Wednesday, November 21, 2007

BEST OF: Thankful for politicians (most of them)

On a day set aside for counting our blessings, it can be a stretch to include being thankful for politicians.

For most of us, gratitude is rightfully reserved for those who love us, like us, save our lives or our money, entertain us, keep us safe or fix our plumbing when it overflows at midnight.

The only people apt to be overtly thankful for politicians are those who are indebted to or courting the commissioners, supervisors, senators and governors of life. The rest of us are more likely to samba with an alligator.

The emotional distance between the camps is no surprise. By job descriptions and basic inclinations, most politicians aren’t warm, fuzzy, cuddly types, no matter how much baby kissing they do — although when you consider changed connotations for the political phrase “pressing the flesh,” maybe some politicos have been a little cuddlier than they ought to be.

And it’s tough warming up to people who must cut our services and benefits while searching for new ways to wheedle more money out of each wallet.

But maybe we ought to say “thank you” anyway.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you be willing to put up with all the dreck that goes along with the titles? Uh huh, me neither.

Most political jobs fall into the “It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it” category. Somebody’s got to serve or our system of government could collapse.

“Of, for and by the people” means some of us have to be willing to step up and sign up.

As some have said about being a candidate for, say, the Cambria Community Services District, “You have to be smart enough to do the job and dumb enough to take it.”

For good, honest, hard-working politicians (which covers a lot of them, I have to believe), being in office must be a little like being in the military. You sign on for two or four years to work with or for people who often don’t like you much and some of whom may be inclined to shoot at you.

Oh, there are perks to elected offices and appointed jobs. Some politicos are treated to exotic meals, elite functions, junkets and special tours of exclusive places.

And the word “power” comes to mind. But for members of smaller or more obscure commissions and councils, such influence is ephemeral at best, imagined or nonexistent for most.

Some upper-tier political jobs pay pretty well, but to get them, you have live in Sacramento, Washington D.C. or other charming garden spots. City council-folks and county supervisors get a nice salary, but most other government leaders on a local level are paid a pittance or nothing.

Said Cambria services district directors, for instance, are paid $100 per meeting, with a maximum of six meetings per month.

And, as a reward, most politicians spend most of their “personal time” studying agendas and staff reports, going to extra-curricular evening and weekend meetings or functions on the creamed-chicken-and-peas circuit, listening to people kvetch or answering phone calls at midnight from irate constituents who want them to fix something — now.

There are lots of long days, thankless tasks and being nice to people who aren’t.

And the process of getting a job you probably won’t get to keep can be costly, egregious and occasionally painful.

So, one wonders why those good, honest folks are willing to put aside their lives and run for office at all, let alone spend their own money to battle for the right to win those elections or get those appointments.

Yeah, there are some politicos I’d love to introduce to the toe of my pointiest cowboy boot.

To all the others on this home-family-and-hearth holiday, I say, “Thanks for being there.”

This column ran first in The Cambrian on Nov. 27, 2003.


Elaine Beckham said...

This needs to be reprinted on the front page of The Cambrian.

Anonymous said...

While reading this piece, somehow I was reminded all the lovely places that become sullied by the presence of some who wheedle their ways in.

Which reminded me of Bernd and Karin Schaefers (hit-and-run investors) -- who have found nirvana in Cambria and purchased the base -- leading to local asbestos problems with health officials and the federal government.

Investors are politicians of sorts, and sometimes become them -- not always a bad thing. This is a warning, though, to any who may know these two casually (Bernd and/or Karin), or eventually encounter them in the midst of their local beauteous wonders -- helping themselves to a piece of 'the pie'.

Here's a little nugget from a local Web site's comments section -- relating to the Cambria base's olden days -- something for GOOD politicians to set their collective teeth into.

"PART OF A PATTERN: Cambria owner, Bernd Schaefers, is a bonafide notorious man -- a confirmed immigration visa overstay -- originally from Berlin, Germany. He and his wife (Karin M. Schaefers) fled from Europe, following some problems with both the German and French governments -- involving a lot of money.

They (together) and separately, have been using THAT and other accumulated monies for their vast stream of investments around the U.S.A. -- that often result in multiple bankruptcy cases -- including a ski resort in Vermont that they began turning into a winter wonderland where homes were built.

When they abandoned that commitment, they left a lot of angry people in their wake.

His Cambria investments MUST be more of the same.

Beware of this man; his partnerships; and family.

Bernd Schaefers has been using his involvement with film production to skirt more-OFFICIAL notice. "Hide in plain sight."

Asbestos and other matters are the issues involving Bernd Schaefers there in Cambria. This isn't the first time he has had problems of that sort. Any feds and local authorities (or researchers) reading this, should look deeper, and deeper. More is already known. In a blog, one can say only so much."

Elaine Beckham said it best about the original posting, which also applies to the kind of interlopers who will steal your pie:

"This needs to be reprinted on the front page of The Cambrian."

travelin' through
SLOtown, CA

Anonymous said...

You don't even know the half of it! Keep your eye on the news papers etc. during the month of Aug/09. Sh%t is going to hit the fan!

I am the one who took this case to the radio air waves and got the attention of Code Enforcment in San Luis Obispo! I am the one who took the pictures and got the evidence and analytical data to prove that it was indeed asbestos that was being illegally taken down from base structures and then hauled away to local landfills to be blown in the wind for all to breath.

Yes, breathe deep citezens of Cambria and all of San Luis Obispo as all of this work was done illegally and without any of the proper permits. Mr. Schaefers has stated that he had "all the asbestos" removed, yes, Mr. Schaefers did have some asbestos removed (from one or two areas) the rest has been illegally removed by Luther Akers and others under the direct order of Bernd Schaefers all to save money!

The health of all the local citizens was never a concern of Mr. Schaefers or Luther Akers Et all! and to think of all the people who have been on the base, all the people who were behind Luther Akers and others as they trasported the asbeston to the local landfills and perhaps had their windows down and were luckly enough to inhale some of the asbestos fibers and perhaps in twenty or so years will wonder how they got lung cancer, "jez' Bill never smoked and he died of lung cancer"? The county of San Luis Obispo has some explaining to do as well! Stay Tuned!