Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tales Of A Former Neighbor Running For Congress

U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Fort Wayne) is running a radio ad against his Democratic opponent Mike Montagano which says, “A race for Congress is not a race for student council.” The purpose of the ad is to question the experience of the young attorney attempting to unseat him. Souder's ad complains that Montagano campaigns as a conservative but "interned for a liberal". It contrasts Souder's work saving the Fort Wayne VA Hospital to Montagano's work painting a fence. It has to be frustrating for Souder running against Montagano. He's young, handsome, comes from a family with a lot of money and has a very attractive wife. Souder has a sour-looking face and tendency to say things that offend people. He does seem to have a streak of independence, though, and isn't afraid to buck his party when he thinks his party is wrong.

I had the opportunity to get to know Montagano a little bit while he was in law school. Montagano rented an empty condominium down the hallway from me for about a year. It was hard not to notice when he moved into the building. On a Saturday afternoon, he carted a big wooden bar straight out of the Delta House from the movie Animal House. The bar was too big to fit on the elevator so Montagano sawed the bar into two pieces with the assistance of a couple of Hispanic workers to make it fit. The mess he created in the lobby did not sit well with the residence of my building.

Don't get me wrong. Mike was always a very friendly neighbor. His taste for clothing was impeccable and he drove a brand new BMW. Not bad for a law student. As the Delta House bar suggested, he also liked to party a lot. I've lived in my building for 18 years and I've never had a neighbor on my floor who threw bigger parties. Joe Kernan lived down the hallway from me for seven years, and the only time there was any activity to speak of on my floor was the short time period he continued to live in my building while he was governor after Gov. Frank O'Bannon's death. The state police rented an empty condominium and stood guard any time Kernan was present in the building. No more opening the door up to pick up the newspaper in your underwear without a state cop staring at you down the hallway.

Mike's parties were the type which attracted young and beautiful couples who loved to drink and play loud music. Translated, that means none of his neighbors were invited, except for the daughter of a prominent real estate developer who lived down the hallway. I never paid much attention to the music he played, but the high school principal who lived next door complained that it was the kind that repeats the same beat a lot and uses a lot of four-letter words. I can recall being awaken during more than one weekend party in the middle of the night. When I went to the door to see what all the noise was about, I saw couples scattered up and down the hallway making out as much as they could without actually disrobing and doing the nasty right there in public. Loud music spilled out into the hallway from the open door, allowing people to come and go throughout the night.

More recently, I learned from the maintenance manager for our building that someone in Montagano's unit had also decided to turn the roof over our building's outer lobby into a small wading pool. A stopper for a disposal sink had been stuffed down a drain on the roof just over the balcony from Montagano's unit, causing it to fill up with water. When the water level reached about a foot in depth, it spilled into our lobby area causing water damage.

I can chalk up Montagano's days living in my building to his youthful age and desire to enjoy his last days as a single man. He got married shortly before he moved out of the building. None of his neighbors were invited to his wedding. And I suspect nobody was disappointed about being left off the invitation list. The floor of my building has also been very quiet since he moved out.

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