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Farmers Branch was in the news again on Valentine’s Day, with a recap of the nearly one million dollars spent this year to keep the illegal immigrant issue in the courts. Naturally, our City Council has vowed to keep up the fight for “the will of the people”. This bottomless money-pit reminds me of an article I read some months ago which contained Hermann Goering ‘s observations about manipulation of the common people by political leaders.

Goering was one of the highest-ranking Nazis who survived to be captured and put on trial for war crimes in Nuremberg. His comments were made privately to Gustave Gilbert, a German-speaking intelligence officer and psychologist who was granted free access to all the prisoners held in the Nuremberg Jail. Here is an excerpt of one of their conversations, in which Goering explains how easy it is to incite a mob mentality:

We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only congress can declare wars.”

“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

The bottom line is that once you get the citizens inflamed against a common enemy  it is a very simple matter to exert control over all other areas. Like debt, and invasion of privacy, and mob rule. All in the name of “The Will of the People”.

That brings me to this Tweet I read during the summer.

I have seen my last Brad Pitt movie.    10:12 PM Aug 17th from mobile web

I wonder what precipitated that? Hmmm – let me think …….. oh! Could it have been the movie Inglorious Basterds? The one where Brad Pitt and his band of Jewish Allied soldiers track down and assassinate members of Nazi Germany’s political leadership? The one that is currently nominated for Best Picture?

Now, I will admit that listening to Brad talk with that Tennessee accent kind of threw me off too. But there is one scene in that movie that I can’t forget: the one where the SS Colonel Hans Landa arrives at a dairy farm to interrogate the farmer about rumors he is hiding a Jewish  family. To put this scene in perspective you can imagine that the farmer has been turned in for a violation to The Ordinance and Colonel Landa is the SS’s Code Enforcement Officer. Landa persuades the farmer to confess by reminding the farmer that neighbors will talk, and that he will continue to bring his goons in to ” inspect” the farmer’s home until he is satisfied that the complaints rumours are unsubstantiated.

In case you haven’t seen the movie I won’t spoil it for you, but I do wonder if the author of this Tweet feels a sharp pain in his forehead every time he thinks of Inglorious Basterds.

File:Inglourious Basterds poster.jpg

  

This is an older blog post and I was holding on to it because there were some statements made that needed to be revisited at a later date. I “bolded” the important points and I’ll discuss them one by one. Here’s the original post: 

Friday, August 1, 2008 

Jobs Elimintated I appreciate the hard work of Gary Greer and the other leaders on the FB City staff. They had some very tough decisions to make, decisions that had an impact on individuals who have worked for the city and served its citizens. I appreciate the dedication and service of those individuals who were affected by these budget decisions. 

The city – first and foremost – exists to serve it’s citizens. We have the lowest municipal cost and tax burden than any other in the metroplex. Energy costs and state mandates have increased our expenses exponentially. The other options available to the city are to cut services or raise taxes. I don’t want to see us do either of those. 

I thank Gary Greer for being proactive in developing a budget for 2008-2009 that maintains the level of services our citizens expect and deserve. 

And regarding legal fees…we’re paying double our total legal fees this year to paint a water tower. These decisions are not being driven by our upholding the law and carrying out the will of the people. 

TIm by Tim Scott, City Council, Place 1 at 8:02 PM | 1 comments (create)(View) 

I’m going to resist the cheap shot about the misspelling of the word “Eliminated”. Hopefully the author has found the Spell Check command by now and has learned how to use it. I am a big believer that professional people ought to act and write professionally. But spelling aside, what is even more annoying is his frequent use of big words that he clearly doesn’t understand. That brings me to the next internet feature that he  needs to discover and learn to utilize: Wikipedia, Meriam Webster, or any of the many other fine dictionary sites on the internet. They’re free, take only a little time to use, and selecting the correct word would go a long way towards alleviating confusion and making the correct statements. Here’s the first sentence containing a word that should have been checked for definition: 

 Energy costs and state mandates have increased our expenses exponentially 

My goodness, expenses have risen lately, but exponentially? That’s a lot of increase. A whole lot. A great big humongous lot. For the record, when a number increases  exponentially it is multiplied by itself one or more times.  

 

 This would be like if you got a bill for $1000 one month. If  it increased exponentially the next month it would be $1000 x $1000 which comes out to be $1,000,000! At this rate I’m afraid to tell you what it would be the next month. That’s exponential growth.
 
I do not want to alarm you, but when we’re talking about money, exponential growth is what happens in Ponzi, or Pyramid, schemes. See why this is important? This statement leads us to believe that Farmers Branch is engaged in a Ponzi scheme: somehow our energy bills became victim to some unscrupulous shyster.  Who was watching the bank? Was it Bernie Madoff?   
 
Wait – the author says it’s also Government Mandate: is he saying that the Government is forcing us to participate in a Ponzi scheme? What government? What if it’s Nigeria. I know that a Nigerian Prince has been sending out a lot of messages lately. Did someone in City Hall fall for that old trick? Oh dear.
 
 
I hate to be an alarmist, but this is alarming news indeed. Something must be done. That’s our money he’s talking about: our taxes, our funds that could be going to something important.
 
Let’s move on to this statement:
 
The other options available to the city are to cut services or raise taxes. I don’t want to see us do either of those.
 
I guess he had his eyes closed, since the City Council managed to do both. But this statement does include the magic words “or” and “either”, so when he says the City is reluctant to do either of those I guess, technically, he was telling the truth. Oh, those silver-tongued politicians.
 
The next statement that got my attention is:
 
I thank Gary Greer for being proactive in developing a budget for 2008-2009 that maintains the level of services our citizens expect and deserve.
 
Oh my. I really am confused with this sentence, as the level of services  is getting pretty abysmal. Except for Code Enforcement – that Community Service level has risen exponentially. Sad to say, we’ve come to expect bullying and restriction and fighting off mosquitoes by ourselves, but do we deserve it? I guess the City Council thinks we do, because this statement says so.
 
While you ponder that, here’s another really confusing statement:
 
And regarding legal fees…we’re paying double our total legal fees this year to paint a water tower.
 
I read this many many times and still can’t figure out what the message is. Is he saying that we’re using legal fees to paint a water tower? Why is that? Oh – is it because the water tower needed the new logo? Maybe that’s it. We could not have the new logo on the street signs and electrical boxes and the old logo on water towers. That would be so confusing, and probably harmful to our Health, Safety, and Welfare. People who are driving on the street could look at the water tower and get confused and possibly have an accident. Whew – we sure dodged that bullet.
 
I still can’t understand what painting the tower has to do with legal fees. Or, if it is that expensive to paint a water tower, why did we do it. Maybe it was one of those pesky Government Mandates. Or maybe Code Enforcement got carried away and cited the water towers for peeling paint.
 
Besides that – which legal fees: the $300,000 that was in the budget or the $900,000 that we got hit with? Not an exponential increase, but pretty darned large anyway. If they can’t budget legal fees correctly what else are they guessing wrong? Park costs? Signs? Logo changes? I’m guessing all the above.
Let’s move on to the next point – and hurry, too, because all of this is making my head hurt:
 
These decisions are not being driven by our upholding the law and carrying out the will of the people.
 
Did I miss something? Oh – silly me – I see it now. He’s saying that the layoff was not due to all the money that was spent on trying to end illegal immigration. We know that now – he just got through telling us that we spent that money painting the water tower and being caught up in Ponzi schemes.
 
Okay, okay: I know what it is; I was just checking to see if you are awake. Of course I know that this is one of those psychological tricks – trying to blame “the people” and our “patriotic” attempt to “uphold the law” to justify the immense amounts of time and money that is being spent pursuing a  poorly conceived and executed ordinance. Over and over again. And again. The sad part is that the citizens all were caught up in something stupid because we mistakenly thought that our elected leaders knew what they were doing. It’s painfully obvious now that they didn’t have a clue. But they still persist. It’s interesting how they keep dragging out this “will of the people” excuse when they have pointedly ignored the people in nearly every other decision they have made.
 
I know what you’re thinking – there’s one more sentence left. Well, I’m not going to talk about it, because you and I both know that this was meant to be an attempt at dark humour:
  
The city – first and foremost – exists to serve it’s citizens.
 
And boy oh boy – are we ever being served: served citations, served lawsuits, served debt,  decreased serve – ices, and don’t forget the bull s–t: we are being served a big ole’ steaming serving: on a platter.
 
Eat Up! – there’s a lot more where that came from.
 
 

Brrrr – it’s cold outside, but I can see my daffodils starting to poke up out of the ground. As I was surveying my lovely estate in the heart of the City in the Park I noticed the signs of spring coming. And that got me to thinking about summer. And the heat. And how it would be so nice to have a shady spot to relax. Maybe even a spot with a mosquito net, because I sure don’t want to repeat last year’s misery. Since The City has discontinued mosquito spraying it was darned-near impossible to go outside at dusk last year.

Anyway – that’s another story. So, here I was, thinking: wouldn’t it be nice to have a screen house, or gazebo, in my yard. Something pretty and shady. Maybe with a hammock or nice chair and table, and maybe even a fan. Somewhere I could relax outside, but be protected from that hot, hot Texas sun and those disease-carrying insects.

I started to research gazebos and screen houses. Now, I’m a do-it-yourselfer: I hear that there are a few of those living in Farmer’s Branch, even though they have to be low-key, because that is sooooo, well, manual-labor, if you know what I mean. I saw a lot of really neat and awesome plans for building a gazebo or screen house from scratch, and there were also many nice kits on the market for those who are not so handy, or want to get the structure up quickly, but still look nice. Look – here’s is just a small sample of what I found:

 There were so many more, but you get the idea. Do you see anything you like here? I did, and  I was excited about the prospect of having a nice cool shady spot, protected from the bugs.

Uh Ohhhh – wait – I live in Farmers Branch. Darn. None of these structures are legal in Farmers Branch, for we are The City in the Park, and we care about how things look. Here – for those of you who are not aware, I’ll explain how the City Council keeps Farmers Branch beautiful and upscale and vibrant and desirable and free from blight:

Last night I attended a Farmers Branch City Council meeting. According to the agenda, a citizen wanted to bring up some Code Enforcement and other issues of concern and I wanted to meet her and to offer support if I could. Wouldn’t you know – she had purchased and installed – A GAZEBO – in her back yard. She showed pictures; it was a nice pretty new kit gazebo, with canvas top and sides and optional netting. Very pretty and nice and new and awesome.

Code Enforcement didn’t like it. They cited her for disobeying The Code by installing a canvas-topped structure. In her back yard. Can they do that? Oh yes they can. They weren’t sure how, so the City Council asked Jim Olk, the Director of Code Compliance, to explain to the poor lawbreaking citizen how her gazebo violated the citizen’s Health Safety and Welfare. So Mr. Olk, (who I affectionately call the “JOlkster”), got up and explained while the City Council beamed benevolently from their thrones.

Note:  If you are not sure what a canvas-topped structure is, here’s an example:

I can’t possibly quote directly, but I will tell you what I got out of the explanation. Please try to follow as best you can:

“A gazebo is an accessory structure and according to our code it is canvas and The City Council decreed back in 1998 that all accessory structures have to be similar to the primary structure sort of so that for instance if your house is, say 50% brick you must have 50% brick on your accessory structure because otherwise it would look like it didn’t belong to the original structure and that would not be pretty and architecturally compatible and anyway it’s covered in canvas and we don’t like anything that we call permeable material because it might deteriorate and then the already overworked Code Enforcement Officers would be further overworked by having to keep watching  this structure so that we would be ready to cite the homeowner when it starts to deteriorate and then we wouldn’t have time to do anything else because if she had a potentially deteriorating structure in her back yard then other homeowners would think they could do the same thing and then Code Enforcement would have to watch them all and then what if a high wind came along and blew the gazebo into the neighbor’s yard because in my experience when people have these things they don’t anchor them well enough and they can blow around and then Code Enforcement would have to chase them around and then who would they cite  the person who owned the gazebo or the neighbor who now has it on their property and besides that accessory structures are limited to less than 120 square feet so if her structure is say 12X12 it is too big I suppose that if it were 10X10 it would be allowable but then we do allow clothes lines on property so if she takes the canvas covering off the frame she could call it a clothesline of course that wouldn’t shade her from the sun but it would be allowable.”

Whew! I know I missed some points, but I was writing as fast as I could and still couldn’t get it all. I knew that if I tried to think about what he was saying I would get all mired down in logic and silly stuff like that, so I tried not to think about what I was writing, but, well ………………. darn. But I hope I got the major points. All I can say is that there were policemen present and that gazebo owner was lucky they didn’t arrest her on the spot.

And don’t even think about this:

Now, I know what you’re thinking “Yikes – this is all so confusing. I want to be a conscientious citizen of The City in the Park, but when I finally found where The Code was hidden and tried to read it I couldn’t figure out what to do.  I do not want to contribute to urban decay, increased crime, illegal activities, blight, lowered property values, loose morals, excessive yard decoration, unhappy golfers, unemployment, bank foreclosures, alcoholism, drug addiction, the threat of terrorism, disease, empty pots,  ugly paint, poor schools, bad streets, filth, rats rodents and other vermin, non-permitted outside storage, architectural nonconformity, political unrest, social upheaval, dead plants, trees hanging over the street or sidewalk, grass in the cracks, among many many other things.Please help me to be ProActive.”

Okay – I will try my best. In the meantime, just think that if you have to ask, the answer is”NO”. That will hold us until we can work together to figure out what it is that we have to do.

Blight

Sorry for the month-long absence from the blog.  But I’m returning with exciting news.  The Council will be voting next Tuesday to issue Certificates of Obligation to fund the acquisition of the old Albertson’s building, and the shopping center adjacent to the South.  The Council toured the buildings (separately) today to judge whether the buildings were dangerous structures.  Wow.  The old Albertson’s building definitely has the three R’s: Rats, Roaches, and Rot. 

In the pictures below, you’ll find traces of termites and serious electrical fire risk

It’s of vital importance that we as citizen’s of Farmers Branch update our deteriorating and outdated infrastructure.  Next week’s vote could do just that.

Four Corners update    Sep 3, 2009

Wow – traces of termites. I have never found traces of termites in my home, but I know someone who did. He tells me that you don’t have to demolish the entire building to get rid of termites. Yes, that’s right:  there are companies who will actually come  to your home or building and do away with termites – they are called “Exterminators”. You can find them in the internet or yellow pages under “Pest Control”. And they don’t charge that much – even for a big building.

Maybe this could help Farmers... wait, they just like to SPEND money

Now that we have that problem solved let’s move on to the serious electrical fire risk. I can fix this one without even asking anyone, and I’ll let the City Council in on my secret. Off the top of my head, I can think of two very effective methods to rid an empty building of serious electrical fire risk. Take your pick:

  1. Electricity doesn’t just “grow” in the building – it’s supplied by the electric company. Call and tell them to turn off the power to the building. If, for some reason, that is too difficult, here is another method:
  2. Don’t pay the bill. Yeah – electric companies are funny that way. If you don’t pay the bill they will just go ahead and turn the electricity off without you having to do anything! Easy!

Note: If you don’t pay your electric bill and your electricity is not cut off please let me know. Electricity is expensive and if there is a company who doesn’t care if they are paid or not I want to change to that company. I’m always on the lookout for a bargain.

Whew – those two suggestions alone ought to put me in front of the competition for the ProActive Citizenship award.

The next highlighted item was the statement about  updating our deteriorating and outdated infrastructure. This stopped me cold for a minute, as I was not aware that the Albertson’s building was part of the city’s infrastructure.  I might be wrong, so I looked up that word and it’s just what I thought:

Infrastructure is the basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function. The term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, power grids, telecommunications, and so forth. Viewed functionally, infrastructure facilitates the production of goods and services; for example, roads enable the transport of raw materials to a factory, and also for the distribution of finished products to markets. In some contexts, the term may also include basic social services such as schools and hospitals. In military parlance, the term refers to the buildings and permanent installations necessary for the support, redeployment, and operation of military forces.

Whoa – no wonder the City Council was so concerned about the Albertson’s building: it is part of our INFRASTRUCTURE. Gee – I didn’t realize. I wonder what’s in there?

  • I think it’s safe to say it’s not our power grid, or telecommunications. I sure hope not, because if it is then they can’t use my idea to cut off the electricity.
  • Could it be our water supply? No – the water treatment plant is on Marsh, and I can see the water tower over by the Justice Center on Valley View.
  • Roads? Is there a secret freeway in there? Naw – not big enough.
  • Sewer? I think that’s what’s being done in the water treatment plant on Marsh. Unless ……… oh – I hope not.
  • Basic Social Services such as a hospital or school? Surely we would know about that.
  • Oh – what if it’s a secret military installation? Oh – wow. Do you think that’s what it could be?

 

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