• Our nation decided it was ready for a black president. Oddly, after running a campaign promising change, when that change was offered, suddenly the nation was not quite ready for this president after all.
From angry town hall meetings and disrespectful shouts of “You lie!” to armed protesters outside the president’s meetings, we appeared to regress back to the divided people we were prior to November 2008.
• While we showed that we could elect a black president, we clearly made the case we are not ready to accept committed same-sex couples. So while we may have finally made some strides in regards to color, we just could not quite take that extra step for sexual orientation.
We voted to deny the ability for same-sex couples to marry, as this somehow “protected” the word “marriage.” However, I never did read or hear how the marriage of same-sex couples negatively impacts heterosexual couples. Seeing as over 50 percent of heterosexual marriages ends in divorce, maybe we should protect the word “marriage” by putting an end to the marriage of opposite-sex couples.
• While we learned that imminent death was near with the arrival of the swine flu pandemic, much to our media’s surprise, society appears to still be functioning. Hysteria, however, continues, as many live in fear of the overcrowded hospitals, parking lot triage centers and enforced police state we assumed were in our future as we waited for what would eventually be the worst biological disaster since, well, last year’s regular cold and flu season.
• Clearly, the vocal minority spoke, and providing health care to everyone turned out to be much less appealing than funding two wars that have unnecessarily taken thousands of lives and injured countless more.
For the anti-health care reform folks, it is one thing to fund a war, but something all together different to spend money to save lives. Apparently, it is much more rewarding to build a smart bomb that can incinerate a goat farmer’s mud house from 3 miles away than to offer prenatal care to a young mother working part-time for Starbucks.
• Locally, we learned that the decisions that arose from our City Council meetings were not quite as important or newsworthy as the council’s decision to pray prior to making real decisions that actually affect the lives of those who live in the city.
While we debated the legalities and ethics of prayer during a city government meeting, we seemed to lose sight of the issues in our town that actually have an effect on our lives.
Apparently, it did not matter what decisions the council came up with, as long as they did or did not pray about what they were about to decide.
• We also found out that not much ruffles the feathers of our watchdog groups, as scrutiny was directed to the act of selling produce, tasty sweet corn or ice cream at our local parks by people who do not appear to be cute blond children trying to pad their allowance with the profits from an unlicensed, non-tax contributing lemonade stand.
There were daily calls to the police to “protect” citizens from unlicensed vendors. Clearly, the only thing these watchdogs were attempting to protect us from is the “current perceived status” of those peddling their goods.
• We watched as Tracy built a brand-new high school adjacent to what was supposed to be a brand-new business park. Sadly, the business park is not yet under way, while our kids are forced to navigate a dangerous, commuter-filled country road to get to their new school.
Oddly enough, we also watched as a new elevator was installed in the bleachers of the football stadium on the off chance that the school hires an announcer with a disability that would require the use of the mandated high school bleacher elevator.
While equal access is important, I think a sidewalk that would allow a student with a disability to actually get to and from the new school should be as important as an elevator that gets one to the top of the bleachers if they somehow made it to school.
• With a last-minute appeal, off-road enthusiasts learned that family fun and recreation is still alive in the face of hypersensitive environmentalism. As the finger of responsibility for all that ails the adjacent creeks and watersheds has been pointed at the motorcycle and ATV riders of the 1,500-acre facility, folks looking for a reason to put a stop to fun family times apparently forgot that there are two nearby research laboratories that test outdoor explosives, cattle ranchers, tunnels bored through the hills and an abandoned mine that may have added some sediment to the creek in question.
While the park may have won a small battle to simply remain open, the environmental hypersensitive concerns continue to block the planned 3,000-acre expansion onto the land the park purchased some 10 years ago, over fears that harm could somehow fall upon one of the main characters in the circle of life, the California tiger salamander.
• Sadly, Tracy finally found itself in the nation’s spotlight. Unfortunately, this national spotlight came at the expense of our town’s innocence.
With two unimaginable and horrific events that claimed the precious life of one of our children and altered the life of another, Tracy was thrust into the spotlight — and all of us who call Tracy home so much wish we were still the town no one had heard of.
As I thankfully watched my wife exit empty-handed from what I hoped would be the last store of the day, I wondered not just how we would actually pay for the contents accumulated in the multiple shopping bags at my tired feet, but what lies ahead for all us in 2010. • Brian Williams has been a Tracy resident since 1993 and is a husband, father and a supervisor in the telecommunications industry.