Do you pledge allegiance to the Realtor Party?
Recently, AG columnist, Erica Ramus published an editorial entitled, “Realtor Party? Count me out,” which stirred passionate support from Realtors across the nation, while simultaneously drumming up disagreement from local boards, state associations, and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) itself.
Ramus’ premise was that belonging to the Realtor Party is a pledge of allegiance to support candidates and ideas that the Party deems worthy, instead of making her own independent decision, an assertion that the NAR strongly disagrees with.
The NAR weighs in
Tom Salomone is the 2012 Director of REALTOR® Party Activities, and is a REALTOR® from Coral Springs, Florida. Salamone tells AG that “REALTORS® are some of the most active citizens in their communities throughout the country — fighting for candidates, issues, laws and regulations that positively affect not only the real estate community, but the community at large.”
“When necessary, those local REALTORS® reach out to the national REALTOR® Party for financial assistance in their endeavors,” Salamone added. “The local REALTORS® decide what’s important in their communities. REALTORS® on the street decide which candidates are best for their communities after thorough research and vetting. The national association does not decide for them. You won’t see the national association dictating to the local members who they should vote for or which party to support.”
One of Ramus’ key opinions is that belonging to the Realtor Party is a mandate to contribute to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC), as the Realtor Party website says, “As a member of the REALTOR® Party, you… invest in RPAC.”
Salomone responded to this point, noting that “The initiatives and campaigns REALTORS® take on are partially funded by voluntary investments in the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC). The key word here is ‘voluntary.’ The wonderful thing is that once REALTORS® hear about the amazing campaign and community outreach successes from fellow REALTORS® across the country, they invest in RPAC willingly.”
Realtors in support
Memphis Realtor, Joe Spake said of the Realtor Party, “I am with you 100% Erica. I have built my business on doing what is best for consumers and not what is best for NAR.”
“I don’t agree with putting us all in one sack either,” Iowa City Realtor, Denise Hamlin said. “We’re as diverse in our thoughts, ideas and motivation as the rest of the nation. Being members of NAR doesn’t mean they get to tell us what to think. We can do that all on our own.”
Julia Odom, Chattanooga Realtor weighed in about Ramus’ opinion piece, saying “What is good for Realtors is not necessarily good for the country and I’m not going to advocate for my interests over the greater good.”
One state association’s point of view
Brandon Alderete, Government Affairs Communications Manager at the Texas Association of REALTORS® tells AG, “We’re not telling anyone who to vote for. When you see a candidate is endorsed by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, it’s because of her position on issues related to private-property rights, homeownership, and the real estate industry. We’re the association of REALTORS® … not the association of every single issue out there.”
Alderete added, “The other point is that this isn’t staff sitting around an office picking names out of a hat. Candidates are interviewed by Texas REALTORS® across the state. That group sends recommendations to the state association, where it’s reviewed by several other panels of Texas REALTORS® before being approved.”
On political advocacy, Alderete noted, “Another interesting angle is how much legislators rely on relationships with trade associations. You can’t expect a lawmaker, who, say, owns a sporting-goods store, to know how every single bill might affect real estate. But he has to vote on it. That’s why political advocacy is so important … it’s about making sure our members have a voice when important decisions are being made that could affect the real estate industry, private-property owners, and consumers.”
One Realtor’s point of view
In response to Ramus’ editorial, young Realtor Drew Fristoe opined in a blog on the Fredericksburg Area Association of Realtors’ blog in a post called “REALTOR® Party – count me in!”
“I have been a REALTOR® for a little over four years,” said Fristoe. “I have been involved as a REALTOR®, even before my License was back. My first REALTOR® event was ‘Day on the Hill’ in 2008. From that day on, I was hooked. I am on a FPC team for a State Congressman in Virginia and I am a RPAC contributor.”
Many young and new Realtors come prepared to buck the system, so Fristoe’s support of the Realtor Party stands out to us. In response to Ramus’ assertion that homeownership is not a guaranteed human right, Fristoe said, “I actually agree with that statement, BUT I think everyone should have the option if they want it. It is our job as REALTORS® to be able to help our clients make the decisions that are best for them. If our client does not have the ability to purchase, we need to have them speak to the right people to figure that out. Then over time, help them to get in a position to buy a home, if that is what they want. At the end of the day, we are individuals who can make our own decisions and should help our clients to do the same.”
Fristoe argues that the Realtor Party does not require allegiance to vote how they deem mandatory, rather the Realtor Party “was created as another tool in informing REALTORS® about the issues that affect your business, which will in turn affect your life.”
While Ramus stirred up a tremendous deal of support for her position, the attitude of the associations is that of a defensive, yet optimistic posture.
Salomone demonstrates this best in his statement about NAR. “We are an organization built from the grassroots up, not from top to bottom. We believe that homeownership is a privilege and we support sustainable homeownership. While acting on REALTOR® and citizen issues, REALTORS® show amazing resolve. Often it will be a long hard fight to win on issues that support homeownership and the citizens of our country. I applaud those who don’t give up, and who continue to work diligently within their communities to protect the American Dream. Our association members have long declared they are the Voice for Real Estate. It’s always great to see them put their money and their efforts where their mouths are. Most people in life don’t.”
Before you quit your job, ask yourself these 5 questions
(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Frustrated at work? Here are 5 ideas utilizing design thinking and exploration tactics to assess if you really are ready to quit your job.
We have all been there. We are in a job that just doesn’t feel right for us. Maybe we strongly dislike our manager or even our day to day work responsibilities. We find it easy to blame everyone else for everything we dislike. We question life and ask “Is this what life is all about? Shouldn’t I be spending my time doing something I am more passionate about?” But, we probably like the regular paycheck… Thus, we stay there and possibly become more miserable by the day. Some of us may even start to feel physical symptoms of headaches, stomach aches, and possibly depression. We also may go to the internet like this person seeking answers and hoping someone else can tell us what to do:
“I feel conflicted but I want to quit my job. What should I do?
I was thinking of quitting my job because I dislike what I do, and I feel I am underpaid.
However last week my colleague tendered her resignation too. Needless to say, if I leave too, my whole department will fall into a larger mess and that causes some feelings of conflict within me.
Should my colleague quitting affect when I want to leave too? How do I go about quitting now?”
We can definitely empathize with this – it’s really uncomfortable, sometimes sad, and hard to be in a position where we feel we are underpaid and we aren’t happy.
So, how can you navigate a situation like this? How do you figure out if you should just quit your job? How can you be an adult about this?
Here are some exploratory questions, ideas, and some design thinking activities to help you answer this question for yourself.
- Before you up and quit, assuming you don’t yet have your next opportunity lined up, have you considered asking for a raise – or better yet, figure out how you add value to the organization? Would your supervisor be willing to move you in to a new role or offer additional compensation?
- If you don’t have a job lined up, do you have the recommended AT LEAST six months of living expenses in your savings account? Some would recommend that you have even more during a global pandemic where unemployment is at an all-time high – it may take longer to find a new position.
- Do you have a safety net of family or friends that are willing and able to help you with your bills if you don’t have your regular paycheck? Would you be willing to put that burden on them so you can quit your job?
- Why aren’t you job searching if you are unhappy? Is it because the task seems daunting and the idea of interviewing right now makes you want to puke?
- What would your ideal job be and what would it take for you to go for it?
Many people claim they don’t like their job but they don’t know what to do next or even worse, don’t know what they WANT to do. To offer a little bit of tough love here: Well, then, that’s your job to figure it out. You can go on Reddit all you want, but no one else can tell you what is right for you.
Here are some ways to explore what may be an exciting career move for you or help you identify some areas that you need to learn more about in order to figure out where work will align with your skills, interests, and passions.
- Consider ordering the Design Your Life Workbook that provides writing prompts to help you figure out what it is that you are looking for in a job/career. You may also like the book Designing Your Work Life which is about “How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work”.
- Utilize design thinking to answer some of your questions. Make a diamond shape and in each of the four corners, write out the “Who” you want to be working with, “What” you’d like to be doing, “Where” you’d like to be, and “Why” you want to be there or doing that kind of work.
- Conduct informational interviews with people doing work that you think you might be interested in. Usually these conversations give you lots of interesting insights and either a green light to pursue something or validation that maybe that role isn’t right for you either.
- Get your resume updated. Sometimes just dusting off your resume, updating it, and making it ready gives you a feeling of relief that if you did really want to pursue a new job, you are almost ready. Consider updating your LinkedIn profile as well.
- Explore what you can do differently. A lot of what we can be frustrated about can be related to things out of our control. Consider exploring ways to work better with your team or how to grow to become invaluable. Tune in to Lindsey Pollak’s podcast, The Work Remix, where she gives great ideas on how to navigate working in current times where there are five generations in the workplace. There may be ways you need to adjust your communication style or tune in to emotional intelligence on how to better work with your supervisor or employees. Again, focus on what is within your control.
You may decide that you need to quit your job to be able to focus your energy on finding a better fit for you. But at the same time, be realistic. Most of us have to work to live. Everyone has bills, so you may continue working while you sort out some of the other factors to help you find a more exciting prospect. Either way, wishing you all the best on this journey, and the time and patience to allow you to figure it out.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Did it have to be… so… ugly?
It kinda looks like it came from The Incredibles universe. I kinda like how ugly it looks.?https://t.co/R5Mdmv3mnz
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:
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.
Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)
(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.
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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