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NAR amends Code of Ethics to protect LGBT, yet finances anti-LGBT candidates

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Dual flags in Cherry Grove, New York. Photo by Mark Fowler.

Code of Ethics amended

In January of this year, Article 10 of The Realtor Code of Ethics was amended to include sexual orientation as a protected class.  Article 10 in its entirety now reads as follows:

Realtors® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or sexual orientation. Realtors® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. (Amended 1/11)

Realtors®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation. (Amended 1/11)

Discrimination problematic, NAR committee stood up

NAR had recognized that there was a problem in housing discrimination, and stepped up to the plate to ensure their members would not participate in denying service to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered) community. 

If there wasn’t a need for an advocate in both the rental and homeownership markets, NAR would not have made this momentous change to the COE. What’s cool about our COE is that much like The Constitution, it is a living, breathing, evolving document.  Our Code of Ethics embraces the changes that have happened, that are happening in the world, and is able to adapt accordingly.

NAR’s historic political donations

NAR historically has donated fairly evenly between Republicans and Democrats, based on their stance on housing issues, and usually it
comes out to be right around 50/50. 

As of August 15th of this year, the split for monies donated is 45% to Democrats and 55% to Republicans.  It isn’t so much the lopsided-ness of the Republican v Democrat spending so far that is concerning.  What is, and what makes things so bassackwards, is who NAR is floating funds to either via PACs, parties, or direct contributions to candidates.

Looking at OpenSecrets.org which is a site that has the dish on who is donating, how much,
and to whom, we see one instance where NAR has donated $1,000 to Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. She is near the top of the alphabetical list of donation recipients, and most people by now have at least heard something about her, which is why we are going to use her as an example. 

Bachmann may have either sponsored or co-sponsored a couple of bills that can be considered housing friendly, but none of which have passed. One was in regards to flood insurance, and the other, repealing the Dodd-Frank Act.

NAR commits to LGBT community on one hand but not the other

Congresswoman Bachmann, if you follow the news, isn’t exactly a fan of
the LGBT community. It is surprising that NAR would place a pittance of housing legislation, which has gone nowhere, over those which they have pledged to protect.

Really, if one wants to fork over buck to someone who seriously cares about housing issues, NAR should start with Congressman Kucinich Yeah. Totally just said that.

This isn’t meant to be a pissing contest about political parties, or even social issues, and where we all stand as individuals. It’s more about where our principles are as a group, where they should be, and do we practice what we preach as Realtors. Do we actually, honestly, subscribe to the Code of Ethics that we promise to uphold, and abide by? 

Realtors don’t discriminate, why should candidates?

If you are a Realtor, you cannot discriminate based on sexual
orientation, national origin, color, sex, race, religion, handicap, or familial status, and if you reside in the State of Ohio, you also cannot discriminate against those in our Military. End of discussion. 

Why would we as individuals support candidates who do, even if they subtlety discriminate, no matter what their stance on housing? And more importantly, why would NAR?

Katie Cosner, occasionally known as Kathleen, or KT, is a Realtor® with Cutler Real Estate and is active in her local Board of Realtors® on the Equal Opportunity & Professional Development Committee. She has been floating around online for a number of years, and is on facebook as well as twitter. While Katie has a few hardcore beliefs, three in the Real Estate World to live and die by are; education, ethics, and the law - insert random quote from “A Few Good Men” here. Katie is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan, which really explains quite a bit of her… quirks.

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33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Don Reedy

    August 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Katie, your heart is in the right place, but your reasoning is flawed in my opinion.

    You end with "Why would we as individuals support candidates who do, even if they subtlety discriminate, no matter what their stance on housing?"

    Standing against gay marriage, for instance, is not discrimination. Notice I said gay "marriage." Bachmann is not discriminating against gays because of her stance on marriage.

    Rhetoric gets in the way of reason. Discrimination in any form is always inappropriate. Realizing that in the U.S. we are, however, equal in our right to stand on a bully pulpit and say what we believe….is not discrimination. It's liberty, which you clearly call for and believe in.

    Finally, to the point of NAR participating in points of view; here's mine. I stand for my own points of view. In my community, in my family, in my workplace, and in my life I select for myself the people, places, politics, religion, philosophy and values that best reflect me. In allowing NAR to subjugate our individual views, no matter what they are, we do neither ourselves or our potential clients any good. Your well written article reminds me once again that values stem from family and community, not political action committees.

    • Kathleen Cosner

      August 16, 2011 at 11:03 am

      Ooooh, Don I always LUV a good debate. Wikipedia link:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michele_Bachmann#Social_issues

      That's just a small look into things. More can be found via a search engine, and there is more, but this isn't a down a dirty campaign thing. It's important to know where our dollars go, even if we disagree with a candidate, but moreso when they don't even live up to our own COE.

      As I said on F/B in a response, would it be alright if buck was going to an known anti {insert protected class here} candidate, no, probably not.

      Hope this explains the reasoning a little bit.

      • Don Reedy

        August 17, 2011 at 10:24 am

        Hi Kathleen,

        I think you and I are probably on the same page for the most part. If a PAC (NAR) picks a topic, candidate, issue…..and mandates or chooses sides….then some of us, some of the time, are going to be offended or put off.

        The issues related to rights and discrimination are moved forward by banner holders either in favor or opposed to those rights. Organizations like NAR, for example, simply do not speak for me. I speak for me. When they support candidates with my money, on issues with which I don't agree, I seethe. When you pick a person, Bachmann, for example, and single her out for her belief/actions on one issue, I squirm. You and I are the totality of all that we value, think, and actually do. We've become a nation too ready to single out one topic on which to base our evaluation of the larger merits.

        We haven't met, but I'm from Youngstown, Ohio, now live in San Diego, and I can tell you that I'm a pretty "good guy." But you can rest assured I've crossed the line, even my own line, many times.

        All I'm saying is that NAR should stick to housing, not social issues. And by the way, they're not really very good at the housing issues either…

        All my best to you.

        • Kathleen Cosner

          August 17, 2011 at 11:01 am

          Don, We probably are the same page. I understand, or try to, when an organization gives money to whoever, even if the receiver of funds may not be *my* ideal candidate. Esp w/an org like NAR, who is huge, and whose real job it is, is to get housing legislation passed or protect/defend homeownership, affordable housing, including rentals. Hey, it's how they started, as a lobbying group. It is just dumbfounding, when an org takes a first step in standing up for a particularly targetted groups' rights, and then gives buck to someone who opposes those rights. It's sort of being a hypocrit.

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Opinion Editorials

New USPS duck-shaped truck design has mixed reactions

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The USPS is getting a fleet of electronic delivery vehicles. We’re wondering if the actual design got lost in the mail.

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New USPS truck in a fictional neighborhood delivering mail.

So the USPS is getting new trucks and they look like ducks and maybe that sucks… or maybe it wucks. Like “works,” if a duck said it. Just give me this one please.

Anyway.

I don’t know how mean I can be here – there has to be something said for objective journalistic integrity – but I have a feeling most people are going to have a rather sarcastic reaction to the new design. I’m not so sure I can blame them – it has a kind of stubby little nose with a shortened hood and a boxy frame and super tall windshield, which gives the wheels a disproportionately large look compared to the rest of the silhouette. It’s sort of like a Nissan Cube but less millennial cool, which A) is discontinued (so maybe not so cool), and B) is not the car that had those giant hiphop hamsters running around, but I’m still going to link to it anyway.

Elon Musk must be breathing a sigh of relief right now.

The contract was awarded to Oshkosh Defense (which I was thrilled to find out is NOT the adorable kid’s clothing company, even though I personally think that would be hilarious if there was a factory making overalls for tiny humans alongside tactical defense trucks) and officially announced on February 23rd, 2021 to the tune of $482 million. Seriously though, someone is going to mix those up for the rest of all time and eternity; I’d never not think about my own baby pictures if some contractor from Oshkosh Defense showed up.

The release mentions that, “The historic investment is part of a soon-to-be-released plan the Postal Service has developed to transform its financial performance and customer service over the next 10 years through significant investments in people, technology and infrastructure as it seeks to become the preferred delivery service provider for the American public.” It’s called the NGDV – Next Generation Delivery Vehicle, which I happen to adore, and will pronounce as Nugduv, and you can’t stop me anyway. The old one was called the Grumman, by the way.

Some credit this as a radical change, and keeping in mind that radical doesn’t necessarily denote positive or negative, it seems like the perfect word to use here. Then there are those who correctly identify “a mixed bag of responses,” sort of like when you get a bag of candy at Halloween that has at least one thing no one likes. Some call it strange, while others defend it as something every new big vehicle should look like (this is where – as one of many – I found it called a “duck” which oh man do I love, quack quack).

We can also hit up the ever fair public opinion of Twitter, because why wouldn’t we?

JavaScript is not available.

This is how I would draw a car. That is not a plus for this design

I really can’t get over that last one. But I mean, whoa. That’s quite the spectrum. There’s less disagreement on pizza toppings I think. But luckily I think we’re safe there – Domino’s makes people drive their personal cars.

Taking a step back and putting snide commentary away for a moment, there’s some areas that should be discussed. First – and what should probably be obvious – there was a laundry list of requirements and restrictions from the USPS, which made Nir Kahn – design director from custom carmaker Plasan – offer up his own tweets that give some insight on dimensions and design:

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I was involved in an early proposal for the USPS truck so I know the requirements well. They pretty much dictated the proportions – this package sketch shows that to meet the ergonomic and size requirements, there wasn’t much freedom 1/2 #USPS pic.twitter.com/Fk35g98Z83

Kahn mentions that “there wasn’t much freedom,” but also that “it could have looked much better,” and this sort of underlines the entire discussion I think – there were goals in place, and possibly some more aesthetically pleasing ways to meet them, but the constraints won out and drove (hehe) the design more than style did.

Certainly, there are other concerns – the ability for USPS drivers to reach a mailbox while seated is paramount. Others have pointed out that this design – with its large windshield and shortened front – should help with safety around small children (all the better if they are wearing Oshkosh B’gosh, because that implies they are tiny and may not be at all concerned with the dangers of streets). The open field-of-vision will aid in making sure drivers can navigate places that might be frequented by any number of pedestrians, so that’s a plus.

Further, if you get struck by one of these, you’ll basically “just” get kneecapped versus taking it square to the torso. The duck article is the one making this call, and I think there’s some merit there (though it makes me question how the USPS fleet is going to do against the SUVs and big trucks out in the wild). It then goes on to point out that this design has more cargo space, fitting into the idea of “rightsizing,” where the form and function of the vehicle meet in a way that is downsized, but still punches above its weight.

“From smaller fire engines to nimbler garbage trucks, making vehicles better scaled to urban tasks can make a huge difference, not only for keeping other cars moving on narrow streets, but also to ensure that humans on those same streets can access the bike lanes, sidewalks, and curb cuts they need to get around.”

I didn’t try too hard to find stats on crashes in mail trucks, but seems like something that should be addressed.

Maybe the biggest point here is that we sort of have to get new trucks – they are outliving their 24 year expectancy and catching on fire. On FIRE. I mean a mail truck might be the worst place for a fire. I’m not even sure I can’t think up a better answer… Ok maybe toilets would be worse.

The new vehicles can be either petrol or electric powered, have 360 cameras, airbags, and automatic braking. Oh, and air conditioning, which the old vehicles did not have. So yes, literally the worst place to have a fire. But due to the taller vehicles, someone can stand in them now! So escape is even easier! Hooray!

A series of delays pushed back the introduction of new vehicles from their 2018 projected date, with poor initial prototypes and the pandemic being major setbacks. Aggressive bidding led to extended deadlines, which had been narrowed down to a small list of candidates that included Workhorse (who unfortunately suffered a large stock plunge following the announcement). It’s been in the works for at least six years.

In the end, I don’t think we can discount all the advantages here – more efficient vehicles that are safer and provide drivers with modern amenities. That’s a LOT of good. I think once the initial goofy shock is over, the design will be accepted. Everyone thought Nintendo’s Wii was a hilarious name (still pretty much is regardless of being in the public book of acceptable nomenclature), and Cybertruck sales are brisk, so I think we can set a lot of this aside. The Edsel these are not.

So hey, new USPS vehicles in 2023, like an exceedingly late birthday present. All I want to see is a bunch of baby ducks following one of them around oh please let that happen. The USPS kind of has an identity crisis in the modern era, so maybe a funny little cute silly boxmobile is just the right way to get some attention.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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decluttering

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, or an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

Online dating is evolving and maybe networking will too

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has the online dating industry been disrupted during the pandemic? And can we apply a few pointers from this evolved model to networking?

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Woman networking through Zoom video call with two other women.

We are often reminded that hindsight is 20/20 – a proverb that means “it is easy to understand something after it has already happened”, and how ironic that is since we are in the year 2020 and not sure we can fully comprehend all we are learning and what hindsight this will bring.

Reflecting back to six months ago, there were many of us that didn’t have much of a clue about what the rest of 2020 would look like and how we would have to adjust to a more virtual world. We’ve updated our ways of working, connecting with colleagues, socializing with friends, networking with those in our industry, or looking for a new job.

Microsoft suggested that we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in about five months. For example: MS Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet have become the new way to host networking sessions, work meetings, and “chats” with colleagues; Tele-med appointments became the norm for routine or non-911 emergency doctor appointments; curbside pickup at grocery stores and food to-go orders via online ordering became the new normal (they existed before but saw tremendous growth in number of users).

We also had to learn how to create engaging and interactive ways to connect solely through a screen. We are already Zoom fatigued and wondering how online meetings have zapped our energy so differently than in person. It turns out, looking at ourselves and trying to talk to a group is a lot for our brains to process.

The Atlantic shares a great article about why the Zoom social life might feel so draining, saying that “Attempting to translate your old social habits to Zoom or FaceTime is like going vegetarian and proceeding to glumly eat a diet of just tofurkey”. No offense to vegetarians, of course.

You could argue though, that we’ve all been interacting via screens for years with the dominance of social media channels – whether it was posting our thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, or sharing photos and videos of our artisanal sandwiches/cute kid/pet pictures on Facebook. But this seems different. Times are different and we will not be going back soon.

In this interim, many people are trying to make the best of the situation and are figuring out ways to connect. We will always need human connection (and without the germs, even better).

What about our single friends? If they don’t have anyone in the house to already drive them crazy, then where can they go to meet new people and/or possibly love interests?

While many experts are trying to predict the outcomes of this global shift, it may be hard to know what will change permanently. We know many industries are experiencing major disruptions – online dating apps being one of them.

According to Digital Trends, Tinder still ranks as one of the top dating apps. However, now that people are sheltering in place and/or social distancing, there’s a new app taking over as a way to “meet” someone a little faster, while also allowing you to stay behind the screen, sans mask.

Slide is a video dating app that changes your first-date frustrations into real connections and instant chemistry. Explore video profiles, go on first dates via Video Calls at your fingertips, and find that chemistry before dating IRL.”

So, while Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge play quarantine catch-up, Slide is stealing their market share.

How? With video.

Slide recognized the massive success of short-form video platforms like TikTok, and have translated it to dating. They focus on features like:

  • “Vibe Check”, which gives you the option to video chat immediately after matching with someone to see if there’s chemistry. This will save you from long or misinterpreted text conversations and money you may have spent on that first date.
  • A video-first approach that lets you see the real people behind the profiles so you can pass if they aren’t really who they say they are.
  • AI-assisted creation of “future bae” profiles that help suggest your best matches and spare you extra swipes. If Netflix can find similar suggestions…

As of August 2020, the Department of Labor and Statistics estimates about 13.6 million people are currently unemployed and searching for a new j-o-b. Is it possible that some of these newer ways of connecting online could be included in how we network for a new job/career opportunity?

For example, instead of sending a connection or networking request on LinkedIn, what if we could send a quick video about our story, or what we’d love to learn from that person, or how we’d like to connect?

Would that create a faster, better, possibly more genuine connection?

This would seem worth exploring as many job connections are created by in-person networking or reaching real people vs. solely online applications, behind a screen. Some other formats that have seen increased use are Marco Polo for video chats (you don’t have to both be available at the same time) and FaceTime group calls.

It might be worth exploring how short-form video platforms could assist job seekers in networking, outreach, and connecting with others. These are just some ideas as we continue to watch this digital transformation unfold.

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