Hong Kong to Guangzhou

The trip through Hong Kong on the bus was anti climactic as the fog/smog was so thick you couldn’t see anything. You get off of the bus at the border crossing and drag your stuff to clear out of Hong Kong and into China. Relatively painless really. They put a sticker on your shirt so they know how to guide you back to your bus company and your destination. About another two hours from here

I met a couple of guys at the Hong Kong airport (smoking outside) one from Spain and one from Kenya. They both speak English and the guy from Spain lives in Guangzhou. I’m tagging along on the bus with them because they know where we are going…I hope. I was able to call my logistics guy that is based in Guangzhou and Keppler; through taking with me and then me passing the phone of to a local on the bus, is supposed to meet me at Jian University in Guangzhou and then take me from there to my hotel. I am glad Shannon made me take the time to learn to say thank you in Mandarin.

It is hot and humid here, like Tampa after a shower humid. I guess I should have expected that since we are on the coast of the China Sea. We are driving along a huge elevated tollway, so new it isn’t on my google maps on my phone. Very little traffic, but it is 09:30 Sunday morning. There are construction cranes literally everywhere, makes me think of Miami Beach in 2007 just on a larger scale. It is weird that we drove on the left side of the road in Hong Kong but on the right in China. The smog continues as we head up Shenzhen bay, it is still out with no breeze.

An hour into the bus ride into China I can honestly say I haven’t seen this much construction in my life. And that is alongside one road through one small section. I will probably become numb to it in the next two weeks, but I doubt it. I’ve spent my whole life in that business, and even now as I am transitioning out of it, it still runs through my veins.

There hasn’t been anything pretty so far on this drive, in fact it reminds me a little bit of Tampa back in the late 80′s. Very industrial and did I mention humid? The bus has AC but it is full and doesn’t seem able to keep up, and these are about half local and half international travelers that might not have taken a shower in a couple of days. The stench is getting stronger with each mile. My google maps has completely stopped working, I was warned of this before I came, it might start working again once I get a Chinese SIM card for the phone.

Three hours in and I wonder if I should have taken a private car instead of the bus. But it’s just the fact that I’ve been traveling for 30 hours straight. I can’t justify spending $150 on a car when the bus gets me to the same spot in the same time for $25. I could have flown, but there again it really wouldn’t have saved any time as the airport is an hour north of my hotel. Traffic has picked up quite a bit and the cars on the road look just like the cars back home except the trucks are the European style and there aren’t any pickups.

I made it to the Jianin University, where my logistics guy Keppler will be picking me up. I waited in the heat for about 20 minutes until we figured out that we were standing literally right next to each other. We headed to the hotel to check in then across the street to get a SIM card for my phone. Then off to lunch for some great food and beer and then back to his office to arrange my day for tomorrow.

I’m beat so I head to the hotel and get cleaned up and get some work done. Talk to Shannon for a while and then decide to take an hour nap.

That hour turned into 9 and here I am up at 3:30 am. Oh well




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Thursday Quick Hits

My “To Do” list the last two weeks filled four legal pad sheets with notes. I have slowly but surely knocked off most of them and figured I could get the rest knocked out today. Showed up to the office to have my T1 line down and my provider didn’t have any idea how long to get to my trouble ticket. After having somebody run to my house to get my Hot Spot to rig up some internet, I finally got it back up this afternoon. Didn’t get much done on my list.

I leave tomorrow for a 17 day trip to China. I’m going to a trade show and then travelling through South China to visit some factories that are working with us on manufacturing some of our products. It should be an interesting trip. My mom and dad are coming down to stay at the house while I’m gone, and of course they land about 45 minutes after I take off. They also leave a few hours before I come back. I’ll eventually get my schedule down.

I hope to post some trip reports here to the blog while I’m gone, if not check my Facebook page.

Yeah, it’s not really a song about China….but still a great tune.

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A Message From John Hoffmann

Our opponent continues to run Keller down and talk about how badly the city is being run. His signs say “Let’s Protect Keller,” but I say we don’t need negativity and scare tactics. I say, “Let’s Promote Keller” and celebrate the richness of our great city.

Keller is doing well. We have a steady tax rate, rising property values, growing businesses, and remarkable services for our citizens. And don’t just take my word for it. Read the comments of former councilman John Baker, former city manager Dan O’Leary, and current Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reaves. These knowledgeable leaders have served this city with distinction and integrity, and they know what makes Keller tick. Now, each has written a strong endorsement of our candidacy, and you can read their comments for yourself by visiting www.VoteforJohnHoffmann.com.

I urge you to read their words and discover why community leaders, citizens and business owners are backing our campaign for Keller City Council. Remember that Election Day is May 10, and I’m asking for your vote.

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The Best Is Yet To Come

From the Texas Blaze:

Dear Editor:
As a retired, former City Manager of Keller I want to express my sincere support for Mayor Pat McGrail, Councilman John Hoffman and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Ken Lewis in this upcoming election. These gentlemen possess the qualities needed to continue to make Keller the great city that it is. Their proven experience, knowledge and objectivity will be critical if Keller is to continue to proposer. Keller has and continues to be a shining star not only in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and State, but the nation as well. This is evidenced by its numerous accolades and the outstanding quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. To suggest otherwise is nonsensical. Unfortunately, there are those who choose to do so.

With over thirty years in local government I have personally witnessed the political rhetoric that is currently being strewn around town as truth. Promises and accusations that are not based on fact, but rather are focused on instilling a sense of fear and panic in the voting public. Keller has never been, nor will it ever be a community of high density residential that mimics other areas in the Metroplex. As a city, Keller is beginning to enter into a state of maturity with only a few tracts of residential land remaining. The majority of undeveloped land is located along US 377 and FM 1709 and is naturally suited for commercial development. Unless a city is specifically located on or next to an interstate or freeway it is not uncommon for commercial to lag residential development as developers wait for necessary traffic counts and number of rooftops to reach a prescribed level to ensure new businesses can succeed within the market. This is what has and is occurring in Keller. As the economy continues to slowly recover from what has been called one of the worst recessions in our history, Keller has done very well attracting high quality development. Recent commercial activity such as the Movie House and Eatery, Baylor Emergency Medical Center, Sprouts, Shannon Brewery, new professional services, medical offices and restaurants provide evidence to that effect. And the best is still to come.

When I decided to leave Keller I did so in part because I was confident in the leadership of the City Council and the expertise and ability of the staff. To see some willingly choose to make hollow promises that are disconnected from reality and fail to acknowledge the great city that Keller has become is both disheartening and insulting. It is easy to make unsubstantiated claims, but the proof is in the results. Please take this message for what it is, a warning to protect Keller from misguided single- minded, single- issue politics and support the proven leadership that is Pat McGrail, John Hoffmann and Ken Lewis.
Dan O’Leary
Former Keller City Manager

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Former Keller Resident Announces Run For City Council

This one just happens to be about 6,000 miles away.

Markus Decker was a long time Keller resident and a good friend of mine.  He was a VP for Citi on a Work Visa from Germany.  He tried for years to get a Green Card and eventually become a citizen of the country he loved, the USA.  He got his MBA from TCU thinking that would help, but after 9/11 it was almost impossible for him to get through the system, and about a year before the financial collapse he decided to get while the getting was good.  He went to Swizterland for a time and taught college, then went to seminary school in of all places San Antonio.  We have kept in touch through the years, and he does come back to visit about once a year.

Now he is back in his hometown and has decided to run for a Council spot.  I wish him all the best in his journey!  Markus is a good conservative and will make a great City Councilman.




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Logical Song

The words of this song are so relevant to me these days when I hear some of what the “other side” has been out talking about around town. They are counting on people to, as the song says, “be a vegetable” and just believe the drivel they are putting out there. Ask yourself the question, do you believe the city is on such a wrong track that we should fire the City Manager, Deputy City Manager and the Economic Development Director? That is one of their platforms.

I have been working on a post to put up this week but have been sidetracked by work and getting ready for a extended business trip out of the country, and it just so happened this song was very popular when I was a young guy living in Germany, and maybe it is why I thought of it.

Just remember, don’t be a vegetable and figure out for yourself who you are, or in this respect, what Keller is.

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, it was beautiful, magical
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily, joyfully, playfully, watching me
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, clinical, intellectual, cynical
There are times when all the world’s asleep
The questions run too deep for such a simple man
Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned
I know it sounds absurd but please tell me who I am

I said now, watch what you say, now we’re calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal
Won’t you sign up your name, we’d like to feel you’re acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable

But at night, when all the world’s asleep
The questions run so deep for such a simple man
Won’t you please (Won’t you tell me), (You can tell me what) please tell me what we’ve learned (Can you hear me?)
I know it sounds absurd, (Won’t you help me) please tell me who I am, who I am, who I am, who I am

But I’m thinking so logical

Did you call, one two three four

It’s getting unbelievable




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Luke Macia – Most Valuable Consultant

I met Luke two years ago when he was consulting for Gio’s campaign and from the first time I met him I really liked him. He had offered to help with my reelection campaign before I decided not to run, but will offer John Hoffmann his excellent advice over the next few weeks. So proud of Luke for all he has done in the last three years.

Funny story, Luke’s dad was a State Rep and lost his seat to current State Rep Doug Miller. Whenever I call Luke and my name pops up on his caller ID, he still cringes thinking it’s the other Doug Miller calling him.

From Capitol Insider:

Luke Macia’s stock was already on a rapid rise in tea party circles before the Democrats sent it soaring to an even higher level with some undercover maneuvering at a private meeting where conservatives had gathered back in January in Fort Worth. Macias, a Bulverde-based strategist whose father served one-term in the Texas House a few years ago, was six days short of his 24th birthday when a Democratic attack group seized on comments that he’d made at the Cowtown event about the potential benefit that the GOP could expect from having a gubernatorial nominee with a physical disability at the top of the ticket this fall. Macias hadn’t realized when talking to a student at the Empower Texans PAC event that his comments were being secretly taped and would be broadcast to the world several days later on YouTube. Macias speculated in the private conversation that Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis would find it harder to paint herself as a victim of male bullying when her GOP foe in the governor’s race happened to be someone who’s bound to a wheelchair like Attorney General Greg Abbott. The Democrats appeared to imply that the analysis exposed veins of insensitivity, hypocrisy and a desperate need to exploit disability. But the criticism didn’t seem to resonate outside of Davis’ camp because the message was on the mark in a state where Abbott is the Democrats’ biggest nightmare for a number of reasons including the one that would be politically incorrect to acknowledge before Macias did so in typical straight-shooting fashion.

The ruckus helped cement Macia’s reputation as a rising star advisor who’s in big demand among Republicans who want to run to the right in political races at the state level in Texas. There was nothing at that point that Macias or anyone else could say at that point to alter the villainous image in which he’s held now more than ever by business establishment forces that support Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and key players on his leadership team. But Macias doesn’t appear to be concerned with winning popularity contests without anyone outside of the stable of conservative contenders who rode his guidance to victories in races that most of his clients ran as underdogs with substantially smaller war chests than the foes they upset. The lions share of the wins that he recorded were worth exponentially more as a consequence of that trend.

Working often alone and outnumbered by the hired guns on opposing candidate payrolls, Macias had breakout success in the first round of his sophomore season as a full-time political strategist for candidates who are hard-line conservatives. Macias – an Army brat who was home-schooled before and after his family settled in San Antonio in his early teens – guided clients to critical victories on the state House battleground in districts where some of the candidates he represented were favored and others were viewed as underdogs to various degrees. Macias helped State Reps. Matt Schaefer of Tyler and Jonathan Stickland of Bedford fend off challengers in the March 4 primary election as a pair of freshmen lawmakers who Straus allies had targeted and spent considerable resources attempting to beat. Stickland and Schaefer both won by relatively comfortable margins with strong support from grassroots conservatives like all of Macias’ winning candidates relied on heavily.

Macias recorded a couple of challenger wins where incumbents had expected to prevail when Matt Rinaldi of Irving and Stuart Spitzer of Kaufman unseated Republican State Reps. Bennett Ratliff of Coppell and Lance Gooden of Terrell respectively in rematches. Macias pointed conservatives to victories in the face of odds that had appeared all but insurmountable when Arlington Republican Tony Tinderholt knocked off State Rep. Diane Patrick and Belton tea party leader Molly White ousted State Rep. Ralph Sheffied of Temple. Macias added another trophy to the case when Mark Keough of The Woodlands captured the GOP nomination in an open races for a House seat that no Democrat is seeking this fall. Veteran State Board of Education member David Bradley – one of the charter members of the SBOE’s controversial group of social conservatives – cruised to a GOP primary victory in a bid for re-election this year with help from Macias.

Two Macias candidates – former Texas House member Wayne Christian and Colleyville tea party activist Konni Burton – advanced to spring runoffs after finishing first in the initial election this month in bids for the Texas Railroad Commission and state Senate respectively. Another Macias client – Ted Seago of Conroe – received the most votes in a field of five candidates in an open House race that will be settled in overtime as well. Macias served as the consultant for a GOP challenger who had no chance in a primary rematch with against Straus in the speaker’s hometown San Antonio district. Macias’ only major disappointments came in House districts where he thought clients Cullen Crisp of Granbury and Jared Patterson of Sachse had good shots at winning but failed to do so in fights with Straus allies, State Reps. Jim Keffer of Eastland and Angie Chen Button of Garland.

While Macias can’t come close to offering the kind of multi-dimensional services that bigger shops like Murphy Nasica provide, he provided off-the-chart value with major bang for minimal bucks in certain areas where he knew how to capitalize on the fact that he happened to be on the right side of the political climate this time around.

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Life Happens

Five weeks ago, I joined two of my council colleagues at FnG Eats to announce to the community that I am running for re-election to the Keller City Council. Despite what have been greatly increased demands on my time from commitments to my business and family, I was happy to step up and commit to running a spirited campaign and serving another three-year term.

Between then and now, though, life happened. What was a busy time at work has become a non-stop whirlwind. The new business is growing and going, and the existing business has exploded with new deals after several recessionary years in the doldrums. At home, my friends and blog readers know my wife is traveling extensively as she finds success in her job, and my daughter is absolutely thriving in high school – in Dallas. She travels every day to downtown Dallas to attend the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Getting her there and back – not to mention attending performances – takes great planning and coordination, and that’s when everything goes as planned. If there’s any kind of change or variable, it can make it incredibly tough to have the time to be a good dad.  

So over the last two weeks, Shannon and I have been talking. I love serving on the City Council, and she knows I love it, too. But when we prioritized what we want and need at this moment in our lives – including success at work and greater success as a family – it became clear to me that I couldn’t do justice to my company, my wife and daughter, and the people of Keller if I continued to serve on City Council.

So today I am announcing I am withdrawing from the race for Keller City Council, Place 6. As much as I want to continue and wage the good fight during the campaign, I am more motivated to help our family accomplish the goals in front of us today. In the future, when the excitement stabilizes at work and we find a better way to balance the family schedule, I might look for a way to re-engage at Town Hall. But for now, I plan to complete my first term and then step aside after a new Place 6 councilman is sworn in.

I want to thank my many friends and supporters for standing with me. I know I’m not always the easiest guy to endorse, but I’ve done my absolute best to stay true to our shared beliefs and values … and to be straightforward and transparent with all the people of Keller. I love this city, and while I’m planning to leave the council in a couple of months, I promise you I’m really not going anywhere. See you soon.

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A New Low for Keller Politics

I hate to bring you bad news on such a beautiful day, but Keller politics has reached an all time low and this couldn’t wait.  I’m sorry if this news causes anyone’s faith in me to waiver, but I feel this is too important to ignore.  I am sad that Keller’s politics have become so unethical, so this morning I contacted the local police and the Texas Ethics Commission to investigate this matter. Because of this, I can’t comment anything more, but to say thanks to my friends and supporters that have called, texted and emailed the last couple of days.

I have also shared a post from Councilman John Hoffmann’s Facebook page that sums up the matter and thank him for his support.

I saw something very disturbing on Saturday afternoon. It was a video involving my good friend and fellow Councilman Doug Miller. Doug has become a victim of the most egregious, despicable political attack I have ever seen in Keller, and the campaign is not even three weeks old. In fact, there’s not even announced opposition yet. No one has filed to run against Doug, Mayor Pat McGrail or me, but clearly people are waiting in the wings ready to come forward – after they first smear a good man.
First, about the video. In it, Doug is seen in security camera video at a local establishment in an argument with a waitress whom he believed had stolen a credit card from a friend of his. He was standing up for his friend and was upset. Then he used some bad language and raised his voice. That’s it. I’d agree it wasn’t very nice, but it was nothing more than that.
What’s truly despicable is that the video included graphics alleging he was acting as a city councilman and had abused his powers of office. The video is from before Doug became a member of the Keller City Council! Worst of all, it was mailed anonymously to several of Doug’s friends and colleagues with a promise there’s more to come. No one claimed responsibility for it, there’s no return address, and there’s no information saying it’s part of a political campaign – all of which means someone is trying to personally attack Doug in a way that violates state ethics and campaign laws.
So I have to ask: How badly does someone want Doug to lose the upcoming election in May that they are waging an anonymous, personal attack on him before there’s even an identified opponent? We’ve both seen the emails sent around town begging people to run against us. We’ve known for some time they won’t run campaigns in support of our opponents, but instead will try to run negative campaigns against us. But resorting to lies and innuendo to undermine Doug today … and maybe the mayor or me tomorrow … is a new low.
Doug Miller cares more about Keller than just about anyone I know. He has no personal stake in serving on the council and has actually seen his business suffer because he won’t conduct business here. He takes each matter that comes before the Council one at a time and listens to what people have to say before making his decisions. He and I don’t always agree on each individual issue, but his values and his character – which is now under attack by cowards who won’t identify themselves – are unquestioned.
I urge everyone who reads this message to voice their opposition to such terrible, unethical campaign tactics and spread the story of this atrocious behavior. I’m sure those who stand ready to run against Doug, Pat and me will claim ignorance of this activity, but they must be held accountable and called upon to renounce it. This kind of small town, dirty politics makes me sick and motivates me to work even harder in our re-election campaign. Please join us in our fight for Keller and help us keep our city a great place to live, work and raise our families.

John Hoffmann

Posted in Doug Miller for City Council | 6 Comments