In this section you will find my un-official work. Just things that are on my mind that I want to write about, but have no interest in making it an article.
District 1 Can be Won
By Richard King
In my hometown of Wichita Falls ,Texas there are 5 districts in the city. We have a Mayor, a Councilor from each district and a Councilor at Large. I cannot really speak as to the conditions or practices in all the other districts save for District 1. My family business has always been in District 1 and I have lived there for the longest period in my life. My mother and father bought my Grandparents’ old home and completely did a makeover. The finished product was rather beautiful and I enjoyed living there for the 3 years that I did. Before that my family had lived in an area known as Morningside. In a nutshell I lived in District 1 from the age of 10 until my mid thirties. In all that time I have noticed that though this side of town is home to the Floral Heights neighborhood which has the oldest and most historic homes in Town, the city is very selective about its definition of historic.
One area in District 1 is locally referred to as “the Avenues”. This area consists of homes that are almost exclusively pre 1940 construction. I know this all too well as my insurance company gave me way less money than I was owed when a house fire occurred . The reason, the age of the home. The areas that are deemed historic are the oldest sections where in some places the streets are still paved with bricks. Realistically the entire area in and around Floral Heights is all historic due to it being the most early neighborhoods in Town. The result is that most of the Avenues are very old houses, and with the exception of longtime residents are mainly rental properties. District 1 is also home to one of the most premiere neighborhoods in Wichita Falls called Tanglewood. This is an area mainly for the affluent and very wealthy. Both Floral Heights and Tanglewood have almost always had a Councilor that resided in one of those same neighborhoods. This has led to years of special projects and repairs being directed to the best parts, while leaving the Avenues to decay. There are a multitude of small parks all throughout this area and the city has never updated most of them. Most are very small playgrounds with very antiquated equipment. In recent years newer and better equipment has been placed in some areas of the Avenues. For the most part though repairs and updates are sorely lacking. You can ask anyone in Wichita Falls what happens at the corner of Avenue E and Monroe during a heavy rainstorm. They would tell you that it resembles rapids from a river as the drainage has always been an issue. Be it old decrepit streets or dilapidated homes The Avenues are not managed as they should be.
Please do keep in mind, I do not hold grudges or blame the residents of the affluent areas. The representation is the primary factor that has always led to the nicer areas having their needs tended to as quickly as possible. I’ll share a perfect example. My family used to live on a street named Hayes in between avenue H and I. One summer we had a record heat wave that kept the city at over 100* fahrenheit for 100 days straight. During this time as one might imagine the ground began to harden and shift. This led to multiple breaks in water mains and other utilities. The City maintained a presence on our street to fix two mains for over a month. Some days they would come and work, others the equipment sat idle and barricades were erected to block through traffic. To call it ridiculous would be an epic understatement. During that same time though, I had a good friend who lived in Tanglewood that informed me that the most it ever took over there was a few days. The entire situation would not bother me as much were it not for the glaring double standard. The message this sends to the residents is, if you have money and a nice house things will be taken care of right away. If you own a home that you have lived in for 50+ years in The Avenues, good luck getting anything finished. Wichita Falls only has a population of a little over 100,000. It has big city amenities while still holding on to that small town feel. When I was 21 I ran for City Council in District 1. I was beaten handily due to horrible voter turnout and plenty of votes for the candidate from Tanglewood. At the time I wondered how many people in the older sections of town even knew about the election. The candidate only placed her signs in Tanglewood yards and friendly businesses. As I look back on it years later, it occurred to me that I knew the perfect winning formula for a future candidate. Visit the homes in The Avenues, let the people know that you care and turn out the vote. I have no political aspirations anymore at all, but hopefully someone will take this advice.
The only way to win District 1 without being an insider is to beat the streets and share with the people of the Avenues that you care about their needs to. Make goals for projects that will improve the area, not just ignore it and pretend everything is well. It would take many volunteers and a lot of outreach but if done properly the same tired old establishment candidates wouldn't stand a chance. When I was a candidate, there were 600 ballots cast out of 12,000 registered voters. There are many more people in modest homes than there are the affluent. Thinking about it now, it seems like this is a no brainer yet I can't understand why it didn't occur to me until recently. The City knows that it is true. If District 1 was given genuine all encompassing leadership, so many residents would be better served in so many ways. My first apartment was on Polk and Avenue E. For the past Councilors from District 1 this neighborhood would be way outside their comfort zones I’m sure. This is why someone should really step up and try to make a difference for the residents in the Avenues. Surely among the thousands of residents of District 1 there is someone who would be willing to try? As mentioned before it will not be me, but I would happily help anyone willing.
I cannot of course say with any certainty that this strategy would be a dead lock. There really is no way to know because no one has ever really tried. I wish to reiterate that this is nothing against anyone who lives in the nicer neighborhoods. If you can afford a big house in Tanglewood or anywhere for that matter, way to go! I think we can all agree though, that every part of this town deserves fair representation and prompt and efficient upkeep. That isn't the case right now, but it could be. At the local level, party really means nothing. The issues that affect the residents are not something that you need to convince people of. If the streets are horrible they want them fixed, if public property is run down it needs to be revitalized. These are not difficult issues which give all the more reason for someone to step up and take a chance. When I was a canidate I only received 49 of those 600 votes but, I was running against two other people and I barely had any time to really hit the streets. This is a winning formula that will not just boost the aspirations of the candidates, but more importantly the lives of many residents.
Red & Blue
I was scrolling through my feed last night and heppened upon a meme which claimed that less than 1% of the worlds population has red hair and blue eyes. I investigated it of course and found that an individual has a .17% chance of having these two traits. Having found this out it hit me like a ton of bricks as my two oldest sons have red hair and blue eyes. I always knew through my bias that they were handsome boys. I did not of course realize they shared the hair and eye color with only 1% of the people in the world. I was going to look and see if there were any other traits that this rare group has. At this point, it makes so much more sense when I reflect on all the times a woman stopped us in the grocery store or wherever to see Ricky's hair. Then they saw his baby blue eyes and were even more excited. It is very cool that my namesake and his younger brother have such a rare trait. They're very amazing individuals who definitely march to the beat of their own drum. The only down side seems to be that they inherited their Father's cynicism. Of course my oldest just began a relationship with a lovely girl in Austin where he resides, he has been much more optimistic lately. Hope everyone is doing great as the horrible summer heat begins to change. I know we still have hot stuff ahead but in Texas we seem to only have two seasons, Summer and Winter. All the best. New blog will be coming out soon.
When I was young, I had the incredible privilege of falling in love with Hawaiian Culture. The people of Hawaii are a very proud people with an unbelievable history going back centuries. I have the honor of saying that I’ve been to every major Hawaiian Island and some of the smaller ones like Lanai and Molokini. We almost always either stayed in Maui or made that our last stop of the vacation. Many Hawaiians have shared their Aloha with me. From the surfer that saved my life on Kaanapali beach to the man that wove hats out of palm leaves in Lahaina, it remains some of my fondest memories ever. As a man I was able to take my wife Shannan to the islands. We stayed in Wailea on the southern tip. We were very close to Kihei. I wanted to show Shannan my favorite place in Hawaii, Lahaina.
My heart is broken and I’m just a Haole from the mainland lucky enough to have spent so much time there. What I’ve seen thus far in regard to recovery and aid is criminal. Lahaina was the original Capital until 1959 when the US gave it statehood and forced them to move it to Honolulu. So, few tourists really get to understand the people of Hawaii. They have such a beautiful outlook on everything it seems to me and remarkable kindness despite being the victim of Imperialism throughout their history. Lahaina was so unique in that the land was owned by Hawaiians. They would not sell and have their community turned into resorts and hotels. They preserved the history of Lahaina and shared it with so many. Front Street was one of the most awesome places I’ve ever been in my life. So many different shops and art galleries and restaurants. My personal favorite was Longis, it was a great Italian bistro, and made the best rum smoothies in the world in my personal opinion. My father has two paintings by Dick Kearney. They both depict humpback whales underwater off the shores of Lahaina. He even drew a parrot fish in the reef for my dad. On top of all that I spent two Christmases in Kaanapali beach just a short drive up the road north. Meli Kaliki Maka.
I cannot believe the devastation. It is all gone. All those memories are all that I or even Hawaiians have now. I can’t fathom losing a loved one, especially a child. The media will not release the real number of perished souls though they perfectly well it's more than 112. I have personally seen and heard a ton of conspiracy theories as to the origin of the fire. I just want to know why a town of less than 20,000 people can’t get all the help they need in a country as mighty as ours. I heard one Hawaiian say they should “just identify as Ukrainian they could get all they need.” Having said that, I can't help but feel like something very nefarious is at play here. You cannot just shoo this away and blame it all on incompetence. I do not believe that for one second. I truly hope they can restore the community of Lahaina and this not be the land grab I feel that it is. The Governor just a month before the fire signed a declaration that you could not build on native Hawaiian land, unless there was a natural disaster. The rest is history and memories. I pray that Lahaina will not become one of these 15- minute cities as they are called or worse turned into resorts or homes for the super wealthy. Let them maintain their wonderful culture, not erase it like we have so many others in our history.
It is impossible to tell what the future holds for the wonderful people of Lahaina who survived the fire. One thing I can say with full certainty is that the Hawaiian people will not just lay down and watch their history be erased. As I said from the start they are very proud and bold people. I know that they have the ability to recover and restore the beauty of Lahaina. The only question right now seems to be whether they’ll even be allowed to. More importantly, when will they start receiving aid, real aid? Not some insulting check for $700 but housing, food and all the time they need to try and recover. I know I’m going to try and help in any way I can. This is one of those moments when politics should have nothing to do with the situation. Our fellow Americans need our help. Please I pray, let us do all we can. Aloha!