By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 27, 2014 at 5:30 AM

 Thanksgiving is always a time when we pay a nod of gratitude to things that have happened in the past year. This year I am going to do something a little different.

I am not only going to give thanks to things that have happened, but to things I hope will happen before Thanksgiving 2015.

I am thankful that Scott Walker may actually be a viable and leading candidate to be the Republican nominee for president. It’s not that I particularly would like to see Walker be president. But if he’s running all around the country trying to beat first other Republicans then Hillary Clinton, he can’t be in Wisconsin doing all the damage he intends to do during his second term.

I am thankful that despite the Republican stubborn refusal to acknowledge fact, the evidence in the whole school choice thing is starting to switch minds. I don’t think people want to get rid of choice, but I think the idea of restoring the funds ripped off from public schools under the guise of creating more competition for the public schools has been blown up. Nobody believes that any more. Let’s have a system of schools that are supported by public funds. But let’s stop robbing Peter to pay St. Paul.

I am thankful that David Clarke is seriously considering a run for mayor. I think he has provided plenty of ridiculous fodder as sheriff but as a candidate for an office like mayor the proposition for absurdist theater climbs to new levels. I can’t begin to imagine the kind of promises and recommendations that will come when he is campaigning for a serious office instead of sheriff.

I am incredibly thankful that there are some billionaires interested in helping remake Downtown Milwaukee and will look forward to what actually happens. There’s a saying that "talk is cheap." Well, when you have the kind of money these three guys have everything is cheap. They almost never ask the clerk at Walmart, "Hey, can you look up the price on this?" I am also thankful that what they say may actually come to be.

I am thankful for a hope. A hope that someone is going to step up and be a vocal and charismatic leader for the black community in Milwaukee. If there is any one block of people who need leadership it’s them. Somebody needs to articulate both needs and solutions for a community mired in poverty and besieged by dysfunction in many areas. There are so many wonderful people who are tormented by social ills. They need a voice.

I am thankful for next spring, although it could be brief. Spring in Milwaukee is a spectacular time of year. The first day you walk outside without a jacket and don’t worry about slipping and falling is an announcement of a victory over the elements. You made it. Survived another winter of either extreme cold or extreme snow or extreme cold and snow. Plus you’ve got baseball. Life is good.

I promise to be thankful if restaurants in Milwaukee stop with the "eat local" stuff. I would much rather have a restaurant talk about how good the food is, not where it came from. I don’t know if  you ever had a Kobe steak, but I had one once. It was beyond description and it sure as heck didn’t come from some local cattle farm. I think restaurants should acknowledge that most of us know they get some stuff from around here and some stuff that’s not from around here. Let’s just talk about whether it’s good or not so good. That’s all we really care about.

I am thankful that we don’t have any elections next year so television programming can go back to commercials for cars, viagra, Geico and Apple. Nothing numbs the mind like political commercials. We become a nation of glazed-eyed numbskulls. I know we will never ban these commercials, but a year off is a pretty welcome idea.

During the past year I am thankful for (in no particular order): Mayo Clinic, my Jan. 12 gig, Molly Snyder, Charlie and Alex, and Molly and Casey, my Kindle, Scott Evans, Andy Tarnoff’s cat, Chip Burke, Howard Fuller, Jennifer Doucette, Butch’s Old Casino, mac ‘n’ cheese at Comet Cafe, summer, Mikel Holt, all county parks, Chris Abele, all my gay friends who got married, Jim Pickering, Jake Sherman, Herb Kohl, Mary Kate, Kopp’s and Solly’s, Bill Clinton and George Bush, Shorewood, Matt Mueller, Nick Barth, David Gruber, Mike Fischer and Eddie Lacy.

If I forgot anyone, just believe in your hearts that I said thanks.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.