By Ted Godshalk
For at least four thousand years people have marked the passage of another chunk of their lives with a call to ring out the old and ring in the new. But the New Year has not always been celebrated in January. Julius Caesar moved the annual rites of renewal up from March almost two thousand years ago. For almost this long, people have taken a new year moment to make a resolution; resolving to do better, or to do more, or less, of something that has been eating at them for the last year. Most of us have some experience with this tradition. Here are few suggestions for resolutions to be made by some of our local politicians at the threshold of 2006.
This year there is one thing that must stop, and the resolution I would like to see local politicians make is to not send out any more of those impersonal Christmas cards with pictures of their children and spouses. In almost all cases we do not know their families and they should not pretend to know ours. This very obvious campaign mailing should not be covered in good tidings and tinsel. Save it for election time.
Experts suggest that the maker of a resolution should have three things in mind to aid in actually achieving the resolution’s goals. First, one should start with a strong commitment to reach the goal. Second, coping strategies should be devised to remain determined even in the face of adversity. Third, a person must keep a record of his/her progress during the year and make adjustments to guarantee success. These three tips should help National City’s Nick Inzunza with his New Year’s resolutions. If ever there was somebody in need of a resolution or two, it is Nick Inzunza.
The lengthy exposé of Inzunza’s derelict rental property and his heavy-handed treatment of his fellow human beings certainly uncovered the need for a new approach on his part. For Mayor Inzunza, be it resolved: To get down to the bookstore and buy a copy of Property Management for Dummies. This guide, like so many others in the Dummies series, is written in simple language for novices, as well for the misguided or unethical veterans of the rental business. Inzunza would be well advised to check out Chapter Eleven on treating tenants as valued customers (and as real people), and Chapter Fifteen on the timeliness of carrying out property maintenance. May the New Year bring Inzunza’s tenants sufficient sewer service, working heaters, and no rats, nor roaches.
Still on the subject, Inzunza told the public of his well-designed plans to cover his tracks by re-registering his property titles under another name. These moves, devious and sneaky, indicate that perhaps he is resistant to change. In the course of the events, Inzunza also blamed his wife, her family, the family trust, other individuals, the newspapers, and the television stations for his troubles. For Inzunza to dig his way out of this huge, year-end hole he is going to have to remember the three helpful tips: be strong in the commitment to change, have a strategy to cope with adversity, and keep track of the progress toward the goals. Come to think about it, maybe he doesn’t have to worry about this last tip. The local media will always be there to record what he says and does, and the voters can make the adjustments.
One last resolution for our local politicians is needed. All of our elected officials have to get serious about the financial crisis that looms for our cities. In 2006, a sensible resolution would be for the local politicians to all get on a big bus and go up to the State and Federal governments and demand more money for municipal operations. Local politicians need to make some change, not just hold out the hat again. They must not ask us for any more tax increases when they could resolve to go up to Sacramento and tell the Governor that he is killing the cities down here. The same goes for Bush and his cronies. We need basic services to be maintained here at home, but the federal budget, with its smaller and smaller grants for city programs, is slowly and insidiously being corrupted from within by the Republican government with its tax cuts for the wealthy and for the largest corporations. Our elected officials must take a firm stand, not just grandstand.
Tennyson’s famous poem, In Memoriam, includes the words everyone should consider at this time of year, but our local politicians should pay particular attention. Tennyson writes, “Ring out the false, ring in the true.” These are determined and earnest words with which to start the year.
Ted Godshalk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org