Friday, December 28, 2012

Civility Might Be Bad For Your Health

There has been a rather odd debate in Sierra Madre over the last few years. It goes back to our 2010 City Council election, and in some ways still influences our public affairs conversation today. That being which side of the political spectrum is more civil and decorous in the way it presents its viewpoints. It was born out of the need of one candidate that year to change the debate from issues where he did not fare so very well to something entirely different. His message instead being that you should only want to vote for candidates that are "nice," and to focus on the notable shortcomings of an incumbent candidate seeking reelection, no matter how awful his record might be is, to use the term of the day, "uncivil."

That it worked showed us that when it came to government here in Sierra Madre many people had little concept of what those issues might be, or the possible consequences of allowing inept people run City Hall.

2010 became more of a contest based on how the voters felt about themselves than any actual discussion of the issues, most of which seemed hostile and discordant to people out of touch with what was really going on. And with many having little notion about the serious matters at stake, they chose instead to go with decorum and civility. It was a concept far easier to understand.

It is now nearly three years later and the consequences are a City facing financial crisis, crumbling infrastructure, endlessly rising taxes and fees, unspoken agendas, inept leadership in the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem positions, endless process-based tautologies, and no real direction when it comes to getting a true grip on our problems. Sadly, civility politics in no way translated into quality government.

One of the great ironies here is that the candidate most responsible for injecting the civility issue into the political discourse of that election later indecorously resigned his office midterm and then abruptly left the country. Something that has yet to be adequately explained by anyone, civil or otherwise.

None of this is unique to Sierra Madre, of course. Kristin Rawls is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in publications spanning the political spectrum. The Christian Science Monitor, GOOD Magazine, Truthout, Religion Dispatches, The Huffington Post and Global Comment being just a few. Here is how she defines the phenomenon:

Notwithstanding the fact that "love" is perhaps the vaguest, most unhelpful political prescription of all time, this kind of thinking removes any analysis of power from the conversation. It falsely presumes that we all enter the conversation on equal footing. Indeed, everyone is so busy preaching "unity" and "loving one another" that there is never any interrogation of privilege or power. It's a bit different out in mainstream society, but the message is clear. Love your oppressors ... (We) are accustomed to being silenced because we have a "mean tone." We're asked to speak more respectfully so that we can earn a hearing. We're taught to submit to our oppressors. We're being angry and irrational, and it's our job to make everyone comfortable.

All of which is good and needs to be said. But now it appears that there is another important reason to avoid putting too much emphasis on the psychological constraints of civility and not just letting your true feelings be clearly heard. It could be bad for your health. This from United Press International (click here):

Holding back emotions may reduce lifespan -- German researchers say exercising self-restraint and holding back negative emotions -- what Britons call keeping a "stiff upper lip" -- may reduce lifespan.

Researchers Marcus Mund and Kristin Mitte at the University of Jena in Germany said the findings might explain why the generally more emotional Italians and Spanish live almost two years longer than the cool English who "keep calm and carry on," MedicalDaily.com reported.

After analyzing more than 6,000 patients, Mund and Mitte found people who internalized their anxiety suffered from an elevated pulse, suggesting those exhibiting self-restraint and holding back negative emotions -- who they call repressors -- could have serious repercussions for physical and mental well-being.

Over time, an elevated pulse can result in high blood pressure and increase the risk of developing a wide range of conditions including heart disease, cancer and kidney damage.

I'm telling you, you're really better off just getting a grip on what is really going on and speaking your mind. It is good for you.

More on the "Reverse It!" Question

Yesterday we had a pretty lively conversation about reverse mortgages. The Mayor of Sierra Madre, Josh Moran, works in that field as an account executive for a company called Reverse It!, a division of the Urban Financial Group, which in turn exists beneath the corporate aegis of Knight Capital.

As was discussed, the selling of reverse mortgages is quite controversial as it involves exchanging the home equity of seniors 62 years of age and older for some quick cash. Often in a lump sum that can quickly disappear when placed in the hands of people ill-equipped to manage such things. There is also the notion that many seniors do not fully grasp the potentially negative ramifications of reverse mortgages, and therefore can be easy prey to unscrupulous sales representatives looking to take advantage.

A sharp-eyed commenter picked on a Wall Street Journal report that suggests all might not be rosy with the reverse mortgage business at Knight Capital (click here).

While recent ideas on the value of Urban Financial Group to its parent company Knight Capital Group (NYSE:KCG) have suggested the company provides upside in the wake of near-financial ruin experienced by Knight in early August, a Wall Street Journal report on the company’s current position suggests otherwise. Knight says, however, it remains committed to the business.

Having announced this week the appointment of new leadership to Knight’s board of directors, new information obtained by WSJ indicates the company may be interested in the sale of Urban Financial Group.

“Urban Financial, Knight’s reverse-mortgage division and part of the institutional unit, represents a capital-heavy business that carries reputational risk; it is seen as a potential target for trimming, according to a person familiar with the thinking of one of the new investors,” WSJ reports.

The key words here being "reputational risk." It seems that even Knight Capital is now holding its nose.

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54 comments:

  1. "Civil" people like Bart Doyle, Josh Moran and the fugitive Joe Mosca have damn near ruined Sierra Madre.

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    1. They are hardly finished. Now that there is (oxymoron alert) "green development money" available from Washington they're on the move again.

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    2. Used car salesmen are civil as well.

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  2. Great summary of the 2010 election. And clear-eyed description of the consequences.

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  3. "It is now nearly three years later and the consequences are a City facing financial crisis, crumbling infrastructure, endlessly rising taxes and fees, unspoken agendas, inept leadership in the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem positions, endless process-based tautologies, and no real direction when it comes to getting a true grip on our problems. Sadly, civility politics in no way translated into sound policy."

    Exactly.

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    1. This is very true, 7:40.
      The blame lays with the clueless Sierra Madre voters.
      They could have prevented this disaster.
      They could have voted for MacGillivray, a lady who has done more for Sierra Madre than anyone on that council.

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    2. Harabedian ran the same moron level campaign Joe used to run. Nice pictures, no big words.

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    3. except Harabedian didn't borrow a dog for his campaign poster so he'd look political and homespun - imagine borrowing a dog for a political picture, how low is that - nothing was too low for Mosca - so glad he is gone and I hope he stays gone - he was a blight

      however, Harbedian did stage a pic with SM cops and photoshopped out their badges and claimed ignorance of the law -

      two lawyers - both scam artists pretending to care about the city and just clammering for juvenile attention

      congrats Sierra Madre

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  4. Joe was nice, or at least he was until he didn't need us anymore.

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    1. Joe was only nice when he needed to be.
      The things Joe said about his supporters behind their backs were cruel.

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    2. I hear he was crushed when the LA Democratic Central Committee picked Chris Holden over himself for State Assembly. He had always been told that if he played the game and did as asked that job would be his. The golden child turned to tin, and then flew away.

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    3. Sierra Madre was Joe's first real foray into politics (if you don't count his property association president gig). Five years of shaking hands, trying to feign interest in blondified senior citizens and looking for opportunities to stand before audiences and for what? Those hateful Dems picked Holden? The Boscas had had enough! and it was time to concentrate on Matt's career - his prospects are far greater. No, Joe will not return to our little Foothill Village.

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    4. If some of Joe's female followers ever heard what he said about their weight they would be mortified.

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    5. Lord Voldemort will return to the sleepy village.

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    6. Joe and Matt took great sport in ripping the villagers.

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  5. So if expressing one's anger leads to a longer life I do believe that Paulie Goosebumps will never die!

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    1. Don't ya think Paulie has entertainment value? Between his lisp and recounting his privileged upbringing by wealthy parents he's practically ready for open mic night at the Buc or maybe Lucky Baldwin's.

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    2. Vampires are eternal. I wouldn't describe them as being constrained by civility.

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    3. I think we should agendize Paul's rants. I love Tea Party members like him.

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    4. Paulie gives Tea Partiers a bad name... seriously, do you think that's the way he bounces?

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    5. Paulie is in no way associated with the Tea Party.
      He is a liberal Democrat.

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    6. Is Paulie one of those Tea Party radicals that Josh always talks about?

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    7. Funny 10:43. Paul is true blue Democrat all the way.

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    8. I wish Paulie would perform his one man show at every council meeting.

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    9. He should do stand up at the Buc. "3 Minutes With Paulie Goosebumps." brevity being the soul of wit, especially when you only have one joke.

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    10. Maybe he's a Liberal radical. That'd be a bad thing, right?

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    11. I found him to be incoherent. He made no sense whatsoever the two times I heard him speak. A real train wreck.

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    12. My, My, we should all be civil to Paulie and not call him names. By calling him a tea party member is rude and crude, he being a very staunch Democrat and all. The blogger who identified him to the tea party obviously didn't hear his first two rants in front of City Council. I noticed even Harabedian and Moran were extremely uncomfortable to be associated with the likes of Paulie.

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    13. Why should Harabedian & Moran be unconfortable? They are fellow Liberals with Paulie, aren't they?

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    14. Don't forget, Nancy Walsh, John Buchanan, Enid Joffe, Bart Doyle, Susan Henderson, all fellow travelers (LEFTISTS)

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    15. You really think so? I wouldn't give them that much credit. They are just organization personalities, and merely do what they believe the powers that be want them to do. They organize no unions, nor feed the poor, or even care for lost dogs. All they care about is being a part of what they believe is the most important part of society. They want to be made to feel important, and lack the wherewithal to do it on their own.

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  6. Umm, Civility is code for Evility. Thank you.

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    1. It's just another PC guilt trip. Same crap, different day.

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  7. Is there any way to get a reverse mortgage on moran, walsh, and harabedian, where we stay here at home and they go join lying joe mosca in the old country?

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    1. How about a reverse mortgage on City Hall? That way they can buy another Buxton Market Demand Report, another Kodiak, a parking lot study and some more play ground equipment. Oh, a one more wine tasting room.

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    2. Drove by Dr. Sami's emporium - two stories over a parking garage equals three stories in my book. I understand it's legal. But you sure can't see the mountains behind that portion of the building. Looming, it is. Just wait until the Alfington is "framed" in... These apathetic voters and the civility deputation will be complaining that it wasn't adequately expained or debated. That's after all the business on that end of town have gone bankrupt because their customers and patrons have no interest in negotiating the traffic congestion,

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    3. The ALF is going to be huge. It will dominate that end of downtown. It will go down as the worst thing that ever happened to this town.

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    4. Civil drivel.

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    5. That ALF will go down as the stupidest thing anyone had concocted for this town. ever.

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  8. tau·tol·o·gy/[taw-tol-uh-jee]
    1. needless repetition of an idea, especially in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in “widow woman.”
    2. an instance of such repetition.

    Sounds like a discussion of why we need a Green Advisory Commission.

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    1. I personally like the Wikipedia definition: "Using different words to say the same thing, or a series of self-reinforcing statements that cannot be disproved because they depend on the assumption that they are already correct."

      The development faction of the City Council depends on an endless series of tautologies to peddle their viewpoints. Not once have they ever stopped to question whether or not their assumptions have validity, are reality based, or even make sense. They believe they are right because that is what they believe.

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    2. We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here........

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    3. Is that a new innovation? Or is it an added bonus?

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    4. It is a necessary requirement.

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    5. It is part of "the process."

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  9. Anybody know why Carol Canterbury scrubbed her facebook page?

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    1. Three little letters, "FBI". Carol is an avid Tattler reader.

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    2. The unicorn herd is spooked.

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    3. most likely Carol was told by her employer to either shut up or leave the real estate firm

      it is amazing how many real estate agents go out of their way to overstate their imporatance, ignorance and just plain stupidty to alientate a large percent of his or her customer base

      the more successful agents keep their political or personal opinions to themselves - it is the unsuccessful ones like Carol and Josh Moran who think more of themselves that what others truly see them as

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    4. When Carol stopped her truck to yell at me the other day she asked if I even knew who she was. I said of course I did, her name is written in real big letters on the side of her pickup. She got really mad at that, jammed her foot down on the gas and sped off. Does she yell at everyone like that? Is it a Citizen of the Year thing in Sierra Madre?

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  10. There is a pot of something at the end of their rainbow, but it doesn't sparkle and it sure ain't gold.

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  11. I only did a speed read for today, so why not re do mortgage at a lower rate and save; don't do a reverse, that quite possible will let you loose your home if you live beyond what the reverse mortgage is worth. No way to turn around a unhealthy reversal.

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  12. Hi, this is off the subject today, but I am asking anyone reading the tattler for some insight on what just occured today out in Glendale. I was passing by on San Fernando Road when I saw three mules tied to a fence. No kidding, mules wearing camping tackle and their owner looked like an older gold pospector from the high desert, he did say he had passed through Ely Calif this past week. 3 mules.com was on his gear; he said he was heading out to see the Rose Parade. Just then two Pasadena Humane Society trucks showed up and the one attendent said he was called out for cruelity to animals being tied up to a fence! The old guy said no; I was just stopping by to pick up some food before passing through. Well two more police cars arrived... Anyway after defending a stranger with his three mules (it was odd to see them on a city street) the police were very nice, and hoped he would take the side streets ETC., but the Pasa.Humane Society would not give up wanting to write him a citation for cruelity to animals (?). Why are we contracting with this particular group again? really they were very uneducated and un professional. I also admit that I am not mentally up to speed with my quick wit:), but what part of three mules tied to a fence so that the owner could pick up supplies and head out on surface streets (the mules did have on shoes)so that they could make it over to the parade route, was cruel. Please offer some help on insight or call into the Pasa Humane Society to suport this unique individuual, as this poor man was heading over to the Pasadena area and into the very poorly handled, misguided group of individuals that represent that city. I hope it can make it out of that town with out any mishaps and back into the safety of the hills.

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    1. Thank you for this post, Barbara. I will see what I can find out.

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