Monday, July 25, 2011

An Open Letter to HOAs

Dear Home Owners' Associations,

First of all, I would like to say that I can respect a lot of what you do. When properly administered and run, HOAs can provide a wide range of benefits to a neighborhood: maintaining property values; making sure that everyone takes care of their property; providing amenities to residents (pools, parks, snow shoveling, etc). All of these are very good things.


All too often, I see HOAs which go off on major power trips and just end up looking stupid and petty. Walking around with rulers, measuring people's grass length. Trying to dictate what kind/size of pets people can have. Telling military veterans how/when they can fly the American flag! Telling kids they can't have a lemonade stand - on their own property! (And, yes, these are in fact all real examples.)

It seems that some of you HOAs need to be reminded of the real purpose of HOAs. It's NOT to tell people how they should live. Rather, it's making a neighborhood someplace people want live.

Want to know what will happen if you keep being so draconian? People will move out, which means property values might decline and you don't want that.

So I ask, you, please, pull your collective heads out of your asses and go searching through your attic or basement to find you ability to use reason, logic, and compassion.

In other words, quit being dicks!

[And, no, I don't live in a HOA-controlled neighborhood, but I've certainly dealt with enough of them and there have been a rash of recent news stories about incidents like those I listed above - and I felt something needed to be said.]

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I've Got A Pledge For Ya

Has anyone else noticed that there seem to be a lot of political pledges recently? They are especially prominent on the political right. Groups hoping (and all too often, succeeding) to control and direct the politicians and the political process are using these pledges as basically preemptive blackmail. While the groups and the details may change, the pledges all boil down to politicians saying "I will promise to do what you want because I think you're going to help me get/stay in office." And, unfortunately, the politicians who sign such pledges seem to actually be keeping them.

With all of that in mind, I decided to begin my take over by creating my own pledge for politicians to sign.

The state of American politics has devolved to little more than self-aggrandizing, mud-slinging and pointing fingers, meaning that important shit isn't getting done. In an effort to help get American politics back to a point of productivity and sanity, I, [insert your name here], do hereby pledge to the following:

1. I pledge to become educated on the things I vote on or sign; I will not vote on or sign something without actually having read it. That way I don't look like a jackass later when I have to try and unsign it.

2. I pledge to use reason and logic when considering pieces of legislation and policy, not just react to the emotions of those I think are (or someday might be) my constituents.

3. I pledge to actually focus on the issues while campaigning, and not simply resort to attacking my opponent.

4. I pledge to accept the fact that people will disagree with me, and I acknowledge that they have every right to do so.

5. I pledge to remember that just because someone disagrees with me does not mean that they are the enemy and are trying to "hijack the nation", despite what certain radio hosts and cable "news" programs might claim.

6. I pledge to accept the fact that sometimes I will be wrong; I'll admit when I am wrong and not try to spin it so I'm right(ish).

7. I pledge to actually listen to those who are experts on a particular subject and will give their views serious consideration even (and especially) if they differ from my own; I will not substitute editorials or opinion pieces for real research.

8. I pledge to own up to my fuck-ups and to try to fix them. And I mean right away, not only after it becomes clear that I'm not going to get away with it.

9. I pledge to remember that I work for ALL the people, not just the ones who have or maybe someday will vote for or donate money to me and/or my party.

10. I pledge to treat my fellow politicians with genuine respect; politicians are people too (or at least can be).

11. I pledge work WITH my fellow politicians and not AGAINST them, regardless of party affiliation. (But I promise to never say "Can't we all just get along?" - ever.)

12. I pledge to remember that things will very often require negotiation and compromise from ALL sides; compromise in not a four-letter word.

13. I pledge to do what is right, not what is simply politically convenient or advantageous.

14. I pledge to remove my head from my ass; that way I can hear better and less of what comes out of my mouth will be complete shit.

15. I pledge to quit signing asinine pledges which only make it harder to things done and result in political gridlock.

If I don't hold to these items, I deserve to have my ass tossed out of office.

Please feel free to send this to any and all of your politicians!