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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Ham 'n Potatoes! Yay!


Sleep in? Sure...

I woke up this morning in the same fashion I usually wake up. Startled, cold, and snotty. My little feline buddy Fruitloop has a nasty habit of worming his way under the covers and poking at me with his cold nose at about 4:30 every morning. The cold nose in question usually hits me right in the small of the back, which generally leads me to engage in the normal "startle reflex" of jerking around in the bed making "wha? wha?" noises. Mr. Loop will continue to find warm unprotected parts of my body to put his cold nose on until I get up. It happens every morning, and every morning I'm surprised.

I wasn't too angry at him this morning, though. The poor kitty was, indeed, out of food. I dutifully poured dried mouse-flavored kibble into his bowl and tottered off to check my e-mail. Within minutes Fruity wandered past me and went into the bedroom. Not too long after that, my beloved wife Dagmar emerged from the bedroom, bleary-eyed and cussing under her breath in German. Fruitloop shot past her and ran to his water glass (he refuses to drink out of a dish like a normal cat) and stuck his tongue out the side of his mouth like he was dying. I do believe he made slight "ack, ack" noises as he pointed to the dry glass. Dagmar dutifully refilled the glass for the cat and sat down on the couch.

Half an hour later, Dagmar watching the news and I toying around on the Internet, we both realized the cat was missing. "Where do you tink der little Fruity might be?" asked Dagmar. Off we went to search. Seeing as how we have a very small house, finding a rather small cat isn't much of a problem. "Vood you look at dis?" said my beloved, pointing at our bed. "The stupid cat managed to get us both out of bed - now he's snoozing in our spot!"

We woke the cat up.


Local Politics

In my past few posts I've been publicly pondering the local candidates for Sioux City's city council. Until yesterday, the only information I could find on any of the candidates was through the Sioux City Journal's web site; if any of the candidates have web sites, I haven't been able to find them, I've seen nothing on TV, and none of them have knocked on my door. However, I found four flyers in my mailbox yesterday from four of the six candidates.

I'll start with Ms. Karen Van De Steeg. To be honest, I didn't know she was the Mayor of Sioux City until a few weeks ago - she's had a very quiet term, I guess. Actually, I thought we had a City Manager, not a mayor. Anyway, the post card I got in the mail, at first glance, struck me as professionally designed and well-printed in simple black and white. (You can click on the photo to see a larger image.)

My problem is with the text of the card itself. Ms. Van De Steeg implies that she's responsible for the renovation of the Marina, the "revitalization of the stockyards" (by which she means "we tore the stockyards down and sold the land to a national chain store"), and the opening of the Tyson Events Center. Fine and good... But I'd like to know exactly what her involvement in those renovation were - I'm pretty sure that the Tyson Events Center was on the drawing board long before Ms. Van De Steeg came to office. She also states that 900 new jobs were created in the past year, but she does NOT tell us where the new jobs are located (in Sioux City, in Siouxland, or in this corner of Iowa in general?), nor does she mention how many jobs were lost in the same time span. Another point she makes is "reduction in crime rates." I don't think the crime rate has gone down at all in the past four years - rather it seems to me that people have simply quit reporting many of the minor crimes because the police force has been under-funded and can't respond anyway. That's how it is in my neighborhood, anyway.

Ms. Van De Steeg lists several things that she's wanting to do in the future (presumably if she's elected). She wants to "continue to work with city staff to hold city government accountable to the people." Sounds good... Starting when? Every time I've had business with the city government (which is rare) I've gotten the run-around. Ms. Van De Steeg also wants to create more softball and soccer fields in the city and get a new museum as well. I have nothing wrong with any of this, but I'd much rather see an initiative to get the children to stay in school. Here's an idea... Give the teens in the city an hourly wage to pick up the litter and clean up the graffiti. That would give them enough money to pay the bus fare to go to the underutilized soccer fields at Riverside Park.

Now, on to James A. Haigh. On first glance, his flyer seems rather unattractive. It's a small brochure, printed in one color on very lightweight paper. The entire brochure was done in a sans-serif typeface, which I personally find hard to read as body text. (I have to do this. I'm a graphic designer. I design stuff like this for a living...) There are a few incidental typographical errors and stylistic problems, but I've seen worse. When it came in the mail, I almost threw it away without looking at it - it was ripped in several places, badly enough I can't read part of it. (Again, you can click on the picture to the right for a larger image.)

Mr. Haigh gives us MUCH more information than Ms. Van De Steeg. He lists his personal and civic experience, which is nice. My only problem with that is that there are items I simply don't understand, such as "1974 Signatory of Smithfield's first Comprehensive Plan." I'm not sure what a signatory is, I don't know where Smithfield is, and I don't know what a comprehensive plan is, either. I do know that I was six in 1974... But, to be fair, it looks as though Mr. Haigh was simply trying to give us an overview - I don't know how he could have fit any more details in his flyer.

Most of what Mr. Haigh lists under his "Goals" section involves financial jargon that I'm not qualified to comment on, but it sounds like most of what he wants to do revolves around cutting the budget through "sharp oversight" and bringing new business to the area. Okay... But while Mr. Haigh seems to be pretty keen on finance, he doesn't say anything about any other issues at all. Nothing about education, poverty, or crime. On the back side of the brochure he says, "The road to Hell is indeed paved with Privatization. When government services are privatized 'Accountability' is lost." I'm not sure if I agree completely with that; accountability is lost if a service is privatized with no competition in the marketplace.

One phrase stuck out at me. "I have no political ambition or intention of serving more than one term on the City Council." I guess that will free him up to vote his mind without thought of repercussion. But, doesn't that make him rather unaccountable to the voters? Hmmm...

Interestingly enough, Mr. Haigh was the only candidate to put his e-mail address on his flyer.

On to incumbent Dave Ferris. The post card he put out is by far the most slick and professional of the lot. Two colors, well-designed, on nice glossy, heavy paper - no problems there. But what does he say? Not much...

He seems to be running on his attendance record. His first two points tell us that he has attended 97% of the council meetings from 2002 through 2005, and that he only abstained six times. To be honest, I'm not sure if you should get a special medal for showing up, but it beats the alternative. He also claims to have helped "streamline the city workforce to promote efficiency," which sounds suspiciously like "I had a lot of city workers fired."

He goes on to point out that he "assisted local business expansion resulting in strong job growth." Is that why so many businesses on Hamilton Boulevard have gone under or moved? Granted, we have a new "super Hy-Vee" on the West Side now, but the price was two established supermarkets. People who used to walk to the "old" West Side Hy-Vee to get groceries now have to try to drag their groceries home on a bus or hire an expensive cab to go to the "new" Hy-Vee, which is rather more expensive than before. The new olive bar is nice, but I'm sad whenever I see a retiree walking across town to get groceries.

Mr. Ferris' last point is that he "prioritized infrastructure improvements - over $18 million in street and sewer improvements in 2005 alone." Good. I have no problems with that... Except that, despite numerous phone calls and e-mails to the city, my yard flooded all the way up to (and sometimes into) my front porch EVERY time it rained due to a mismanaged storm sewer. Oddly enough, that happened from 2002 to 2005 - Mr. Ferris' term as Council member.

The last candidate to send me a post card is Mr. Brent Hoffman. His post card is the worst of the bunch - poorly designed, poorly printed, hard to read quickly (my eye doesn't know where to focus on his design), and it contains almost no information of value. All we learn is that he's a native of Sioux City, and that he wants to "improve business & jobs climate, restrain city spending, and limit property taxes." He doesn't say how he's going to do these things, however.

Mr. Hoffman does say he's an "experienced public servant," but again he doesn't tell us if this means he was a U.S. Senator for seventy years, or if he was in the police academy for six months. (If I remember right, he actually was in the military, so I shouldn't tease him about that. Anyone who served in the armed forces deserves to be taken seriously. But serving in the forces does NOT mean a person automatically knows how to run a government.)

All in all, none of these four candidates impresses me much. I'm still voting for Mr. Jim Rixner, even though I've not received a mailing from him. As I've mentioned in my previous two posts, Mr. Rixner has concrete ideas on how to fix problems that actually exist in my neighborhood.

I am sad, though, that not a single candidate has said anything like, "I'm going to make sure that the city fleet of vehicles will gradually be replaced with fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles," or "We need to quit cutting bus routes in this city. Instead we need to replace our buses with smaller, fuel-efficient buses or vans and increase the routes." (Anyone who's been stuck in traffic behind one of our behemoth, smoke-belching, buses would appreciate that. Especially when you notice that there are generally only four or five passengers on our huge buses. Replace the darn things with something smaller for gosh sakes!)

Why did I entitle this missive "Ham 'n Potatoes?" Not because any of the four candidates profiled offers anything of substance, but rather 'cause that's what I'm gonna eat now, whilst watching the Lions beat up on the Vikings. (I'm not even gonna speculate on the poor Packers going against the Steelers...)


Speaking of Football...

Well, the Thugs of the Northland (see my previous post for my thoughts on the stinky Vikings) have successfully beat up the promising Lions. My beloved Packers have won only one game all season (though, oddly enough, they've outscored their combined opponents by nineteen points), and are at this point losing to the Steelers by a lousy three points.

I was wondering... Does anyone remember the last time they saw a receiver miss a pass without dancing around like an idiot trying to convince someone, anyone that he'd been cheated? It drives me nuts. Is it in the rule book that if you miss a pass you must, by rule, immediately grab your imaginary little flag and start waving it, pretending to be an official? Has anyone told you that if you do that it makes the official think, "oh, he's dancing around pointing at the other guy, so there must have been pass interference." I have a feeling that prancing in front of the official like a lunatic probably doesn't influence said official one way or the other. Take responsibility for your actions. If you miss a pass, you missed the pass. Deal with it. The officials will call pass interference if it happens, whether you act like a fool or not.

Shoot. Green Bay is now trailing by ten points. They're playing reasonably well, but they're still not winning.

The Philadelphia Eagles have benched professional loudmouth Terrell Owens for saying dumb things and generally being disuptive. I applaud that action! As good as T.O. is, if he's dividing the team, he's not worth it. I wish the NFL would take a lesson from 78-year-old coach Joe Paterno of the Penn State Nittany Lions. He started coaching there in 1966, and is still the head coach, and is still a class act. During the game yesterday, I saw Coach Paterno take one of his players to task for an end-zone celebration. That made me happy... Yes, the player made a touchdown. Yes, that player deserves recognition and should be happy. But Coach Paterno (rightly so) seems to believe that the recognition will naturally follow the act, and that a player should maintain his dignity at all times.

As much as I enjoy football, I get tired of seeing players showing off every time they do something good. It's their job to do good. If I jumped up and started screaming and yelling and posing like an idiot every time I did my job, my boss would probably fire me.

Well, the game is over. My beloved Packers lost by ten points. I am ensaddened by that. Sniff. They have won one game and lost seven thus far this season. Reminds me of the late 1970's.


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