Thursday, June 21, 2007

Shopping Carts

I think I have a solution for the parking problems at grocery stores. You know how it is; every time you go to the grocery store every good parking spot has a grocery cart in it. Here is the solution. The grocery stores should start charging a deposit for using the carts. It would not even need to be very much. Let's say $1. Then, like a pop (what some of us call soda) can when you are done with the cart, you go back and get your dollar.

Oh, wait everywhere doesn’t give money back for cans. Some of us have spent our whole lives getting a nickel back for pop cans. It’s pretty cool really. You do not see many cans on the side of the road. I’ve even heard rumors that in some states you can get a dime back. Here in Vegas we just recycle them at the curb. I have actually had people beat the trash people to my house and take them so they could recycle them for cash I suppose. Once I messed up and put my cans out a week early, only to find that somebody recycled them for me.

Anyway, back to the real story. I know what you're saying, “But, I'm not the person leaving the carts out to cause damage to all the cars. Why should I be forced to pay a deposit when I'm not the person leaving the cart out?” Well, if it isn't I and it's not you, then who the heck is it? It's certainly not the homeless. In fact, if they took the stupid wheel locks off there wouldn't be any in the parking lot at all. Actually, I'm sure that we wouldn't see any in the parking lots if they were worth a dollar. People would be lining up to take them back.

In the small town where I grew up we never had run away grocery carts. We didn't even take the carts outside. There was high school kids hired to do it for everyone. As I remember it, we weren’t even tipped. It was just part of our job. I remember someone getting a tip once but it was a person from out of town and stopped at the lake for the weekend. I remember thinking, "wow, that's what it is like to live in the city." Well now that I live in the city, it just seems like I must walk farther. But that is what we get for reserving so many prime spots for shopping carts.

At least that's the way I see it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The view from here

Unless you come from a small rural area, it is hard to appreciate the difference that a city and farm country can bring. Although my family wasn’t farmers, we did our share of farm activities. I barely know anyone that didn't grow up walking beans, bailing hay, or detassling corn.

My father probably gets credit for being one of the smartest people on the planet when he encouraged me to go to college. "Son", he said, "perhaps you should go to college. You just aren't very good using your hands". It was wise advice, but maybe not a revelation since I can barely change a light bulb let alone work on anything mechanical. It's those types of memories that make the political world of Las Vegas seem so amazing to those of us not from the big city.

Amazingly, in the Las Vegas Review Journal yesterday, there was an article in the Nevada section detailing the history of corruption that Clark County Commissioners have shown. The headline reads "Class of 1999: Vote (by Clark County residents) most likely to succeed..." (p. 1b).

Along with the headline was a picture of the commissioners at that time. In 1999, the commissioners were Lance Malone, Dario Herrera, Erin Kenny, Yvonne Atkinson-Gates, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Bruce Woodbury and Myrna Williams. Since then Dario Herrera, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey, Erin Kenny, and Lance Malone are either currently serving prison sentences or on their way. Atkinson-Gates is under scrutiny for enriching herself although she has not been charged with any crimes. Bruce Woodbury is the only commissioner still serving, and to his credit, he is apparently above all the scandal that plagues the commission.

It probably isn't a surprise to most folks from the Las Vegas area that such things take place here. It appears to be part of the local culture. Nevertheless, for a small town person from rural Iowa it is a real revelation.

Back home I remember some controversy when the town mayor was found letting off fireworks on the 4th of July. Certainly it may have been patriotic, but the town mayor committing such an act? Many were aghast at such scandalous behavior. Lately that former mayor is constantly in the news for suing the city for allowing a fence be put up in a vacated alley. He argues that it infringes on his use of his own property. Right or wrong, I don't know but certainly as exciting as it gets for back home.

I remember moving back to Iowa right after I received my undergrad degree from Northwest Missouri State University. At the time, there was controversy everywhere about family farms. I know the issue is still troubling for many back home.

However, I'll never forget the first time I saw the following signs while driving down Interstate 80 towards Des Moines. As I recall, the first sign said "Urban Sprawl ain't too pretty", a while later was another sign "save our farms, build in the city". I believe there was a picture of a farm animal, tractor, or such along with it. However, the next signs were even better: "Building homes on rural ground" "How 'bout raisin hogs downtown". Those farmers really had a sense of humor, but that was the controversy we had at the time.

I can only imagine the signs politicians in this area may use as a catchy slogan: "Taking money from special interests", "save our state recall Gibbons".

Well, I'm sure it needs work, but that's how I see it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Preview

Hurry, Hurry, Hurry, Step Right Up. The Circus is in town again. Oh wait, that isn’t Barnum and Bailey leaving Carson City. As Porky the Pig might say “That’s all folks”. The Nevada State Legislature adjourned this week and will now be officially “Out to Lunch” for the next two years.

To this observer it appears that there was just a lot more political feuding and not a lot of real action taking place. Sure, they sent some money to help with Autism (a big hooray for that!). And the Las Vegas Convention Bureau will not be suing the state for taking too much money as a compromise bill came out about how to fund the state’s roadways.

The sad thing is that the biggest winner in the fiasco we in Nevada call a legislative session is probably Governor Gibbons. You see, Governor Gibbons promised to veto any potential tax increase and used his “political power” to try to stop folks from placing items for vote during the next election. How could the least popular governor in the country have political power to do anything? I wouldn’t be more surprised if I saw George W. Bush campaigning for Hilary Clinton. Out of the hat, Gibbons pulled a pilot program that would provide$10 million pay for performance education initiative, $4.5 million for gifted and talented and after school programs, and incentive pay for hard-to-fill subject areas.

Speaking of presidential elections, the races are really heating up across the nation. This means more and more political preening will be taking place throughout the state. I guess the candidates know where to come to get money. Of course, these politicians should be careful as they may run into the same ethical problems that plague so many of our local and state politicians. I would think it is tough for the national candidates to decide whom they should get their picture taken for since there is a good chance that one of the Nevada politicians may end up serving 4 to 8 right alongside them. Oh, not right beside them, but serving time nonetheless.

Who knows, but that’s how I see it.