Tag Archives: politics

Loyal public servant

Note: This article is part of a new series “Inspiring Communities.” This is the second installment following the article about Arctic Heating & Cooling owner Evert Bek “Installing water filters in Haiti.”

Nominate a person who has inspired you.

Former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges retires

By Emma Palova

Lowell, MI – After 23 years of public service, former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges has decided it is time to move on. He officially retired from the Lowell City Council on Nov. 6, 2017.

EW Jim Hodges retires
Former mayor Jim Hodges retires from the Lowell City Council after 23 years.

He started his successful career in public service in 1982 as the director of YMCA, which at the time functioned as the city recreational department.

“A connection with the city was established,” he said, “I attended meetings.”

In 1991, Hodges became the chairperson for the Lowell Area Schools millage campaign. He helped pass two millage proposals.

He applied for the city council seat in 1988, and he was elected to two four-year terms. In 1997, he was defeated in an election by 20 votes. Hodges took a break from the Lowell City Council for six years.

In 2004, he became a city council member all over again after being asked to run by Jeanne Shores, who became the mayor twice through 2009. Shores was the only female mayor the city of Lowell has ever had.

“Because of my loyalty and friendship, I encouraged Jeanne to run,” Hodges said.

“I have always encouraged women to run. It’s crazy not to. Everybody needs to be involved in politics to get a better balance and diversity in the society. Otherwise you’re cutting your assets in half.”

Due to Shores’ sickness, Hodges became the acting mayor in 2008.

All throughout his public service, Hodges believed in respecting others opinions and diversity.

“I have three big takeaways from my public service,” he said.

The first takeaway was to pay tribute to Shores; Hodges arranged for her to run her last meeting on Dec. 21 in 2009 from a wheelchair and named her mayor emeritus.

The second takeaway was negotiating for Dave Pasquale, manager of 23 years, to take retirement.

The third takeaway was putting a traffic light at the intersection of Bowes Road and Alden Nash.

“As the mayor, you have to be less bold and more proper than as a council member,” he said.

In an era of corrupt politics and improper behavior of various officials, Hodges was one of a kind. He was always diplomatic and smiling his impeccable smile.

Public service came with the good and the bad: the deaths of mayor emeritus Shores and council member Jim Hall, as well as the clash between the personalities on the city council.

There were some controversies during the more than two decades of service in a relatively quiet community on the banks of the Flat and Grand rivers.

Some pertained to the firing of the previous city manager Mark Howe. Other controversies involved the police chiefs; one had resigned, the other chief Steve Bukala was put on first paid administrative leave in April, and on unpaid leave in June as investigation into misusing police database and subsequent charges took place.

Since, then Bukala has been reinstated.

“It will make him a better police chief,” said Hodges. “It adds another dimension of being a better professional. We have a solid team of people working together. Steve brings leadership to them as we move forward.”

Hodges had the vision to locate the chamber building on the current Riverwalk in downtown Lowell.

And would Mr. Hodges do it all over again?

“Absolutely,” he said smiling. “I would like to think that I have helped. I like a variety of people and this has given me the chance to meet many different people.”

Hodges also takes pride in being able to balance his third shift work at Amway with his public service which included meetings in the evening or in the morning.

“You have to be disciplined,” he said.

He plans on traveling with his wife Chris and enjoying their grandson.

“I hope I have added some humor and entertainment,” he said.

Following are some moments in time from Hodges’ tenure with the city of Lowell. Hodges participated in countless city parades and in the Riverwalk flushing of the city manager.

A Loyal public servant.

Copyright (c) 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Be kind, love like a kid

Be kind in an unkind world

“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.”

Marianne Williamson

 

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI- I’ve never seen a more varied reaction to the happenings in Washington D.C. than this week following the presidential inauguration of Mr. Donald Trump on Jan. 20.

Any psychology student would have had a great doctoral thesis if he or she had analyzed and tabulated the responses to president Trump’s inauguration, Women’s March on Jan. 21, the first executive orders, retreat in Philadelphia, the Right to Life March and the mainstream media commentaries. Not to speak of late night shows, Saturday Night Live, and the fashion comparisons of the First Lady to historical figures and her linguistic disabilities.

ew-be-kind-jan-27

Only the death of the incarnate of the modern woman Mary Tyler Moore, and maybe watching “Charlie Bartlett” kept the weights of humanity from tipping over completely.

“So tell me what you think about all of the above and I’ll tell you who you are,” independent analysts and charlatans tested the Internet waters.

Facebook, twitter and other social media were bubbling like a witch’s potion with all the ingredients starting with hate to complete apathy, withdrawal and secure rationalization.

In between reigned ridicule, sarcasm, vulgarity, hopelessness, fear and despair.

Of course, there were observers patiently waiting to render their opinions after all others have gone first, ala “risqué” style.

I’ve tasted my share of firsts with the post “Join 10 Actions in 100 Days”, a story about a local inspiring woman Sharon Ellison, a participant in the Women’s March.

The overwhelming reaction was that the women were vulgar and inappropriate like Madonna in order to get attention.

I didn’t catch what an editor would have caught, that is a vulgar phrase on a sign accompanying the post. It cost me some.

However, one of the best observations in the last 8 days was the use of the “alternate fact” term as the means to justifying anything.

I find that term especially useful in teaching my American born protégé Josephine Marie Palova, 3, the Czech language.

“My dear Josephine, a cow is actually a horse, or vice versa, depending on what you need it to be.”

Not, that this is anything new in politics.

“What you meant to ask me, was….?” A city manager restructured my question to his prepared answer.

“What I really wanted to say was that…”

“But you said something else,” I said.

“Oh, I didn’t mean that.”

The politician’s word play is like a bad game of chess. No matter how good you are, the opposing party will claim they had won…….although in a different game.

Well, at least the Wall Street was happy in this game as the stocks soared past the 20,000 mark, if that is any indication of anything, according to ill-willed analysts.

I found some reprieve in the pacifist stance on the matter of the affairs in the union, in the world and in the universe, thanks to a post from a friend in Iowa, Sheryl Groen.

“Change is in the air, as old patterns fall away and new energies are emerging. Consciously release what needs to be released, and welcome with a full embrace the newness you’ve prayed for and so richly deserve.”

                                                                                      Marianne Williamson

 

There’s means to an end, my friend.

Be kind, everyone else is fighting a hard battle. Love like a kid, because love wins.

Featured photo thanks to Michelle Emaus of Lowell.

 

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Excerpts from the interview for Greenwich Meridian-continued

All my parents Ella and Vaclav ever wanted was to have enough money to buy a small car, so they could drive from Brno to visit with my grandparents in former socialist Czechoslovakia. At the time, with their rookie wages fresh out of school, that was a utopia. So my dad, a physicist,  took an advantage of a teaching opportunity in Africa in 1964.  The plan was just to make money for that coveted small car, and to add to some savings for an apartment, in a country with chronic shortage of housing.
“I was ready for the opportunity,” Vaclav said. “The politics were beginning to loosen up.”
Dad already spoke fluent English, and he had a deep desire to expand his knowledge of mathematics.
And the opportunity in Africa turned into the best years of their lives. That is until Prague Spring came along with Soviet invasion in 1968, and put a hamper on many people’s dreams of freedom.
Following is an excerpt from an interview with my parents in Venice, Florida on March 5th, 2013. It tracks the beginnings of the immigration.

Vaclav & Ella on Sharky's Pier in Venice.
Vaclav & Ella on Sharky’s Pier in Venice.

Emma: Why did you decide to leave Czechoslovakia?
Dad: Because of the Soviet occupation. There was a legitimate fear that the country would be annexed to the Soviet Union.
Mom: My friends were leaving the country crossing the border on foot with just a suitcase in their hands.
Emma: How did you find out about the Soviet occupation?
Dad: From radio BBC and from colleagues at school.
Mom: I was back home in Carlsbad  on a spa treatment. I went to the colonnade and people were crying. They were listening to the radio, and there were big demonstrations. People were knocking down statues. There was no telephone connection. I had to spend extra three days because the roads were closed. Then I took a detour bus through Shumava to Brno.
Emma: What was you reaction to the Soviet occupation?
Dad: We were discussing it with colleagues in Africa. Many of them talked about immigrating to Canada.
Mom: I did not want to leave my parents, my country.
Emma: How did the transition to Canada come about?
Dad: In 1970, a colleague helped me land a post-doctorate fellowship at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Mom: We flew out of Vienna to Montreal and then to Saskatoon. We had tourist visa. But our exit visa were only valid until the end of the year.
Emma: What happened after that?
Dad: I worked on research for the university. I applied for several jobs in Toronto, but it just didn’t work out. So, I found an ad for a teaching job in Texas, and had a telephone interview. I sent out 20 applications.
Mom: You went to school, and we all took tutoring in English.
Emma: How did we end up in Hawkins, Texas?
Dad: Well I took the first offer, which was from Jarvis Christian College in Texas.
Mom: I had no choice but to go with your dad. We got a letter from Czech officials that we have to return by March 31. Your dad did not want to go back. I threatened that I would return home. For two years I lived in limbo.
Emma:  What was the biggest surprise when you arrived in Texas?
Mom: We had no idea that a college could be in a small town. It was a shock, that I will never forget. Hawkins had population of 800.
Emma: What were the repercussions for the immigration?
Mom: We were tried in absencio in Brno. Your dad received a two-year sentence. I received a year and a half for illegally leaving. Grandma went to the trial.
Emma: What were your reactions to the sentencing?
Dad: That I would never go back to Czechoslovakia.
Mom: I cried and cried. I wasn’t a criminal. I always wanted to go back home.
Emma: If it wasn’t for the Soviet occupation, would you have left the country?
Dad: Probably not. I would have gone to another university to gain more expertise, and to make some money.
Mom: Never.
Emma: Now, forty years later; do you have any regrets?
Dad: No. I have achieved my professional goals.
Mom:  Living in a foreign country is not easy. But, USA was the best choice for immigration.
Emma: How has the immigration changed you as a person?
Dad: I have gained great expertise.
Mom:  I got used to living here. But I feel like I was hurled out of the Czech society. I feel split between the two countries.
Emma: Is there camaraderie among fellow countrymen in immigration?
Mom: Any solidarity between Czechs, whether in immigration or at home, disintegrated with the fall of communism.
Emma: What do you miss the most?
Dad: Nothing now. My parents and friends have passed, and the entire country has changed.
Mom: I feel guilty not being able to help my own parents. I shed a lot of tears. In life, you always trade something for something. It all turned out for the better.
Emma: What kind of character attributes do you need to “make it” in immigration?
Dad: You have to pursue things. Be humble, go with the flow, and learn from others.
Mom: You have to fit in the best way you can. We were taught to obey, and to listen.

Thank you, mom and dad.
Emma

This story is one of three installments about the interview with my parents for memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets West.”  Previous installments were published on March 10 and March 13.

Copyright (c) 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

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