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Expat wanderer

Economy Class: The Worst of the Worst

LOL, I have flown a lot of miles, but I have never flown any of these airlines in the ‘Worst of the Worst.” We used to fly RyanAir when we lived in Germany, and if you know to expect nothing, you get what you expect :-). It’s a lot like Jazeera, only without reserved seats and without leather seats. Oh, and people shoving to get on; I guess it was pretty bad, but oh, it was so CHEAP! Awful, but the flights were short, so you just gut it out and get there.

This is from the Frequent Flier Crier:


Economy class is pretty bad, even at its best. And at it’s worst, it’s truly horrendous, a toxic mix of too-tight seats, rancid peanuts, and don’t-bother-me service.

So which airline’s coach class is the worst of the worst? Business Insider Australia set out to answer that question, using data compiled by airline reviewer Skytrax on such measures as seat comfort, inflight entertainment, meals, and inflight service.

Such perennial service underproviders as Spirit and RyanAir made the list, at 18th and 11th worst respectively, but the other contenders for the title of world’s worst airline will be mostly unfamiliar to U.S.-focused travelers.

The envelope, please …

1. Turkmenistan Airlines (rated 30.8 on a 100-points scale)
2. Sudan Airways (rated 33.3)
3. Ukraine International Airlines (rated 36.3)
4. Uzbekistan Airways (rated 37.5s)
5. Air Koryo (rated 39.2)
6. Bulgaria Air (rated 41.8)
7. Rossiya Airlines (rated 42.7)
8. Iceland Express (rated 42.8)
9. Tajik Air (rated 43.3)
10. Syrian Air (rated 44.8)

Regarding Turkmenistan, the report noted that “terrible rankings on Skytrax for in-flight entertainment, seat comfort, service efficiency, staff response to passenger requests, and staff language skills make it the worst airline you can find.”

So next time you’re tempted to dub Spirit or US Airways or Frontier the worst airline ever, find some solace in the fact that the flight could have been worse. Much worse. It could have been Turkmenistan bad.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Travel, Values | , , , | 7 Comments

Continued Efforts to Deal with Expats in Kuwait

93,000 illegals in Kuwait?

Minimum wage KD500 for Dependency Visa?

Forced retirements?

During my years in Kuwait, I saw many sorry situations. It doesn’t matter where you are on the social scale, if you are not Kuwaiti, you are expat labor. When management, for whatever reason, wants you to go, you go. People who have lived in Kuwait 50 years, who are elderly, sent home, and sent home quickly, barely time to sell what you can’t take with you, people who have had a health setback and can’t work anymore, handed their papers and told their visas will no longer be valid in 30 days.

There is no point in romanticizing your position. You’re hired help. You think you have friends, but your friends are not going to help you live out your days and die in Kuwait. When your usefulness is over, they want you gone.

We often had to get special permission to bring in professional workers for critical jobs who were over – or even approaching – 60 years old. Long-in-the-tooth is not a highly valued characteristic for imported labor.

Have an exit strategy.

The Kuwait Times title for this photo is “Illegals”

Embassies push for deportees’ rights – KD500 minimum wage proposed for dependency visa

From 30 May 2013 Kuwait Times:

KUWAIT: Two Asian embassies complained to Kuwaiti officials about the “arbitrary actions” taken during the deportation of illegal residents and lawbreakers, who were arrested in a series of crackdowns over the past few weeks across the country, a local daily reported yesterday, quoting sources with knowledge of the case.

Nearly 1,260 people of Arab and Asian nationalities have been deported since Kuwait launched crackdowns on traffic violators late last month. The General Traffic Department stated that deportation was enforced in cases of repeat offenders.

Thousands of others have been detained in simultaneous crackdowns targeting people with expired visas or those working in violation of labor regulations. But according to a report published yesterday by Al-Qabas daily, the Ministry of Interior received complaints from the embassies of India and Bangladesh, regarding the swift deportation of a large number of their nationals without them getting the opportunity to receive what they were owed from their employers.

The sources, who spoke to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, said many of the deportees were sent back home through the use of travel documents released by their respective embassies, instead of their original passports that, in most cases, are kept by their sponsors. “The Indian and Bangladeshi embassies are currently taking legal recourse to secure the rights of the deported nationals, including their original passports”, the sources said.

Many expatriates arrested during the recent traffic crackdowns reportedly remain in custody, as their respective embassies refuse to grant authorities travel documents on the grounds that their visas are still valid. In that regard, the sources revealed the ministry had been trying to reach the employers in order to retrieve the passports of the soon-to-be-deported expatriates.

Meanwhile, a senior Interior Ministry official defended Kuwait’s right to deport illegal residents or foreigners who break the law. “It is the right of every country to deport expatriates who violate its residency laws or its laws in general, or take legal action against them, in order to maintain safety and security, in line with human rights principles,” Assistant Director of the ministry’s General Training Department, Brigadier General Adel Al-Saadoun, was quoted by Al-Jarida yesterday. He made these comments at a workshop on Tuesday, organized by the International Organization for Migration office in Kuwait.

In other news, Undersecretary Assistant for Citizenship and Passports Affairs, Major General Sheikh Faisal Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, during a meeting with directors of migration departments in Kuwait, called for “tougher procedures” with regard to the issuance of visitor visas, so marginal labourers would not be able to gain access into the country.

He made the demand amid a discussion on efforts to address Kuwait’s demographic imbalance, which senior ministry officials described as “a main duty” for his department. “Maj Gen Al-Sabah told the directors that labor forces in countries having internal struggles should not be able to move to Kuwait, and that Kuwait should not become a shelter for them and their problems,” said sources quoted in an Al-Rai report yesterday.

Nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen are currently banned from obtaining visas to work in or visit Kuwait. In that regard, Maj Gen Al-Sabah said the lifting of the ban on them in the future must be coupled with controls to regulate their entrance and prevent the country’s demographic imbalance from getting worse, said the sources, who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity.

The meeting also discussed other suggestions aimed at reducing the number of expatriate workers in Kuwait, including Maj Gen Al-Sabah’s intentions to “prepare a memorandum about the benefits of raising the minimum cap for foreigners applying for dependency visas for relatives”. Currently, such visas can be obtained as long as a supporter earns a minimum of KD250 a month, but the Undersecretary Assistant reportedly suggested during the meeting that the cap be raised to KD500.

“Maj Gen Al-Sabah questioned the capability of a man who receives KD250 a month to meet the educational, health and living requirements of a family with children,” the sources explained. They added that the senior official also plans to refer a letter to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, recommending that it suspend issuing work visas to holders of commercial visit visas.

Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Thekra Al-Rashidi announced two months ago a plan to deport 100,000 foreigners every year, as part of a strategy to reduce the number of expatriates in the Gulf state by one million over a period of 10 years. Criticism sparked by the lack of details about the proposed plan prompted the minister to later clarify that the plan targeted illegal residents, whose numbers have reached 93,000, as per official statistics released last year. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who account for 68 percent of the country’s total population of 3.8 million.

Meanwhile, minister Al-Rashidi released an order – with effect from July 1, 2013 – to terminate the services of expatriate employees who have worked for at least 30 years in the Social Affairs and Labor Ministry. According to sources familiar with the issue, the ministry has already started the process to end the services of nearly 70 foreigners by the beginning of July. The decision is in accordance with a government plan that requires forcing Kuwaitis who have held government posts for 30 years, including senior officials, into retirement. According to official statistics, published by Al-Qabas yesterday, 138 senior officials, including 11 women, will be subjected to this regulation. – Al-Qabas, Al-Jarida & Al-Rai

In a related article, measures are gaining support for withdrawing Kuwait citizenship from naturalized citizens for different reasons; below another article from the 30 May 2013 Kuwait Times Foreign spouses married to Kuwaitis watch these developments with trepidation.

MPs want citizenship revoked for breaching security – Long-time employees won’t be forced out

KUWAIT: A number of MPs yesterday proposed that Kuwaiti nationality should be withdrawn from naturalized Kuwaitis who abuse the country’s internal security or insult the country’s figures. The lawmakers also proposed that all benefits given to the naturalized person proven to have breached national security should be withdrawn and this measure should include withdrawing the citizenship of other people who gained the citizenship as a result of naturalizing that person. The proposal also suggests that people who applied for Kuwaiti citizenships and carried out similar offenses should have their applications rejected even if they fulfilled all the conditions for nationality.

To become effective, the proposal must be adopted by the concerned Assembly committees, mainly the legal and legislative and the interior and defense committees and then passed by the National Assembly and eventually accepted by the government. The proposal comes amid protests by opposition activists and former MPs and a crackdown on opposition tweeters – several of whom have received jail terms on charges of insulting the Amir. Meanwhile, MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan yesterday asked Justice Minister Sharida Al-Meosharji about implementing a law passed a few months ago to establish the Anti-Corruption Authority. Besides the corruption authority, the legislation also calls for wealth disclosure of ministers, MPs and top government officials. Duwaisan asked the minister about the steps that have been taken to implement the law and the obstacles facing it.

MP Yacoub Al-Sane said yesterday that he was informed by Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al- Sabah that top bureaucrats who served 30 years and above will not be forced to resign as has been published. The lawmaker said he told the premier that forcing such top officials to step down is “unconstitutional” and the prime minister replied that the government will not force them to resign but will grant them incentives and benefits to encourage them to resign. In the meantime, MP Saud Al- Huraiji questioned Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali about the charges collected from expatriates for the health insurance scheme and other charges since applying the law in 1999. Huraiji said that he learned that KD522 million have been collected since that year but the ministry of finance has failed to utilize the funds in proper channels. He asked the minister if the ministry has any plan to spend the funds in the right way.

By B Izzak, Staff Writer

‘Hundreds’ deported for traffic offences

KUWAIT: Kuwait has deported hundreds of expats for traffic offences in the past month, a report said yesterday, drawing condemnation from a human rights group.

The Al-Anbaa newspaper cited a senior interior ministry official as saying that as many as 1,258 foreigners have been deported for traffic violations since a crackdown began about a month ago.

Foreign residents caught driving without a licence, using their cars to carry paying passengers, jumping a red light for a second time, or breaking the speed limit by more than 40 km per hour, can be deported without a court order. The Kuwait Society for Human Rights called on the government to halt the deportations describing them as “oppressive”. “The oppressive measure against expatriates… violates the basic principles of human rights,” it said.

The group warned that the measure could tarnish the state’s image abroad at a time when its human rights record is under scrutiny. Kuwait is home to 2.6 million expatriates who form 68 percent of the country’s 3.8 million population.

Kuwaiti nationals who commit similar offences have their vehicles seized and can be sent to court. Last month, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour Thekra Al-Rasheedi said the state plans to deport around 100,000 expatriates every year for the next decade to reduce the number of foreigners living in the Gulf state by one million. She did not say what measures she would adopt to carry out the plan.

Foreigners need to hold a university degree, earn KD 400 a month and have lived in Kuwait for at least two years to be eligible to apply for a driver’s licence, under a decision issued nearly a decade ago. —AFP

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Bureaucracy, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, Qatar, Social Issues, Values, Work Related Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Making Idols

A confluence of events happened at a period in my life when I was paying attention, and those things coming together have influenced me enormously. The first was participation in a bible study conducted in a branch of Christianity not my own, whose dogma is occasionally repellant and repugnant to me, but whose study of the chapter in the bible is thorough. The second was my move back to the Islamic world, and my choice to study Arabic at the Qatar Center for the Presentation of Islam.

In both cases, what I learned is that we have more in common than we have differences. I also learned that if we focus on the differences, it can be devastating.

Both groups know the Bible. My Moslem sisters knew the bible better than I did, and when discussing such issues as covering hair and wearing abaya, could quote me verses from my own book which re-inforced their argument. It was mortifying – and edifying.

My Baptist friends also surprise me. For every one who rails against gay marriage or ordination of women, there was another who would laugh and quote scripture saying “did you notice the same penalty for a woman who cuts her hair? or wears pants in public?” I learned a lot about my own religion, my own beliefs, and the goodness of others by my interactions with both these groups.


One of the differences in the Moslem world was that many houses I went into (I was honored to be invited into their homes) were very plain. The furniture might be basic or elaborate, but often, the walls were bare. Maybe there might be a calligraphy with a Quranic verse on the wall – that was it. No paintings, especially no human figures – no idols, no images.

In my house, I am surrounded by images, photos, paintings, weavings – they give me joy, but I do not worship them. They are not idols, they are merely art or family – things that make me smile. I distinguish between idols and gods. Yesterday’s reading from Deuteronomy sticks with me, however, and I can hear my sweet teachers at QCPI saying to me “But doesn’t it say in Deuteronomy 4 that you are to have no idols?”

Deuteronomy 4:25-31

25 When you have had children and children’s children, and become complacent in the land, if you act corruptly by making an idol in the form of anything, thus doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, and provoking him to anger, 26I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that you will soon utterly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy; you will not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed.

27The Lord will scatter you among the peoples; only a few of you will be left among the nations where the Lord will lead you. 28There you will serve other gods made by human hands, objects of wood and stone that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. 29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul. 30In your distress, when all these things have happened to you in time to come, you will return to the Lord your God and heed him. 31Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Faith, Kuwait, Lectionary Readings, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar, Spiritual | Leave a comment

The Lord Laughs at the Wicked

When I start to fret about those in high places who oppress the poor and the workers, whose lives are so far from worrying about a roof over their head and food to eat that they will pass still laws further oppressing the poor and homeless, I take consolation in this psalm.


The Pensacola City Council is passing a draconian measure against the homeless. I’ve been so proud of Pensacola, and the citizen response to the homeless, the beds Pensacola provides, the meals the citizens, through a variety of church and social agencies, hand out. Their response is humane, and compassionate.

The homeless are attracted by the moderate climate; they are here in droves. They panhandle at the intersections, they approach you at downtown attractions. They often have dogs. For the most part, they greet people cheerfully or respectfully, and they aren’t aggressive.


They are, in truth, a kind of plague on Pensacola, but as a traveler, I have brushed my teeth in many a restroom, changed my clothes, even had to rise out a coffee stained outfit before my next flight once – these are things for which the homeless will be charged with an offense against the law. If I were without a place for the night, I might look for a safe public restroom in which to sleep, especially if I had a child with me, as so many women did when I worked with homeless women.

I understand the problem.

But I also understand the desperation of those who have little, and that very little – a public restroom, a safe place to sleep outdoors – are being taken away from them by this statute. It’s heartless, and if there is truly an accounting at the end of our lives, and an afterlife, I fear for those who put additional burdens on the poorest of the poor.

Psalm 37

Of David.
1 Do not fret because of the wicked;
do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass,
and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light,
and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
over those who carry out evil devices.

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land,
and delight in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous,
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is a little that the righteous person has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will abide for ever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times,
in the days of famine they have abundance.

20 But the wicked perish,
and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21 The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
but the righteous are generous and keep giving;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23 Our steps* are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our* way;
24 though we stumble,* we* shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us* by the hand.

25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are ever giving liberally and lending,
and their children become a blessing.

27 Depart from evil, and do good;
so you shall abide for ever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his faithful ones.

The righteous shall be kept safe for ever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and live in it for ever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip.

32 The wicked watch for the righteous,
and seek to kill them.
33 The Lord will not abandon them to their power,
or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.

34 Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on the destruction of the wicked.

35 I have seen the wicked oppressing,
and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.*
36 Again I* passed by, and they were no more;
though I sought them, they could not be found.

37 Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.

39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

May 30, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Charity, Civility, Community, Crime, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Financial Issues, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Political Issues, Social Issues, Values | | Leave a comment

The Little Blue Pill

I’m not a person who feels a lot of pain. I hardly ever get a headache, rarely get even a paper cut. At one point in my life, when my biliary duct blocked, the doctor gave me pictures and looked at me sternly and said “You could have died, politely waiting out there in the waiting room. When this happens, come in immediately, show the ER people these photos and tell them you need this blockage cleared immediately.”

That one really did hurt, but I’m not much for groaning and writhing in pain, so I didn’t.

Today was a confluence of events. Yesterday, when the air conditioning people were at our house, all day, configuring and installing the new air conditioning system, the terrified and disoriented Qatari Cat spent the day in the large laundry room, with his cat bed and his food and water, and his litter box. It was a long day, and he was alone, and he could hear loud bumps and thuds, and he could smell strange smells, and hear strange voices. Therefore, when let out, he needed to snuggle, closely, to the one he thinks is his mother, i.e. me.

He curled into my arm and purred and cried about his long day and how scared he had been. He was still snuggling, closer and closer, during the night, as I was trying to sleep. He is a good sleeper, doesn’t move around a lot, but when he is snuggled up against me, it is hard to move. Now and then he will snore, or go into kitty-dream state, legs thrumming along and sub-vocal snarling, which can wake me.

Our normal water aerobics instructor was out, and the substitute was wonderful, but we did more repetitions of high kicks, jacks-crunches, and more high kicks; it was a great workout, different from what we are used to.

We really needed to clean our floors after the air conditioning crew, so AdventureMan took all the carpets outside for a good vacuum front and back while I tackled the tile floors throughout the main level of the house. Some of the grime was ground in, this wasn’t one of those quick swish washes but a lot of stoop and scrape, or hands and knees and scrub kind of jobs. While down close, I also noticed the base boards needed a swab, more bending and stooping.

I still had one appointment to go before I could kick back, and while waiting, I noticed my back was a little uncomfortable. By a little uncomfortable, I mean it had my attention, I couldn’t get comfortable. By the time I got home, it had my undivided attention. I know what works for me, back when I had a reaction to a root canal, I discovered Aleve, so I had some on hand.


When I went to take one, I saw this great big capsule. I remembered tiny little blue tablets, sort of ovoid, but I guess I had just grabbed whatever I saw and it happened to be a capsule. Swallowed the capsule.


There is a reason I don’t like taking medicines, and that reason is that because I don’t take a lot of medications, when I do, I can tell. It takes the edge off. I feel slow. I feel a little loopy. I feel tired. And then, by the grace of God, in an hour or so, I feel no pain in my back.

It wasn’t a bad day, just a day with some unexpected conditions. Scrubbing floors is not my favorite thing. In Kuwait and in Doha I had wonderful women who kept my floors sand-free, and sparkling clean. As I clean my floors, I found myself remembering them fondly.

AdventureMan popped his head in the door to tell me how much he likes vacuuming the carpets outdoors, where he can see the intricacies of the patterns. He can see I am grumpy. “I don’t really like cleaning floors!” I grump.

“Let’s hire someone to do it for us!” he responds, and my day suddenly looks a lot brighter. 🙂

May 29, 2013 Posted by | Aging, Doha, Exercise, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Home Improvements, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Pets, Qatteri Cat | Leave a comment

League of Women Voters

My friends and I had an animated conversation about Florida politics as we sat around the table having a late breakfast at Adonna’s Bakery, down on Palafox in Pensacola. We were explaining how in the last election, if it were not for the voters handbook the League of Women Voters published, explaining exactly what a yes or no vote would mean for each proposed amendment, Florida would be stuck with constitutional amendments voters never intended to approve.


The League of Women Voters cuts through all the baloney and explains the issues, clearly and objectively. Without their clear, cool voice of reason, voters would be blown to and fro by the turbulent election rhetoric which blows at hurricane force during each election in Florida, obscuring the clearest issues. The League is neither liberal nor conservative, but contains members of all parties. Their goal is getting people to vote, and to understand the issue on which people are voting.

So grown up. So mature. So wise and clear sighted. Way too grown up for me, all these years, until, after that conversation, one of these friends sent me an invitation she had received for an upcoming League of Women Voters annual luncheon. As an added attraction, a local NPR reporter would be the speaker.


I hate meetings. It brings out the ADD child in me; I fidget, I wish I were anywhere but in the meeting.

And yet . . . this is a group I have long admired, and I want to support them. So I agreed, and we attended.

It was so much fun. These women – and men, about a fifth of the attendees were men – are people focused on ISSUES. They have study groups for how juveniles in the local area are arrested and treated in our jails and custodial facilities. They have groups which study the impact on the environment of legislative and local government decisions. They go to civic meetings, speak out, and report back to the League. This is a group of people who take positions and recommend actions! Exciting stuff.

You know I am a believer, so I might see things differently from you, or others, but I met some really cool members, people I believe I was meant to meet. One said wonderful things about my son as he practices his profession. There is no Mother’s Day gift on earth that means as much as the words she spoke, praising his ethics and integrity.

An elderly man sitting next to me was leaving this week to go to Heidelberg.

“Are you going for the closing down?” I asked, and told him I had graduated from Heidelberg American high school, lo, these many years ago. “Yes,” he replied, he has family who have lived there many years, and he has been back many times. It led to a discussion around the table, where I discovered two other women who had been in DoDs schools in Germany. What an unexpected blessing!

Every now and then, as you lead your life, you get the feeling you are exactly where you are meant to be at this very moment, and I had that feeling as I left the meeting. I am so thankful for the serendipity that led me there, and for the rush of blessings the meeting provided.

LOL, the group I thought might be stuffy and staid played this wonderful Lady Gaga video:

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Cultural, Events, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Heritage, Interconnected, Leadership, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Relationships | 2 Comments

Mayor Emory Valentine Doesn’t Get His Way

Screen shot 2013-05-26 at 6.00.41 PM

It all started with a conversation with my Mom, during which, in a hushed voice, she told me about a neighbor “who had gotten a blue card.” A blue card? I had never heard of a blue card.

“It meant she had to leave the state!” Mom said.

Such a small thing, and such a journey it has led me on, trying to find out about the blue card and how it functioned. It led me to The History of the Juneau Alaska Police Department, and reading through that led to an hour of hilarity reading through the struggles of a small frontier town trying to bring order out of chaos and fight the battles of sewers, garbage, untethered horses, bawdy houses, and law enforcement.

Here are some examples of early actions:

September, 1904 – George Kyrage (“George the Greek”) was elected to the Council and served with Mayor George Forrest, Councilmen Henry Shattuck, John Reck, Louis Lund, J.P. Jorgenson, and Henry States. Kyrage was named chairman of the Police Committee and found himself squarely between those who wanted prosperity through a wide open town, and those who demanded strict enforcement of a new ordinance prohibiting women loitering in saloons.

January 7, 1910 – The conduct of a man named Al Graham was discussed and the Council ordered that he be given a “Blue Ticket”.

April 15, 1910 – The applicants for City Marshal were as follows: Charles Biernoth, W.G. Harris, Charles Meline, Mike McKenna, William Steinbeck, John Sweeney, Fred LaMarche Holmberg, and J.T. Martin. Charles Biernoth received the majority of the votes and was elected.
May 6, 1910 – City Marshal Charles Biernoth was asked to resign.


April 18, 1913 – Mr. Nolan appeared before the Council and protested that the women of ill fame were allowed to live in the vicinity of the saw-mill outside of the restricted district, and the matter was referred to the Police Committee and the Chief of Police.

January 2, 1914 – The City Attorney was instructed to prepare an ordinance against expectorating on the sidewalks of the City of Juneau.

-An ordinance was passed that provided punishment for pimps and moques to be set at not more than one hundred dollars.

City refuses to clean up red light district
February 6, 1914 – Councilman H.J. Raymond said that the last Grand Jury: wanted the City of Juneau to do something about cleaning up the red light district in the City. It was moved that the Chief of Police be ordered to close up every bawdy house in the City; but the motion died for lack of a second. It was then moved that the Chief of Police be instructed to stop the sale of liquor in all houses of prostitution in the City of Juneau; and again the motion died for lack of a second. It was then moved and seconded that a letter be forwarded to John Rustgard, US District Attorney, First Division of Alaska, stating that the City authorities of Juneau will be glad to lend all the aid they can in the enforcement of the law in the sale of liquor in houses of prostitution in the City of Juneau.

May 14, 1914 – A day’s labor in the Municipality of Juneau was set at eight (8) hours, common laborers were paid 35 cents per hour, and could work any number of additional hours at the same rate per hour.


January 27, 1915 – A special meeting was called to hear charges of misconduct in office that have been made against Chief of Police William McBride. The Council requested that witnesses give their testimony. Harry Grove was duly sworn and testified and Charles Freegrove, Helen, and J.H. Gilpatrick were called and questioned by different councilmen. The hearing was then continued to a subsequent meeting of the Council.

January 29, 1915 – The Clerk read the resignation of William McBride from the office of the Chief of Police of the City of Juneau which took effect on February 1, 1915.

-A proposed ordinance was presented entitled “An ordinance requiring horses to be tied”.

July 7, 1916 – S.A. Judd protested that the Chief of Police had ordered him to leave town.

It makes for fascinating reading. Then I came across this sequence of reports, but for all my Googling, I cannot find out what the charges were against Chief of Police W.S. Harding:

Mayor Emory Valentine

April 11, 1917 – Mayor Valentine declared that grave and serious charges have been made against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police, and that proofs are now in his possession. He further declared that an emergency existed, ordered that the office of Chief of Police be declared vacant, and stated that he will in due time appoint an emergency Chief of Police.

Councilman King asked Mayor Valentine the nature of the charges, to which Mayor Valentine replied that Mr. Harding would be given an opportunity to answer them, and that he would call a special meeting for that purpose.

April 12, 1917 – It was moved and seconded that W.S. Harding be elected to the position of Chief of Police for the coming year, to which Mayor Valentine declared out of order and stated that Mr. Harding had been suspended under the rules. Councilman Blomgren called for a vote on the adoption of the motion, and all six councilmen vote aye.

April 20, 1917 – The Clerk read the following demand: To Emory Valentine, Mayor and Common Council of the City of Juneau:
Whereas, Emory Valentine Mayor of the City of Juneau did at a public meeting held in the City of Juneau on the night of the 19th day of April, 1917, read certain affidavits purporting to contain certain charges against me as Chief of Police of Juneau, and that Emory Valentine publicly announced on the streets and public places of the Town of Juneau that he had other charges against me, I hereby demand that affidavits and all charges made against me as a public official and against my conduct, if committed and filed with the Common Council of the City of Juneau, or the Clerk of the City, and that a hearing be had immediately. Respectfully submitted, dated Juneau, Alaska, April 20, 1917. (signed) W.S. Harding

-An Executive Session was scheduled for Monday, April 23, 1917, at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. for the purpose of having the charges against W.S. Harding formally filed or presented.

-The Mayor called for the election of a person to fill the position of Chief of Police for the coming year. The Clerk read the following names as persons who had filed their applications: W.S. Harding, W.D. McMillan, E.J. Sliter, and Capt. E. Harrigan. W.S. Harding received six votes and the other applicants received none. The Mayor declared a veto on the election of W.S. Harding as Chief of Police.

-Harding appointed Dan Harrington, W.D. McMillan, and Emil Mullenbeck, to serve as police officers under him and asked for approval of the Council which was given. The Mayor declared a veto to the action of the Council.

April 27, 1917 – The Common Council of the City of Juneau, Alaska, convened in the Council Chambers of City Hall at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. on Friday, April 27, 1917, for the purpose of trying the charges against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police.
-The trial of the charges was to be heard by affidavit, and W.S. Harding was given until Monday night to file his answering affidavits, with the trial continued to Thursday, May 3, 1917 at the hour of eight o’clock p.m.
May 3, 1917 – The Common Council of the Town of Juneau, Territory of Alaska, convened in the Council Chambers of the City at the hour of eight o’clock p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 1917 – Mayor Valentine presiding. A resolution calling for the reading of the charges against W.S. Harding, Chief of Police accusing him of misconduct in office and the answering affidavits from the Chief was read.

-Affidavits of Walter Johnson, Frank Morrison, Jack Ivey, Fred Alexander, Mrytle Mercer, J.W. Felix, D. DeBlaser, F.J. Breezee, L.N. Ritter, and E. Valentine supported the charges.
-Affidavits of W.S. Harding, Emil Mullenbeck, Louise Dejonghe, E.W. Pettit, L.O. Sloane, C.O. Lindsey, Carl R. Brophy, W.D. MacMillan, A.C. Williams Jr., Frank E. Sargent, Glen C. Bartlett, H.H. Post, D.J. Harrington, George C. Burford, Edith Johnson, John B. Marshal, Harry Ellingen, and E.A. Naud were read in answer to the charges.

-The Council took a ten minute recess to consider the charges, and Mayor Valentine left the meeting.

-Following the recess, the following resolution was read: Be it resolved that W.S. Harding, Chief of Police of the City of Juneau, whom certain charges have been filed against, has been exonerated and it is the wish of the Council that he continue as Chief of Police.

May 4, 1917 – The electric light at the end of the garbage dump was out, causing trouble for boats navigating up and down the channel.

-Mayor Valentine objected to the claim of Chief Harding for his full monthly salary, saying that he was only entitled to pay for the first eleven days in April, because Harding was relieved from office on that date.

-The Clerk read Mayor Valentine’s veto message to the action of the Council electing W.S. Harding as Chief of Police on April 20, 1917, and to the action of the Council confirming the appointments of W.S. Harding, Patrolman Harrington and Mullenbeck. The following resolution was then read: Be it resolved that the veto of Mayor Valentine to the action of the Council in electing W.S. Harding, Chief of Police of the City of Juneau, Alaska on April 20, 1917, be overruled and held for naught. And be it further resolved that the veto of Mayor Valentine to the action of the Council in confirming the appointment of Patrolman Harrington and Mullenbeck on April 20, 1917, be overruled and held for naught.

Mayor Valentine served as Mayor for six terms, according to Wikipedia, and organized the volunteer fire department and designed the city’s first water system. For some reason, he really didn’t like the Chief of Police, but Harding and a lot of support among the council members, and retained his position. Fascinating stuff; brings history to life.

And you thought history was dull?

May 26, 2013 Posted by | Alaska, Biography, Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Social Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blessing of NNW

“I don’t think our downstairs A/C is working right,” I said tentatively to AdventureMan, “It’s like I hesitate to even say anything, that might make it true. It seems to me that the fan is blowing, but I never hear the air cycle on, and the fan never stops.”

A quick call and the A/c people are on the way to check it out.

“Do you know how old this A/C is?” he asked. Yep. It’s twenty years old. And now it has a leak in the coils. It could be fixed; we’ve been having it fixed from time to time already, and maybe it could limp along a little while longer, but this little Alaska girl can’t take that chance; it is getting HOT in Pensacola.

New air conditioners, I learned, are more efficient, even the cheapest will save on our electricity bill, which, in the three hottest months of the summer, can soar by three hundred dollars and change. They run more quietly. With more efficiency, they can save more. They are also chillingly expensive.

Since we have another unit running upstairs, he schedules our replacement for Tuesday, AFTER the three day weekend, and oh, did I mention, it has gotten hot? Wednesday and Thursday hit the 90’s (F) and the downstairs is more than a little stuffy, even with all the ceiling fans whirling madly.

But late last night I heard our upstair unit cycle off . . . and stay off for a good long while. This morning, there is an almost-cool breeze, a freshness in the air, and what a blessing, that in the middle of what might be a long hot weekend, to have some winds from the north blowing through, blowing away the humid heat that blows up from the Gulf.

I lay awake, thinking that for us, it is only a wait until Tuesday, because, by the grace of God, we have an emergency fund to cover events like this. I think of the trio of homeless men we passed on Palafox on our way to a meeting, cheerily greeting us, but sleeping out in the heat and humidity, with mosquitos biting. I am sure I am not the only one this morning thankful for the blessings of the NNW winds.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Family Issues, Financial Issues, Home Improvements, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Renovations, Thanksgiving, Weather | Leave a comment

The Church Remembers Bede the Venerable

I found this while reading the daily meditation at Forward Day by Day:

Today the church remembers Bede, the Venerable, Priest, and Monk of Jarrow, 735.

When the monks of Jarrow sang, “Lord, leave us not as orphans,” it is said that Bede would often weep. As a child he was left orphaned in a dark, hostile, and dangerous land. He was cared for and reared by kindly monks. When he was but a youngster, plague struck the monastery, almost wiping it out. The only surviving souls were Bede and the old abbot. Bede naturally had a strong sense of the importance of community, of the fine line between life and death, and of our utter dependence upon the Creator.

He rarely ventured outside the walls of Jarrow monastery, yet his knowledge of theology, geography, and language was worthy of the most sophisticated of his time in Western Europe. He wrote a number of excellent books on various subjects, but he is best remembered for his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. This work has justly earned for him the title “Father of English History.” Unlike some of the careless historians of his day, he was meticulous in listing his authorities and sources. He took care to separate known fact from hearsay, but his descriptions are lively and dramatic.

Bede thought of himself as a teacher, and he seems to have built most of his teaching around the Divine Offices which the monks read daily. It is altogether fitting that he was pronounced a “Doctor of the Church” by Pope Leo XIII. Bede’s remains rest in Durham.

May the riches of Bede’s scholarship inspire us to fill our minds with the story of your work among us, O God. Amen.

Heavenly Father, you called your servant Bede, while still a child, to devote his life to your service in the disciplines of religion and scholarship; Grant that as he labored in the Spirit to bring riches of your truth to his generation, so we, in our various vocations, may strive to make you known in all the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Biography, Bureaucracy, Character, Cultural, Faith, Leadership, Spiritual | Leave a comment

“We Must Meet One Another Doing Good”

Woooo HOOOOO! I like this new Pope Francis! He takes on religious dogma and shatters all assumptions. Yes, Jesus died for us ALL! Even us non-Catholics? Even atheists? Yes, says Pope Francis, emphatically yes. “Do good and we will find a meeting point.”

Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.

During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.

Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio.

“They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”
Pope Francis went further in his sermon to say:

“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Responding to the leader of the Roman Catholic church’s homily, Father James Martin, S.J. wrote in an email to The Huffington Post:

“Pope Francis is saying, more clearly than ever before, that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for everyone. That’s always been a Christian belief. You can find St. Paul saying in the First Letter to Timothy that Jesus gave himself as a “ransom for all.” But rarely do you hear it said by Catholics so forcefully, and with such evident joy. And in this era of religious controversies, it’s a timely reminder that God cannot be confined to our narrow categories.”
Of course, not all Christians believe that those who don’t believe will be redeemed, and the Pope’s words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace versus redemption through works.

The pope’s comment has also struck a chord on Reddit, where it is the second most-shared piece.

More from Reuters:

Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in his latest urging that people of all religions – or no religion – work together.

The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics made his comments in the homily of his morning Mass in his residence, a daily event where he speaks without prepared comments.

He told the story of a Catholic who asked a priest if even atheists had been redeemed by Jesus.

“Even them, everyone,” the pope answered, according to Vatican Radio. “We all have the duty to do good,” he said.

“Just do good and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in a hypothetical conversation in which someone told a priest: “But I don’t believe. I’m an atheist.”

Francis’s reaching out to atheists and people who belong to no religion is a marked contrast to the attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.

May 23, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Charity, Communication, Community, Cultural, Faith, Spiritual | , , | 1 Comment