Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One of the funniest stories of the year

by Kyle Michaelis
For all the bitterness and bad blood inspired by Omaha's expansion - first by the city's annexation of Elkhorn and then by its enforcement of state law consolidating the entire metro area into a single school district - the following World-Herald article adds a welcome bit of levity and humor to what will continue to be a painfully long and drawn-out process:

Numerous Omaha Skutt Catholic School students unveiled blown-up mug shots of Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey during Skutt's football playoff win Monday night over Elkhorn High School.

The mayor's mug is vexing to Elkhorn residents because Fahey has proposed that Omaha annex Elkhorn, a plan that Elkhorn leaders responded to by suing. Omaha won the case in Douglas County District Court, but the matter is on appeal.

"We didn't mean to, like, offend people," said Skutt senior Jason McMillan who, along with senior Andrew Nigro, made 50 paper Fahey masks and one large sign with Fahey's picture on it.

Students also chanted, "You got annexed! You got annexed!"

Some Skutt teachers and counselors ordered the students to put the masks away and to knock off the cheers.

Nigro said they were just joking.

"We weren't trying to make it, like, a negative thing for the other side," Nigro said. Asked what kind of reaction they received, he said, "Not a very good one from the teachers. I'm not going to lie. But the (Skutt) crowd loved it."

Elkhorn Assistant Superintendent Steve Baker, who was the public-address announcer at the game, said Elkhorn supporters try to be good sports. He said he had to give the Skutt students an "A" for creativity and cleverness.

Jennifer Mahlendorf, Fahey's deputy chief of staff, said: "Our response would be that in our line of business, all publicity's good publicity."

Sure, I have sympathy for the people of Elkhorn, but that doesn't change the fact that this story is downright hilarious. I would love to get my hands on one of those blown-up Fahey faces - it's just too richly ridiculous an idea not to enjoy. Besides, Fahey's been a damn good mayor for the city of Omaha, and - as far as political memorabilia goes - one of those "masks" with this article framed hanging next to it on a wall would be tough to beat.

Thank you to the students of Omaha Skutt for entertaining us all with these antics. I say the kids there should be commended for their rowdy show of civic engagement. I trust the fine people of Elkhorn can crack a smile and recognize it's all in good fun. It's playoff season in high school football - what's not to love?


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