Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Monday Mumblings Takes Monday Off

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

It's gonna be crazy around here until late September, after FenCon is over. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it...

So, what's the most important? Abby, of course. (I know my readers. Both of 'em.) She's improving. I keep saying that, but here's the latest, by way of a short diversion.

It's hot here in Texas. How hot is it? It's so hot I give up working in the home office after about 2:00. (If Abby didn't have custody of the extra fan I keep at the desk, it might be a different matter.) We're looking at THI indexes around 110F all week. Most residential air conditioners beg for mercy under those conditions. In other words, stuffing a cat in a utility room with no air circulation is not a smart thing to do. So she's been hanging out in places that aren't good for her to hang out. On the other hand, she's not suffocating somewhere.

What's a geek family to do? Build their own solution! We thought about a pet gate, but $80+ for something she'd probably clamber over anyway seemed like a waste of money. So we made a trip to the fabric store and ended up cobbling together a screen door of sorts for the utility room. Now air can circulate and she can see out. I've noticed some marked improvement in her hot spots over the last few days.

Moving on.

The Plano City Council met to discuss the homeless shelter issue I discussed a week ago. I've heard several different things regarding financing. The first was that the money for the land was going to be a loan, then it was going to be a grant, and finally, it will be a government loan the city would apply for. Apparently the city would pay it back, but the shelter would pay the interest. Yes, I'm confused. But what else is new?

The City Council decided to defer a vote on the loan until the Planning and Zoning folks took a look at the shelter's rezoning request. Today the shelter decided to withdraw the request for a facility at the piece of land in question.

Much of this wailing and gnashing of teeth, could, I suspect, been avoided had the city and the shelter folks involved the potential neighbors in the plan earlier in the process. Coming so soon after the school district attendance boundary dispute, it's hardly a surprise that residents and businesses would be dubious about the plan at best. Everyone needs to regroup and start over.

We're tired of being an afterthought. There's money to bring high-end retail and corporate headquarters to the far west side of town, and yet on this end of town have so much empty retail space, it's a crying shame. There's a perception on the other side of town that we're all gang bangers who only speak Spanish. Not true. So yes, we're a little touchy when someone comes in with an apparent "done deal" like this. Where are the impact studies? Can the school district handle the influx of children? (A separate rezoning issue on the table would bring single-family housing to a nearby light industrial area. After having lived through years of schools that were overcrowded at best and double capacity at worst, I think this is a fair question.) Yet, people who ask those questions are told they are lacking in compassion. Kids who change schools once a year (or more often) are generally at risk, which means more services are needed. Can we provide them? I think it's compassionate to ask these questions, rather than to throw kids into a potentially bad situation.

The shelter and the city need to start over. This time, they should work with their potential neighbors to alleviate concerns. They need to work with the school district, Emergency Services (everyone deserves law enforcement and ambulance/fire services, don't they?) and other agencies to make sure they can handle the extra population. People are worried about a possible increase in crime. What can the shelter and the city do about that?

It won't kill all of the opposition, but if the city and the shelter would work with their neighbors it might help. What a concept.

The president buzzed through town yesterday on a fundraising tour, and that brought the predicable race baiters out of the woodwork. For the love of all that is good and holy, stop with the derogatory nicknames. For the record, I said that about Bush and Clinton. If you don't approve of how the president, governor, or representative is doing his or her job, that's fine. If you want people to pay attention to your message, leave the hate-mongering rhetoric behind. Conservatives and liberals both - that means YOU.

Gosh, look at the time. I have one more thing to do tonight, then I think I'll get to bed a bit early. As if.

I'll try to keep you updated on the important stuff. Yes, the cat. ;-)

Stay cool.

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