Distractions

The reason I went dark from November 11, 2016, until now is that I have been distracted.

Not all distractions are attached to bad reasons. But they are distractions just the same.

Maybe it started with the presidential elections. The person I voted for won the election. I was surprised and ecstatic. I predicted if he won that he would be a train wreck. If so, let ‘er rip! I’m tired of talk, talk, talk. Dumb Republicans had eight years to groom a candidate but let an Independent steal their party. They got what they deserved.

But after I suffered for eight years and never complained publicly, I’ll not spend a second listening to the whiners who want to protest at sufficiently loud levels as if the more noise will rewind history. Rally all you want. I can’t hear you!

I equally despise Republicans and Democrats. And most of all, the Tea Party. But I do have one good thing to say about the TP (and only one), which I will save for a future blog.

For a long time, I have cherished silence. That need is growing. I opted to send my sister-in-law in my place on a family cruise at the last minute in early March. I spent a week in silence, just working. I watched zero on TV, and still have not turned on my office TV. I deactivated my FaceBook account and still have not reactivated. Same thing for LinkedIn. And Twitter. I do get plenty of news alerts that I read since news is one of my primary businesses. Silence is golden to me.

I am distracted by McKinney politics. Well, until I checked out a few months ago. McKinney is run by an underground that key people in the know will not deny. They also won’t do anything about it. In fact, they have winked for so many years that newbies know no difference and aren’t about to mess up the favoritism playpen. That might change with this upcoming election. Hope so. But it’s going to take some major changes on the Council and inside City Hall.

It bothers me that AG Ken Paxton is abusing the legal system to save his hide. I’m sitting in the middle of Collin County, his Mother Ship, and his nature of doing business up here is legendary. He is bad, but his worshippers won’t admit it.

It got distracted by Bruce Springsteen standing up in a foreign country and telling the world he came to them as an embarrassed American. I was okay with his rants and others before the presidential election, but I was ready to puke when he (and others in the entertainment industry) wouldn’t give it up after the election. After listening to him every single day for decades and giving my family instructions to bury me in one of my Springsteen shirts, he is dead to me. He does not exist. But, honestly, I am grieving. You would have to know what his music and performances meant to me to understand.

Perhaps distractions are affecting me differently since I am turning 70 this year. I don’t feel THAT old. My mind says I am much, much younger. Or so it seems. But my preferences are to stay in my cockpit of two computers and ten monitors to work, think, analyze. And maybe even start writing again.

I’ve sworn off going to conferences. The last one I attended included me falling off the back of the stage just before I spoke. The one before that I forgot my conference clothes and came back from Houston before it even started. The one before that I had to return just before the conference started due to my mother’s impending death. I think the message is clear: stay in your cockpit, Lewis!

I have had some health distractions. Nothing serious, yet, but true distractions.

When I said that not all distractions have been bad, I was particularly thinking about a project I am working on with a client under new city management leadership. It is a multi-year contract to provide an entire series of budgeting, long-range planning, utility rate studies and more. I am considering it to be my final exam regarding just about everything I have done in my 44-year career. I am having a blast.

I started part of this approach years ago, but now I have a real application. I am calling it McLain’s All-In, Top-Down, Visual Skinny Budgeting or Skinny Budgeting (I was using the term before Trump picked it up). If I could work “No Stone Left Unturned” into the title, I would do it. More on that subject over the next few months. It is a dream project for an analyst like me.

Related, I have closed my Confidential Sales Tax Reporting & Analysis work to only current clients until 2018 so I can focus on just them as well as my new project. I have a great client base of 15 cities plus DART that includes 13 cities.

In my career, I have done hundreds of workshops, presentations, and analyses for no compensation. Willingly. To serve the entire municipal family is an honor. I am changing that slightly. I won’t be doing any presentations in the future. Too many rude people in the audience checking their phones for messages or talking.

The exception will be a workshop I am going to do in a few months to promote Skinny Budgeting. I won’t be seeking new clients for anything other than fee-based training. I just want to see the approach used in governance and fiscal policy decisions.

On the other hand, I love one-on-one conversation. I am happy to meet with anyone willing to come to McKinney to chat over a cup of coffee. I also will usually respond quickly to an emailed question on just about anything within my knowledge base, which is narrowing. I treasure my pen pals.

My blog will provide a considerable amount of my thoughts and analyses for those who sign up through http://www.citybaseblog.net. I feel called to write, but the time competes with everything else I do.

Otherwise, I plan to take care of my CityBase subscribers, my Confidential Sales Tax Clients and my one Skinny Budgeting client.

I’m not sure about where I might head blogging about McKinney politics. If the governance and culture do not change, McKinney politics will be dead to me. Not worth it. Life is too short. But I am hopeful that some will leave and go crawl in a hole somewhere. And that some staff who are part of the underground will be run off. We’ll see. LFM

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