Thursday, September 30, 2010

WE THE PEOPLE

Councilmember(s),

I attended the public hearing the other night, and admittedly went in and came out frustrated regarding the proposed increase in our utility rates. Unfortunately, my intense fear of public speaking prevented me from making any comments. That said, I would like to offer a few suggestions related to the proposed increase and the meeting in general.

I would first like to address the communication issue. I believe more could have been done to inform the citizens. Looking at the newer design of the city web page, I do not understand how and/or why the web master has not set up an electronic newsletter registry. With technology being where it is today, I find it incomprehensible that our city has not kept up with the times. Email, texting, Facebook, etc. are all viable options for communication. From personal experience, it takes less than 3 minutes to set up a Facebook group or Twitter account. I am not technologically savvy, yet even I can do this in a minimal amount of time. I would like to encourage you to set a Facebook account, Twitter account and electronic newsletter IMMEDIATELY. It will be well worth the 5 minutes it takes.

**As a side note to the communication issue, I believe you need to be aware that when I called to confirm the location and time of the hearing on Tuesday night the person that answered the phone did not know. She had me hold while she looked up the information. I find it difficult to believe that information is being actively passed on to citizens when city employees are unaware.

I would next like to address the thoughts regarding amenities. I believe the individual that spoke regarding closing down every amenity, had an interesting idea. Personally, I think total shut down is extreme, in his defense Councilman Jensen initially brought up the idea with the city library in his response to another comment. However, I wish to propose for consideration the possible of modified/limited hours in regards to city amenities. Many governments are already having 4 day weeks or shorter daily hours. I propose the same type of structure for our library, recreation center, golf course, etc. during this economically challenging time. I believe there is middle ground that will help the city and allow for continued availability of some of the resources that make Pleasant Grove great. Unless we are willing to compromise, be creative and think outside of the box we will all lose in this situation.

Finally, I wish to address the issue of the proposed funds for land purchases. During the comment session, Steve gave information that the Sewer/Drainage (?) Fund (it may have been called something else) has been completely utilized to purchase land. Yet, in the initial presentation, he discussed the proposed monies for future land purchases. While we are facing such a large increase, I believe the land purchases can be completely set aside. Not permanently, but short term. We know we already have land set aside, rather than plan on $7 million that will worsen an already frustrating situation, I believe we should set it aside for now and revisit it on an annual or semi-annual basis. Again, I urge you to be more creative and flexible in thinking of solutions. Land purchases are NOT a now or never choice. Recent reports from economists indicate we will have at the very least a very slow recovery, if not a double-dip recession. Consider these facts before you decide to spend money we don’t have.

The majority of you are not first time council members. Do not act as such. Taking a single recommendation is unheard of when looking at a rate increase of this magnitude. GET A SECOND OPINION. With only a single report to garner information from, it appears to be a mandate, rather than a recommendation.

WE THE PEOPLE are watching and are questioning motivations, qualifications and competency. You have within your power, the ability to give us something to believe in.

I know your job is difficult. I know you won’t please everyone. Before you make your final decision and take a vote that will affect every member of our community, be aware that there are options. We live in an amazing city with talented, intelligent and creative individuals. WE THE PEOPLE are the greatest single resource you have at your disposal. Consider a second public hearing, with every possible method of communication to inform the citizens, and use your resources.

Thank you,

Wendy Morgan

RESPONSES FROM COUNCILMEMBERS:

First Response was from CINDY BOYD:

Thank you for emailing us with your concerns and suggestions. We do appreciate the public suggestions and we are trying to answer and consider them all.



Just yesterday we now have a twitter account. I have not checked it yet, but I do know that it is up and running and we are looking at facebook and group email.


In the meantime, I will be sending out all agenda's and information that I can till an email group list is created. Your idea of making the website available for electronic newsletter is great. We will be discussing that as a council.


I apologize for the lack of knowledge by one of our employees. We will also address that.


We are having further discussion regarding the amenities and other suggestions this Tuesday night and then there will be another public hearing.


Again let me thank you for your attendance and your suggestions.


Thank, Cindy Boyd

Second Response was from Val Danklef:

Thank you for your comments. I agree that we have not done everything possible. I spent yesterday researching costs and why we are so far underfunded for water. I will be making some suggestions Tuesday night on that issue. I have also concluded that bonding for the purchase of additional land for storm drains is not acceptable, and will propose we not do so. Others have offered suggestions on communications, and we will look at it very closely. I voted against the budget this year, and still feel we could address what I think are weaknesses in that area, and have ask that our staff be prepared for some cuts to help. Thank you.
Third Response was from Lee Jensen:
Thanks for your email. I appreciate hearing from you about your thoughts and ideas relative to the city. A couple of responses seem in order. First, the city has already proceeded to open both a Facebook and Twitter account.

Since I don't personally use either, I'm the least familiar with how it all works. But they are available, and as I understand it, available now. There has also been talk of RSS accounts that those who are interested can enroll in.

As far as the location of the meeting, it was announced last week, and was posted on the city website. I don't know who it was that you spoke with so I can't explain why that person didn't know the location. Fortunately it sounds like she was able to get the address to you, so that is good!


We can look at your idea of 'modified hours' as a possible savings. However, and not discounting your idea, the savings of what you are proposing probably wouldn't amount any real savings as the increase in utility rates is not a function of a few thousand here or a few there. We are talking about millions here and millions there. But I will take this forward as I have already expressed that I believe we need to look at EVER option to save, including difficult cuts to the budget.

My response to Lee Jensen:

Thanks for your quick response. I thought I would just let you know that Pleasant Grove does NOT have a Facebook account (I just did a thorough search). I appreciate the idea of an RSS feed, that would be a great way to communicate with all of us.



Just a quick response to the modified hours thought. Small savings from many sources add up. Please don't discount the idea quite yet. It is possible combined with other ideas, the total may be more significant than at first glance.


Thank you for your communication, it gives me hope.


Wendy

Fourth Response was from Kim Robinson:

Thank you Wendy for taking the time to get involved. My desire is to encourage as many citizens as possible to do the same. Getting the word out has presented a challenge and the staff and council are willing to look at any and all suggestions. Increasing our involvement in social media is a great opportunity to reach the masses. It has been presented at previous council meeting, without urgency. I believe the fuel is available for that flame now. I want you to know we are looking at every, and all possible solutions to this difficult situation. "The People" is why I got involved.



With regards,


Kim Robinson

Post Script:  I still have yet to hear from one council member.  Make your own judgements as to who has any idea of what the hud is going on.  I've made mine, and I will likely do everything I can to keep them from coming back. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

News in 30

iHave Options: It looks like the iPad is going to have competition. Four different tablets are looking to be released in time for the holiday season. One is already on the market.


Samsung is releasing the Galaxy Tab, which is similar to a traditional tablet. The seven inch touch screen has a 1024 x 600 resolution LCD. The Galaxy Tab will also make phone calls, as well as having cameras on both the front and back for video chatting. The Galaxy Tab will work on the Android platform and is being picked up by all four major carriers, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Dell has just released the Streak. With only a 5 inch touch screen, there is debate over whether or not this can be considered a tablet. It makes phone calls, but is too large to comfortably hold by the ear. The streak has a fast processor, GPS and 5 megapixel camera. It is also works on the Android platform, but is only available through AT&T.

Research in Motion is releasing an unnamed tablet by the end of the year (known as the ‘Blackpad’ by techies). It will only be able to connect to 3G through a Blackberry device, and will not run on the new Blackberry 6 OS. It is unknown which network this device will be aligned with.

Lenovo showed their pad prototype, the ‘IdeaPad U1 Hybrid’. The unique tablet was a detachable tablet that could attach to a case with a keyboard. The Lenovo tablet is supposed to run on a Linux based OS. In May Lenovo made an announcement that its original prototype was not worth of market release. They scrapped the entire project and started over. The new tablet, the LePad will have a 10.1 inch touch screen and is slated for release in China in December. No word yet on a U.S. release.

Editors Note: CHOICES…There are finally CHOICES. YAY.

                                                                                                                           

People Talk Back: After the announcement the recession had ended in June of 2009, pollsters went and asked the people what they thought.

General polls indicate the majority of Americans feel that the recession is still going on. 74% believe that the recession is serious and the economy is not improving. Only 25% of those polled feel that the economy is on the road to recovery.

The Administration is continuing to defend its position that the economy is improving. President Obama stated that, “Obviously, for the millions of people who are still out of work, people who have seen their home values decline, people who are struggling to pay the bills day to day, the recession is still very real for them.”

Editors Note: Anyone that is feeling it is going to say the recession is still going on. While things are still frustrating, the very best thing we could do is support one another and discover the lessons a bad economy can teach us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

I've had a long couple of days, weeks, months, okay, let's be honest here...years.  I'm am writing this letter in an open forum because, quite frankly, even if I emailed you, mailed you, twittered, texted or any other method of communication, I know it would be received by someone else, vetted and disappear into the circular file of oblivion.  Honestly, I need to get this out of my head so I can focus on more important things.

I've been watching.  Not just you, but everyone.  I was bitter after the election because I didn't believe in the type of change you've had to offer.  I realize that our nation has been on a downward spiral for years.  Unfortunately, it would appear that we have come to a time of decision, about who we were, who we are and who we are going to be.

Mr. President, I don't believe you are equipped to deal with the uncertainty sitting in your lap.  I don't blame you for the state of affairs that we are dealing with, but I do blame you for other things.

I blame you for apologizing to the world for our nation.  We aren't perfect, I readily admit that.  However, we have nothing to apologize for.  We have the right and obligation to uphold and protect the freedoms, liberties and rights set forth on this hallowed ground by individuals who shed blood and tears to give them to us.  We need remember who is against us and treat them accordingly.

I blame you for slowly, yet deliberately, increasing the size of government.  The more of YOU there are, the less there are of ME.  I don't want more legislation.  I want the laws on the books to be enforced.  It doesn't take more government to do that, but a more efficient government.  Stop hiring individuals who don't pay they're own taxes to regulate mine.  Stop supporting individuals who don't even read the bills they are shoving down our throats. 

I blame you for over-regulation.  Do we really need Government Motors?  Do we really need a new czar for every aspect of our lives?  I don't need a new Consumer Affairs person, as a consumer and a citizen of this nation, I need to be responsible for my own choices.  I need to deal with the consequences, or I will not learn.   Let us choose.  Let the market solve its' own problems....look at history, it has done it before and WILL do it again.  Stop encouraging the bad behavior of corporate America through bailouts and funding that will never solve the problem, only encourage more of the same. 

I blame you for keeping me up at night worrying about healthcare for my family.  I believe that everybody should have basic care.  I don't believe that my family should suffer for it.  I have a chronically ill child, and I lay awake at night worrying about how I am going to pay for my own insurance after I am done paying for everyone else's.  Middle class America is footing the bill on this one.  The GAO has even publically come out with their findings that it won't be a self-sufficient as touted.  Mr. President, how am I going to take care of MY child?

I blame you for spending more time on TV than any other sitting President.  I would have more confidence in the job you are doing, if you weren't constantly on TV telling me what you were doing INSTEAD of doing it. 

I blame you for talking out of both sides of your mouth.  I wish I could believe you.  I really do.  Unfortunately, I can't.  The economy is not improving, your stimulus hasn't worked.  My grandchildren will be paying for that, literally.  It is hard for me to have faith in someone that only gives interviews to networks that support his agenda.  Wouldn't it speak more highly of your integrity if you talked to everyone, including those who disagree?  Help me understand what you are trying to accomplish, instead of telling me that you know what is best for me and you are going to make it happen.

I blame you for lots of things.  But to be fair, I blame your predecessors for lots of things too.  I don't believe that you are solely responsible for what is going on in this country, but I do believe that you have the power to make things better. 

I want you to do well, and you can, if you choose to.  I beg of you to stop regulating my life and the lives of everyone in this nation.  We could be so much stronger if we were to band together and help those who CAN'T, instead of encouraging and empowing those who WON'T.  Let us learn from our mistakes, instead of having them swept under the rug and taken care of by someone else.  I WANT TO LEARN.  I NEED TO LEARN. 

Our nation was founded on freedom and responsibility.  Part of responsibility is dealing with the consequences of our choices, good or bad.  If you take away our responsibility, our freedom will go with it.  Don't take away what I am fighting for.  Please.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Taco Night

So this is one of my gross posts.  Admit it, you like it....kind of like the grosser than gross jokes.  Yeah, you've heard 'em...don't deny it.

So Tuesday night we had tacos for dinner.  It had been a long day (so what else is new), and I needed something simple and fast.  In my rush to prepare my gourmet feast, I overseasoned...just a smidge.  I have a very sensitive tongue and the slightest over seasoning will be felt for hours.

We had dinner, made it through the rest of the night.  Kids in bed, mommy in bed, ambien in the mommy, it was all set to be a good night.

About 2 in the morning I woke up to the horrific taste of vomit in my mouth, coughing and sputtering and seemingly unable to breathe.   After I heimliched myself (not really, just throwing myself upright seemed to do the trick), I was able to get enough air to start coughing, choking and waking my husband who wanted to know if he had to drive me to the hospital.  Since the answer was no, he dozed back off.  That's okay....I couldn't believe I managed to throw up and inhale it in one incredibly smooooooooooth move.

I ended up coughing taco meat out of my lung for a couple of solid hours, then pretty much most of the next day.  At the urging of my husband, I made a doctor appointment to make sure there wasn't any offending meat left inside my super important oxygen supplier.

After a series of x-rays this morning, I was given the all clear.  Kind of.  I am on pneumonia watch because of breathing a foreign substance into my lung  (that is what happens when you aspirate [as-per-ate: fancy word for DOH]).

However, as the doctor managed to choke out, through his bursts of laughter, my chest is probably going to hurt for quite some time thanks to the taco seasoning.

Lessons Learned
1. Taco seasoning is PAINFUL.
2. Ambien does have down side.
3. It's a gift.  I truly have a gift for the unusual.
4. Noah wanted to know if I was going to grow tacos in my lung (thanks to that guy that inhaled a green bean, pea or whatever that decided to sprout in his lung)
5. It couldn't be chicken noodle soup night, could it?  OH NO, it HAD to be taco night.  Really.
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