Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Times They Have A'Changed

I have been busy this morning changing every appliance in the house to "spring forward". Thanks to our gov't nannies, I get to re-familiarize myself with all the household electronics twice a year. Right now, I'm trying to decide whether it is more cost-effective to continue my search for the manual on my new watch or just go buy another one. I guess that could chalk up to economic stimulus except that I'm sure a new watch would have been made in China.

Some stray thoughts on this fine and expedited Sunday morning.

I went to the sidewalks meeting at Lincoln. City staff has done some really good work. They had a map showing a 5 year history of pedestrian/vehicle accidents, 250+ total. As one member of the public commented, right at one per week. Higher than we might want, maybe less than a tax-increasing emergency. They did not have data on age/cause/even time of day. For instance, we saw one cluster of four at S Chadbourne and Av. L A fellow ventured "hey, there's a school there". I mentioned, purely in passing, yes, there is a private school a block south and around the corner, BUT, right there we have a beer-joint. Any connection; nobody had that info. Just pointing out, there might be some details worth fussing about, but there will be at least one more public meeting (no date yet) and the public is invited to chime in online. My opinion, if you bother to e-mail, staff WILL read it, they genuinely care about doing this right.

The consensus was new development; absolutely. As to existing streets, there lies the rub. Folks, I live on Bryan St. a three block long residential. It Ts into Bell, it is a short-cut to nothing, the kind of street kids play on without having to interrupt their games very often. As I told staff, if you were to come along and promise all my neighbors new sidewalks with zero assessment, they would tell you to go away, we don't need the construction nuisance.

Now, turn the corner from my house, walk north on Bell St.; taking your life in your hands, we have gone from a comfortable neighborhood stroll to 40 MPH dodge-cars and that's if everybody is obeying the speed limit that day. Otra vez, to cure that, some of the houses west side of Bell are right on the road, build a sidewalk, we're in somebody's living room AND charging them for removing their front porch. Look back to my earlier post, I asked, if we decide a sidewalk on one side works, do both sides pay, or do we just assess the lucky guy who gives up part of his lawn?

Aside from such quibbles, staff has done a bang-up job on this. A good point raised was how much pedestrian traffic increase we might see, if the pedestrians felt safe on a sidewalk as opposed to playing dodge-car. If we build it, will they come? I like to think so. I see people actually drive to, then walk along, Concho St. along the river. Might be the scenery, but day after day, same view, I don't think so, they are looking for a safe place to walk off calories. Give them that safety in their neighborhoods, they might walk there. Lots of benefits from that: pounds shed, healthy hearts, a community-watch by-product, heck, if we ain't careful we might get to know our neighbors!

By and large, we came from the meeting impressed that staff has a handle on prioritizing a good idea. There will be another such meeting, it is not yet scheduled, but I will say this: if you are interested, attend. Unlike some "public" forums of days gone by, staff is not "telling" us what is about to happen, they are really listening.

I almost missed my Sunday morning services (the network news shows) on account of the time change. Since I didn't miss them, I will save you the trouble; You missed NOTHING! The party in power is lying and mis-characterizing the party out of power, which in turn is outrageously lying about the new administration. I'm shocked, shocked I say to hear this.

San Angelo has so far been insulated from this downturn. We are fretting about 5% unemployment, a figure Michigan would die for. Housing has slowed, but local developers are still building. The "underwater" mortgage market isn't here, our home values actually increased about 4% last quarter. Realtors who are taking unemployment elsewhere might be scrambling here, but they are still selling houses. The oilfield is taking a hit, but Karnak predicts that will turn around.

We have seen our new President advise investors to "buy", something I have never seen. BTW, following that bit of advice Thursday, the market dropped 7%. Might be why former Presidents stayed out of the investment counseling business. OK, give him a break, he's on a steep learning curve. Markets can live with more or less gov't control, but what any market lusts after in its heart is STABILITY! ie. if the investor invests, the rules won't change next Tuesday.

Trivia exercize for the political junkie: Google "Aaron Schock". Not everything out of the Land of Lincoln is an embarrassment to his name.

Stability being too much to wish for, in the interim Karnak is putting his limited money into canned goods and hard metals.

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