Kris Murray Discovers West Anaheim! (What’s the catch?)


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columbus discovers americaCouncilwoman Kris Murray has finally noticed that we have a West Anaheim, and that West Anaheim has long been in need of some loving.

I wish I could be optimistic that her sudden attention to the area of our city that holds my childhood memories might result in West Anaheim once again being a nice place for the next generation of children to make their memories. I’ve become very jaded over Murray’s six-year tenure, from watching citizens come to the podium begging for help from City Hall, only to be ignored. Too often have I watched our Council majority clearly bored to tears at having to listen to us drone on and on for 3 minutes each, making it obvious that their decisions were already made long before they entered the Chambers, and that our effrontery in presenting our own views is just delaying their vote. The established record of  Murray’s majority suggests that any proposal for new programs is likely a cover to provide public funding for some project already secretly desired by the Council, and all that’s left is to give the process the veneer of public participation in order to “comply” with State law, even if that compliance is Kabuki theater for the masses.

I wish I could believe that an area of our fair city that is represented by TWO Council Districts, thanks to its sheer size and importance in “flatlands” Anaheim, might see innovative proposals that reinvent public policy and show the rest of Orange County what a really great urban renewal effort looks like, as we lead the way into the future. History tells me we’ll instead see the reheated leftovers of old ideas that didn’t work 20 or 30 years ago when they were bright and shiny and new, and work even less now that the marketplace has shifted into something unrecognizable to our sclerotic policy makers. Call me cynical, but it’s the press release put out by Murray that telegraphs that message, loud and clear. Let’s read it together and see if you come to the same conclusion regarding her intent for public funding and West Anaheim’s future.

kris murrayThe media release touts itself as: “An op-ed by Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, exclusively for AnaheimBlog:”  Why an exclusive to AnaheimBlog? If this new policy impacts such a wide swath of the city, wouldn’t you want to communicate with as many citizens as possible?  (One wonders if Matt Cunningham’s handlers/funding source understand his hit-meter is not registering increased interest of readers seeking a credible news source, but simply predictable snark by a few anonymous insiders mixed with the occasional  smart-assery from some of us who object to yet another attempt to pilfer the people’s purse via Public Private Partnership. (AKA P3; AKA “Pockets Picked by Professionals.”))

The HEADLINE for the AnaheimBlog post reads;

Kris Murray: Anaheim Investment Races Westward

So then…why does the LINK read:

http://www.anaheimblog.net/2016/04/06/anaheim-chamber-leads-lunch-march-9-2016/

Wait, was this a file generated by Murray, or by the Chamber of Commerce?  Is there a difference between Kris Murray and the Chamber of Commerce?  Inquiring minds want to know.  We’ll reprint Murray’s original gem down at the bottom to save you the unpleasantness of clicking on that link; meanwhile we’ll fisk certain bits of it that jump out at us.

invitationtotheaffluentBut first let’s all come to agreement:  NOBODY’s arguing against the NEED for investment in West Anaheim.  Clearly Anaheim’s “economic engine” hits neutral when the boundaries of the Resort are cleared.  For decades we’ve also heard that the contrast between the Resort and the areas outside of it is not accidental, that Anaheim’s all-powerful rodent has ordained that no other area of the City shall be desirable enough to entice their patrons to put their credit cards to use outside the boundaries of the Grand and Glorious Resort.  It’s doubtful there’s a smoking gun of a Disney executive ordering a Clinton-era City leader to quit trying to fix up the aging west end.  But I’d be equally shocked to find messages from Disney complaining that the city outside the miles of “no-see-em fencing” has become an offensive eyesore to visitors who wander outside the Resort.  (Didn’t I hear they have tourists “lo-jacked” or something to trace them and their wallets, with an alarm going off if they wander past Ball Road?  Damn, now I’m sounding like Fitzgerald.)

Regardless of the initial motives for Anaheim’s leaders failing to commit resources to West Anaheim, there is no question that City Hall has neglected their most basic obligations to maintain the area. Today the deferred maintenance is so overwhelming that we could use all of the city’s “surplus revenue” for years to come, to backfill the gaping maw of need west of Euclid, and still not touch the reality of all that is owed to the taxpayers of Council Districts One and Two. My critique of Murray’s Op Ed is just that, an objection to the non-answers Murray is offering to a very real problem that deserves an answer, and is in no way an objection to finding (and funding) solutions to West Anaheim’s slow, painful demise.

ISSUE ONE: Murray’s timing is questionable at best.

Kris Murray has been on the City Council for 6 years, with 2 years left in her last term.  The issues facing West Anaheim are not new, in some cases the issues go back decades, and yet only after 75% of Murray’s tenure is she getting around to even mentioning the needs of West Anaheim.  As priorities go, the desperate need to focus on the deferred maintenance and economic stupor of West Anaheim vastly exceeds the “need” for 4 star hotels or an even larger Convention Center-shaped crater in our General Fund, yet where has Murray’s attention been so far?  Welcome to the party Kris, better late than never I guess. But what lit the fire under her, when residents have been begging for help long before she was sworn in the first time?

ISSUE TWO: Friends in low places.

lodgeDoes anyone else question Steven Albert Chavez Lodge running for City Council in West Anaheim, concurrent with Murray’s sudden interest in West Anaheim?  Again, AnaheimBlog becomes the source of the establishment “spin,” this time reinventing Lodge as some home town boy from District 1, an argument with as much backing as his ever using the name “Chavez” before his racial pandering for votes in 2012. BTW, Steve’s prospects this year in West Anaheim, where folks tend to remember who’s been involved and who hasn’t, look no better than his 2012 faceplant, when despite raising about $75k, and being the beneficiary of serious IE’s, Lodge still got his ass handed to him by a campaignless ghost, a nearly fictional character that no voter could even identify on the street:

14,091 Jennifer Rivera
13,834 Steven Albert Chavez Lodge

connor traut 1The dropping-into-place of young Connor Traut into the West side, and the recent horror of long-time residents at his “back door” with his handler Jordan Brandman taking over the West Anaheim Neighborhood Council, a group neither had ever shown the slightest interest or involvement in, was the tip-off, and is now followed by Lodge’s addition to the team roster.

The spectacle of sending establishment puppets over to play in the same ‘hood that Murray has taken a sudden (belated) interest in does not escape us.  If AnaheimBlog serves any purpose beyond comic relief it is telegraphing the Kleptocracy’s next move. The next move is certain to be a power play in West Anaheim.  Can we really have any doubts?

Now back to Murray.

Let’s read through Murray’s media release, “exclusive” to the fever swamp, and when done we’ll get a show of hands for all OJB readers who think a developer-buddy has big ideas about pocketing the public purse in an “incentivized” deal in West Anaheim.  Murray’s “policy” offers the cover to extend that special pal that special funding, while The Machine hopes Lodge will be there to oversee the project as the Council member elected to the District. Anyone got a better theory that fits the history we’ve consistently seen from this merry band of miscreants?

NAME THAT DEVELOPMENT!

sinkinlincolnWe’ll have to wait to discover which development pops its head up for a big, sloppy, wet kiss, compliments of the common taxpayer.  Sinkin’ Lincoln (right) was already scheduled for a deal with RDA funding – is that deal still on?  And could they possibly want MORE?  Could someone be assembling a parcel from the no-tell motels on Beach Blvd?  What other sizable parcel or development is out there in need of rehab?  (Ok, besides everything?)

There is still a vacant parcel next to the Youth Center on Beach Blvd (below left) and, whoever the owners are, they should be ashamed for its blighted condition – it’s an eyesore filled with trash and debris surrounded by a chain link fence, the sort of thing outlawed in other areas of the city, yet somehow acceptable there.   Well, as it turns out, the City itself owns the vacant parcel, so clearly the rules for thee and me don’t apply.

vacantcitylotnexttoyouthcenterbeachblvdThe public funding that brought us the re-imagined Anaheim Plaza seems to have been flushed like a weekend of Vegas buffets, a weekend neither memorable nor enjoyable, a weekend that leaves one with an empty feeling afterward.  Could Murray be prepping us to renew that embarrassing altar to the lowest common denominator of impoverished discount retail?

We WILL be watching to see where the incentive packages land, and reporting back when we know.  While I take a little break from checking applications and proposals filed with Planning, let’s parse Ms. Murray’s statements and see if we can locate any meaning in them.  I know, that’s a tall order, but every now and then she slips up and accidentally puts actual information into her endless, monotone diatribes.

MURRAY:  “West Anaheim has struggled for years to attract quality retail and commercial investors, especially in the wake of the elimination of redevelopment.”

Oh, so now we’re blaming the the demise of West Anaheim on the demise of RDA’s?  Sorry, but those of us living in Anaheim prior to Murray’s being parachuted in know that the problem greatly pre-dated RDA’s involvement, and RDA’s even more recent dismantling.  The quality retail and commercial investors that once targeted West Anaheim fled along with the demographic base of moneyed residents, because the City of Anaheim itself failed to protect their investments with the basic civic upkeep expected of responsible government.  Period.  They saw that while West Anaheim’s residents kept their promise to maintain their properties, City Hall hadn’t looked twice at the public infrastructure west of Euclid since the sidewalks were poured.  The number one obstacle to the West’s attraction of quality vendors has been the government inaction of Anaheim City Hall.  The arterial streets of West Anaheim drag down the image of the area, and that responsibility lies solely in the wheelhouse of Public Works and Anaheim’s General Fund.

An aerial view of the shopping center now known as Anaheim Plaza on North Euclid Street taken in 1959 when The Broadway, the sign for which is visible in the center of the photo, anchored the center.

An aerial view of the shopping center now known as Anaheim Plaza on North Euclid Street taken in 1959 when The Broadway, the sign for which is visible in the center of the photo, anchored the center.

As West Anaheim continued to decline, the once-affluent residents that lived there left town.  Those with the funds to choose where to live chose somewhere else.  With the departure of disposable income, the better retailers left.  Today West Anaheim is now largely a place of young families, who live here while starting out, looking for bargain prices for the basic goods and services they purchase.  Those discount offerings align with the unkempt streetscape imposed upon West Anaheim’s residents by an unresponsive City Hall.  Add the high density affordable housing projects shoe-horned in by RDA, and the spillover parking that results, and we’ve created a stew pot of misery for those who have chosen to stay and fight for the dignity that  remains in once great neighborhoods.

Keyser Marsten just delivered a report on West Anaheim this time last year, it is posted on the West Anaheim Beach Blvd Corridor page for the City website, and you can read it here.  From that report:

 Keyser Marsten:  “The socio-economic makeup of the market area will have an impact on retail opportunities.  In particular, retailers focus on population density, income levels and education levels.  The market area has a moderately dense population; however, both the income levels and education levels are lower than the County average.  The lower income and education levels may impact retail opportunities for some retail types along the Corridor in the near- to mid-term.”

Even in a booming economy, no retailer in their right mind could envision development of a high-end destination befitting the “gateway” to the western section of California’s 10th largest city, and the region’s “economic engine,” when faced with the graffiti, fast food wrappers, and solicitations from gender-neutral parties in Lucite stilettos, with optional lighting package for the high heels.  Cries from residents and business owners for the civic upkeep expected from their tax dollars fell on deaf ears for decades.  Some residents, and many, many of the commercial investors, took the U-Haul route, leaving behind so few of the once middle-class anchors that West Anaheim had been initially built for, that the Keyser Marsten report commissioned by the City now states quite clearly there isn’t a demographic element in West Anaheim sufficiently affluent to support the high end retail that remaining residents are crying out for.

... and after.

… and after.

Now factor in the “new economy’s” death of brick and mortar retail stores, as the internet takes our orders, processes our payments, and drops off our packages nearly as fast as it takes to find a parking space at the mall during Christmas.  But Murray laments the loss of retail as if a subsidy can somehow restore the buggy whip manufacturers of America.

MURRAY: “Essentially, the spotlight has not been on West Anaheim, and it is time for the city to commit its resources to incentivize quality economic development, similar to our city’s success with the Packing House district.  West Anaheim residents deserve action.”

kid broke lamp1. Can we PLEASE drop the passive voice that avoids taking responsibility?  I expect children to make statements like, “the lamp got broken,” I expect adults to admit, “we failed in our duty to the taxpayers to shine the spotlight on West Anaheim, and it is time for the City to remedy that failure and commit resources to incentivize quality economic development….”  Restitution rarely takes place absent contrition, and this statement does nothing to assure residents and businesses that City Hall understands where THEY screwed up in not providing the basic investment that taxpayers have the right to expect from their government.

2. We also must note what Murray is NOT saying here.  Read her PR release slowly and carefully, because she is not offering to clean up the long-neglected public realm that brings shame to the well-kept residential areas directly behind the ghetto-like arterials left to rot by City Hall.

Murray makes it clear, in her own talk-around-the-issues way, that she is seeking subsidy packages for her developer buddies.

“…My plan calls for an incentive program aimed at attracting new retail and restaurants, as well as commercial developments, to generate quality jobs in West Anaheim.”

Which is it?  Are we creating quality jobs?  Or are we attracting retail, and restaurants?  How does someone holding office for 6 years not understand the difference?  How does someone who holds herself up as an expert on public policy not understand that no business can survive – even with a subsidy – absent the existence of the target market needed to sustain the business?   That market does not exist today in West Anaheim, not in numbers sufficient to sustain the industries, and no subsidy fixes that.  Nor will higher employment in low wage business sectors correct the demographic shortfall.

The problem is, subsidies don’t work.  While Murray likes to tell us programs have been “successful” in the past, she fails to point to any specific examples.  The “successful” hotel subsidy program has yet to build a single hotel.  A previous subsidy that has been in place for decades managed to build ONE hotel, also owned by the Gardenwalk owner Bill O’Connell, although that was not for a 4-star hotel, and costs us a minimal kickback in exchange for the developer building a hotel in the deepest, darkest days of post 9-11 Anaheim (or 7-11 Anaheim, I forget which one.)

3 broadwayThe backbone of America’s economic recovery has been small business.  Yet small businesses are not positioned to take advantage of most subsidy and incentive programs.  Economic development schemes designed at the state level are almost always intended to transfer large sums of money to large corporations, with minimal to non-existent accountability for results.  Small businesses not only don’t qualify for subsidies that require deals on a scale far beyond their capacity, they don’t want subsidies that incentivize shoehorning a business into a market that cannot otherwise support the business without the subsidy.  Big corporations can juggle their books and use the loss to offset gains in other areas, pocketing the subsidy into another account that makes the balance sheet work.  Small business simply does not operate that way.  The biggest challenge faced by small business is lack of access to capital, as the big corporations now have business banking locked down.  It isn’t taxpayer underwriting that the up-and-coming businesses need, they require lines of credit.  I see nothing in Murray’s one-size-fits-nobody proposal to examine such innovative funding mechanisms.

MURRAY:   “Specifically, I called for the hiring of an economic development consultant to study successful, local incentive programs that would complement the history, geography and demographics of West Anaheim, with the goal of delivering and adopting a program tailored for West Anaheim by July 12, 2016.”

TWO QUESTIONS.

ONE:  So…anyone want to take a guess at what happens July 12, 2016, that sets the deadline for Murray’s one-woman redevelopment show?  Is it her birthday?  Curt Pringle’s Birthday?  I’m willing to bet some developer will think it is THEIR birthday.  When Council members set a seemingly arbitrary deadline for action, they have a reason, and Murray has something in mind tied to the July 12th meeting.  Anyone out there know?

TWO:  When did Murray obtain authority to demand the hiring of consultants?  If the consultant fees exceed $100k, she needs two other votes of her colleagues, in an open and public meeting, to approve that expenditure.  If the consultant fees are below $100k, the City Manager may hire a consultant, as needed by various departments.  But the City Charter is very explicit in the prohibition against Council interfering with the day-to-day operations of the City Manager’s office.  This prohibition is especially strong in the hiring, firing, and scheduling of help, specifically to avoid directing contracts as special favors.

(But then, anyone following our City Charter would also understand the illegality of ordering the City Manager to cut the budget and hours of ONE, and ONLY ONE, staff position – Mishal Montgomery’s – in open retaliation against the only staffer assigned to the elected mayor.  But who’s counting?  In short, who the Hell gave Murray both the magic wand AND the tiara?

May we assume that last year’s Keyser Marsten report (mentioned above) didn’t give City Hall the answers Murray wanted, so she will find another consultant who will?  Meanwhile, our tax money is used to pay for these back-to-back assessments.  Why go through the motions of diagnosing the patient when Murray has already prescribed the cure?  Subsidies appear to be the only solution Murray knows.  Like a toolbox that only carries a hammer leads us to see everything as a nail.

MURRAY: “This formula has proven successful for decades since city leaders first invested in Angel Stadium, Anaheim Convention Center, Honda Center, Anaheim Resort and most recently, the downtown Packing House district.”

So if Anaheim has a successful formula, did they simply withhold it from West Anaheim up until now?  If there is a successful formula, then why hire a consultant to study other cities and come up with something?  Oh wait, that’s right, Murray does have a formula: “throw money at it.”

honda centerLet’s hope that West Anaheim gets a better deal in this economic development policy than provided in these “investments” cited by Murray.  The public is lucky to break even on the Stadium and Honda Center, despite decades of bond payments “investing” in these sports facilities.  The Honda Center’s success story is limited to their management, currently celebrating a big win, compliments of the City Council, thanks to a no-bid, sole-source monopoly as the ONLY provider of fireworks sales in Anaheim.  Because nothing symbolizes our nation’s 240 years of freedom from the tyranny of entitlement style government quite like buying your fireworks through tyrannical entitlement-style government contracts.

The Convention Center loses over $10MM a year (and climbing) while the department claims a “contribution” to the General Fund, because Anaheim fails to deduct the bond payments against the cost of the facility.  Wouldn’t your budget look healthier without your mortgage payment included?  As far as the Resort, they DO indeed provide just under 25% of our General Fund revenues…IF we do not calculate the hidden cost of hosting more low-wage labor than any other employment base in OC.

la–fo–1020–anaheim–packiBut hey, why let facts and numbers get in the way of Murray’s self-promoting press release?  As far as the Packing House, while it has certainly been the catalyst for new private sector development, I clearly recall the roughly 20 years of watching the building sit underused and rotting (literally) while dragging down surrounding property values as RDA fought back against the locally proposed premise that a “foodie concept” would work there.

So forgive my skepticism about the same pack of pencil pushers designing something for West Anaheim based on the orders and predetermined outcome of the City Council member with the least understanding of how the private sector really works, and no firsthand experience in how an entrepreneur investing in West Anaheim makes payroll.

MURRAY: “In addition to this proposed economic development program, the city is taking other substantive steps to improve the quality of life for West Anaheim residents.”

BINGO!

I GOT IT! “Substantive!” It’s right there on my BINGO CARD! I get the scented soap set in the decorative plastic soap holder! It’s all MINE!

Sorry, back to the Murray Me-Fest.

MURRAY: “This process involves significant community involvement from residents and business leaders who formed a Community Advisory Committee.  With the successful implementation of the city’s Quality Rental Housing program, a program that I championed, more than 20,000 rental units in West Anaheim have been upgraded and improved over the past year.”

Read:  This process involves sending in hacks paid to be at community meetings for hours because it is their job. That job involves loading design charettes with “community input” for the types of developments that campaign contributors happen to specialize in.  City staff will then “Delphi” the process for “community consensus” to ensure that a predetermined outcome is given a rubber stamp.  Who said political manipulation was easy?  This is hard work!

As far as the 20,000 rental units upgraded and improved in West Anaheim over the past year, I am going to be checking on that.  You might be shocked to hear that Murray can occasionally, uh…be a touch optimistic in her definition of success or recollections of her own involvement.  (Please see her claim of “dozens” of meetings with staff to understand the bond issues for the Convention Center prior to approval.)

MURRAY: “When we focus on economic development in Anaheim, we have a proud tradition of becoming like a pit crew at a race track.”

Uh, no, Kris.  Sorry.  A pit crew is held accountable for their performance, based on actual results (you know, like winning races.)  In fact, if we equate Anaheim’s economic development team to a pit crew, the tires would be rolling across the tarmac, bouncing against hay bales, and threatening the lives of scantily clad women at the Monster Energy Drink party tent.  A pit crew has to WIN races, and win them consistently, ideally without killing the driver or the fans watching the race.  A pit crew does not get to “project future winnings” and collect their paychecks anyway.

Council member Murray has telegraphed her intent to subsidize restaurant and retail development, and pass it off as a “win” claiming these low wage positions are “quality jobs” and the subsidy is prompting “private investment in our community.”  By laying the ground work for development she has almost certainly been alerted to, Murray gets to claim the “win” when development follows her “program.”  We get the same result by predicting the sun will rise tomorrow, except we aren’t diverting public funds to Sol the deity, as our sacrifice for the infusion of daylight.

Anaheim deserves better.

modjeska 1

This is what our Council majority does not get.  This is why so many residents keep showing up at City Council meetings, and the number is growing.  Those of us who know and love the essence of what Anaheim is and what She represents understand that Anaheim is not the land of the “also-rans.”  We did not found a city in 1857 based on the premise of propping up the failing cattle ranching industry.  As Juan Pacifico Ontiveros faded into the sunset with the last of his cattle, abandoning the land that had been flooded and parched by drought and flooded again, the pioneers of Anaheim saw the sandy alluvial flood plain of the Santa Ana river bed for the mineral rich soil that would grow grapes, and let otherwise struggling immigrants become wealthy selling something everyone wanted.

Anaheim has ALWAYS seen “the next big thing” before others did, and we have always staked it all on that innovative vision for our future.  We embraced Walt Disney’s plans, when other communities rejected it for fear of a town full of toothless carnies and questionable midway operators taking over the neighborhoods.  Anaheim got it, and had our forefathers not cut such a disastrous deal, compounded by the current leadership’s refusal to renegotiate the disaster when the time came, Anaheim’s neighborhoods would be flourishing from that shared vision.

Note that none of the things that made Anaheim great resulted from offering products or services of such little demand that a subsidy is needed to prop up the market. Anaheim deserves better, and in PART 2 we will talk about how to diagnose the patient, and perhaps discuss some cures and remedies other than the public checkbook.

And now….here’s MURRAY!

kris murray dictator

An op-ed by Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray, exclusively for AnaheimBlog:

Anaheim Investment Races Westward

By Kris Murray, Council Member, City of Anaheim

When we focus on economic development in Anaheim, we have a proud tradition of becoming like a pit crew at a race track. Our goal is to build and maintain an economic engine for success, and our residents and neighborhoods win when quality jobs, city revenue and the services it funds, and dynamic retail and commercial centers cross the finish line. This formula has proven successful for decades since city leaders first invested in Angel Stadium, Anaheim Convention Center, Honda Center, Anaheim Resort and most recently, the downtown Packing House district.

At the last city council meeting on March 22nd, I proposed a new Economic Development Zone for West Anaheim. My plan calls for an incentive program aimed at attracting new retail and restaurants, as well as commercial developments, to generate quality jobs in West Anaheim. Specifically, I called for the hiring of an economic development consultant to study successful, local incentive programs that would complement the history, geography and demographics of West Anaheim, with the goal of delivering and adopting a program tailored for West Anaheim by July 12, 2016.

As one of the oldest areas of the city and home to more than a third of the city’s population, West Anaheim is challenged by an abundance of aging, underutilized commercial centers and residential motels. The presence of motels and vacant properties contributes to the area’s high crime rate. West Anaheim has struggled for years to attract quality retail and commercial investors, especially in the wake of the elimination of redevelopment. Residents from West Anaheim regularly attend city council meetings, voicing their concerns over the community’s quality of life and pleading for new shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Essentially, the spotlight has not been on West Anaheim, and it is time for the city to commit its resources to incentivize quality economic development, similar to our city’s success with the Packing House district. West Anaheim residents deserve action.

In addition to this proposed economic development program, the city is taking other substantive steps to improve the quality of life for West Anaheim residents. The city is currently developing a Beach Boulevard Specific Plan to guide future public and private investment in support of the identified community goals. This process involves significant community involvement from residents and business leaders who formed a Community Advisory Committee. With the successful implementation of the city’s Quality Rental Housing program, a program that I championed, more than 20,000 rental units in West Anaheim have been upgraded and improved over the past year. In addition to applying stringent quality rental housing standards to improve living conditions, the city is looking at ways to replace or repurpose many of the substandard motels in West Anaheim and to aggressively enforce health and safety codes for those that will remain in business.

There are significant challenges facing West Anaheim, and they won’t be solved overnight. That being said, I’m confident that by working together with residents, businesses and community leaders and creating an environment for private investment to return to West Anaheim, we can build an engine of success from which all residents in West Anaheim will benefit.

columbus and clowns

 


About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.