Multiple topics; one space. Time for a combo column.
State of the City
A few weeks back, Lodi Mayor Bob Johnson took to Hutchins Street Square and preached his state of the city address. He touched on unemployment being the lowest it had been in two years, which is great news but still far from acceptable at an uncomfortable 11.7 percent.
Johnson also touched on a few businesses that were looking to call our fair city home, and said that the state makes it difficult for our town to roll out the red carpet to said businesses. I agree, and hope that Johnson and the council will do whatever it takes to cut the red tape that stands in the way of making Lodi the exception to San Joaquin County's gloomy unemployment situation.
Mayor Johnson and council, I challenge you to push the limits of what the state requires. Do what's best for the community while respecting the rule of law. Just remember, there is always a loophole or way around things. If that means putting what remains of the city staff into overdrive, scouring potential alternatives to maximize Lodi's offerings to its citizens and tourists, then so be it.
Do you want to be the council that just "got through" the great recession? Or would you rather be the council that left a legacy by making Lodi an exception to the status quo?
'The 10 Most fascinating' people of 2011
It has been a heck of a year, and the tradition of respected veteran journalist Barbara Walters interviewing the "10 most fascinating people" will once again take to the ABC network. Reportedly on that list are the Kardashians. Yes, the words "fascinating" and "Kardashians" just appeared in the same paragraph. And no, I will not be watching now.
Kicking off the season
So what if local radio stations took the plunge and started playing Christmas music before the Thanksgiving holiday was out of the way? Right now, the world could really use some of that extra cheer. As a people, our collective mood has been rather dark for the past few years, and the only time we perk up a little bit is around the holiday season.
My pre-season joy was met with a lot of dirty looks and scoffs, but why not let the spirit of the holidays fill you and your home a little early this year? What's so bad about it? I understand that when retailers fire up the marketing machine the day after Halloween, it is annoying. But they're desperate for your business. It's been a rough couple of years for everyone.
The holidays are about family, goodwill and love. Forget about gifts and superficial causes. Turn on the radio, hang some garland, call a family member to tell them what they mean to you and stir up some peppermint hot chocolate. Christmas is a time we can all come together for the sake of goodness and God.
Pass the eggnog. It's never too soon to celebrate.
Lighting up Downtown
Speaking of holiday cheer, Lodi just celebrated the 16th annual Parade of Lights — one of the finest things we do as a community. The magic of the season and the spirit of our townspeople shine bright each time this event takes place.
With city councilwoman JoAnne Mounce and her family serving in the grand marshal capacity, the parade was uniquely Lodi and a great way to herald in the holidays.
We are once again approaching my hard-hitting, nearly award-winning, internationally (self-) acclaimed exclusive interview with the one and only Santa Claus. Every year I have the unprecedented opportunity to be one of the few members of the press to be able to sit down with the big man prior to his big night.
Do you or your little ones have a question you'd like me to ask Santa? Send an email with your name, age and question to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our best to get a response from the jolly man himself.
Columnist Wade Heath was born and raised in Lodi. He is a contributing editor for NationalTalkLive.com.