by Neena Strichart
Although many folks have a fear of public speaking, it isn’t one of my phobias. I’m not declaring that I am a great orator– far from it– but I do enjoy an attentive audience– or one that at least feigns it well.
A month or so ago, my gal pal Vicki invited me to be the welcome speaker for a seminar hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). The event was to take place at 7:30 in the morning at The Grand in Long Beach. The information I was given was that there would be approximately 100 real-estate appraisers and personal-property appraisers in attendance, most of them employees of the LA County Assessor’s Office. In a short email, Vicki gave me the following as my instructions: “This will be a short, 15-minute welcome talk to be given at 7:45 in the morning and will essentially be the introduction to our day of speakers and presenters. Yours is a talk that is usually given by the mayor of the city in which the day-long seminar is being held.”
When I asked her why she wanted to give me the honor of welcoming her group, she said that she believed I could give a little background as to not only the history of Long Beach, but of Signal Hill as well. I was happy to oblige.
I opened my little talk with information on both cities, including some of the particulars on demographics, dates of incorporation, number of schools and parks, and some of the fine points regarding our local elected officials. I then threw in some trivia including the fact that Signal Hill’s first mayor was a woman, and the number of annual parades: Long Beach’s four vs. Signal Hill’s zero (unless you count the line-up and rush into Costco every year on Black Friday). I then continued by explaining that for decades, while the city of Long Beach elects a mayor every four years, the city of Signal Hill’s mayor rotates. I then explained that what I meant was that the office is filled annually by a different councilmember, not that I was implying that we have now, or have ever had, a Signal Hill mayor who stood in one spot spinning– not in public anyway.
I ended my short speech with an original poem. I hoped it would help lighten the mood for what I assumed would be a long day of rather serious topics delivered by important speakers. I offer it below for your cheers or jeers.
An Ode to the IAAO
of Assessing Officers)
By Neena Strichart
I’m here to give praise
To a group this fine day
Of assessors who sure know their math.
They work and they toil
Some burn midnight oil
Others do it with humor and laugh.
The math they caress
To figure out numbers so true.
If it weren’t for their skills
We’d all head for the hills
‘cause none of us has a slight clue.
Duty’s done with great pride
Though assessors do hide
How hard they work day into dark.
But numbers don’t lie
There are lows and are highs
And in history will sure leave their mark.
Though their jobs are worthwhile
They do rarely bring smiles
From those they do call assess-ees.
They take time to be right
With no oversight
But the ones getting taxed just see fees.
We should give them their due
Say “assessor, thank you”
For all that you’ve done for our land.
We’ll complain nevermore
When they come through the door
But offer to lend them a hand.
I now bow, and I’ll curtsy
And I’ll ask for your mercy
For putting up with my small rhyme.
But I must now confess
I’m not under duress
I’ve really had quite a nice time.