I hate pop, but I really like this guy.

Obsessives: Soda Pop from CHOW.com on Vimeo.

John Nese runs a grocery-store style shop in LA that only sells soda pop. It's probably going to be tough for him to make his business work over the long haul for a number of reasons, but I really hope he makes it.

He might have a little crazy in him but he's following his passion and making it work for him and others - and he's a likable guy all around. This 15 minutes does a pretty great job of summing up a lot of my thoughts on business, politics and what's wrong with the world today. This is what America (and Canada) should be all about so he's making it happen. Unfortunately it's more of a corn sugar, CRV and Ralph's kind of place - a Pepsi Co. world.

Watching this reminds me exactly why I got excited about Nenshi winning the mayor's race in Calgary. He was talking about making business easier for the average guy (easier to get permits, easier access to city hall, preventing government subsidies to special interest groups). I'm really hoping that it leads to more innovation and industrial diversity in this city. And I'm hoping that the rest of the world takes note and it catches on.

In any case, if I go to LA I'm gonna go visit this guy and buy some rose petal soda.

Vote for Naheed @Nenshi tomorrow. Here's a 30 min video where he explains why. #yycvote

Definitely a bit of a cheese factor in this infomercial-style vid, but this at least demonstrates that he has a bit of actual substance and some realistic ideas that back some of the broader campaign promises that are common pretty much across the board within this Calgary election (accountability, fiscal responsibility, sustainable development, public transit, yada yada).

A few things that I particularly liked:
  • Express buses down 14th Street in the south, and 2 express buses to the airport (from downtown and the end of the east LRT final station)
  • Getting rid of the $3 park & ride fee
  • Upgrading the traffic lights synchronization system & lane reversals as an alternative to massive highway style roads
  • A modern downtown library
  • Community-focused policing beyond downtown
  • Eliminating the sewer/water subsidies for new developments
  • Developer incentives for walkable communities & ability for families to get by on one car
  • Publicly disclosing all meetings with the mayor

If you haven't read his platform, go check it out at nenshi.ca - and then, if you have time, compare it with ricmciver.ca and barbhiggins.ca.

A couple of things that I haven't found any detail about but am interested in are the following:
  • Improving the taxi system
  • Inner city traffic flow (I think of 17th and 14th, 11th Ave between 2nd & 14th, and 4th Ave during rush hour and how inefficiently traffic moves in those spots)
  • Calgary Parking Authority
  • Abandoned developments with giant holes in the ground
  • Empty lots where development never started but also restrict parking

Calgary Mayoralty Debate Mashup

When one candidate doesn't want to participate in a mayoralty debate, leave it to the internet to make one up. It's actually a pretty great way to see where the candidates stand on various issues. It's funny to see how some candidates talk one way to an audience of developers and another to "regular folk".

Huge credit to Calgarian Gordon McDowell, who created the video but has also been posting a bunch of great election stuff on his blog.

Related: Barb Higgins is annoying.

Calgary Parking Authority

There is a mayoralty election in Calgary this month that should prove to be one of the most interesting in many, many years. The outgoing mayor, Dave Bronconnier (aka 'Bronco') is a brilliant politician, although someone who I believe has damaged our city to a horrific extent.

When he became mayor 9 years ago, he ran on a platform of roads, roads, roads. Calgary had come off several years of prudent provincial and municipal budgeting and, although the economy had rebounded, the infrastructure had somewhat lagged and it was noticeable with some already massive population growth.

So what did Bronconnier do when he won? Spent unprecedented money on roads. This was done at the expense of balanced budgets, snow removal, transit, common sense and any noticeable difference in traffic. The past 9 years have seen so much construction that nearly all major arteries (Deerfoot, Glenmore, Crowchild, Sarcee, Mcleod) have been at a nearly constant crawl due to construction alone. And when construction is finally done on a section, it usually just means that the traffic has been diverted elsewhere. What does a brand-new overbudget multi-million dollar overpass in your neighborhood mean? Typically that you will be waiting an extra half hour in your neighborhood to get on to the overpass in the first place.

The maintenance cost alone of all of these new roads and bridges might bankrupt Calgary one day, so how did the city led by Bronconnier get enough money to fund all of these projects? Well, taxes were raised, Bronco did a lot of whining through the media to the provincial government for transfer fees, the city debt increased substantially, and a number of 'user' fees were raised.

One of the many fees that went up was parking.

Parking in Calgary is an absolute joke. This is a city of barely one million and of low population density yet has one of the highest costs of parking of any city in the world. Know what else? The Calgary Parking Authority apparently runs at an annual deficit (I recently read that it was as high as $8 million per year in the red).

How does this city department try and combat the deficit? Increase ticketing and the penalties of the tickets. How do they do that? Increasing restrictions on parking and hiring more people to ticket you (thereby increasing costs, which are funded by taxpayers).

I am writing this as I am now standing in a 1hr long line to talk to a peace officer to plead not guilty to one of 3 tickets I got for parking in front of my house (tickets were for not displaying a permit, which I actually had displayed - demonstrating the quality of CPA's hiring practices). Of course I am paying a ton for downtown parking while I sit here pleading not guilty.


This year's election has my attention and hoping for some major changes to the Calgary Parking Authority. It's probably too much to ask that they all go to prison (joking) but an overhaul is necessary. I have some thoughts on what needs to be done but I will save that for another ramble.

The one bright spot at the Calgary Parking Authority? A guy named Ken at the call centre. Talk about excellent customer service. This guy must have the most difficult job in the world, working for one of the most incompetent organizations around and dealing with irate Calgarians who rightfully hate the CPA's guts. Poor Ken.

Definitely something wrong here.

I stole this from John Hutchings, who I used to work with and who worked in marketing for the health industry before that. I'd be interested to talk to him about this one day.

As someone who is an entrepreneur and all about less government and a pro-business environment, it drives me crazy when I see that there isn't a social consciousness within the leaders of these massive companies (I don't know why I would expect it - there's such a huge degree of separation from reality at that point... and really their only job is to deliver results for the shareholders). I am starting to think that big businesses are way worse than government, and in order to protect our civil liberties and allow for more of a free market, you have to have more restrictions on major corporations. I know it is contradictory and will also never happen, but seeing this kind of stuff is just sad.

We're all doomed

This guy is a little annoying with his 'I talked to Mel Gibson' name dropping, unfunny accents, and your typical activist persona, he's also introduced by someone who seems like she's just learning how to speak. Despite all that, he knows his stuff and in this 83 minute video he outlines why we're all fucked.