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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Making Instant Window Ice in Greeley Colorado

All right. Stop calling. I'll write. I'll write!

It's true I have been skipping out on those refreshing blood pressure gushing cynical observations of mine. And, yes, I realize I've let some of my readers down and made them go search for some other neurotic politically minded blogger.

But my heart has been more into reflection the last couple of months and I don't generally write about things when I feel befuddled and undazzled.

I first came to Greeley less than a year ago. After finishing the job from Mars, I wanted to be near my Mother where I could visit her in her final declining months. I also wanted to rekindle that spark of extended family I had left while my sons spent their twenties chasing mates. I figured my sons would check in as soon as they found someone they could bring home to Mom.

The last Blondy bimbo barely-high-school grad wannabe my youngest son almost introduced me to flopped miserably. He will be joining the household for Thanksgiving. I've noted he isn't bringing a guest. Is it the stuffing recipe or is it Mom?

Or to put it another way, the nest was finally empty and I decided it wasn't really a nest at all so I set out looking to find a new one or at least have the fun of poking around other people's nests.

After a few months I have learned some exciting things about Greeley and northern Colorado. One is how to make instant ice on my windshield in the morning. Another is that almost every town in Colorado sprawls all over the place uncontrolled. Greeley doesn't have a lock on the poor planning decisions department at all. I've also learned to expect the streets of Greeley to roll up at about seven in the evening. The only things I've seen out on the town in the evening are furry, harry, and Peter Cottontail. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

But what daunted me the most, and made me draw back considerably from writing, was the election process and the ideologies that process highlighted.

I've never been someone who seriously wanted to tell other people what to do with their lives. In my book, if you are living up to your set of ideals and what you believe in, and you are not physically menacing or threatening another human being then that is a good thing. If some one's politics are not my own I have never really felt a serious need to change them.

Then, again, I've never felt harm threatened by a conflicting political mindset.

As I drive around Northern Colorado I can definitely feel the forces at work for minimum government and regulation. Every time I have visited my Uncle Billy's ranch I see those forces at work. He would sic his ranch dogs on any government anything that came on the ranch I think. Jail be dammed. Just leave him alone and he will be just fine. Probably some of the last words he whispered in his head as his family, not my side, shuttled the 96 year-old off into the rest home so they could mine his landed fortunes.

Government has its place. Rules and regulation have their place. Keeping government out of our individual lives has a place too. There isn't one way that works for everything or everybody.

But watching and reading and talking to people in Greeley holding vested interests in their own future well-being and their children's vote down 3A made me take a big breath and retrace my own views a bit.

Yes, I blogged furiously about the problems in the District. I still believe that those problems are a big problem. But promoting the gutting and dismantling of what is left of Greeley's public school system was never my own intent. You don't identify that there is a deep gaping wound on your leg so that surgeons can cut the leg off. You identify it so it can be tended and bandaged and returned to normal.

I guess that is not what the voters in Greeley are in tune with. They are in tune with taxes and their own personal advantages in the world. Well that may be a sweeping generalization but it does represent the total experience I've heard, summarized.

To add onto my personal feelings of woe over the political environment I've recently read through the City's Charter and discovered that technically most the political power really has been handed over to a nonelected official, the City Manager. The City Council are in effect stuffed puppets used to assuage the public mindset that they are the ones in charge and can vote out those who don't perform.

Do Greeley citizens really think that paying someone $1200 or so a month gives them a full-time Mayor for the city? Do Greeley citizens think that Greeley is still small and rural and doesn't need a full-time Mayor? Do Greeley citizens really think it is in their best interest to limit the people who can run for political office to a pool of people who are retired or have enough money they don't have to work for real wages or to build a real career? Fire the Mayor, either one Clark or Norton, I doubt they would be troubled about losing their position for long. Neither would the other council members. After all being the public whipping post when your City Manager really makes all the calls on how things are done and who gets to benefit isn't a position of comfort.

But I digress here over my disillusionment. Just remember YOU CALLED ME and asked me to write! Suffer my melancholy whims.

But I still like the people here. I like all the trees. I like the fact that the downtown needs fixing--it is something for the community to work on together. I like my family and they are here. I like it that Denver is only an hour away but that Denver is not HERE. And I like the snow. I haven't had to shovel it yet though.

In short, I'll get over it. I've decided I've just got the change blues. I'm going to volunteer for a while I think doing something that matters to the future big picture. It should help lift my spirits. There is a lot of work to be done in this community. My only regret is that I meet so many people that say change can't happen here and won't. They quit before they start. Or they have started before and it hasn't happened.

Well change comes incrementally and it always demands payment in the form of human energy, patience, conflict, and time.

I'm not quite sure it works the same in a town like Greeley. As I said I've never been particularly inclined to try to change things for other people. But here I don't think I'll be working to change things. I think I'll just be working to put reasonable working solutions together. The people Greeley already want good schools and good government. We just disagree on how to get to that nice safe warm place. As I see it, the places we are heading aren't going to get us there, so time to change course as compared to people. The people are good, the system choices are bad, and it is time to look further than out into our own backyards.

The people can, and will, choose which path they want to walk.

In the end I guess that is just like how it is supposed to be.

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