Ed Neufeldt vowed to wear three green bracelets until unemployment rates fell below 7 percent. He told The Elkhart Truth in 2012, “I may be wearing them to my casket,” but on Thursday they came off. “I thought that would never happen,” he said looking at the bracelets in his hand. Unemployment rates posted this week prompted Neufeldt to symbolically remove his three bracelets, which represented unemployment rates in the U.S., Indiana and Elkhart County. Rates in all three are now below seven percent.
Neufeldt began speaking about unemployment to media outlets especially after he introduced President Obama during his visit to Elkhart County in 2009. Neufeldt said he thinks he has had 80 media interviews since. The future of Elkhart County, he said, is optimistic. “Elkhart County has hope for the future,” he said. His 18-year-old daughter recently started her first job. “Five years ago,” he said, “you couldn’t event go out and get a job.” “I think Elkhart County is blessed,” he said. “We have recovered.”
David Lat: How Did Two Young Lawyers Get To Have Dinner With The Obamas?
Caleb Ballew and Kourtney Ballew. They’re a pair of twenty-something, small-firm lawyers from Huntsville, Alabama. Say what? Did the Obama White House get Salahi’d again? Actually, no. The Ballews came as honored guests of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Because the Obamas have had so few state dinners, invitations to the ones they do host are in especially high demand. How did two recent law school graduates score one of the most coveted invites in the country? Near the end of 2010, out of financial necessity, the Ballews allowed Kourtney’s health insurance to lapse. She hadn’t had any major health issues up until that point, and they expected that it would be a temporary measure. But during that time period when she was uninsured, Kourtney got diagnosed with a medical condition that could require multiple — and expensive — surgical procedures. Luckily, as a result of health care reforms initiated by President Obama, Kourtney was able to avail herself of a government-run Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. This allowed Kourtney to have her two surgical procedures — which went smoothly, thankfully — at a fairly minimal cost. Had the Ballews had to pay out of pocket for the surgeries, it would have been crippling.
In November 2012, shortly after President Obama won re-election, Caleb sent a heartfelt letter of gratitude to the president. In the letter, which Caleb described to AL.com as “a pretty emotional letter,” he congratulated the president on his reelection, praised him for delivering on his campaign promises, and thanked him for making such a huge difference in the Ballews’ lives. On Monday, February 3, Caleb received an email inviting him to the State Dinner for President Hollande taking place on Tuesday, February 11. When they reached President Obama, a White House functionary announced the Ballews to the president. As they shook hands, the president said to Caleb, without any prompting, “I really enjoyed your letter. Thank you so much for that.” “I was very impressed,” Caleb said. “There were a number of us ordinary citizens at the dinner, and I was so impressed that the president remembered me and my letter.” After Caleb and President Obama exchanged some pleasantries, the president said to Caleb, “You’re sitting at my table.” “I thought he just used that line on everyone,” Caleb told me. “So I said to him, ‘Mr. President, I don’t believe they’d seat me at your table.” “I’m pretty sure,” President Obama said to Caleb. “I’ll see you in there.” When they arrived, Caleb asked one of the honor guards where he could find the Ballews’ table, table 19. Caleb expected it to be a table somewhere off in a corner. The guard, without even having to look around, directed Caleb towards the large rectangular table directly in front of the stage. “I said a four-letter word to Kourtney,” Caleb recalled, “then said, ‘We are sitting with the president tonight!’”