My youngest little dude turns 14 today. My oldest will turn 16 in less than two weeks… Several years ago I read a passage in a book somewhere that said children are basically on loan to us for a little while. They are not ours to keep, we have them only a little while to teach, to guide and to love. That passage really stuck with me.

My little dudes are not so little anymore, my time with them seems a lot less than it did before. I’m OK with that, mostly. It is a greater thing to see them grow and become fully fledged people in their own right and I am not so selfish that I would have it any other way. But still, 14 & 16… Time moves too quickly.

My wife was listening to Drake and I told her that her music sucked. *Note, only do this if you have alternative places to sleep at night.

She said, “No it doesn’t.”

I replied that he had, “weak ass rhymes and a lousy beat.”

Her response, “He’s really popular.”

Mine, “So was ABBA.”

Of course I did not win the argument, but the point is that you have to make a stand, draw a line in the sand and send that junk back to never never land.

I often make this comment about myself, and often for similar reasons. I think David explains his version pretty well.

I’m not, and I don’t think I’ve ever been, a person who believes that our actions and reactions are set in stone. I choose to do wrong or right, be happy or sad, etc. It’s also work. It requires self-awareness and brutal honesty and there are plenty of times the person I’m least nice to, is myself, because that is what it takes to make sure I’m feeding the good dog.
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“No skin in the game” is the comment I most often hear about this project. The implication is that this project, especially the developers that have spent the last couple of years working on this, have not invested their own money, time and resources- that they don’t plan to invest more, that tax payers will have to fund it all.

When I hear that, I know that the person I’m listening to is probably coming from one of two perspectives

1) Completely ignored all the coverage of the project so far and doesn’t understand how this project is being put together, or

2) Only wants something as long as they can get it for free.

The first one is easy enough to address, assuming the speaker is willing to honestly look at the numbers that have been spent so far, the legislation being drafted now and the previous work done between the City of Billings and the developer, Landmark Development. It has not been one sided and will not be one sided in the future(assuming there is a future). Time and money has been spent, been invested, on both sides.

The second one thing, that’s harder to address. For this group, the objection is “skin in the game”, but what they’re really saying, going by their commentary and actions, is that they want somebody else’s skin, not their own. In other words, outside groups, outside money, needs to fund the growth of Billings, none of our own. No risk, a lot of the reward. “Why should we(the taxpayers) have to pay for it all?” is the question they usually ask ironically, even as they demand everything for free.

I don’t have a reasonable way forward with the 2nd group. it’s not about logic or proof- We can show them the work already done, the legislation that’s being crafted, but that won’t matter. No amount of evidence will likely convince them that this project is being designed so that any tax payer money allowed to be used will be paid back. Or that this project requires developers to generate more tax revenue than it will receive. No, what matters here is that the City of Billings receive all the reward, none of the risk, none of the responsibility.

There are other objections, to be sure. Risk is usually a big concern. The worry that development in the rest of the city will suffer, etc. Those objections have been addressed before, too. These are reasonable concerns and there are reasonable answers and solutions.

Something for nothing, though, is that reasonable? Not when we’re being honest.