New Year’s Thanks

My e-mail inbox contained four new Christmas messages this morning from friends in Bangladesh, Iraq, Poland, and La Grande.  The first two are Muslim, the third Catholic, and the fourth Episcopalian.  Friendship and the simple good will of decent people is the common thread that runs through these messages.  I may never see any of these friends again, and I’m almost certain that we won’t be helping one another or exchanging costly gifts in the foreseeable future.  I am just grateful that they took a few moments to pass along a greeting and a kind thought.


I have been struggling with a little cynicism this year about what or whether to resolve to change in 2009.  I think a knee injury that’s prevented me from running for the past couple of months has affected my outlook on the world and made me more negative and pessimistic.  My friends’ messages provided me some needed inspiration. 


I need to say thanks to the people who have made this year interesting, productive, easier, and, in some cases, bearable.  The last few months have not been easy for our street crews who have taken on leaves, snow, and ice in addition to their regular responsibilities.  We haven’t provided the best equipment for some of these jobs, but they have been largely completed with some hard work and good attitudes.  I am very grateful for the extra effort, and I think most of the thoughtful people in Albany are too. 


Library employees deserve some special attention as we start the New Year.  Moving to a new facility is not an easy or simple task, especially when complicated by controversy over the appearance of the new building.  More than 1,000 people a day usually pass through our library doors, and our staff does an extraordinary job of serving them.  The color complaints will pass (There may be some small color changes.) and perhaps people will focus on what’s really important; the quality of our service and the people who provide it.


I’m looking forward to a “ride along” with a police officer today and to the chance to say thanks to at least one person for the good work of the department.  Albany is generally a safe city, but it wouldn’t be without police, fire fighters, paramedics, building inspectors, fire marshals, code enforcement, planners, and public works employees.  The folks in parks & recreation and transit provide services that make the community livable as well as safe.  We can thank all those who work in IT, finance, human resources, municipal court, and the city manager’s office for the support necessary to make all city services possible.


All of us who are paid to do this work owe some special thanks to the many volunteers who serve us and the rest of the community throughout the year.  We could start the list with our City Council, whose members contribute many hours for very little tangible compensation.  We have more volunteer boards and commissions than I can keep track of and countless individuals who volunteer at the library, senior center, and transit to name a few.


I’m sure I’ve missed someone in my list of people associated with the City who deserve thanks.  I hope I will be able to make up for any slights in the year ahead.  I know that the quality of this community depends on the good work of people who show up at the City every day.  I also know that it’s difficult for me to personally express my appreciation to everyone who deserves it.  I hope this message will serve as a reminder to me and others to show a little gratitude for the service of those around us in this and every New Year.