Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mayor Harhay or Woodbury?

Today I wrote about why I think Warren Harhay should consider running for mayor. (Read it here).

One of the concerns I have heard is how can I write to support Councilman Harhay. After all, didn't I just write awhile ago about why I would like to see Mayor Woodbury run? (Read it here).

The truth is, I think there are several reasons why these two would be a great together on the ballot.

1. I think if these were the two options we couldn't go wrong. Both of these men love this city and would do what they feel is best. If they were the final two on the ballot I would eventually choose which one I felt would be best, but would be confident we would be in good hands.

2. These two offer different visions of the city and would offer the citizens a choice. Competition and options are good for our town. People shouldn't feel that there is only one choice or that they are stuck. Many people feel strongly that Mayor Woodbury is not a good option and these people have concerns and deserve a voice. I think Councilman Harhay would provide that and still be a strong, productive leader.

3. They both are true leaders who are willing to tackle the tough issues even if in the end it leads to them loosing power. Too often we base our vote on if we feel someone agrees with us weather or not they have true leadership qualities. (If you follow National politics today you can see the outcome of this.) I do not always agree with either Mayor Woodbury or Coucilman Harhay but I think they both care more about this city then their personal power, no quality is too be more desired in a true leader.



Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Getting out of...or back in "the system"?

Rob and Me and Jack in the Box

Being a single Mom is never easy. There is never enough money, time, or energy to get done what needs to get done. “My son would be better off without me,” often went through her head and when he turned 16 years old she left and he became officially part of “the system”. He did “okay” in the new life but his mothers ability to cope did not improve and by the time he was 17 she had not only left his life, but had taken her own.

By 18 he had graduated and the state funded group home he was a part of helped him land a job as a seasonal fire fighter. While he was working, they also helped him find a room in a shared apartment. At 18 with a job and a place to live, the State of Oregon was able to declare victory and clear the books of one more successful candidate who had left, “the system.”

A few months later the seasonal fire job ended, however he was undeterred and quickly found a job at Taco Bell. It was less pay but with the roommate sharing the bills, it was enough to get by. With work and a place to rest, he could sleep peacefully. That is until one morning at 2 A.M., when someone burst through his bedroom door yelling at the top of his lungs. Half asleep and sure someone was breaking in to attack him, he grabbed a small wood post that he kept near his bed, swung with all his might and heard a mighty crack that knocked the intruder both on his back and out. Fumbling in the dark, he turned on the light and saw his drunk, unconscious roommate lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

Rob grabbed some of his clothes as his roommate began to regain consciousness, within a few seconds Rob heard the return of the yelling, only louder and he was glad to be half way out the door before his roommate fully grasped what had occurred. The next morning, he returned to get the rest of his things. The bruised roommate apologized and asked Rob to stay. “I could have killed you.” Rob replied, “There is no way I am staying.”

A friend let him put his things in his garage, but after a few weeks of couch surfing, at the young age of 19 he spent the first nights of many on the streets. Taco Bell was enough to pay a portion of a room but not enough to get his own place, especially not when it required a deposit. A few weeks after being on the street he lost his job. “That first winter I would have froze, if it wasn’t for the truck stop. They’d let me stay inside. I get enough change for coffee and they would give me left overs and stuff. I had never tried coffee and by the end of the first winter I had lived off so much coffee that I vowed never to have it again. To this day the smell makes me sick.”

“I’d get a job for a while, get a place to live, loose the job, get a few months behind and by the time I found another job I would be back on the streets. That’s kind of the cycle I have lived for the last 22 years. Now at 41, I kind of found it easier just to embrace it.”

Running down the list of jobs he mentions a lot one might expect, waiter, construction worker, harvester, but building computers stands out.

“Yea, I built PC’s in Washington for a while. That’s what got me into gaming.” He gets very animated as he shows me his favorite game he plays on his phone. He is clearly very into it and by the sound of it plays most of the day. It’s a war, medieval, build castles, grow wheat, raid the neighboring village type game. He speaks of his guild mates, those he plays online with, as his family. “They are great, I look out for them, and they do the same for me. I have time to build up gold and food and I often give it out. They are very appreciative.” The symbolism of this last point is hard to miss.

“How do you afford the cell phone?” I ask. Oh, I have WIFI and power at 3 or 4 locations in town. I can always hang out at the library or here outside.” He was sitting with his cell phone plugged into an outside wall socket at Jack in the Box, when I first met him.

“How do you get by?”

“I get food stamps that I reapply for every 3 months. If I get sick the ER will see me.”

I am not sure now to ask the next question but fell compelled. “Do you have a plan to get off the streets or have you accepted it just part of your life?”

“I have narcolepsy, but since I’ve never injured myself it’s considered stage I. At some point I’ll fall asleep, hit my head, go to the ER, and get declared to be in Stage II, then I can get social security and finally have a steady paycheck and get off the streets.”

I was struck by the fact that, “the system” took a child abandoned at 16 who’s mother killed herself a year later, helped him get a job and room at 18 and then took him off the books, declared him prepared to live on his own. Now 23 years later the only path he sees to get off the streets is to once again through “the system”.

No one wants people to have to be on lifelong welfare. Everyone hopes people can get out of “the system,” and be on their own. But perhaps Oregon’s victory was premature? If you had Robs background would you have been ready to be on your own? Was a seasonal job and a roommate a recipe for success? Do our welfare programs at times simply shift the problem? Or hope to simply check a box next to someone’s name so they can be called rehabilitated?

Do we personally at times do the same to those who have been placed in our life, who truly need us the most?


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Police power


From the time I was young I was taught to have respect for the police. In fact I remember saying that I had seen a cop. My father quickly corrected me and said that we did not call them cops, it was disrespectful, they were police officers. However, as I have aged I have realized that police are human and that the uniform does not necessarily make men and women good. Not only that Power in all it's forms can be abused.  In a revelation given to Joseph Smith it was stated, 

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion." 

None of us are exempt from this. But despite this issue most men and women in the force effectively handle the power and really serve us very well. Trying to show the necessary respect for our officers and still hold them accountable for when they abuse the power they have been given, can be a difficult balance. My article this week in the paper (Click here to read), deals with this issue and with the fact that I believe departments can do much to help their officers maintain the trust of the people they serve by promoting clear and transparent policies.

I hope we all find the right balance and can hold our offices accountable for the power we have entrusted them with all while still showing them the very deep respect they deserve, for putting their lives on the line everyday.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why would anyone be mayor?

Today I wrote an article mostly about our mayor (click here to read).

Truthfully, I started writing this article with the idea being, "why would anyone want to be mayor?"

I have known the current and past mayor fairly well and it seems the headaches far outweigh the benefits. It takes a lot of time. People generally spend more time complaining about what your doing rather than giving any credit or praise. So why do it?

Honestly, some of it would be the prestige. I love the musical Les Miserables and there is a moment when Jean Valjean comes out and is singing and to show how far he has come and how great he is states, "I am the Mayor of the town." But whatever prestige comes with the job has to wear off fairly quickly.

I think the best reason to do it would be because you enjoy it. You enjoy the interaction with the public and the staff. You enjoy seeing what goes on behind the scenes and participating in committees you serve on. You love reading about past laws and local policy. You enjoy feeling like you make a difference. As I stated in my article, I plan to write several articles about those I think should and, if I get to it, some I think shouldn't run, both for Mayor and City Council. If you have anyone you recommend that I write about let me know.