Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Game of Thrones

I just did a shameful thing. I spent 13 hours Easter weekend watching one TV show. I got sucked in by a cable promotion offering me free access to a series of premium shows during a "watchathon."
What started as an innocent way to while away a late Friday hour turned into a mini-obsession that kept me from more productive pursuits like laundry, paying bills, walking the dog, cleaning house, and writing letters to my congressman.

How easy it was to ignore the world around me and plunge into a fantasy world of seven kingdoms, medieval intrigue, visceral sword fights, and brothels of "Game of Thrones." I woke up Monday morning with a TV hangover and vowed to get a grip on reality.

For me, those were 13 hours poorly spent. Not because the TV show wasn't good; it was very good indeed. But because there are so many, many things I should have been watching other than  TV. That message was driven home to me later that Monday.

Recently I've dipped my toe in local politics by helping a dear friend Steve Vasilion who is running for 5th ward alderman (my ward.) It has been an eye-opening experience, and actually kind of like courtly intrigue the closer we get to election day. What has been most surprising to me is the arrogance of our elected officials. How like the kings of a fantasy world they are.
Proposed $120,000 River Walk Arch

Like a good serf, I have been working hard to pay my taxes — which have doubled since I moved to Batavia nine years ago — and pursuing my own creative interests, the lords of the manor have been ripping me and my neighbors off.

While our utility bills crept skyward,  like peasants we adjusted our thermostat, bought energy saver appliances and tried to cut down on our electric use. Meanwhile, our elected masters of coin obligated me and my neighbors to a $250 million coal-fired energy plant deal that has been increasing my utility bill and will continue to do so indefinitely.

While I attended openings and events at the town's local gallery, wishing I had the money to  purchase one of the works of a talented local artist, my city council has been planning on spending more than $120,000 on their own art: a decorative arch, not designed by a local artisan, over a congested and confused street.

While I was at my full-time job, or volunteering at my church, at our town's United Way chapter, my city council was organizing committees to figure out how to spend my money. Committee meetings and hearings I knew little about and don't recall ever being invited to attend.

Monday night, the city council told a few concerned residents that they were too late in their comments and questions about the council's recent folly.  We should have been at the committee meetings and public hearings they said.

Apparently now they want our time AND our money. It's not enough to elect a council to serve the best interest of it's citizens, we now have to watch their every move.

Like a game of thrones.


  1. Thanks for weighing in, Lori. As always, you manage to put your own unique spin on things, weaving in cable tv pop culture in with a rant about local politics. What we now need are a few baby dragons to turn up the heat.

    1. Thanks for reading, Steve. Baby dragons and some awesome sword fights.

  2. Nicely said Lori. I myself have been distracted by many of other life's pursuits and have been ignorant of what is going on locally around me. In my perfect world, I always hope my local representatives will keep me informed on what is going on in that they are representing me, my family and those constituents around me. I suppose most of us don't attend every city council meeting to weigh in on every issue because our reps are doing it for us and realistically, those in "power" within any organization don't want "too many cooks in the kitchen," otherwise many issues might not get resolved: I don't necessarily agree with this. Our reps should be checking in with us. No doubt time and lack of funds prevent them from doing this. While active in many community programs, my mistake had been my absence from the process. I could go on, but will save my insights & ideas for a later, live discussion. :)

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Sabrina. You have articulated my point exactly: We elect people to serve us. They are paid (though it is small) to represent us. They should be checking in with their employers.