Sunday, May 18, 2008

Returning from a week in DC ...

Mary Kuykendall reports: I have just returned from a week in our magnificent nation’s capital, that gorgeous city of white marble and 92% of the country’s dark grey and black suits.

The event which took more than two dozen of us there from the Maine Association of REALTORS was what the National Association of REALTORS calls the “Mid-Year”, or that week in May when REALTOR organizations from all over the USA send representatives to speak with congresspeople and/or their staff on issues pertinent to the real estate industry.

There are also forums during the week addressing many aspects of our business from dealing with short sales to new laws affecting our buyers and sellers to maintaining REALTOR morale in the current economy.

Like everyone else in this bustling city, the number #1 tourist destination in America, we had an agenda. Luckier than most, we actually got to sit down (well, in the case of Rep. Tom Allen we did have to stand, but in the beautifully-appointed Rayburn Room in the Capitol) with both of our senators and representatives for exchanges of ideas and information which lasted anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour and ten minutes.

All were incredibly gracious, patient, understanding, and, seemingly, eager to help. They asked us many questions. Our talking points were well thought out, organized, and presented in a logical, conversational manner. We felt quite good about our Hill visits.

Washington is a walking city, and we surely did our share. Shuttle buses and the Metro, the amazingly clean, reasonably priced, and most of the time efficient, subway system helped us cover some of the major distances and kept us together, but walking is a big part of any trip to Washington, both indoors and out.

I know I walked sixteen miles inside the Capitol Building alone, and that doesn’t include the 400 steps up to the Gallery, down to the tram, up to the Rotunda, down to the…You undoubtedly get the idea.

We learned a number of things.

We learned that the NAR national headquarters is a very green building—both in color and in Earth-friendly construction.

We learned that the Red Sox don’t have to be in Fenway to lose a game.

We learned that, while the Department of Homeland Security may slip up occasionally and let a nail file into a federal building, our country is absolutely safe from attack by hard-boiled eggs.

We saw many things.

We saw hundreds of law enforcement officers from all over the country gathering in full dress uniforms to honor their fallen comrades with flowers, photos, plaques, music, solemn processions and testimonials over the course of the week. We saw them all over town and in great masses gathered in Judiciary Square at the Law Enforcement Memorial.

We saw pandas at the zoo and sleepy river otters suddenly come alive and almost dance for joy at the prospect of a mid-afternoon treat of smelt. We saw the new elephant habitat being built for those large, sad, but wise-eyed giants who tolerate our stares with such resignation.

We saw several billion of the several trillion school children on their annual pilgrimages to see the wonders of awakening springtime in our nation’s capital and the wonders of awakening hormones in each other.

We saw tourists of all ages and nationalities demonstrating, once again, that the inspiration and beauty that is Washington is universal and that Nikon, Canon and Olympus are probably in less financial stress than most other sectors of the economy.

The Mid-Year is a terrific experience. I learned, saw, ate, walked and experienced so much in this week. Ask me about it when you see me, and I’ll tell you what I saw in the West Wing. You’ll have to forgive me if I talk to you while I’m soaking my feet.

Mary Kuykendall, President, Bangor Board of REALTORS

Pictured: REALTORS Joe Wright, Helen Fox, and Carroll Fernald at Red Sox game in Baltimore; and Mary Kuykendall with U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe

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