Today, we interview Mr. Ron Aljoe, one of the three currently declared candidates for the special election to fill Lewisville City Council's at-large place 3 seat vacated by Mike Nowels.
Mr. Aljoe lists the following as his experience in public service:
Military service U.S. Marine Corps.
City Council Shawnee, Kansas (suburb of Kansas City)
Co-founder Lewisville youth baseball and football.
Chairman of Parks and Leisure 1977 to 1984 (Instrumental 1st bond issue for the city for Parks and related leisure functions.)
Co-founder of the Republican Men's Club for Denton County.
Elected Republican precinct chairman in 1982 thru May 2004
Transportation Board Lewisville 1992 -1994
1st Chairman on CBGD (Community Block Grant Development Board) Lewisville 1996 - 2000
Co- founder of the Boy's & Girl's Club Lewisville 1993
Lewisville Police Dept Citizens Strategic Planning Task force 1997-98
Lewisville Planning & Zoning Board July 2000 to present Chairman
Lewisville Zoning Board of Adjustment 2001 and 2005
North Central Texas Council of Government activities:
Vision North Texas Growth
Land Use Law
TX. Metropolitan Mobility Plan 2004
American Planning Association Conference in TX 5 times.
Mr. Aljoe's describes his platform as follows:
Support a facility for Day Laborers
Special interest in "infill" (not yet developed) areas of Lewisville.
Code enforcement issues
Revitalization assist in neighborhoods
Continued work in the OLD TOWN revitalization area especially the corridor area. Also enlarge the area.
Continued support of mass transportation especially in the city, expansion to jobs growth areas for the economic growth of Lewisville families.
Continued support of the DCTA to the center of Dallas.
WhosPlayin: Mr. Aljoe, thank you for allowing us to talk to you about your Lewisville City Council bid. You seem to have pretty extensive experience on the various city boards and you are currently the chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. Why are you running for city council? Why now, as opposed to years ago?
Ron Aljoe: First of all, I appreciate people like you that have the initiative to be active in the community. Thanks!
As you can see, I have always been very active in the community, giving back what we received as my family grew with the city.
As my work career demanded extensive travel time from 1990 through 2000, I could not have run for a City Council position. Time would not allow.
My goal was not to run for this position till I was prepared and I had the time to devote to the job. Neither of these two issues are a barrier now. I am experienced and have the time to be a valued City Council person.
WhosPlayin: If you win the seat, do you view this as a "stepping stone" to other future elected office?
Ron Aljoe: No, I would only try to retain the seat after one year and work as a member of the City Council
WhosPlayin: When we talked the other day, you alluded to some "serious matters" that the city will have to deal with very soon. What do you consider to be the most serious issues facing the City of Lewisville, and how do you intend to deal with them?
Ron Aljoe: The most serious issues facing the city today are now, or will be soon: (and not in any priority order) A) TxDOT I-35 corridor widening. Suggest an Ad-Hoc committee of city staff, Chamber of Commerce officials, elected officials, local business individuals and concerned citizens that would dedicate time to the issue. Reduce as much as possible the economic damage to the city. Attend meetings of the progress and or set backs by TxDOT. B) Retail losses over the next many years. Assist our city staff, especially the economic development group to develop strategies to attract new retail or enlarge / improve current sites. C) Continue rebuilding our infrastructure in the older neighborhoods. Develop and support economic assistance for the citizens in those areas. Financial incentives or reimbursements to maintain appearance of the city. D) Improve on the local public transportation to move our citizens from home to jobs. Review usage, follow demographics of services, jobs movement and leisure activity so our citizens can have a balanced life. Support additional routes and services. E) Usage of the solid waste dump sites in the Lewisville's jurisdiction. Will want to review current contracts, find ways to use the property perhaps reduce the usage. Will need to learn more. F) Services for our seniors, a growing population. Be sure to meet periodically with the organized local AARP to see what the issues are that need addressed by the city. G) The transition of Castle Hills into the mainstream of the City of Lewisville (annex). Continue to follow current progress of which I am currently aware through the P&Z board. H) Development of the Old Town corridor and surroundings. Be supportive of the overall fine job of many groups, and to help as needed. Be supportive of the DCTA stops especially the Old Town. I) Deterioration of our social economic base. Monitor with the city staff, add resources where needed to continue the transition of our citizens.
WhosPlayin: Do you feel that the average Lewisville citizen is aware of these issues? What do you think matters most to them?
Ron Aljoe: The average citizen is aware of many issues especially if it has a direct impact to their daily lives especially financially or safety wise. The matters that mean the most to them: A) Safety in the neighborhoods B) Jobs C) Public Transportation as previous mentioned D) Availability of shopping E) Inconvenience getting to work F) Leisure activities availability and additions.
WhosPlayin: You've said that you don't intend to spend a lot of money or have a website for this race. Aside from this interview, how do you intend to get your message to the voters?
Ron Aljoe: I will personally contact friends, community leaders, social and civic leaders , local organization to speak as required. Use of the newspapers. Perhaps a mailing, not sure of this yet.
WhosPlayin: Lewisville, and really the entire North Texas area suffer from very poor air quality for too many days each year. Dallas Mayor, Laura Miller, and a coalition of various North Texas cities have taken pro-active measures to oppose the construction of new coal-fired power plants. Lewisville has not joined this coalition. If you had your way, is there anything that the city would do to improve air quality?
Ron Aljoe: The simple answer for now, to this very serious national, Metroplex and local problem is to continue the fine beginning of introducing public transportation in the city. Perhaps interact with North Central Texas Council of Governments for a larger more defined impact to air quality improvement. Be sure our city is up to date with ordinances that apply in an intelligent way to the community.
WhosPlayin: Do you support the use of toll roads as a method of gaining revenue to build new roads?
Ron Aljoe: Absolutely - BUT: Only if there is an alternate route, such as a service road that people can take without having to pay the toll.
WhosPlayin: Even for existing roads - like for example SH 121?
Ron Aljoe: Yes, because the service roads are free, and a person can still get where they're going. If for instance though, there were to be a bridge built over the lake, and it was the only crossing, and you had to pay, I would not support a toll on that.
WhosPlayin: What is your view of the proper role of city government, and is the Lewisville City Council getting it right? In other words, where would you do more, and what do you think the city council should avoid?
Ron Aljoe: First of all, we need to avoid general issues to do with moral, social behavior, and ethical references or profiling.
Our concern in the City as city council members should apply to the safety, health and general well being of all the citizens and to always keep in mind that the quality of life is the most important issue for any city council person.
Our city council has always performed in a manner that meets the above requirements. Perhaps we can fine tune items as we grow and learn.
WhosPlayin: You were a Republican Precinct Chair for 21 years. In fact, you were the senior Republican Chair, serving in the largest precinct. Today, you describe yourself as a "Left-wing Republican" or "Right-wing Liberal". Though city politics are non-partisan, how do you think your Republican leanings might affect your decisions on the council? Also, what would you say to the liberal or progressive voter to reassure them of your intentions?
Ron Aljoe: We all know that serving on the city council of a city, partisan politics has no place. My tenure of over 21 years as a precinct chairman of the Republican Party and Executive committee has no influence to this position. What does have is my 40 year career as a successful businessman/ manager that prepared and carried out budgets that improved performance of companies including my own. My past history serving my city will speak for reassuring all my neighbors of my intentions.
WhosPlayin: Ron, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me, and thank you for your service, both in the Marine Corps and your service with the city.
WhosPlayin has extended interview invitations to the other candidates: Lathan Watts and Jim Mundt. Lathan Watts politely declined the interview due to our treatment of Congressman Michael Burgess. Though I asked him to reconsider and assured him the interview would be non-partisan, he still refused, but said he would be releasing a statement this week. Mr. Mundt declined due to the general partisan nature of this website. We've also interviewed Candidate Patrick Booth
It should be noted that WhosPlayin is non-partisan in the Lewisville municipals, although the other major forum for the candidates to make their views known will be hosted by the Republican Mens' Club. WhosPlayin will probably not endorse any candidates, but may conduct a straw poll.
Regardless, I would highly encourage our readers to check their voter registrations, and get out and make an informed vote on May 12th. Show your city's leaders that you care by turning out in good numbers! Polling locations will be posted very soon.
Despite a field of serious contenders, many of whom are politicians, and all of whom could have easily won this award in a slow month, February's Texas Dim Bulb Award goes to State Rep Warren Chisum, of Pampa, TX. To get the full magnitude of the sheer stupidity of this man, you must read his imbecilic memo that he forwarded to the other 149 members of the Texas House.
Texas Kaos has a great writeup of this bit of idiocy. It seems that Chisum circulated this memo to his colleagues in the house proposing that the teaching of evolution in schools is a Jewish conspiracy. Further, he supports the Fixed Earth Theory(no joke - please click the link and read what these weirdos propose) which is just plain wacky. These folks want to teach our school children that the earth stands still, and the sun revolves around it. Why? Because the Bible says so.
See folks, ANYONE can make it into the state legislature. This guy is a certified nut job, lunatic tin-foil hat wearing crazy ass. And Tom Craddick is such a "good judge of character" that he put Chisum in charge of the appropriations committee.
"The document linked to Web sites including "fixedearth.com," which asserts that Earth is the center of the universe. Chillingly, the links also offer overtly anti-Semitic rants, contending that evolutionary science supports a "centuries-old" Jewish conspiracy against Christian teachings.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Chisum said he's "willing to apologize" about his references to Jews. He said he didn't know about the ranting on the memo's recommended Web sites.
But presumably he knew, and liked, the preposterous contents of his memo itself. It's hard to know what's worse: Chisum's careless spreading of words he condemns - or his unremorseful promotion of ideas that would fling Texas' students and economy years behind their competitors. "
Warren Chisum, you are stripped of your Texas citizenship for being a certified dumba**. Pack your crap and move to Georgia, and you and your buddy Ben Bridges can start your own cult with this shit. You are Texas' Dim Bulb of the month.
For a list of nominees with more information about their stupidity, Click Here
The United States has also given clandestine support to the Siniora government, according to the former senior intelligence official and the U.S. government consultant. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can,” the former senior intelligence official said. The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will,” he said. “In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”
The transcript of a CNN interview can be found here.
The poll found Americans across party lines willing to make some sacrifice to ensure that every American has access to health insurance. Sixty percent, including 62 percent of independents and 46 percent of Republicans, said they would be willing to pay more in taxes. Half said they would be willing to pay as much as $500 a year more.
Nearly 8 in 10 said they thought it was more important to provide universal access to health insurance than to extend the tax cuts of recent years; 18 percent said the tax cuts were more important.
So why do our Texas U.S. Representatives like Michael Burgess so strongly oppose it?
I served eight years in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and intelligence analyst. I have also worked numerous years as an operative with the U.S. Department of State Regional Security operation at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, before coming to NT last year.
I am so sick and tired of reading all of these op-ed pieces that read like uninformed bar babble. Before you spout off at the keyboard, please get some life experience and a clue. Maybe then I will listen. Despite what your government leads you to believe, a larger number of these so-called "insurgents" are most likely disenfranchised Iraqis who are proud and view us as an occupying force.
The administration cannot call them ultranationalists. They are poor, unemployed, have electricity for a few hours per day, no fuel or food, dire medical care, tap water contaminated with sewage and oil, limited education and freedom, and live under the constant stress of combat. These people had a better quality of life under Saddam, and his iron fist was one of the only things that kept the country in check. Many people knew that in 2000 - I guess the leadership skipped too many history, geography and political science classes at their Ivy League institution.
The dynamics of the country are much like a soda bottle that has been shaken, yet the cap is still secure. We released the cap and ruined any semblance of life. The violence is largely a combination of our president's gross mis-calculation, his stubborn pride (yes, intelligence agencies warned him of these events prior, but he did not listen) and the dismal economic state of the country (Iraq).
Let's just try to imagine if the United States were invaded by Russia. Would you fight? What about a couple thousand years of sectarian tension and vendettas? Why does our government continue to think that the entire world is starving for our democracy? If you were to travel abroad, you would see that our beacon is not as bright to the rest of the world as it is in your own imagination. With regards to the Iraqi border, it's like Swiss cheese. When I worked there, numerous people said there is nothing preventing you from walking unopposed from Iran to Iraq. Does this seem smart to you? If you are worried about insurgents, would you not want to close down the borders? It is not rocket science.
Either this demonstrates the lack of intellect in our government or the supposed insurgent problem is not as rampant as we are led to believe. While there, I had never seen such a waste of resources in my entire life, both financial and personnel.
Before you increase troops, how about using the ones that are already there. Clearly this president has had major errors in his judgment. Why should anyone continue to trust him and his leadership? I have lost confidence in his abilities, and after the last midterm election, the majority of the U.S. population has as well. So who is right? The 70 percent plus people who are opposed or the rest who are not?
A letter the other day in Views kept referring to Kagan and Keane and their great opinions. What about the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton report? The president challenged Democrats that if they do not like his idea of a troop surge, then maybe they should offer an opinion of their own. I will say again, what about the Baker-Hamilton report?
Having examined the list of contributors, it is clear that report has much more legitimacy than the Kagan and Keane paper. The Baker-Hamilton report may not have been the answer to all of the problems, but the fact that the president has completely snubbed everyone leads me to believe that this gentleman has completely lost his grip with reality and his position. The previous author also argued against a group of 535 legislators micromanaging a war. I would agree with that, but what about a president who leads as if he is a dictator or this is an autocracy? Remember just the other day, "He is the decider."
Clearly the legislative branch is in place to provide a more intimate representation of the people and to keep the president in check. I am sure you have had some history and political science courses. You may also be in the minority of people who are OK with living under an autocracy in the United States, but I love my country, my freedom and the fundamental principles this country was built upon. If our president does not listen to the people and does not respect the other two branches of government, please tell me how this is any different than Hugo Chavez's socialist power transition in Venezuela or Saddam Hussein's previous leadership style?
Aaron Krieg resides in Double Oak. He can be reached at operatormedicjobs (at) yahoo (dot) com
This information taken verbatim from Vice President Dick Cheney's website today:
Vice President's Remarks to the Traveling Press Aboard Air Force Two En Route Muscat, Oman
3:19 P.M. (Local)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, I was -- they provided me quarters there overnight because you all know we got weathered in. It seems to me I think it was about 10:00 a.m. this morning, I heard a loud boom. And shortly after that, the Secret Service came in and told me there had been an attack on the main gate, apparently a suicide bomber.
They moved me for a relatively brief period of time to one of the bomb shelters nearby, near the quarters I was staying in. And as the situation settled down, and they got a better sense in terms of what was going in, then I went back to my room. It was almost time to leave.
Q What do you think the symbolism is there for the -- for whoever carried this out? They said publicly that this was aimed at you. What does that --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Who said that?
Q The Taliban --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I hadn't heard that.
Q It was a Taliban spokesman quoted, saying that the attack was trying to get you.
Q What we're quoting them as saying is that they took responsibility for it, and they said they were aware that you were there.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I hadn't heard that.
Q Did you at any time consider changing your itinerary about Kabul after learning this news? Or was that never--
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Never an option.
Q I guess, the question was, do you suppose in light of the current situation in Afghanistan that if a group does the act that it did and it suggests that they were going after you in some way, it's more a self-serving symbolic statement to their own people, look, we're on the attack against the Vice President, regardless of how ludicrous it is because you were so far from the scene of the actual incident?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think they clearly try to find ways to question the authority of the central government. Striking at Bagram with a suicide bomber, I suppose, is one way to do that. But it shouldn't affect our behavior at all.
What's missing here? Cheney's heart and any sense of decency. TWENTY THREE PEOPLE, INCLUDING TWO AMERICANS WERE KILLED IN THIS ATTACK. Do we get any condolences here? No. Do we get any regret that his travel plans were apparently leaked or compromised? No. Would he have changed his plans if he had known that his presence were a detriment to security? "Never an option." No, Cheney, like his "boss" decides to play the cowboy and stay overnight. Good one, Dick. Because, you know - our troops just don't have enough to do over there without having to protect your fat old a** from getting your kharmic payback.
The Pentagon has not yet released the names of the US soldier and the US contractor killed in the attack. I personally am saddened by this and every bombing, as well as the loss of the civilians killed in this incident.
Dick Cheney is a terrible person who I think compensates for his shortcomings by his hawkish and hard-hearted behavior. His resignation would be best for the nation. Were I his counselor, I would recommend that he spend some time cloistered with the religion or spirituality of his choice, doing some serious soul searching. I truly pity this foolish old Viagra-popping sociopathic shell of a man.
Today, WhosPlayin interviews John McClelland, a resident of Northern Dallas, and fellow blogger / activist who is running for City Council in Dallas' Twelfth District. John recently announced his intention to run for the seat, currently held by one-term incumbent Ron Natinsky. He was kind enough to agree, so without further introduction, we'll hop right into it:
WhosPlayin: With apologies, because you're going to get this same question a hundred times: What is your motivation for running for this office?
John McClelland: You're right, I will answer it over and over again for the next 3 months and maybe even after the election. I believe it is my civic duty to give back to a city that I've been able to call home for the last 5 years. I want to steer Dallas in the right direction. We need a city government who will stop wasteful spending of our citizens' tax dollars. We need a City Council who feels they are not above the law. We should be model citizens, not model felons.
I am also running my campaign in memory of my brother. He died a year ago to the day I announced my intentions to run. He was a sergeant in the Army and had just returned home from his 2nd tour in Iraq, only to die in a tragic accident. I want to serve my city in the same way my brother served his country.
WhosPlayin: John, I am sorry to hear about your brother. I can appreciate your motivations for doing something for your community in that same spirit of service. What are the top issues facing Dallas right now, particularly in your district?
John McClelland: I think a lot of the issues in my district are the same issues city wide. You hear the cliché of being tough on crime, but it is a valid topic. My district alone had 3900 crimes in 2006. The Dallas SWAT is fun to watch on TV, but when they're in your parking lot at home, it isn't quite as fun. Some people may think we're more "well to do" in Far North Dallas, but that just isn't the case. We are not immune to the problems this city faces.
I also believe holding an ethical standard in government is the right thing to do. The city has an ethics code for a reason. We have City Council members who were being investigated by the FBI and not being able to answer where vehicles came from. While being investigated is not an admission of guilt, you have to do some pretty dumb to grab the attention of a federal law enforcement agent.
WhosPlayin: On your website, "Ethics in Government" is the top item on your list. This seems to be something that a lot of politicians pay lip service to, but don't follow through on. How can you assure voters that you're not going to go down the same path? Do you have ideas for additional transparency? Also, even if it were not required of the other council members, would you provide personal financial disclosures?
John McClelland: A lot of what happens at City Hall is all about who can scratch who's back. I am not like that. I believe in merit and good service. At my own job, I decide what vendors to use to haul freight from point A to point B. And I do it based on who does the best job, not on how many perks a vendor wants to try and throw at me. That should be the same in government. If a contractor wants to bid on a project, there should be a fair bid process. If a councilman has a conflict of interest, he/she should recuse himself from the process. Bribes have never gotten anyone anywhere except behind bars.
As far as the financial disclosure goes, it is already a requirement by the Texas Ethics Commission to file one with the city when we run for office. So it is there for anyone to see right now. I don't have any savings & loan scandals to hide.
WhosPlayin: Everyone from just about every city is interested in crime reduction, and supporting the police with raises and more officers. From the perspective of city government, is this the answer, or are there other root causes of crime that can be abated by city policies and actions?
John McClelland: Unfortunately a lot of crime is path that people living in poverty choose to take to try and make their lives better. But it is also an end result of greed, just as much, if not more. If we could help poor people in the city with jobs programs that helped give them the necessary skills to excel in the world, they may not need to turn to a life of crime.
The drug trade also plays a significant role in Dallas in the crime rate. If we can effectively cut the supply, we may be able to reduce the murders and muggings associated with it. But this will only be accomplished by providing our police department with the resources they need, and right now that is providing more officers.
I also would like to propose a jobs program for the homeless in Dallas, as a way to deal with that problem as well. I am not saying every homeless person is a criminal. But some take that path. It is hard for the homeless to get a job because they do not have an address. If we allow these people to work for the city, then they could make a decent wage and be able to work towards building their lives back up. They could do something as simple as picking up trash off the streets or beautifying parks. There isn't any point to simply staring at them on the steps of city hall. We need to help them.
WhosPlayin: Dallas, and indeed the entire North Texas area suffers from very poor air quality. As you know, the air we breathe doesn't respect city limits and state borders. Mayor Laura Miller has taken a pro-active role in reaching out with other cities to prevent the proposed TXU coal-fired power plants to our west. What actions can the City of Dallas take to protect its natural resources and still be the thriving center of commerce that it is?
John McClelland: I believe the city could be a model in using alternative energy if we put our minds to it. Many of the DART buses already run on natural gas, which keeps emissions lower than diesel burning engines. We could possibly replace other city vehicles with flex fuel vehicles once they become cost effective for the city to purchase. DART's 2030 plan may also help to lower car use in the city once it expands the bus service and builds new rail lines throughout the city. Using mass transit is a matter of convenience to people, so it has to be easy to access.
And in reference to what Mayor Miller is doing, I think it is wonderful. The air quality here certainly does not need to be made worse by TXU. My allergies are bad enough as it is. I can not imagine what asthma sufferers go through. I believe Rick Perry has been enjoying too much of the TXU Kool-Aid if he thinks fast tracking these polluting plants is a good idea.
WhosPlayin: What is your view of the proper role of city government, and is the Dallas Council getting it right? In other words, where would you do more, and what do you think the city council should avoid?
John McClelland: I think the current City Council and Mayor all have the right intentions for our city. I don't believe they intentionally try to do the wrong thing. But I think our Council has lost sight of what reality is sometimes. Some of the City Council members would rather rule their own little city district as a principality unto itself and ignore everyone else, but I do not believe that is how our city should be run. We need to look at the broader picture and help the entire city, even though as a Councilman I would represent only a smaller section. However with the situation being that we have a City Manager who is supposed to actually run our city, with the support of the City Council (and a Mayor who is no more than just another Council member in terms of power), we all need to work together to make the city function. And that will especially be true this spring when we are set to replace at least ½ of the current City Council, as well as the Mayor. It will be a new Council with fresh ideas, I hope.
WhosPlayin: I can see your point there. When I think of the reality of what I expect out of my city, the first things that come to my mind are reliable utilities, garbage pickup, code enforcement, and police and fire protection. Do you think the council spends too much time on lofty ideas for "projects" rather than oversight of essential city services? You mentioned the Trinity River Project on your website.
John McClelland: Some of the council has its head in the clouds, no doubt. The goal is to make Dallas an attractive, nice place to live. But when you're a citizen of the city, the small things are what matter in every day life. And they need to be taken with as much seriousness as any project that wants to reroute a river. Making sure Time Warner is doing what it is supposed to be doing; making sure the trash collection is being managed in the right way; helping to alleviate why it took a fire station 15 minutes to respond to a lightning strike that burnt a house to the ground- those are the items a Councilman should be more in tune with. They may be small to people with lofty goals, but they are no less important.
WhosPlayin: John, when one looks into your background, it is easy to note that you are most unapologetically a Democrat. City Council races are non-partisan, but we live in times where the country is very much divided over issues on the national level. What do you say to the Republican or Independent voter out there who may disagree with your party on the national issues? Is there more common ground than they may think at the local level?
John McClelland: Well, like you said the race is nonpartisan. So I am not even supposed to state my party preference during the campaign itself. But you can no doubt see the history, just as it can be seen with the current Council members who are active in both parties outside of the Council. You would be able to find my own liberal blog entries on the internet, just like yours. But I want to be able to sit on the Council and be viewed as someone with merit who was put there because of his ideas, and not simply deemed worthy because they vote D or R. I have been a member of both political parties, as have you. But I make no apologies for my current views. They are part of a belief system that shapes who I am. But when it comes down to issues such as fighting crime, giving police a raise in pay, stopping wasteful spending, lowering property taxes, etc, those are all issues that people on both sides of the aisle can agree upon. And it has already been proven by the Republican Primary voters who have seen fit to sign my petition to be placed on the ballot on May 12.
WhosPlayin: That's great, John, and I echo your views on that. I wish you good luck and thank you for the opportunity to interview you. As the elections near, and issues come up, we'd appreciate the opportunity to get your opinions once again.
John McClelland: I appreciate the opportunity to have my first full interview on the other side of the blogger's keyboard. It is a lot different not being the interviewer.
I want to take this opportunity to speak to voters and make them aware that voting in city elections is one of the most important things you can do. The decisions made at this level affect your day to day lives more than what Congress comes up with. So please, make sure you vote in the May elections in your town. And please, get out there and help these grassroots campaigns. November 2006 may be done and gone, but politics is never on hiatus. We still need volunteers and donors for all of our campaigns this Spring.
Thank you again. Now on to victory in May!
WhosPlayin urges all Texans to get out and vote on May 12th, and make it known to your local candidates what matters to you in your city. I'll also add that you should donate a few bucks to his campaign if you can. You can do that via his website.
In our lifetimes, and in the lifetimes of our parents, our society has witnessed advances in technology at a pace more rapid than any other time in history. Each device, each technology, each piece of software, new drug, new gadget is presented to make our lives easier, to provide us with relief, or entertain us. And yet, we are a nation still unhappy, unhealthy, and unfulfilled. For all the conveniences, we have less time for one another and our families. We eat mass-produced fast food from paper sacks while produce bought fresh and without blemish rots away in the stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator with ice and filtered water in the door. We have fat asses, diabetes, and depression. We go to doctors and get prescriptions for “happy pills” to help us make it through another day of endless work. We borrow and spend and borrow more against the unreasonable expectation that we will all continue to be as upwardly mobile as we once were. The bills pile up and we wonder how we will ever manage to pay them off. Sleepless nights of worry are abated by yet more medication. Our general dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment is pacified by another trip to the mall for that next gadget that will make our lives easier, or that garment that looks so good and hides those few extra pounds.
It is ironic that often the choices that are the simplest to make, lead to the most complication in our lives, and the complicated choices can help us simplify. The marketplace makes it easy to choose things which trade our simple freedoms for complication and commitment. It seems there is little that escapes this rule. The cell phone that provides us with the freedom to reach out from anywhere, also allows work to interrupt our private lives. Don’t forget the long term commitment with early termination fees and the monthly bill. Yet, which of us is willing to give up that phone?
A doctor once explained to me that humankind has gotten itself into a bit of an evolutionary bind. Our environment and mode of living has outstripped our ability to keep pace. Just a few generations ago, most of us would have worked on farms, outside in the fresh air and sunshine, keeping fit by working and eating a modest natural diet of locally grown food. Instead, we’ve leaped past the industrial age, into the information age and beyond. Many of us toil away in our minds, our necks craned in front of a computer monitor, and our fingers getting the exercise over a keyboard – all under fluorescent lighting in recycled artificially conditioned air. Our bodies weren’t built to handle the environment we’ve built ourselves. We’ve traded happiness and good health for comfort, but it doesn’t feel all that good.
But I am not making the case that we abandon all of the advances, and live as the Amish. Rather I think that if we train ourselves to think in a long-term way and make more deliberate choices about the things we buy and the activities we participate in, we could vastly simplify without much effort.
I believe there are certain traps we fall in that cost us money or time, or both. Many of them compound themselves by setting more traps. By way of a non-specific example, lets say that you really want a widget. You can’t afford a widget, so like most Americans, you produce your credit card at the local big-box retailer, also purchasing the extended protection warranty, and bring home a box vastly larger than the widget. If you are responsible, you’ll first sit take your receipt and enter the purchase into your personal finance software, so that you can keep track of your balance. The receipt then goes into the filing cabinet that you have for this and other purchases, just in case you have to return it. Then there is the packaging. It might take a box-cutter, scissors, or pliers, but you finally get it open. Inside, there is a manual that must go on a bookshelf somewhere, a carrying case that you’ll never use, a software disk that you must install so that it connects to your computer(s), and various cables and adapters to plug in or put in a drawer somewhere. Of course, it has a battery, and of course it must be charged, but all of your wall outlets are full, so you plug it into that power-strip with the glowing red light and several other black DC transformers drawing a small but steady stream of electricity. No worries, you get billed for that.
You’ll no doubt spend a couple of hours playing with your new widget, and realize that you need to drive all around town on a quest to find a custom-formed padded silicone cover for it, and an extra memory card for an additional thirty bucks on the credit card. As a proud widget owner, you’ll be tempted at every turn by special widget attachments, screen protectors, carrying cases, upgrades, battery packs, clips, styluses, headphones, decorations and all manner of things. There will be widget wipes to clean it. Your family and coworkers will at first admire your widget. You may indeed have to purchase one for your spouse. Or if your spouse keeps score – they may purchase a different but equally costly widget.
The old widget will collect dust for awhile. You would sell it, but that’s a hassle, and you probably wouldn’t get much because it was obsolete the day after you first bought it. The packaging will of course be stored somewhere – you might have to return it. So the attic contains boxes for all the widgets you’ve ever bought – some of which you’re not sure you have any more. Over the next few years, your minimum payments on that credit card you used will keep you toiling away at work, trying to get that overtime. Your widget will likely sit in a drawer or on a desk somewhere while you make out each month’s payment and mail it in.
An exaggeration? Sure it is. But everything I said applies to something you own. Do you ever look at your W-2 at the end of the year and see how much money you’ve taken home, and then look around to see where it’s went, and you’re just clueless? I’ve been there, and still find myself bewildered.
I travel a good bit for my job, and over the years I’ve learned how to pack light. Travel is something that has a great potential for frustration and complication, but I sometimes find that I enjoy my life at the hotel just a little more. The room is sparsely furnished, but I find the lack of clutter refreshing. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could move to a new house, but leave most of my junk behind. After all, a good bit of my junk exists because I have other junk that goes along with it. Those bookshelves full of books, both read and unread. The “junk drawer” that everyone has.
Soon, I'll try to post part II of this, with some practical tips to simplify and dejunkify - from personal experience. For now, I've got some junk I need to get rid of.