Saturday, September 29, 2007

Catholic Comedy
A few fun photos from within the Church

Gotta love mixin' Theology and the Tap!


Holy Smoke!

The Flyin Nun's got nothin' on me!

Peek a boo! We can still see you.
or Joseph! Turn around and sit straight.

And you thought I had a funny hat. Check out this dude behind me.

Ratzy the Rock Star

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I've discovered the cause of runaway government spending

Our pocketbooks and wallets are under attack daily by excessive government spending at all levels. Our President, Congress, Governor, Legislature, County Commission, and City Council all suffer, from time to time too often, with spending largess.

I've experienced first hand a system that leads to waste with unnecessary cost embedded in bureaucracy. As an example, I'll be surprised if the $10 million allocated for U.S. 78 through the federal SAFETEA-LU bill results in $6 million in benefit to the local community.

We read daily of new and expanded government programs. We hear of services provided to those not eligible.

Too often our elected representatives spend like "drunken sailors". But, it may not be their fault. I may have stumbled on an alarming reason why they spend as they do. Could it be their education (indoctrination)?

I recently re-read an old article written about a former elected official, who is running for office again by the way, that scared me to "dickens" and shed light on perhaps the root of the problem.

This candidate, who desires control over our wallets, is a civics and government educator. He is quoted lecturing to his class in the third person, "Now you know Mr. Pickpocket (not his real name) doesn't like paying taxes and believes government is bloated," he said. "Mr. Purse Snatcher (also not his real name, but close), like most people, wants a high quality of life, but he doesn't want to always have to pay for it."

Well, who the "heck" is supposed to pay for his high quality of life?

You guessed it, you and me - Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Business Owner, Regular Joe, and Good Ole' American Guys and Gals.

So, you see, perhaps we are too harsh on our elected officials spending habits. If they've been indoctrinated from a young age to believe that when you grow up, you should run for public office, and then you too can enjoy a high quality of life paid for by the labors of others. Just like Mr. Gravy Train (no, not his real name either, but you get the picture). They're just doing as they were taught.

Perhaps we should require more stringent teaching credentials.

Monday, September 17, 2007

We're underway on U.S. 78

The culmination of several years effort has finally resulted in the U.S. 78 median project getting underway. The importance of this project is evident by the nearly one hundred who attended the ceremonial 'cutting of the cord' to remove the reversible lane and light system on Friday, September 14th.

Those attending included representatives from both U.S. Senator Chambliss and Isakson as well as the offices of Congressman Linder and Lt. Governor Cagle. Numerous State, County, and City elected officials included State Rep. Melvin Everson, who serves on the House Transportation Committee; Commissioner Mike Beaudreau; and Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer, who serves as Chair of the Georgia Municipal Associations Transportation Committee. We were also fortunate to have current DOT Board Member Rudy Bowen and two past DOT Commissioners - Wayne Shackelford and Tom Moreland attend.

Most importantly, numerous representatives from Georgia DOT, Gwinnett DOT, consulting and contracting firms, and our local business and residential community joined in the ceremony.

At completion, this project will literally change our community and provide a catalyst for positive community growth for many years to come.

Thanks to all who attended and to all who have supported this project for many years. If interested, you may monitor the progress by visiting the Evermore CID website.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What a day! Favorite people, favorite topics . . .

This has been a busy week leading up to our ceremonial groundbreaking for the U.S. 78 safety project on Friday. It's a $31.5 million road construction project I've been championing over the past few years in my role at the Evermore CID.

I began the day at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta in a meeting discussing the future of transportation and transportation funding with the Get Georgia Moving Coalition. The coalition is comprised of representatives of a diverse group - Chambers, Transportation Agencies, Private Interests, and Conservancy Groups. We all agree there is a need to create a new, coherent, and consistent transportation funding policy in Georgia. I really enjoy discussing important policy with bright people - a great way to start the day.

Lunch was even better at the OK Cafe where I enjoyed conversation with one of Gwinnett's greatest proponents and met the man I hope is the next President of the United States Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Prior to the Mayor's arrival, I spoke with a reporter from the London's Sunday Times who asked if a New Yorker would earn support in the deep South. That question was answered with a resounding YES as the Mayor worked the restaurant for nearly an hour. He was at ease shaking hands, kissing babies, and soliciting numerous shouts of support from the patrons.

Next stop on the way back to Gwinnett was a quick visit to my parents place of business. Mom operates a card shop and Dad a pharmacy - both under the same roof. When they told me they were going to merge their businesses under the same roof several years ago I asked, "Why would you want to ruin a 40 year marriage?" I was wrong, business is booming and they are happy as ever.

Back at the office, preparations for tomorrow's groundbreaking are going well. Events like this always seem to proceed better without my involvement. I'm not much of a party planner. I was able to respond to a request by the Georgia DOT and speak with representatives in Senator Chambliss, Senator Isakson, and Congressman Linder's offices confirming all will be represented at the U.S. 78 event.

Prior to heading home to my family, I spent a few minutes at an event for another of my favorite people - State Representative Melvin Everson. Melvin and I served on Snellville City Council a few years ago and he has gone on to represent a broader constituency equally well at the State House. Melvin is one of those individuals that give you confidence that our representatives and government can still get it right when we elect good people.

Also in attendance at Melvin's event was Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer. I enjoyed catching up with Jerry and learning of the many positive initiatives underway and planned for Snellville. Jerry's done an outstanding job as Mayor. In the area of Public Safety in particular, Jerry has truly expanded services. The Snellville Police have increased the number of officers to 50 and now have a bike patrol, motorcycles, commercial vehicles enforcement, expanded citizen police academy, youth explorer post, and more. Jerry's made public safety his priority and Snellville is the beneficiary.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ingenuity of business

In recent years, many communities have adopted new standards to address architecture, aesthetics, and signage. The primary role is to create an inviting place to live and do business.

These standards often require enhanced landscaping, decorative street lights, sidewalks, and monument-style signage of limited height and size. The new standards typically limit outdoor signage, banners, wall signs, balloons, and many other forms of attention getting advertising not consistent with the community's desired image.

Faced with reduced opportunities to display their message as large and often as they would like, business adapts and implements other types of outdoor advertising. Enter a proliferation of over sized trucks painted with advertising, mobile billboards, and the sidewalk sign carriers.

The community in which I live is being flooded with such advertising. Large panel trucks backed up to the curb of the highway advertising a hair salon or smoothie store - both businesses clearly visible from the highway and neither likely to use the large vehicles as a routine part of their daily business. Trucks with rotating, mobile billboards moving from intersection to intersection frequently backed into a parking space with the driver taking a "cat nap" in the cab while ad after ad scrolls across the back of the vehicle. Sidewalk hawkers at busy intersections waiving poster-sized signs as drivers pass.

I've gotta give business points for creativity. The marketplace has, at least to this point, effectively circumvented the intent of many communities when adopting such standards to control aesthetics and signage.

Too often there is much less creativity at work on addressing these attempts to bypass the community's desire. Advertisers, often third party companies selling space to local business unaware of the regulations, quickly claim constitutional protections in defense of their activities. The claim seems to paralyze enforcement efforts, but it shouldn't.

New York appeared over run with "squeegee men" who attacked cars at busy intersections wiping down windshields with dirty rags and demanding payment for the "service". New York Planning and Legal Departments were initially paralyzed on how to eliminate the nuisance. These men have constitutional rights to free assembly, free movement, free speech, etc.

Then Mayor Rudy Giuliani asked, "Do these men leave the cross walk when performing this "service"? The answer was - yes. Giuliani then instructed the NYPD to issue tickets for jaywalking every time a "squeegee man" stepped off the curb into the street outside the cross walk. Problem solved, no constitutional litigation.

I expect with a little ingenuity here, perhaps through parking regulations and enforcement within our public rights-of-way, the creative circumvention of community standards may be reduced or eliminated as well.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rudy may accomplish pro-life agenda

I support Rudy Giuliani for President for many reasons. One of which may prove my thinking a bit different. I am pro-life and I believe Rudy Giuliani may have the greatest impact on that issue - though I don't vote for a candidate based on any one issue alone.

The saying, "The Lord works in mysterious ways" may be very true applied to Giuliani. As an example, we have today, arguably, the most pro-life President in our nations' history. Yet, abortion has remained legal and will remain legal every single day of his 8-year Presidency. Ultimately, the decision is not the President's it is the court's.

Giuliani, who is personally opposed would preserve the decision for each woman. He would also appoint, demonstrated by past history, constructionists to the bench. It is believed, again by demonstrated past history, that constructionist judges would more likely end or greatly reduce abortion. My confidence in Giuliani is strengthened by vocal supporters such as Theodore Olsen, former United States Solicitor General, Miguel Estrada, former Assistant Solicitor General, and Co-founder of the Federalist Society Steven Calabresi all who serve on Giuliani's Justice Advisory Committee. Giuliani understands the term "constructionist" and he is less likely to make appointments that turn out later to be disappointments.

Further, the individual decision on abortion may be impacted by a number of factors including education, employment, and availability of services for foster care or adoption. Giuliani's strategy has demonstrated results - reducing abortions by 16% and increasing adoptions by 66% during his term in New York. That's not only real progress, those are lives saved.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Taking the plunge

I know I'm late to the blogosphere. I was once considered an early adopter of technology and web-based communication. Alais, I fear I'm aging and obviously slowing down.

I don't quite know yet what use this blog will serve, if any. Most likely, I'll just post random items of personal interest. If you happen to share any of my interests, I'd welcome discussion.

OK, on to my inaugural post.

My daily cigar is an exceptional, mild Dominican - Don Diego. Generally a Longsdale or Privada No. 1 is my size of choice. Today however, I'm enjoying an equally satisfying Santa Damiana No. 700. It too is a mild Dominican. Though I've enjoyed cigar smoking for over 20 years, I prefer milder, generally not too expensive smokes to the super premium or stronger brands.

For me a cigar is an opportunity to relax. It has a calming quality for me. I typically smoke when alone in my car or my office. I try to be mindful of others, but it is an activity I will not give up. I believe it was Twain who said, "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go."

Given the choice, I wouldn't go as far as Twain, but I chose to believe the best cigars are reserved for heaven's humidor.