Thursday, April 1, 2010

Only in SCV: A Family Affair

It is not uncommon for members of the ruling class to be related. Monarchs marry their cousins, titles are bestowed on relatives, and sometimes a proclivity for the political life just runs in the family. In keeping with the long tradition of politics being a family affair, this month’s election is forcing two relatives to fight each other for a seat on City Council.

Candidates Frank Ferry and David Gauny are related. It’s a non-blood, only recently discovered, rather convoluted kind of related, but related they are. Seriously[1].


After a family party, the link became apparent. David married Tracy, who happens to have a cousin who had a child[2] with a woman whose uncle is Frank Ferry (one can only imagine the meeting; it would be wonderful if it went something like "David and Tracy, I'd like you to meet Uncle Frank!"). Put another way, Frank Ferry is David Gauny’s wife’s cousin’s child’s great-uncle. Put yet another way, there exists a child who will likely invite the Gaunys and Great-Uncle Frank to their wedding some day, as that child is related to both parties.

For those who think best linearly:

*David Gauny married Tracy

*Tracy’s cousin had a child with a nice young woman

*That nice young woman’s uncle is Frank Ferry


If Ferry and Gauny didn’t get along as well as they do, this could have made things really awkward. Happily, Ferry and Gauny share a mutual admiration that long outdates discovery of their family tie. The two even josh each other as relatives are wont to do. If you’ll recall, Ferry good-naturedly teased David with “You threw the first punch, and we’re coming after you now…you’re going to learn the hard way” to which David joked back “Ferry exemplifies everything that is wrong with our government.” And now, they’re cousins—of the kinda sorta variety.


The union of the House of Ferry with the House of Gauny, however tenuous, has several important implications. In a tight election where every vote will count, the discovery means that Tracy Gauny has only one of three bubbles not yet inked in (assuming familial loyalty obliges her to vote for her husband and Frank Ferry). Hence, the remaining candidates must fight especially hard to win her third vote. With regard to social etiquette, I presume Frank, as family, will be obliged to attend David’s victory party even if he (Frank) loses. If both win, they can celebrate together. Finally, City Attorney Carl Newton will have to get to work crafting another of his famously rigorous legal opinions as to whether Ferry and Gauny could serve together without violating the City’s nepotism policy.


In any case, David and Frank will have to start being nicer to one another. There's a young person out there that shares 6.25% of his/her genetic code with Tracy Gauny and 12.5% of it with Frank Ferry (I calculated the coefficients of relatedness[3]). That child might well tune into a City Council meeting, and it would be a shame if they had to watch a family quarrel.


[1]Confirmed by sources that are undisputed experts on the Gauny family tree.

[2]And I shall refer to him/her exclusively as "the child," not only for its somewhat miraculous connotation, but in the interest of keeping said child's identity private.

[3]The coefficient of relatedness tells one the probability that two individuals will have the same copy of a gene because they both inherited it from a shared ancestor. It's 0.5 between mother and child, 0.25 between grandchild and grandparent, 0.25 between aunt and niece, etc.)

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