Thursday, 31 January 2008

Put it in Perspective - RIP Paul Abbott

All the political games, the point scoring, the back biting and name calling were all put into perspective for me on Wednesday when I attended the funeral of one of Hartlepool's larger than life characters. Paul Abbott.

Paul sadly passed away last week after a short period in hospital. Paul was only 58 and judging by the packed Church he will be sadly missed. I had known Paul for getting on for 20 years, both as a client, fellow Rotarian and I hope as a friend. My deepest sympathies go to Norma and Christopher and of course to all the other family members.

Paul rode a "big hog" Harley Davidson, ran with the Bulls in Pamplona, was unashamedly politically incorrect and had a joke for every occasion. In fact if I ever came home and told my wife a decidedly dodgy joke her usual response was "Have you been talking to Abbott today?"

I looked very hard at local politics and life in general after Paul’s Funeral. I will continue to represent the people of St.Hilda Ward to the best of my ability but Hartlepool Councillors are not deciding on the future society of this country, all of that is done behind closed doors in Brussels and Strasburg and the day after you lose your Council Seat no-one in the Civic Centre, let alone outside it, remembers your name! Life is definitely too short to worry about it. So I’m going to get my RYA Day Skipper Ticket, sail on a Tall Ship Challenger in April, take the family on a fly drive to the USA in July and I’m going to remember the glass is always half full. RIP Paul.


North Hartlepool Neighbourhood Forum on Wednesday and surprise surprise I was in the firing line again. Apparently I'm a "laughing stock" on the Headland over comments I made in the local Paper regarding a couple of parking tickets for bus parked with two of the wheels mounted on the kerb in Marine Drive. The usual suspects took the opportunity to have a go at me but I've got broad shoulders! It’s actually refreshing to see these people come out of the woodwork and attack me openly rather than whispering behind my back. Their problem now is that I've got so many knives in my back that there isn't any room left for any more so they have to come at me from the front now. Of course the more they attack me the more I know how it really, really irritates them that I got elected and they (or rather he!) didn't.

Of course the local paper got it wrong, as usual. They reported I was backing the appeal against the ticket when in fact all I was doing was using it as an example to highlight parking problems at the Police Community Safety meeting last week.

I did advise the coach driver he could appeal and that he could ask for proof that the contested ticket was actually issued. The Council will probably have some photographic evidence and they do not contest any driver who receives a ticket has the right of appeal.

The abuse did get rather personal and as with every other Committee or Forum the Chairman (or Chairwoman in this case) allowed free reign to those shouting abuse at me but decided the debate had gone on long enough when I asked to respond to specific allegations made about me. Ah it's a wonderful game politics.

There actually was some agreement in the end that Hartlepool needed a clear policy on parking and that the entire situation has gone on for years without anyone getting a grip on it. Unfortunately I doubt anyone will get a grip now either. The problem being that anyone who attempts to sort it out will end up on the receiving end of abuse such as that thrown at me. It is a "rock and a hard place" because there is no simple, easy answer that will satisfy everyone. That being the case the politically advantageous option is to do nothing because you upset fewest people that way. However, I didn't become a Councillor to keep my head down and say nothing. In 2010 the people of St.Hilda Ward will have their opportunity to chose who they want representing them in the Council in the seat I currently occupy. That's called democracy.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Point of Order....

As the only UKIP Councillor on Hartlepool Borough Council I am quite used to the arbitrary interpretation of the rules of procedure being applied in such a way as to make it difficult for me to speak. I am actually not alone in this as the rules for Labour Councillors and the rules for everyone else are often apparently quite different.

The degree of arrogance that applies to stopping me or any other none Labour Councillor speaking in local debates is trivial compared to the steps taken by the European Union to stifle any dissent even in the show debates in the EU Parliament. From last Friday the EU President has the right to decide when actions by MEPs are allowed, even if they have not broken any rules.

The new powers were decided upon after a group of Euro-MPs, including UKIP (and some Tories), protested about the lack of transparency in the parliament and the way the EU had pushed aside any requests for referendums on the Lisbon Constitution.

Pro-Constitution MEPs have decided to allow the president to forbid certain members from procedures, including Roll Call Votes to let the public see who voted for or against directives, explanations of vote and points of order. This gives the European Parliament President the powers of dictatorship and he can now refuse an MEP permission to speak if he thinks he might not like what he thinks that MEP might say . Eurosceptic opposition is no longer allowed in Brussels.

Can you imagine the House of Commons Speaker awarding himself sweeping new powers to stamp out any opposition to the government? The powers being justified by the fear that unless he took this unprecedented step then opposition parties in the chamber could continue to question and disrupt the government. Stamping out ridiculous notions like points of order and motions on procedure would also allow Parliament to stop the outdated practice of having properly supervised and recorded votes. The show of hands method would remove the tiresome practice of recording how MP’s actually vote and if the count was not totally accurate then it really does not matter anyway.

The fact that procedures to make MP’s accountable for their actions have been developed over centuries is irrelevant. This is 2008. No longer can Parliament be delayed by these tactics. They are after all solely used to disrupt the rights of the government to rule unchallenged by the democratic process.

Tory Candidate has already tried to stand for Labour

If you scratch just a few millimetres below the surface of any Labour, Conservative or Lib-Dem politician then they are increasingly all looking the same. The policy convergence of the three biggest parties in British politics is reaching the point where it doesn’t really matter which one you vote for.

The interchange ability of party and policies is now spreading to candidates, especially if you are one of the sought after demographics. Helen Grant is the perfect example of this. Up to 2006 she was reportedly an enthusiastic New Labour supporter and allowed them free use of her offices in Corydon as a Campaign Headquarters and was seeking to become a Labour Candidate. Now however she is set to replace Ann Widdecombe in Maidstone in Kent as a Tory MP.

Ms Grant must not have any ideological problems with going from Corydon Labour to Maidstone Tory and indeed the two party’s policies are so close on most things that it’s only in insignificant details that they differ. If in doubt all she has to do is follow the European Union line and she’ll be fairly safe. Insignificant detail being about the only policy areas that the EU hasn’t nailed down, but give them time and they will control everything, no detail will be tiny enough to be insignificant enough to escape their rulings.

Of course as a political career Labour is not the way to go at the moment. Labour are likely to loose the next general election and give the Tories a go at running the country (under the watchful eye of the European Union Commission of course) so any ambitious politician will be looking closely at safe Tory seats for 2010.

Ms Grant as a black woman ticks both the sex and ethnic minority boxes, making her a win win for the Tories. Of course the "woman" box is not quite as sought after by the Labour Party these days as there are already 95 Labour women (27% of the Party’s MPs) in the House of Commons compared to 17 Conservative women (8.7%) and 9 Lib-Dims (14%). No doubt “Call me Dave” is desperate to equal the numbers to prove he is in touch with both women and the ethnic minority groups.

Interestingly women make up 54% of all MSPs and a massive 68% of all Welsh Assembly Members. I wonder if that says anything about the perception of the relative importance of politics in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff?

Friday, 25 January 2008

Even Paranoids have Enemies

I have several times likened Hartlepool Council Chamber to the Twilight Zone but it is not just there where reality sometimes seems to be slipping away.

There is a wide and wonderful world of Conspiracy Theorists existing on the World Wide Webb and I came across a wonderful "explanation" of UKIP's alleged woes that addressed almost all of these theories. I repeat it below......

I'm sure the fact that UKIP Leadership cabal is in the secret pay of the Tories to neuter the anti-EU movement will be exposed eventually, just as soon as the Illuminati decide the time is right because we all KNOW The Illuminati Run the World, because all the world's corporate and political leaders are all members of the ancient cabal, or Bilderburghers, or Rosicrucians or Freemasons, or the Trilateral Commission, or the New World Order or Yale's Skull and Bones society or maybe even COMMON PURPOSE and only they know who was on the grassy Knoll the day Kennedy was shot and who was the driver of the white car seen in the tunnel the night Dianna was killed. (Or was she, maybe she faked her death to escape the media's glare). Of course she could be in Area 51 because we all know a space ship crashed near Roswell when it came to take Elvis back to the secret moon base, the one near the World War II Bomber that crashed on the moon and anyway we all know NASA Faked the Moon Landings, The US Government Was Behind 9/11 (or was it the Jews in the US government?) just don't expect a blockbuster film about it as long as the Scientologists Run Hollywood, vetting deals, arranging marriages, and spying on stars, or is it the Jews (again) that run Hollywood, and the Scientologists have to settle for running Tom Cruise. Regardless of that did you know Paul McCartney died in 1969 and was replaced by a look-alike, AIDS Is a Man-Made Disease, KFC is secretly run by the KKK and their Fried Chicken Sterilizes Black Men and anyway it doesn’t matter one way or the other because as revealed by one time BBC reporter David Icke certain powerful people, like George W. Bush and the British royals, actually belong to an alien race of shape-shifting lizard-people and this was about to be confirmed by Princess Diana which was another reason she had to die.

So now we know....., THEY are controlling the vertical, THEY are controlling the horizontal, welcome to THE TWILIGHT ZONE

Adventure in the Big City

My blogging seems to have been sadly neglected during the past week but its always hard to keep on top of it when I'm busy. Just got back from a trip to the big city (Well got back about 4.00pm yesterday but went straight to bed to recover and so now am facing the middle of the night wide awake, hence time to blog!)

Amongst other things in London I attended a fund raiser for the UKIP Mayoral Campaign. The UKIP Candidate Gerard Batten MEP gave a good speech and was ably supported by Nigel Farage MEP and UKIP Members Neil and Christine Hamilton who Gerrard described (tongue in cheek I hope) as "always good value for money"

After the event I ended up in a swish City Pub with Clive Page and John Buffton. This pub didn't sell draught beer, only larger and imported bottled drinks, too posh for a northern lad like me. The place was heaving at midnight and we discovered this was because it was a favourite haunt of the overseas bond dealers who started work in the early evening to catch the opening of the foreign Markets, broke for "lunch" between midnight and 2.00am then went back to work until dawn. Strange nocturnal existence and my heart was bleeding for some of the poor creatures who hadn't got a big a bonus as they were expecting. One poor soul had to make do with £310K when he was expecting £1.1 Mil, how do they survive?

Dragged myself northwards on the train on Thursday morning and managed to sleep most of the way. Was interrupted a couple of times by Clive ringing to check on me. I think he was worried that I was displaying all the symptoms he had just prior to his heart attack! So never again will I be allowing gin and tonic to pass my lips in trendy city bars. If they don't serve a decent pint of beer then I'm out of there.

Friday, 18 January 2008

1 Million Visitors

I heard an interesting snippet on the radio today. Durham City Park and Ride Scheme has just celebrated its 1 Millionth passenger. The scheme has been in operation two years and is judged to be a great sucess. How can that be so, 1,000,000 passengers in two YEARS! Hartlepool are expecting 1,000,000 visitors in three DAYS!

Come on Durham City, get your finger out.

Candidates' Meeting

Hartlepool UKIP will be holding a meeting at Hartlepool Cricket Club on Tuesday 22nd January, starting at 1.15pm.

The meeting is for UKIP Members who are interested in standing for U.K.I.P. in the Hartlepool local elections in May. Of course supporters and anyone interested in joining the Party would be welcome to come along, provide of course they understand there might be parts of the meeting that we would have to restrict to paid up members.

Last May we came within 22 votes of getting a Councilor elected, in 2006 we achieved our first Councillor and in the local elections before that we came with one vote (and three recounts) of a breakthrough. UKIP are now getting a respectable vote in several wards around the town and are close to being the main opposition in more than one ward.

Back to the Twilight Zone

After recent events I was considering asking my Doctor for a check up to see if someone had slipped some consciousness altering substances into my tea. I am feeling like a resident of the twilight zone. This week a motion I proposed at a Council Meeting was actually passed! An unheard of occurrence. Most members of Hartlepool Council don’t need to hear anything from me past “I propose….” before they decide to vote no.

I then read the Mayor’s Mail column about Nuclear Power and found myself nodding in agreement. In the late 1980’s I worked at Sellafield and nuclear power scares the heck out of me, but, if we are going to keep the lights on and reduce our dependency on foreign energy suppliers then I don’t see any practical alternative.

A third surreal moment came with Iain Wright’s column this week; once again I was nodding in agreement. The economic argument for a new Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station is also undeniable. We need the real jobs a new power station will bring and keep in Hartlepool.

The twilight zone remained in place on Friday when I read the announcement about the new development on the Marina. This has been on the drawing board for several years and to spin it as something that has come about due to the Tall Ships Race is definitely twilight zone.

So as the control of the vertical returns to me and as the control of the horizontal is re-established I welcome the new development to secure the long term future of HMS Trincomalee and have no doubt it will be good for Hartlepool. As will Victoria Harbour, another long term development. However, to link either of these developments to the Tall Ships Race is definitely spinning the truth just a bit.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Bra Sizes Explained

In addition to being a UKIP Councillor I am also a man. In my role as a man I have often wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes? It's the DD that gets me every time, why not A to I, why is one size in the middle two letters?

If any other male out there is similarly perplexed I managed to find the code on the Internet and thought it should be shared......

(A} Almost Boobs.
{B} Barely there.
{C} Can't Complain!
{D} Dang!
{DD} Double dang!
{E} Enormous!
{F} Fake.
{G} Get a Reduction.
{H} Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up !

To anyone reading this who feels I have crossed a Politically Correct line I would say only one thing, Lighten up!

Thursday, 10 January 2008


It was time for the periodic Police and Community Safety Forum this week and a collection of the usual suspects gathered at Miers Avenue to listen to the presentations. The Police predictably came in for criticism about failing to respond quickly enough and there was some discussion about the 500% increase in violent crime that was reported in the Hartlepool Mail that day. I say the criticism was predicable not because I think the Police do a bad job but because the job they do will never be good enough (in some people’s opinions).

The perennial subject of sea coal wagons received an airing as did the wonders of CCTV. Then came the final presentation of the day, Parking. More specifically Parking on pavements. After the presentation one “Campaigning Councillor” launched into a rant and rave about the evils of people who park on the pavement and the general gutlessness of the Police and Hartlepool Council when it comes to enforcement. Now I know that many of people who attend these events would quite happily see me dead in a gutter so as usual I was my own worst enemy and actually said what I thought about the situation.

Parking on pavements is a problem, but so is parking in general. I had actually been asked by a resident to raise the issue and to point out he has in fact received a ticket for just such an “offence” He felt rather aggrieved by this as he parked half on the pavement to allow the road to remain open enough for other vehicles to continue using it. He therefore thought he was doing a good thing! If the Police and Council ticket every car that parks on the pavement then after a few £30 fines (rising to £60 if not paid promptly) then people will get the message and stop doing it. Seems like a good idea, lets do that, it will keep the footpaths open. Unfortunately it will close a lot of roads and grid lock large areas of the town. Of course if you are a car hater then this would be a good thing. For the majority of us car users it would be a disaster.

The problem with parking of course is that our towns were not designed for cars and are definitely not designed for two, three and four car families. I have parked a car in the same spot in Beaconsfield Square for nearly 30 years. However a new family recently moved into the Square and were actually very unpleasant to me about parking there because it was on the corner outside their house and therefore “THEIR” parking space. This family now park two cars in the square and have even put up a notice “reserving” the space outside their gate. It’s another few votes “lost” but that’s politics. I am realistic to know that the Council Seat I occupy isn’t “my seat” it is only on loan to me and unlike the Tories in Park or the Labour Councillors in several wards in town I will eventually make enough enemies to lose enough votes so that a new Councillor will take the seat.

There is no answer to Parking problems in narrow streets that will please everyone. The pro car lobby want to park as closed to their homes as possible, think it’s their right to do so and often park on pavements in order to keep the road open. The anti car lobby want cars off the pavements and think it’s not their problem where the cars go after that. It’s a lose/lose situation, just one of many unfortunately when overcrowding reaches problem levels.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

While Wwilf'ing this evening I came across a strange little item on another blog.

This is a site which calculates how much your body is worth after you are dead. I was amazed to discover my dead body is worth $4,875, especially as the blog I stole it from belongs to a very attractive young lady whose body was only worth $4,275.

Just shows that being a balding, overweight, 40 something year old UKIP Councillor doesn't mean you are totally worthless.

Just been e-mailed by a reader of my blog (yes there are some) who was crowing his cadaver was worth $10 more than mine. Right, game on! Wouldn't it be strange if the motivation I need to get to the gym and loose weight was actually provided by the desire to improve the value of my body after I am dead!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

What a co-incidence!

What a co-incidence!

After the Seminar telling me how control over planning and development was being taken away from locally elected and democratically accountable local Councillors and passed to appointed and unaccountable regional guanos. The timing was perfect for me to receive an e-mail invitation to a briefing in Westminster about the historic agreement reportedly signed on December 12th between the Government and the Local Government Association.

Apparently this follows on from commitments made in The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act and the "Concord" aims to transform the relationship between central and local authority. Most pertinently by stating clearly that both are equal partners in delivery of services to their citizens. It also states that

‘there should be a presumption that powers are best exercised at the lowest effective and practical level.’

The Concordat commits to –

  • Recognising the electoral mandate of every councillor in the country.
  • Transparency in local service funding and greater flexibility in council funding.
  • Giving local authorities ‘autonomy’ in line with the rest of the EU.

Not sure at all how this squares with the removal of planning from local authority control, unless of course “the lowest effective and practical level" promised in the Concord actually means Regional Level. This would of course also explain the final bullet point about giving local authorities ‘autonomy’ in line with the rest of the EU.

UKIP of course want local to really mean local and resist regional control of anything as we all know the real agenda here is divide and conquer through the regionalisation until there is no such place anymore as the United Kingdom and opposition to the European Union ceases.

On balance I don’t think I'll pay the £215 fee to attend the briefing.

Member's Seminar No:1 2008

Attended my first Councillor Meeting of 2008 this afternoon. This gives me 100% attendance for 2008. Unfortunately only two Labour and two Independent Councillors were similarly contentious in joining me (the only UKIP Councillor in the village). At the start of the seminar there were 5 Council Officers speaking to 5 Councillors (including me). The balance was slightly altered when the Leader of the Lib-Dem group came in after the start. However as he appeared to promptly fall asleep then he didn't contribute much to the proceedings. Mind you, the Lib-Dem Leader also appears to have very poor eyesight, I'm convinced that if there was just me and him in an empty room he still would manage not to see me. Of course, that might have nothing to do with eyesight?

Back to the Seminar. Hartlepool's Core Strategy and the future of Planning in Hartlepool. Lots of NuLabour GovSpeak was in evidence. Core Strategy, Regional Spatial Strategy, Local Area Frameworks, Improved Connectivity, Spatial Vision and Hartlepool's Ambition. The bottom line seemed to be that as local Councillors we were totally free to develop policies and strategies at a local level PROVIDED they complied with the Regional Spatial Strategy that controls development in the North East. Public enquires into planning matters will be a thing of the past and "Soundness" will be the watchword. Soundness being defined as ticking all the right boxes in the Regional Spatial Strategy. The ultimate yes or no being given by a Government inspector who will make a "binding" report in 2010 to set how and in which directions Hartlepool will be allowed to develop until 2025.

There was a brief flare of hope that the penny might be dropping about the loss of democratic accountability and local control in planning when the Chairman of the planning committee (one of the two Labour Councillors present) did comment that if the Government Inspector made recommendations the local Authority didn't agree with then surely there must be some mechanism of appeal. It couldn't be right that locally elected Councillors would be over ruled by a Government Inspector to implement a Spatial Strategy that has been developed by an unelected quango.

I'm not sure where Rob has been for the last 10 years? Living in some NuLabour dream world? The whole point of the Regional Spatial Strategy is exactly that! To remove power from Local Authorities, some of whom have the annoying habit of not doing what they are told by the Government.

A wide ranging discussion on a range of issues was held. New Nuclear Power stations and the new Hartlepool Hospital being mentioned. Both of which will be put wherever the government decides it wants them to go and anyone who thinks otherwise is totally naive.

The Planning Officers present deserve congratulations. They of course have to comply with the planning laws and were very professional about it in the face of some difficult questions. I was accused of being "facetious" by the Chairman of Planning, not sure what that means. Faeces being another name for s**t of course. I blame Councillor G.Lilley. Comrade Lilley unfortunately brings out the worst in me, as it appears I also do to him. Come the NULabour revolution I expect him to be stood next to me at the wall when we face the firing squad!

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Government's Festive Windfall .....Christmas Taxes

The Christmas festivities are over and we are all trying to forget the Credit Card Bills that will be landing on the door mat in January. These bills can put a cold chill on the Christmas Spirit, especially if you work out how much of your Christmas spending ends up going not to Santa Claus, but to the Government.

Almost every Christmas purchase you make, from ipods to mistletoe, is subject to VAT. If you turn to drink then you are paying excise duty as well, not forgetting the fuel tax levied on journeys to gatherings of your nearest and dearest.

According to calculations by the Taxpayers' Alliance the tax bill this Christmas will cost an average family £225. If that had stayed in your pocket rather than being taken by the government then rather than leaving a mince pie and a glass of sherry for Santa you could have left him over 500 of the finest mince pies and 15 bottles of Harvey’s Bristol Cream, and still have change left over.

This Christmas the festive spending taxes will be worth £5.65 billion to the Treasury. About the only festive spending that escapes tax is the turkey and Brussels sprouts. Of course if European Commission plan to harmonise VAT comes into force then this could spell the end for the current zero rating of essential food. So thanks to Brussels in 2008 even your sprouts and turkey could contribute to your festive tax “gift” to the government.

Well Done Croatia!

As a member of UKIP saying “Well done” to the government of Croatia takes some doing. However, credit where it’s due. Despite strong European Union opposition the Croatians are setting up a protected fishing zone covering 22,800 sq miles of the Adriatic. Croatia says fish stocks are being depleted by Italy's annual catch of 200,000 tonnes, worth £219m. Italy's catch is about ten times the size of Croatia’s own.

Croatia isn’t a member of the European Union, yet, but its membership is expected to be negotiated during 2008. The refusal to let EU fishing fleets into Croatian waters is causing Brussels Bureaucrats some problems. Iceland left the EU over fishing and the current death throes of the UK Fishing Industry is part of the price of Britain’s 30 year European Union membership.

Croatia can probably expect hefty concessions to resolve their concerns and of course when they join EU grant money, most of it from British Taxpayers, will flood into the country. Ted Heath gave up the UK fishing industry when we joined the EU but without the compensation of EU money. The UK actually paid huge sums of cash to the European Union for the privilege of joining and we continue to pay to this very day.

It’s disgraceful that no British Prime Minister, either Conservative or Labour, from Ted Heath right through to Gordon Brown has done a quarter as much to protect British interests as the Croatian government is now doing to protecting its own Adriatic Fishermen.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

NHS Confidentiality

I have been following the debate about the government’s proposed on-line NHS Care Records System for some time. The system will be a huge national database of patient medical records and personal information. It is objectionable for many of the same reasons as the government’s proposed ID database. Medical Records will be open to a million NHS employees and central government bureaucrats. You can only have them hidden in special circumstances, for example, you are a celebrity, on a witness protection scheme or a Member of Parliament. Many public and private sector workers, from social workers to pharmacists, will otherwise have access to your address and phone number.

However, thanks to the efforts of an organisation called "NHS Confidentiality" there is now an opt out to at least some of the requirements of this scheme. If you visit their website then you can download a standard letter to send to your GP to Opt out of your medical records being placed on-line.

Good luck to the scheme. 200,000 people have reportedly already opted out. I hope that increases massively over the next 12 months.

Just click the link for NHS Confidentiality in the list of links opposite this post.

Happy New Year

The old year finished on a bit of a high at a Murder Mystery Evening. I was Chief Breaking Wind (type cast again) the leader of the Cowpie Tribe. Unfortunately due to my inept leadership (trying to tell me something here with the allocation of characters!) all of my tribe left me and became Hornees. I didn't want to be Hornee so stayed a lonely, bitter Cowpie. However, when Sheriff R.I.Pilgrim revealed all it wasn't me who killed Judge Waylen Payne, it was the Madam of the local "Pigeon Ranch" who did it to protect her gold laundering racket. She'd found the perfect way to get stolen gold into circulation by having it made into gold teeth. She paid the local brawler to pick fights and knock teeth out, the local dentist then fitted gold teeth which the local undertaker removed after gunfights were staged to kill the 13 Handcart Boys, all of whom had mouths full of gold teeth! Confused. I was!!!

However, all in all a satisfactory end to 2007. Here's hoping 2008 can be a good year for everyone. I'm not making any New Year Resolutions as I never managed to keep them. Last year I was going to loose weight, exercise more and be nicer to the Mayor. I suppose one out of three isn't bad!