “As Federal Street is already one of the narrowest streets in the city, this plan will render us to little more than a back alley and severely impact the livability of our very historic neighborhood.”

But the issue might be moot for the planning board, which has several technical items to consider but none that specifically consider the fence itself. The general services and fire departments have reviewed the most recent plans without any objections about safety.

“He’s worked with them to ease their concerns about how their property would be affected,” Assistant City Planner Heather Shank said. “It’s really not a city concern, because it’s his property.”

City staff has recommended the application for approval.

“It’s a really innovative use of a church that potentially could have sat vacant for a long time, and he’s bringing this demographic into downtown for housing that I don’t know if we’ve really had,” Shank said. “I think it’s piggybacking on the Main Street improvements and bringing more life and more people downtown.”

The Concord planning board meets at 7 p.m. in council chambers. The agenda is available online at

Side street will close

Pleasant Street Extension will be closed to traffic this week as construction continues on the Main Street project.

According to an email update from the project PR team, the road will be closed because crews will be installing the crosswalk at that intersection between Main Street and Pleasant Street Extension.

“This involves trenching across the street, installation of flush curbing, preparation for and pouring the concrete crosswalk foundation, laying the modular pavers in the crosswalk, and paving,” the update stated.

In the meantime, cars can enter the block on the Storrs Street end to park. Parking fees will still apply. The rest of Pleasant Street will be open.

Also this week, construction crews will prepare to bury utilities in front of the Concord Food Cooperative, OutFitters Thrift Store and New England Cupcakery. The street will still be open to southbound traffic, but parking on that area on South Main Street will be unavailable during the work. Flaggers will be on site to guide traffic and pedestrians.

For more information or to sign up for regular email updates on the downtown construction, visit

And the award goes to . . .

Laura Miller just marked the six-month anniversary of her new business, but she has already won national recognition.

Earlier this year, Marketplace New England was chosen as the Boston metro area winner in the startup category of Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs. The contest, sponsored by Comcast, rewards small businesses trying to increase their use of technology. Now, the store has been selected as a grand-prize winner from entrants across the country.

Miller will receive $30,000 to implement her ideas. She’ll also attend a conference in Philadelphia later this summer to learn from industry experts and other businesses.

“What we were trying to do is increase the social media presence for our vendors,” Miller said. “We want to do a lot of videos and photography and things that will help them. We’re going to do a YouTube channel. We’re going to use a lot more Instagram to try to increase awareness of who our artists are.”

Miller, who used to own Imagination Village toy shop, is already working with 185 vendors at Marketplace New England, including 140 from New Hampshire.

Visit or the Marketplace New England Facebook page for more information.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or 

Article source:

Occupied Territory

Last month, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, and Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, met at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee, two blocks from the Capitol. Ryan, the Vice-Presidential candidate in 2012, is widely regarded in the G.O.P. as a policy intellectual and has fashioned himself as the guardian of conservative ideology. Trump, one of the most opportunistic candidates in the Party’s history, had just knocked out the last of sixteen Republicans who had, to varying degrees, campaigned on Ryan’s ideas. In July, at the Republican National Convention, in Cleveland, Trumpism’s victory over Ryanism will create a potentially humiliating moment for the Speaker, who will serve as the chairman of the Convention, which will formally nominate Trump. The candidate’s visit to Party headquarters was akin to a general visiting a conquered territory. He was there both to survey the wreckage and to determine who, among the conquered, would prove loyal to his cause.

Outside the building, Representative Darrell Issa, a combative conservative ideologue from California, found his path blocked by several dozen activists from United We Dream, which advocates on behalf of undocumented young people. Some held makeshift signs calling Trump a racist or associating him with the Ku Klux Klan or the Confederacy, but many held up professionally produced placards reading, “The G.O.P.: Party of Trump.” Issa hopped a fence and raced up the street as if he were fleeing a crime scene. When a reporter ran after him, he ducked into a building.

The leader of the pro-Trump wing in the House, Chris Collins, of New York, was conducting an impromptu press conference on the sidewalk. Collins was the first of his colleagues to endorse Trump, switching his support from Jeb Bush, back in February. Now he criticized George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, both of whom have said they would not vote for Trump or for Clinton in the general election. “How an elected official can message to America, ‘Don’t vote’—I find that embarrassing for them,” Collins said. “These people are becoming irrelevant.” Like other Trump backers, he argued, “One on one, Mr. Trump is a listener. He’s not a talker. When he’s got a group of people, he wants to know what’s going on in other people’s districts.” If Ryan didn’t endorse the nominee, Collins said, he would lose the Speakership. “I have spoken to very few members who have said that they’re not on the Trump train.”

And yet it was hard to swing a boom mike without hitting a skeptical Republican. Charlie Dent, of Pennsylvania, who is a leader of the faction of moderate House Republicans called the Tuesday Group, said, “Donald Trump has to convince many Americans, including myself, that he’s ready to lead this great nation. He’s got to do that. At this point, I haven’t been persuaded.”

Tom Cole, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, earned a doctorate in British history before entering state politics. Cole has spent six years working with Ryan to fight the Tea Party wing in the House, opposing its government shutdowns and its destruction of Eric Cantor, the former Majority Leader, in 2014, and of John Boehner, Ryan’s predecessor as Speaker, late last year. After Boehner’s exit, with the Republican-controlled Congress in free fall, Ryan, under strong pressure from his colleagues, reluctantly agreed to take the Speakership.

For Ryan and Cole, Trump posed a different challenge. Insofar as Trump has fixed political positions, he disagrees with a majority of House Republicans, including Ryan and Cole, on foreign policy, taxes, entitlements, trade policy, immigration, and the minimum wage. He repeatedly talks about a tax policy that would be less generous to the wealthiest Americans, allow the government to pay down the debt, and keep Social Security and Medicare solvent, although the plan he has presented would do none of those things. Cole said, “It’s not as if the majority was created by Donald Trump. This majority was created much more by the views and vision that Paul Ryan laid out.” Cole said that he respects what Trump has accomplished as a candidate: “It’s an amazing achievement. I suspect, and I would hope, he respects what we did to win the majority.”

But he also noted that “politics is a very pragmatic business.” He went on, “The voters get to decide. They’re the ones that make the choices around here, and they’ve made it. So, looks to me like that’s a reality you adjust to and work with.” He seemed relatively untroubled by Trump’s statements that he would ban Muslims from entering the United States; deport eleven million undocumented immigrants; rewrite libel laws; reinstate the use of torture and kill noncombatants; and strengthen ties to Vladimir Putin while rescinding security guarantees made to our closest democratic allies.

After the meeting, Trump and Ryan issued a perfunctory statement declaring it “a very positive step toward unification,” but Ryan declined to issue a formal endorsement. Trump had put countless Republican lawmakers in excruciating political predicaments. Senator John McCain, who told me last summer that Trump had “fired up the crazies,” now needs Trump’s voters to support his own reëlection in Arizona—a state that Trump won by twenty-two percentage points in the primaries—and has said that he will support him. Marco Rubio, whose last days as a Presidential candidate were spent mocking the size of Trump’s hands and the orange hue of his face, recently apologized for the personal attacks, and said that he would speak on Trump’s behalf at the Convention. Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, another of Trump’s opponents early in the campaign, has transformed himself into a sort of manservant, who is constantly with Trump at events. (One Republican told me that a friend of his on the Trump campaign used Snapchat to send him a video of Christie fetching Trump’s McDonald’s order.)

Ryan, who went on to endorse Trump on June 2nd, was the last major holdout. Tim Miller, a former spokesman for Jeb Bush, who has said that he can’t support the nominee, told me, “It’s noteworthy how few rank-and-file members have spoken up against Trump. I think that’s a mistake that people are going to regret.”

As Trump rose to the top of the polls last summer, the Republican Party turned out to be more at odds with its constituents than anyone had realized. Since 1964, when Senator Barry Goldwater was the Republican Presidential candidate, there has been wide agreement about the meaning of conservatism. The Party stands for lower taxes, less government, deregulation, free trade, and austere budgets. The debate has been about how much of the welfare state to dismantle, not whether it should be done. It was taken for granted that the same anti-government zeal that had fuelled the Reagan Revolution, of the nineteen-eighties; the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress; and the 2010 Tea Party insurgency would continue to drive the Party.

But Republican Presidential candidates have lost the popular vote in five of the last six Presidential elections. After Mitt Romney’s defeat, in 2012, the Republican National Committee assembled five political consultants and Party officials to study what had gone wrong. In March, 2013, the group released its findings, which the press immediately dubbed “the Autopsy Report.” The national party, the report said, was “increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.” The problem was especially acute among millennials and nonwhite voters. “Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” The Party sounded “increasingly out of touch” and was “driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac.” The report called for “a more welcoming conservatism” and favorably quoted a Republican committeewoman who said, “There are some people who need the government.” But for the most part the authors didn’t challenge the Party’s neo-libertarian consensus about economics and the welfare state.

America’s demographic changes made the project of reforming the Party more urgent. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected to his first term, the electorate was eighty-eight per cent white and two per cent Hispanic. In 2012, as the report noted, when Romney was defeated, it was seventy-two per cent white and ten per cent Hispanic. The only recent Republican who seemed to understand the crisis was George W. Bush, who, by running a campaign that anticipated many of the Autopsy Report’s recommendations, won at least forty per cent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Romney, who recommended “self-deportation” for undocumented immigrants, won twenty-seven per cent of the Hispanic vote, the Party’s worst showing since 1996.

“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a G.O.P. nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e. self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence,” the report said. “It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

Party committees generally serve one purpose: by providing money, opposition research, voter data, and get-out-the-vote operations, they help candidates get elected. Especially in the case of contentious issues about which their own elected officials are divided, they rarely endorse legislation. But the R.N.C. was making a major policy recommendation. “We must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only.” Comprehensive immigration reform sounds vague, but in Congress it had a specific meaning: a deal between Democrats and Republicans that included guest-worker programs, heightened border security, and amnesty or a pathway to citizenship for many of the eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

By July, a bipartisan group of eight senators, including McCain, who believed he lost the 2008 race partly because of the Party’s poor showing among nonwhites, and Rubio, who was preparing to run for President, had pushed a comprehensive immigration-reform bill through the Senate with fourteen Republican votes. Some of the consultants who wrote the Autopsy Report started laying the groundwork for the Presidential campaign of Jeb Bush, who, like Rubio, used the report as a campaign blueprint.

Then the immigration bill moved to the House, where a faction of conservative Republicans has been in a state of rebellion against its leadership since the election of 2010, when the Tea Party backlash against Obama helped Republicans win the House. If there was a single moment when the Party of Paul Ryan began to turn into the Party of Donald Trump, it may have been July 10, 2013, the day House Republicans held a special meeting in the basement of the Capitol to debate whether they should take up immigration reform.

Paul Ryan stood before one microphone and Tom Cotton, a thirty-six-year-old freshman congressman from Arkansas, stood before another. Ryan, who spoke first, argued for passing a version of the Senate bill, saying that reforming the immigration system would strengthen the economy, supplying U.S. companies with a steady number of immigrants to take jobs that other Americans didn’t want. Cotton, who is tall and scrawny and loves partisan combat, delivered an unexpectedly sharp rebuke. He told me that he condemned the Senate bill for giving priority to “the illegal immigrant population” over the plight of “natural-born citizens and naturalized citizens who are out of work” and warned his colleagues that Republican voters were against immigration reform. Cotton was eying a Senate seat in deep-red Arkansas, where voters were strongly opposed to it. He led the House opposition to the Senate bill, and Boehner, then the Speaker, decided not to bring the bill to the House floor.

Cotton, who has said that he would not rule out becoming Trump’s running mate, had a modest upbringing in the small town of Dardanelle before attending Harvard and Harvard Law School. He spent two years working as a law clerk in Houston and as a lawyer in Washington before joining the Army. In June, 2006, he sent an e-mail to the Times from Iraq, criticizing the reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau for an article they had written exposing a Treasury Department program to thwart terrorist financing. Cotton called for the reporters to be jailed for interfering with security operations and violating espionage laws. The Times didn’t publish the letter, but it was posted on a conservative blog, and turned the young soldier into a minor hero on the right.

Cotton told me that the Autopsy Report, the Senate, and Paul Ryan had it all wrong. “There’s no issue on which élites in both parties are more disconnected from the American people—in both parties—than immigration.” The conclusions of the Autopsy Report have become an article of faith among the consultant and donor class, but Cotton laid out an alternative argument, citing data from exit polls and even margins of error. George W. Bush won his historic forty per cent of the Hispanic vote in 2004 almost without a mention of immigration. John McCain made immigration reform a centerpiece of his 2008 Presidential campaign and received thirty-one per cent of the Hispanic vote. Four years later, Romney talked about “self-deportation” and won twenty-seven per cent. “It didn’t seem to hurt him nearly as much as you might’ve expected,” Cotton said. “So, whatever it is that we can do to appeal to Hispanic voters, it would seem, is independent of what we do on immigration.”

The corollary to this view of the effects of an anti-immigration platform is that Republicans can appeal to Hispanics with an economic message. “If you’re a first-generation Guatemalan working in northwest Arkansas, legal, you’re working for Tyson or something, maybe you’re working for a landscaping company or something, maybe your wife is a nanny or something, you have the same concerns as the white guy living down the road from you,” Cotton said. “By and large, you want a job that pays a decent wage and some benefits and some prospect for advancement. You want safety on your streets so you don’t have to worry about crime against your family. You don’t want radical terrorists to blow up the mall when you go shopping for back-to-school clothes for your kids.”

Henry Olsen, a scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, who is writing a biography of Ronald Reagan, argues that the Autopsy Report’s recommendations badly understated the severity of the G.O.P.’s crisis. “The establishment approach to overcoming this problem is to do a little bit of tarting up, put on a nicer image, say you care a little bit more, talk more about poverty, and people will move over to your side and endorse your core agenda,” Olsen said. He cited polls showing that Latinos and millennials support Obamacare and a larger role for the federal government. “They like a whole bunch of things that the standard Republican platform is not for.” The early favorites in the 2016 Republican field were Autopsy Report candidates, especially Jeb Bush. Several of those favorites, including Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Scott Walker, were even mentioned in the report as models for the Party’s future. Then Trump jumped into the race and promised to build a wall to keep out Mexican rapists and provide more, not fewer, government services.

On May 13th, the day after the Trump-Ryan summit, nine of the twenty Republicans who chair committees in the House released a statement pledging fealty to Trump and asking “all Americans to support him.” The man who organized the effort was Tom Price, the chairman of the Budget Committee. Price is a sixty-one-year-old orthopedic surgeon who represents a wealthy district in suburban Atlanta. In the Georgia primary, Marco Rubio won Price’s district, one of only two in the state not captured by Trump. Price is close to Ryan, and he is frequently mentioned as a candidate for a House leadership position.

Price has been committed to cutting taxes for the very wealthy, supporting international free-trade deals, and making deep cuts in Medicare and Social Security. How could he get behind Trump, who, in one of the few TV ads he has run this year, promised to “save Social Security and Medicare without cuts”? Like others in the Party who have made the endorsement, Price seems to have convinced himself that Trump will be malleable, and that Price will have more leverage than Republicans who wait. “I think we will work hand and glove, I really do,” he told me on May 16th. “When I talk to people who work closely with Trump, what they tell me is that behind closed doors he’s one of the best listeners they’ve ever worked for or with in their life. Which is kind of counterintuitive given what some of his public persona is.”

“I’m halfway to my goal.”

Price has turned into something of a Trump super fan, akin to Chris Christie. He even compared Trump to Reagan. He pointed out that the Reagan realignment took a few decades. “It took a Goldwater race in 1964 and then a Nixon appreciating that the Republican Party had a constituency broader than what had been conventional in the past,” he said. “And then the philosophical ideological nature of Reagan bringing together the three large groups”—fiscal, social, and national-security conservatives—“to prevail in 1980.” He added, “Mr. Trump is absolutely unconventional in how he came to this role and to this position.” Although the current upheaval “takes some digesting, both emotionally and intellectually,” given the state of the Party “that’s what absolutely must occur.”

In early May, as the margin in the polls separating Trump from Hillary Clinton tightened, more and more Republicans sounded like Price. The so-called Never Trump movement struggled to find a third-party alternative, after prominent anti-Trump Republicans, such as Mitt Romney and Senator Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, declined to run. Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, one of the last Republican moderates from New England remaining in Congress, supported Jeb Bush in the Presidential primaries. When the choice effectively came down to Ted Cruz and Trump, she had a slight preference for Trump.

“With Ted, I’ve seen over and over again his playing to outside groups rather than trying to work with his colleagues,” she told me on May 6th. “Those are words I probably should not say, since he’s going to come back and be one of my colleagues.” She said, “But I think, because I know Ted Cruz, and I don’t know and have never met Donald Trump, that with Donald Trump I hope he can minimize his weaknesses, change his approach, knock off the gratuitous personal insults, and draw on his strengths.”

Collins agrees with Price that Trump’s victory signals a historically significant political shift in the Party. Maine’s paper mills have been closing in the past few years, and she has become more skeptical about free trade than she used to be. “There’s a feeling that’s very strong in my state,” she said, that trade deals have benefitted large corporations and hurt working people. “I understand completely why that resonates.” Republicans argue that free trade lowers consumer prices. “Well, if you no longer have a job, lower consumer prices don’t really do you a whole lot of good. You’d rather have the job.” She was unhappy with Ryan’s austere budgets, especially those which cut assistance to workers affected by free trade.

Collins told me that she was still not ready to endorse Trump, and asked me to call her before publication “if things change dramatically.” She said, jokingly, “If he says, ‘On Day One I’m going to drop a bomb on North Korea,’ ” she wanted a chance to respond. “I mean, with him, you just don’t know.”

Other Republicans have found the Trump candidacy more difficult to come to terms with. “I’m still in the first stage of grief—denial—like a lot of my colleagues,” Jeff Flake, a senator from Arizona, told me on May 4th. Flake, who has a strong libertarian streak, outlined the choices he was considering: “Find a way to get behind the nominee, or say ‘Still Never Trump’ and look for a third-party candidate, or go into the booth and make your own choice, or embrace Hillary, and say, ‘We’ll fight this four years from now.’ ” He went on, “Frankly, I don’t know where I am.” Several days later, his senior colleague in the state, John McCain, chastised members of Congress who did not support the nominee. Most Republicans could not imagine supporting a Democrat. “But, by the same token, trying to imagine supporting Donald Trump—a Donald Trump that doesn’t back away from some of the positions that he’s taken—I can’t fathom that, either,” Flake said.

I asked Flake what he hoped would happen in the Trump campaign. “I guess the dream would be for Trump to get to a mike today and say, ‘I was just kidding on all this stuff!’ ” he said. He laughed, then continued, “If he were to say, ‘No, I really can’t leave my business. I’m going to let the Convention choose somebody else’—now, that would be a dream.”

Before supporting Trump, most Republicans must overcome doubts about his temperament, his ideology, his reckless statements, his questionable respect for the Constitution, and his potential to repel a generation or more of young and nonwhite voters. But, late last month, former Trump skeptics and those who are holding out the possibility of support seemed to unite around the belief that defeating Hillary Clinton is more important than any long-term effects Trump may have on the Republican Party. Prominent House members who have been frustrated by Obama’s willingness to use executive power on issues like immigration saw Trump as a useful instrument. Senator Collins and others were hopeful that Trump would somehow shed his most offensive behavior. Even people like Flake, who found supporting Trump unfathomable, wouldn’t rule it out.

Charlie Dent told me that he remained unhappy with Trump’s “lack of policy specificity, and the general tone and tenor of the campaign, and the never-ending statements that offend P.O.W.s, people with disabilities, Mexicans, Muslims, women, of course, the David Duke debacle”—a reference to Trump’s initial refusal to reject the support of the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. Nevertheless, Dent said, “One thing I’ve learned in politics is never say never. I think that’s probably good advice for Donald Trump: Never say what you’ll never do.”

Still, there is a minority of the Party’s officeholders who have concluded that the only principled response to Trump’s candidacy is to declare that they will never support him. The most prominent example in the Senate is forty-four-year-old Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, who wrote an award-winning doctoral dissertation at Yale on conservative coalitions from the nineteen-fifties through Reagan’s election. From 2010 until 2014, he was the president of Midland University, a small liberal-arts school in his home town of Fremont, Nebraska. Sasse served briefly in the Bush Administration, but for most of his career he was a management consultant, who spent more than a decade at Boston Consulting Group and McKinsey, advising large companies that were grappling with rapid technological change. “I’m drawn to stuff that’s broken,” he told me. “That’s how I ended up here.” The Senate race was his first political campaign.

In February, Sasse posted an open letter on Facebook in which he described the First Amendment as “the heartbeat of the American Constitution,” and listed the ways that Trump had threatened the American idea: his attack on libel laws, his support for the crackdown in Tiananmen Square, his praise of Putin, his call for an anti-Trump conservative journalist to be banned from television and fined by the F.C.C., and his push for “closing areas” of the Internet. “A presidential candidate who boasts about what he’ll do during his ‘reign’ and refuses to condemn the K.K.K. cannot lead a conservative movement in America,” Sasse wrote, believing that other Republicans would join him.

On May 4th, when Trump became the presumptive nominee, Sasse posted again on Facebook. “I’ve ignored my phone most of today, but the voice-mail is overflowing with party bosses and politicos telling me that ‘although Trump is terrible,’ we ‘have to’ support him, ‘because the only choice is Trump or Hillary,’ ” he wrote. Arguing that “there are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two ‘leaders,’ ” Sasse called for a third-party alternative, but, despite pleas from the Never Trump movement, he refused to run himself. “I have little kids, and I’m an engaged dad,” he told me.

When I sat down with Sasse three weeks later, he was sick of talking about Trump. But he continued to describe both Trump and Clinton as unacceptable candidates. Many of his colleagues see Trump as “a lesser-of-two-evils choice,” Sasse said. “I think if it’s merely a lesser of two evils then the American experiment has already lost. We live in a civic republic, and you have to be recognizing that voting is also an act of signalling about the ideal, about what America should be in twenty-five years. I don’t want more candidates like Donald Trump. So I can’t vote for him just because he’s not Hillary Clinton.”

The most prominent anti-Trump Republican in the House of Representatives is Reid Ribble, of Wisconsin, and he is retiring this year. Ribble, the owner of a commercial roofing company, was an exemplar of the Tea Party class of 2010. Fed up with Obama’s stimulus and health-care policies, he ran for office and defeated a Democratic incumbent. Despite the Tea Party’s pugnacious reputation, Ribble, who attended divinity school, is soft-spoken, and is known in the House for his speeches about improving discourse between the two parties. He speaks earnestly of “Wisconsin nice,” and is proud that the state voted against Trump in its primary. “Everything that I’ve been preaching about for five years he just blew away,” Ribble told me on May 16th. “He appealed to the very worst, most base instincts of who we are as a people.”

Ribble said that Trump was a direct threat to the low-tax, free-trade, entitlement-reform agenda that helped Republicans win the House. “What Trump is proposing is an economic disaster,” he said. But his greatest concern was Trump’s character. “Galatians 5 says, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, meekness, kindness, patience, and self-control’ ”—those are “the things that matter to me,” he said, and in his view Trump didn’t exhibit any of them.

I asked Ribble what advice he had for Paul Ryan, also from Wisconsin, who was the most senior Republican still withholding support for Trump. He reminded me that a few days earlier Ryan had declared that he wanted “a standard-bearer who bears our standards.” Ribble realized that Ryan, as the Speaker of the House and the chairman of the Republican National Convention, was in a difficult situation, but “you need to go back to the core principles that give you your own center in life,” he said. “I just spoke about that verse in the Bible. Paul Ryan holds those same values.”

Two weeks later, on June 2nd, Ryan made his announcement that he would vote for Trump, in an op-ed on the Web site of his home town paper, the Janesville Gazette. He downplayed the policy differences between them, arguing that “we have more common ground than disagreement,” and adopted Price’s theory that Trump could advance the House’s agenda. Close readers of the column pointed out that Ryan never used the word “endorse.” “We’re not playing word games,” his spokesman clarified in a tweet. “Feel free to call it an endorsement.”

Ryan might have hoped that his statement would be overshadowed by a speech that Hillary Clinton delivered that day, condemning, in scathing terms, Trump’s foreign policy. Instead, the news turned to Trump’s comments about Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge overseeing the case about whether Trump University was a fraudulent scheme. Trump repeatedly described the judge as “a Mexican” whose background made him unfit to preside over the case. (Curiel was born in Indiana to Mexican-immigrant parents.) Asked in one interview whether a Muslim judge would be similarly incapable of being fair, Trump said, “That would be possible. Absolutely.” Not only had Ryan won nothing from Trump before endorsing him; now he had to respond to one of the most incendiary comments of the campaign. Trump’s attack on Curiel, Ryan said, was “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” He strained to explain that, despite the racism, he was still backing Trump.

At one point, Trump’s candidacy seemed to represent an ideological challenge to the Party. His views on taxes, the size and role of government, immigration, and trade suggested that the Party could offer its struggling middle-class voters more than austere budgets, deregulation, and upper-income tax cuts. Not so long ago, it was popular in Republican circles to talk about “makers” and “takers,” and to note disapprovingly how many Americans—the takers—don’t pay federal income tax. In March, Ryan apologized for using such language. “There was a time that I would talk about a difference between ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits,” he said. “But, as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized something. I realized that I was wrong.”

Ryan’s speech was reported as an implicit rebuke to Trump’s campaign rhetoric, but it was also an indication that Ryan was moving closer to Trump, at least on the broad issue of being less hostile to the welfare state. Other ambitious politicians, like Tom Cotton, have turned to the issues that Trump has emphasized. “The people who are truly hurting in today’s economy are working-class Americans,” Cotton said. He told me a story about a woman he met at a factory in Texarkana. “She sure as hell pays the payroll tax, and she pays our state income tax,” he said. “And she pays a property tax on her small home, and she pays excise taxes every time she picks up a pack of beer or a pack of cigarettes, and she pays sales tax every time she goes to buy groceries.”

Cotton has taken some steps in Trump’s direction with the way he talks about immigration and taxes. Ryan, who rose to prominence in the House by forcing his colleagues to support politically perilous cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and assistance to the most vulnerable, has lately tried to highlight anti-poverty solutions and some government programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, that he believes work well. Neither politician is challenging the core elements of the Party’s reigning economic philosophy, but Trump’s popularity could change that. Goldwater alienated as many voters as he attracted, and his opposition to civil-rights legislation turned generations of African-Americans away from the Republican Party. But by 1968 Richard Nixon had figured out how to borrow the more popular aspects of Goldwater’s agenda while shedding his more radical ideas, to win a majority.

Trump’s racist comments may prove ruinous for the Party. Last week, as Republicans scrambled to distance themselves from Trump after his comments on Curiel, I called Senators Flake, Collins, and Cotton again. Flake noted that he had just learned that Senator Mark Kirk, of Illinois, had retracted his endorsement of Trump. “The new Trump looks a lot like the old Trump,” Flake said. “I still hold out hope, I guess, that I can support him, but I don’t think it’s likely.” He pointed out that Trump was about to turn seventy. “It’s tough to change after thirty,” Flake said. “Let alone after seventy.”

Collins told me that Trump’s comment was “an order of magnitude more serious” than anything he’d previously said, including his “troubling insults toward individuals” and “his poorly thought-out policy plan about banning Muslims from entering this country.” She then said that she has not ruled out supporting Hillary Clinton. “I worked very well with Hillary when she was my colleague in the Senate and when she was Secretary of State,” Collins said. “But I do not anticipate voting for her this fall. I’m not going to say never, because this has been such an unpredictable situation, to say the least.”

Collins said that on some issues she continues to agree with Trump. “For example, I do think we’ve had poorly negotiated trade agreements that have hurt manufacturing in this country and have cost thousands of Mainers their jobs,” she added. “On that issue, I think Donald Trump would be a far tougher negotiator than Hillary Clinton would be.”

Cotton still wouldn’t rule out being Trump’s running mate, but he also spoke against Trump’s attack on Curiel. “I certainly thought it was racially biased,” he said. “He shouldn’t make that kind of comment—he should retract it and get back onto the issues.” Cotton’s view was that Trump had a winning message. “He should focus on the issues that actually matter to Americans, like immigration,” he said. “Like the fact that the working class hasn’t had a raise in a very long time, and the fact that Obamacare premium rates are going up in state after state.”

Trump may be incapable of running a disciplined campaign against a Democrat—a campaign that sticks to that message without skidding off into racist diatribes. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it,” Senator Lindsey Graham told the Times last week, referring to Trump’s Curiel remarks. If Trump is defeated, another Republican may prove able to resurrect aspects of his economic populism and his more generous view of the role of government, and combine them with the more inclusive language recommended by the Party establishment. If that happens—if Cotton, Ryan, or another canny young conservative becomes the Nixon to Trump’s Goldwater—then we will remember Trump for reintroducing overt racism into mainstream politics and for imbuing the Republican Party with a new economic populism. 

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College Heights launches student-driven organic garden

College Heights Secondary School got a little bit greener on Friday.

The school has started an organic garden on its property, a project that start to eventual finish belongs to the students.

The first phase includes the planting of trees, shrubs, pollinator plants and the installation of four large, raised vegetable garden beds.

Other phases down the road will hopefully include expanded vegetable gardens and a gazebo for outdoor teaching and a small fruit tree orchard.

The project got its official launch Friday afternoon with a planting of a shade tree, some words from teacher Shelley Peterson and a traditional native smudging ceremony conducted by Cree student Colin Bradley.

“It started last semester when we put together a Student Voice group at the school, who came up with the idea,” Peterson said. “It wasn’t a particular class, but many of the students are involved in our green industries program.”

Students from a wide variety of programs, and all grades, are involved in the program, Peterson said.

The garden will eventually provide fresh, organic food to the school and the community.

More than that, the goal of the garden project is to use the organic garden as a sustainable and teaching and learning tool and support student creativity and promote healthier lifestyle choices.

It is entirely student driven: From the committee that came up with the idea and wrote the proposal to the Ministry of Education that got them a Student Voice Speak Up Grant, the horticulture and landscaping and green industries students that designed and will help maintain the garden, the tech students that built the vegetable garden boxes and the students who will use the produce in the school cafeteria.

“So many classes have been involved, it’s been great to see so many different areas come together,” said Peterson, who teaches green industries at College Heights.

“It will be collaboration straight through: lots of different classes helping grow and maintain it,” she said.

Next year there will be a “three sisters” traditional native garden of corn, bean and squash, which the school’s native studies program is involved with.

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Tour of Gardens set to showcase Dubuque’s greenery

The Dubuque County Master Gardeners will showcase some of Dubuque’s most beautiful landscapes on its annual Tour of Gardens, taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 25.

The event offers a chance to go behind the scenes and see how people have transformed their spaces into outdoor sanctuaries. The sites have been selected to highlight unique plants, beautiful landscaping and healthy gardening practices.

“We’re fortunate to have seven very different gardens on the tour this year,” said Tour of Gardens co-chair Jeanne Ambrosy in a press release. “It’s always fun to see what home gardeners can do in these spaces, and we’re so grateful that these gardeners are letting us learn their secrets. You’ll see sculptures, different types of water features, sustainable landscapes and even a Japanese-inspired garden.”

Master Gardeners also will teach mini-workshops about water features, composting and ground covers throughout the day.

Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased on the day of the tour at any of the garden locations.

For more information, visit

The gardens

“Yard of Beauty,” 1099 Shady Oaks Drive: Owned by Jean and Tom Hamel, this garden features a koi pond, life-size statues from Greek mythology, hostas, yuccas, ferns and mature trees.

“Transformation,” 959 Clarke Drive: Owned by Rhonda Hudgins and Tom Martin, this garden will be on the tour for several years so attendees can watch its transformation.

“Bridges over Waters,” 2767 Carlton Ave.: Owned by Denise and Mike Erschen, this garden provides a taste of country on the border of the North Fork of Catfish Creek. There are multiple bridges crossing waterways, a pond that waterfalls into the stream, perennials, roses, hostas, Japanese lilac, buckthorn, tiger eye sumac and more.

“Der Garten von Krapfl,” 3091 Asbury Road: Owned by Bob and Lee Ann Krapfl, this urban vegetable garden with fruit trees provides salads, sides and desserts to its family.

“Sticks Stones Serenity,” 880 Kelly Lane: Owned by Jack and Sarah McDonald Hasken, this quiet paradise is surrounded by crab, serviceberry and apple trees, along with lilies, hostas, peonies, hydrangea and boxwoods.

“Mature Gardeners and a Mature Landscape,” 900 Kelly Lane: Owned by Jean and Doug Cheever, this yard illustrates the lessons learned during 44 years of creating an attractive, low maintenance landscape. Local art is interspersed with ground cover and native plants.

The workshops

9-11 a.m.: “Water Features,” by A to Z Landscaping, 1099 Shady Oaks Drive.

10 a.m.-12 p.m.: “Composting for the Home Gardener,” 959 Clarke Drive.

11 a.m.-1 p.m.: “Ground Covers,” 900 Kelly Lane.

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Andra Stefanoni: Garden tour may inspire landscape lovers

PITTSBURG, Kan. — As a gardener, I believe there’s no better inspiration and motivation than getting to peek — or, if you’re able, to just flat-out stare — at another person’s garden.

So gardeners, rejoice. On Saturday, you’ll have the chance to stare at five Pittsburg gardens as part of the every-other-year Zone 6 Garden Tour. Now in its eighth year, the self-guided tour is open to the public for the cost of an $8 ticket, or $7 in advance. Tickets are available from garden club members, In the Garden, Van Becelaere Greenhouse, Paradise Mall and Carla’s Country Gardens. Children ages 12 and under are admitted free, but strollers and pets are not allowed.

Once upon a time, our place, Woods Edge, was included on the tour. Recent months have seen it fall out of shape, though, as we’ve gotten busy and the rains have nurtured a jungle. Inspiration and motivation are just what we need.

The Zone 6 tour will offer diversity, from the lush estate of Ken and Debbie Brock at the southern edge of Pittsburg to the backyard “test plot” garden of John and Michelle Harrison, who own In the Garden.

Those who tour may do so in any order they choose. There will be a Zone 6 guidebook free to all ticket holders.

The book’s descriptions are as follows:

• The Brock garden is parklike; visitors will tour it while driving their winding lane past flower beds and over a bridge that crosses a stream. White birch trees are reminiscent of the white aspens of Colorado, and a lake pavilion provides a place for visitors to stretch their legs.

• The garden of sisters Susie and Babs Tims, on just over an acre, is near Pittsburg State University and often sees them entertaining friends, family, and students of the two longtime teachers. It includes a custom-designed patio, a stone fireplace, archways, rock gardens and a pergola, as well as perennials, annuals and even a cactus garden. Visitors also will get to see their Route 66-themed garage, which includes a room dedicated entirely to “The Wizard of Oz.”

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• The garden of Susie Drenik is eclectic and is, as she says, a work in progress. It includes raised beds for her vegetables, which she shares with family and friends and preserves to enjoy each winter, as well as a water feature and many varieties of plants that attract birds and butterflies.

• The garden of Larry and Ann Boler is now a place of quiet respite for the couple, who tore out a great deal of overgrowth to open their yard and make it more welcoming. With shade trees, gently curving paths, a stone fire pit, a small fish pond, birdhouses and feeders, it’s a comfortable place, they say, to read, nap, relax or visit with friends.

• The Harrison garden allows John to try out “one of everything,” he says. At its height around the Fourth of July, more than 75 varieties of perennials will be in bloom. The garden includes Japanese maples, redbuds and hydrangeas, as well as areas for his children to play.

Garden tour organizers are encouraging visitors to also check out other opportunities to see landscaping throughout the community, including at Immigrant Park and Miners’ Memorial, Europe Park, Trail Head Park/Watco Trail, the PSU Veterans Memorial amphitheater and the PSU campus, none of which require tickets.

They also encourage visitors to check out the newly expanded Pittsburg Farmers Market, which will be open 7:30 a.m. to noon that day at 11th and Broadway; tickets for the tour will be sold nearby starting when the market opens.


 Andra Bryan Stefanoni, a former Globe reporter, now works as a freelancer. She lives in Pittsburg, Kan.

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