Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shootings in Tennessee church

I read Rod Dreher's BeliefNet post on the Sunday shootings in Knoxville. I also read some of the comments, but I stopped. Couldn't read it any more of them.
This had as much to do with "conservatism" as I do representing Judaism, other than the fact that I was born and raised as one. My disagreement with much (not all, mind you) conservative political practice stems from the failure to preach what once preaches reality that follows the platitudes (I guess the Bush Administration is the perfect example of that).
This killer represents only one group - wacked jobs who think that shooting people when you're down and out is a remedy to all your problems. What he wanted was 'suicide by cop' - the fact that he chose an innocent church that his ex-wife MIGHT have attended had little to do with it.
The fact that he brought his shotgun in a guitar case showed complete premeditation and the fact that children were present showed how little he cared about humanity, including youthful humanity.
These people are the ultimate examples of selfishness and wretched excuses for "God's miracles." They don't care for others, only themselves and seem too willing to go out like John Dillinger or Bonnie adn Clyde instead of doing the right thing - before killing others and THEN killing yourself, try reversing the process. Take the FIRST bullet to the brainpan and then see how far you get with the second part. It just might prevent innocent people from dying, which would be a blessing upon the rest of the world. You'll be gone and we'll be spared.
Sadly, we DO live in a society where he have prostituted such words as "liberal" and "conservative" to the point where they are substituted for logic and reasoning. These terms have been employed in the most vile manner to sell books, sell personalities and promote ones self for profit. We judge by these labels instead of examining, as Dr. King said, the ocntent of one's heart. In the case of Mr. Adkisson, that heart was filled with pure evil.
My wife is a UU, and yes, the church is well known as being open to gays and others that have been "shunned" by more traditional religious denominations. BUT there are many politically conservative members, wild-eyed liberals, people I know to be anti-Semetic and probably are racists. It has within its membership, former Catholics, Mormons, Jews, protestants and atheists.
Its DOCTRINE might be "liberal" whatever the hell THAT means anymore but its politics are scattered all over the place. When people (including staunch conservatives speak of the Founding Fathers with reverance, they speak about many men who were Unitarians and Universalists - the two factions weren't joined until a relatively short period ago).
To attack ANY house of worship is a whiplash on the back of the American fabric - the right to worship in peace and quiet without fear of repressions ... OR SHOTGUNS!
THAT is what people should also be focusing on - not the politics of the matter. This man didn't wear any strange outfits, or speak a foreign language or target a so-called foreign religion. He targeted Americans and he was home grown.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nipples Believe It or Not

Author’s Note: There are a million stories in the NAKED city; this is one of them. So BARE with me and I will keep you aBREAST of all the facts.
What you are about to read is a true story, sad to say in this day and age. But, upon further review, it is the day and age in which we live that is responsible for this nonsense. I have learned the hard way that when you fight corporations and their peculiar views of the day and age, it is like fighting city hall or butting your head against an immovable object.
Your head hurts and nothing happens … or changes.
The company in question is a major technology corporation in Dallas, but, for this offering, the names have been changed to protect the innocent; which, in this case, is my sweet wife and her loving paycheck. I’d tell you but I also want to stay alive.
And we begin:
It is said a blind squirrel gets acorns, too; that a stopped watch is right twice a day.
As a photographer, I have my moments; I find the acorn. One such acorn turned out to be the Saturday before Father’s Day when I took my wife, son and granddaughter, Riley, the MOST adorable 18-month-old little girl ever (strictly an opinion of total objectivity) to the Oak Point Recreation Center pool in Plano, Texas. It was hot and the water was not, and Riley is the kind of little child who fears nothing – least of all the water.
So, for 90 minutes or so, until the sun was too much to stand, we played in calf-deep water for me (waist deep for her). Riley would plop in the water, putting her head under the waterline and think it was great. No fear, as I said. She would run under the cascading water falling from tall towers as they were made for her pleasure.
And when Robert lifted her in his arms, I took a photo with the digital camera I carried because it is my want to document everything and every moment I spend with her. Later that night, it was apparent that the shot was that acorn – a moment of perfect joy and exuberance caught at the exact second.
SO proud were we of the photograph, I wanted to share it with the word. And the first opportunity came in the form of an art contest sponsored by the wife’s employer. We had entered a couple of years before with photo shots from past vacations (Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Boston Harbor, Saguaro National Park in Tucson), but this one just felt like a winner.
Off went the e-mailed form to a central entry point, with an attached image of what it would look like (as required by the company). As we prepared to frame the photo, this communiqué arrived in my wife’s work e-mail from the company’s director of public affairs.
“Thanks for your image submission. (I hate doing this, but it is a necessary part of my job.) Would you mind cropping the man’s nipple out of the picture? Since this is a corporate art show and we have a diverse group of employees that we try to be sensitive to, I need for this small change to be made both in the physical print and electronic image for it to be included in the show. Other than that, it’s fine.
“Thanks for your understanding. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

To say the least, I was shocked; jaw-droppingly, stutteringly, head-shakingly stunned. How was completely altering the image, by chopping off a part of my son’s anatomy (which was a natural thing to see … IN A SWIMMING POOL) … violate someone’s “sensitivity?” You have GOT to be kidding me, right?
So I penned (and e-mailed) the following response:
“I cannot comprehend anything on that image that would be deemed too ‘sensitive’ or, according to the stated rules of the contest, ‘considered inappropriate to display within (the company).’
“The photo is that of my son, holding his daughter (my granddaughter) during a recent visit to a Plano swimming pool. Both are completely and appropriate attired for the event, something every single employee of (the company) would be under the exact same circumstance.
“It is a photo of their joy, which I tried to have expressed through the picture and the entry. If that is considered too ‘inappropriate’ for entry into an art contest at (the company), then I cannot think of any entry that would be ‘appropriate.’
“However, in order to avoid any conflicts, and owning to the right that (the company) possesses to control its own contest and display on its premises, I respectfully withdraw this entry. As the artist, I cannot consent to any alteration of the image, something also is stated in the contest rules.
“I do not find anything shown to be overly sensitive or inappropriate. It is what it is – their (and my) happiness.”

I signed the note “Charles Bloom” in order to know I meant business. Had I really wanted to show I was mad, I would have done what my parents used to do when they were angry with me – use my full birth certificate moniker – Charles Andrew Bloom. That was a signal to my brain to look out below (usually nearer to my backside).
And as I read this, using “the company” so much, you’d think it was the CIA – yeah, the crop image agency.
Meanwhile, back at the work station, the wife forwarded my letter and a question: “What was wrong with this?” to the company’s top diversity person. And this was the response:
“Although I personally do not find it objectionable, this is probably one not worth quibbling over in the grand scheme of things. And that is really a shame because I see this as something special between dad and daughter.”
Hey, if this person got it, why couldn’t EVERYONE have the chance to get it? In other words, this executive-type person couldn’t explain the problem, but didn’t want to rock the boat; corporate types tend to stick together.
A few days later, the company’s public affairs person relayed another message:
(The company) has a very diverse population and we try our best to create a safe and comfortable workplace for everybody. Please know that cropping the nipple out of the image in order to include it in (the company)’s show was the decision of (the company)’s ethics department and not mine, alone. We would love to have you still participate in the show and welcome any additional pieces you would like to submit.”
Ethics?!? When did ethics enter into the picture?!? When did a man’s nipple become “unethical?” Uh, before or after God created it in his own image?!? IT’S A PICTURE … for God’s sake!
The dictionary definition of “ethics” is “a system of moral principles; the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.; moral principles, as of an individual; or that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.”
I fail to see the word “nipple” anywhere. Corporations, however, equate ethics with behavior and somehow nipples on a man in a swimming pool fail their standard.
Still, I checked with MY “ethics” department and it wouldn’t allow me to stoop that low in order to find something ethical, un-sensitive and appropriate enough to contemplate entering. I will not crop; I will not edit; I will not change the image. It is what it is. A NIPPLE!
Then my mind went into overdrive – creating puns that flowed like water off one of those play towers in the pool. Nipple-gate. “Nippled” in the bud. The “breast” that you can be. An old Doctor Demento classic tune, “(Do you like) Boobs Alot,” began rolling around in my head. It was followed by another old song by The Band, “Chest Fever.”
OK, that’s enough.
The photo in question will now go into the Bloom household Hall of Fame. I remain proud of my photographic effort. However, I will resist getting one of those pasties required by Dallas strip club dancers to wear and plastering it on the aforementioned area of Robert’s anatomy.
After all, I know when I’m licked … all over.
That’s how it is in the NAKED City. And now tit’s over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I sing the body eclectic

I earned my second “diploma” recently, but it wasn’t the kind of accolade that I wished had come my way. It was my second 12-week swim through cardiopulmonary rehabilitation at the Medical Center of Plano, following my March 3 heart attack. So when I finished the monitored portion, they presented me a certificate of completion and had me do a victory lap in a cap and gown.
The normal music would have been “Pomp and Circumstance,” but, ever the constant rebel, I substituted Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” No boat shall go unrocked, I say.
Again, I owe my life and bettering health to the women who guide that facility – nurses Elaine, Carole, Tea, Denise, Jeanne, Lynn, Michelle and Suzanne. To state that these ladies are “patient” with a variety of patients and temperaments would be a major understatement. It requires the strength of Hercules and patience of Job to fulfill the requirements, which they all possess.
When I first underwent the rehab process, back in 2002, I was trying to mesh those minutes (more than 90 of them each outing) with a long work schedule and three-hour commute. It didn’t mix so I chose maintaining health to any need to … eat.
As a backup plan, I investigated local health clubs to see what was offered to a recovering heart patient like me. The answer quickly came: very little. The lowlight was a visit to a place whose name I won’t reveal, but the initials are 24 Hour Fitness.
I was greeted less than eagerly by a sales representative, in his gym shorts and too-tight golf shirt, and when he asked me what I wanted to “get out” of a membership, I answered honestly, “To stay alive.”
He seems puzzled with my response. “No really, what goals do you have?”
I repeated, “To stay alive; I just had bypass surgery and I want to maintain a level of wellness through an exercise program that fits my work schedule.”
Then I knew I was in trouble when he said, “Bypass what?”
The young man then furrowed his brow and retorted, “I just don’t think this is the right place for you.” Stunned, I looked around and saw the reason why. I looked “wrong” for this joint. I was big, fat, old and unhealthy appearing. Most of the occupants were taut, trim, firm and far too healthy for the general population to stomach. Women looked like triathletes and the men all looked like they would start for the NFL or NBA.
I looked like the guy in the 40th row who had eaten most of the hot dogs in the concession stand.
Those of us in the rehab gym at MCL don’t have that problem. Many look exactly like … ME! – older, feeling the same aches and pains I do on a daily basis and who move just as slow and deliberate from station to station as I do. I just feel more at ease when self-consciousness is removed from the equation, and I can concentrate on the task of getting healthier.
Sadly, there are also young people present, far too youthful to conceive that they would be subject to such severe cardiac problems as to land them in the same place as me. It only shows that anyone (lack of age is NOT a deterrent) can be subject to such illness and maladies.
Which is why I won’t quit the regimen and why I will be a loyal customer-inhabitant of that rehabilitation center. Because I like the birds there that flock together.
Finally, in one defiant act – to thumb my nose at the aging process – I’ve decided to forego regular hair trims (at my age and my rate of badness, “trim” is about all I can manage) and see if, for the second time in my life, I can sprout a ponytail. The first attempt came after my divorce, again as a sign of rebellion against the system, and lasted more than a year until my daughters, not yet into double digits in age, stealthly braided my hair to make me look like Heidi. I marched myself to the barber the next day.
This time I am aiming for one of those gray post-pirate visages, with bushy beard to match.
After all, that boat STILL needs to be rocked – regardless of my age, size or appearance.

It’s great to be a grandfather

I will usually take time to talk about anything – politics, sports, movies – but I’d rather spend all day and night bragging about my 20-month-old granddaughter, Riley Claire. Everything else is insignificant in comparison, because, in the most profound terms, I know this: it’s great to be a grandfather!
I could make millions of dollars on a new workout-exercise DVD if I could only capture this child’s energy and the fruitless attempts on my part to match her perpetual motion. I’d call it “Chasing Riley” because it would accurately describe my grandparenting skills and reactions.
If only we, as occupants of this planet, made more of our decisions based on what is best for our grandchildren, instead of our (often) selfish interests, the world would be a better, more peaceful place. After all, who would want to place such burdens as hunger, war, hatred and poverty on innocent children?
On my “bucket list” is the desire to show Riley special places in this nation that she might not get to see in her lifetime. I’d love to have her experience the sight of the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, both oceans, the serenity of Crater Lake in Oregon and the historic areas of Boston and Washington, D.C. I took her aunt (my youngest daughter, Kelsey) on such a trip when she was 15, but I’d be approaching 70 in order to do that again. Since I’ve dedicated my remaining years to Riley’s welfare and happiness, I will do the best I can to fulfill that line item on my list.
So it was a treat to recently spend (Grand)Fathers Day with Riley and part of the activities included a visit to the Frisco home of my friends, Lei Zhang and Carl Clark.
Lei was born and raised in China and I hired her for my news staff a few years ago when I managed the Plano daily paper. Since that time, I have watched her grow and mature, earn her master’s degree from UNT, get married to a good man and become a loving, nurturing mother … twice (her oldest child, Charlie, is my godson). I don’t know if I can admit to being Lei’s “surrogate father” while her family remained in China, but I did my best.
Lei and Carl’s newest addition, Caroline, was born June 1 and there was an additional, special aspect to the event. Lei’s parents were able to be there to witness it, having made the arduous journey from the city of Jiaozuo in the Hunan province. Their home was not that close to the recent earthquake (although her sister lives in that province and was forced to spend several days in a tent because of aftershocks), but it took time, and some doing, to begin their journey to America.
Lei’s father speaks no English and what little Chinese I recognize is located on some dinner menu. Yet, when we met, I think we understood each other; we were in agreement that grandchildren are precious.
Which brings me to the photo you see with this offering. There is Xiaojun Zhang playing with Chuck Bloom’s granddaughter, as if she were his own. Almost immediately upon our arrival, this man, with only grandchildren in common, smiled and held out welcoming arms for Riley; she, of course, took to him like a fish to water. And it seemed so natural. They played together for many minutes with “cousin” Charlie and I kept hearing their laughter seeping through our “adult” conversation. He’d say something in Chinese and Riley would respond.
And there I sat, listening as one who took eight years of first-year Spanish – clueless in anything other than English.
As I watched them interact together, it gave me hope for Riley’s future – a man from China playing with a little girl from north of Houston – as if they were family.
Despite the difference in language and culture, the same message was sent loud and clear: it’s great to be a grandfather!

Monday, July 14, 2008

And the walls came tumbling down

A couple of days after this nation celebrated its annual independence, my childhood officially ended. That might sound like an odd thing for a man who approaches 56 to say, but all that I remember from my youth, all that I found happy and desirable, is being torn down.
With each punch of the wrecking ball, my memories crumble away with the brick, mortar and wood.
In my hometown of Detroit, workers have been the dismantling of venerable old Tiger Stadium – the former home to my beloved Tigers, the Lions and countless other events, such as championship prize fights. From my first visit in 1959 to a Tiger game against Baltimore, until my last game just days before I boarded a Greyhound bus for Texas in 1976, my favorite place in the whole world was at the corner of Michigan and Trumbell Avenues.
It was a wonderful place to see a game; you sat SO close you could hear whispers in the dugout and see the seams on a curveball spin towards the plate. Bleachers seats cost $1 and great seats, right next to the bullpens along each foul line, still meant just a $2 output.
Tiger Stadium meant a distinctive smell, between perfectly steamed hot dogs and kielbasa and beer and roasted peanuts; they were combined with the must and age that only can be appreciated by people who frequent old-fashioned barbecue joints in Texas. You know what I mean; where the walls ooze with the sentiment and sediment of days gone past.
And then there were the game and the stars. For the locals, it was the 1968 World Champions (and 1984 winners although I was already in Texas), following the likes of Al Kaline, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich, Willie Horton and Norm Cash. But it was an equal thrill to have seen men like Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Whitey Ford, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Carl Yastrzemski, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Hoyt Wilhelm, Richie Allen, a young Nolan Ryan and an aging Ted Williams, and the swinging A’s with Reggie, Catfish and Rollie.
My last game was the breakout game for a Tiger rookie named Mark Fidrych, when more than 38,000 demanded a rare (at that time) post-game curtain call for this phenomenon. It was the birth of the “Bird” and it swept the city, and the stadium, as I rode away.
I would walk, ride a bus or commute with friends in order to sit in the bleachers any day or night. Doubleheaders were like dying and going to heaven because you got to see as much baseball as you could stand for one low, low price. In the summertime, a trip to Tiger Stadium from college, plus a late-night pancake breakfast at The Egg and I (or two dogs, some pie, a bowl of chili and a Stroh's at Lafayette Coney Island) was matchless in the minds of young men all over Michigan.
I turned sweet 16 in Tiger Stadium watching the wonderful Gates Brown beat Boston with hits in a doubleheader that lasted SO long, we missed dinner reservations and I really didn’t care. That day, I also met one of the greatest players of all time, Hammerin’ Hank Greenberg, in the most unlikely place – the men’s room behind the first base dugout. Needless to say, it was a bad place to ask for an autograph.
The Tigers’ new home is located in a part of downtown Detroit which I only remember as Grand Circus Park, filled with large movie palaces. In fact, when I left for Texas, there was no Renaissance Center, no Pontiac Silverdome, or Joe Louis Arena. One cannot possess memories of what one does not remember; I only remember baseball as it was played in a facility that opened the same year as Fenway Park in Boston.
Following the departure of the Tigers for Comerica Park in 1999, the city of Detroit tried in its ineptitude to renovate the old lady, spending $4 million, but it just kept crumbling while city leaders and other interested debated the inevitable – its closure and eventual destruction. There remains a concerted effort to save the actual diamond part of the stadium, roughly from dugout to dugout, with some 3,000 of the seats as a place to house the extensive memorabilia of former legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who in his early 90s remains one of the most popular men in the Motor City.
However, it is going to require one of the dreaded “earmarks” to the tune of $15 million to save what little can be salvaged. Meanwhile, the city of Detroit has no plans, and no clue, as to what to do with the rest of the area.
In Pittsburgh, a small part of the left field wall of old Forbes Field (where Bill Mazeroski lofted his 1960 World Series winning home run against the Yankees) can be seen at the original site. In someone’s field outside of Cincinnati, many original parts and seats from old Crosley Field have been reassembled.
But to paraphrase Yogi Berra, the managerial poet laureate of baseball, “When it’s over, it’s over. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”
And my youth is gone. My sadness is profound. The last reason ever to visit Detroit has been knocked down and trashed.
So long, old friend. In my dreams, I’ll be there for a doubleheader of memories.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

East versus west – xenophobia in Plano, Texas

Certain politicians mistakenly believe that ignoring certain subjects will make those difficult topics disappear. It never happens and the reluctance to address problems only makes them more difficult to resolve in the future.
To offhandedly dismiss the chasm that truly DOES exist between Planoties living east and west of U.S. Highway 75 is to wear rose-colored glasses and still be blind. Such xenophobic attitudes do not serve the community well as a whole.
Please allow me to illuminate the problem for you on just a few fronts.
The retail inequity is undeniable and cannot be excused. There are NO major commercial entertainment complexes east of Central, no major shopping centers east of Central and an absence of major retail names east of Central. The biggest name – Home Depot – has seen its business diluted when the chain opened another store at Custer and Parker – four miles away.
There is a Sam’s Club, but no Wal-Marts east of Central. There are as many major chain grocery stores within a two-mile radius of my house as exist in all of East Plano. I count EIGHT Starbucks within that same radius and just one (inside a Kroger store) east of Central. And I doubt there are people wishing to buy that brand of coffee on the east side.
In terms of retail underdevelopment, the numerous strip malls surrounding my central Plano home see far too many empty spaces – often more than 50 percent of occupancy while the “new” businesses seem to be just more of the same (cleaners, nail salons, donut-pastry shops – the Holy Trinity of strip malls).
If you have doubts about such oversaturation, drive around and take a good look; you’ll be stunned at what you find. When is enough enough? And when those spaces are finally filled, why are there an increasing number of stores in Plano that utilize the word “dollar” or the number “99 cents” in the name? Is THAT the face of retail commerce that a city with a median income of more than $88,000 wishes to express? Really cheap stuff?
I, for one, do not count the “revamping” of downtown Plano as being highly successful because it is NOT a destination center, as McKinney has developed its downtown region. In the evenings, downtown Plano is deader than a doornail.
And all those higher priced townhomes, apartments and condominiums? I cannot imagine how well they are served without support businesses (groceries, drug stores, etc.) within immediate walking distances – which don’t exist downtown.
How many major office buildings exist east of Central? East Plano is loaded with warehouses and warehouse-related businesses, as well as the only rail line slicing through Plano. During the day, traffic is brought to a complete standstill for long periods of time as slow moving locomotives weave through the community – a curse not seen in the western half.
Yet the euphoria expressed by the council and city officials over high-dollar “mixed use urban” developments is nauseating. I’m happy for what the Shops of Legacy has done for Plano, although I think much of it is just a shift in business address location rather than any tangible additions to the landscape. Anything that duplicates that might well result in more of the same – a shift of the same businesses from one spot to the latest hot locale. – sadly, closer to Frisco.
And a majority of Planoites live closer to those empty shells than will ever venture to Highway 121-Dallas Tollway area.
I can point to the lack of spectacular success of the Shops at Willow Bend. Was such an expensive enterprise really necessary (notably with the help of taxpayer dollars going toward a parking facility for a private enterprise) in light of a larger shopping magnet being built FIRST just a couple of miles up the road in Frisco?
Apparently, the verdict from shoppers was FAR less than enthusiastic. Most of the original tenants have fled, leaving behind litigation about “broken promises” concerning patron traffic. There are days when you can roll a bowling ball through the complex and hit no one.
Could no one see what was happening at Stonebriar and estimate how it would adversely impact the Willow Bend site? If the average Joe or Jane can figure it out, you’d think some hot shot in an expensive suit would have that light bulb illuminate.
Our local government (meaning the council AND planning and zoning commission) should concentrate more on filling those empty spaces.
But, alas, the local government … how unrepresentative of the actual population can one group be? Most of the people on the city council live west of Central; in fact, live west of Coit in the comfy nest that is clearly WEST Plano. They might talk a good game about making decisions for the entire community but the proof is in the pudding and the pudding leans westward.
Here’s an interesting question: How many Hispanics have been elected to the city council? Zero. Where do MOST of the Hispanics live in Plano? East of Central. Of course, no Asian representative has been anointed to serve on the council and they live all over the place.
I note the ethnic makeup of the council because minorities (African-American, Hispanic, Asian, etc.) account for a far, FAR greater percentage of the population than they have ever been given in city hall. For the record, the school district, a full one-third populated by minorities has NEVER had someone that looks like them on its board of directors … for the same political reason (at-large voting discourages and nullifies most minority representation).
But when you have NO voice in the decision making, you lose interest in your community’s betterment. At present, all political faces look the same – from the same party, same political thinking and requiring the same political financing and backing from the same old power brokers. It matters not the candidate’s background or heritage, they require the same old guard personnel to stamp their candidacy in order to get elected. The current method only reinforces that outdated system.
There have been opportunities to help bridge the east-west chasm in Plano but few “leaders” have the gonads to step up to the plate and be what they claim to be – leaders! The most obvious case, and sorriest example of expediency as a substitute for leadership, is the proposed arts hall – to be built in Allen and NOT in Plano as was the original choice (and impression) by Plano voters.
In 1999, when the concept of a performing arts center was first floated, and actually approved by local voters, it was to have been located on the city’s east side – as the cornerstone for new economic growth in a section of town in dire need of such an enhancement. But in truth, it was just another empty promise made for political purposes (and votes) in a close municipal election; those words were quickly abandoned. The original concept was totally flawed and woefully (some might say criminally) under-funded from the get-go. Yet the money sat there, like a bad meal in the pit of someone’s stomach.
Two years later, the voters nixed additional funding and the proposed move to west Plano (at Spring Creek and Ohio) as part of a massive residential-commercial venture. Now we see it farmed completely out-of-town to a possible Allen location – as far, far away from any east side dream that might have been.
And now, some foolish pipedream has been put forth to “lend” ACCC the money required to do the job on some whim that in this staggering economy the taxpayers’ money will be returned to the city coffers in a timely manner. This concept borders on true stupidity for a number of reasons – the least of which is that the ACCC hierarchy has not shown its ability to manage this project whatsoever.
The price of erecting the arts hall increases daily and when the construction project actually is initiated, the price tag will be higher than any figure presented today. Yet who will cover THAT shortfall?
I go back to this indisputable fact – the people of Plano voted for its $19 million to go to a PLANO facility (it was going to be built for the sole benefit of the Plano Symphony and anyone claiming otherwise is Pinocchio). Allen, Frisco and McKinney had NOTHING to do with it and each community had its own plans for a performing arts facility. McKinney has one up and running and Allen has one in its new library complex. Of course, Frisco has Pizza Pie Park for major concerts and a hockey arena that can hold indoor events (Allen-Fairview will soon join them in housing a large indoor entertainment arena).
Meanwhile, Alma Drive, next to my street, floods uncontrollably when it rains anything harder than a gentle sprinkle. Many, many streets experience the same thing and no one red cent should be spent on any project until every street functions as it should and it’s not as a temporary lake during storms. Any officeholder who neglects streets for pipedreams should be recalled instantly.
Sadly, many of our past and current council have paid little attention to neighborhoods, sniffing out the large developers and their “contributions” to the city (and certain campaigns). And when the citizens spoke up about potential million dollar expenditures for silliness like musical fountains, those developers took their ball, whined publicly and went home with their Christmas lighting displays (also improperly paid for by taxpayers for use on private, commercial property).
Oh yeah, that fountain? It was earmarked for west Plano.
In Texas, it is said that if something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it is logical to assume you have a duck. The east versus west divide that exists in Plano is unquestionably a “duck.” The measure of real leadership is to convert that duck into a peacock, which will ONLY happen when real leaders emerge, not ones chosen by, propped up and controlled by a small faction within the city.
And if the current leadership find this analysis to be out of bounds, or too harsh, or whatever, then … DUCK!