When Failure is Not an Option

Host, Ken Harbaugh, interviews political leaders, influencers, and other history makers about the choices we confront when failure is not an option. Choices like Alexander the Great made when he landed his troops on the shores of Persia and ordered his men to burn their boats.

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Carlos Gauna: Ending the Stigma Around Sharks

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Carlos Gauna: Ending the Stigma Around Sharks

Carlos Gauna is an artist, videographer and wildlife advocate. On his YouTube channel, TheMalibuArtist, Carlos shares his drone footage of marine life. His videos have been viewed millions of times and are a powerful tool for public education and advocacy on behalf of these animals.

Find Carlos’s videos on YouTube and follow him on Instagram at @themalibuartist.

Ken Harbaugh: Burn the Boats is proud to support VoteVets, the nation’s largest and most impactful progressive veterans organization. To learn more, or to join their mission, go to VoteVets.org.

Before we get kick-off this episode, I wanted to give a shout-out to my amazing team here at Evergreen Podcasts, and especially to my producer Isabel Robertson, and sound engineer Sean Rule-Hoffman. Burn the Boats was just nominated for best political podcast of the year, alongside some truly great ones like NPR Politics and Crooked Media. We’re a little smaller than the heavies, but we’re punching above our weight because of the incredible dedication of people who makes this possible. So thank you to Isabel and Sean, and thank to you, our listeners, who make it all worthwhile.

Carlos Gauna: People have this stigma around sharks that they're out to get you. They are dangerous animals. They hear the rhythm of the Jaws theme, right, in their head. It's been 30, 40 years of just conditioning of their reputation and I wanted to set a different mode of thinking for how these sharks act and how they can be perceived by the public.

KH: I’m Ken Harbaugh, and this is Burn the Boats, a podcast about big decisions. On Burn the Boats, I interview political leaders and other history makers about choices they confront when failure is not an option.

Today on Burn the Boats, we're taking a break from politics. I'm here with Carlos Gauna, an artist, videographer and wildlife advocate. On his YouTube channel, Carlos shares his drone footage of Marine life. He has captured some incredible encounters, whales, dolphins, sharks, even great whites encountering humans. His videos have been viewed millions of times and are a powerful tool for public education and advocacy on behalf of these animals.

Confessional moment, I was a Marine biology student in college, spent time actually studying at the Great Barrier Reef and developed a real fascination with great white sharks, which turns out to be inherited because Carlos, your biggest fan, my eight-year-old son, Henry is sitting right next to me and wants to kick things off. Is that all right?

CG: That is awesome.

KH: Henry, take it away.

Henry Harbaugh: Have sharks ever noticed where your drone is?

CG: So I think that the sharks actually sometimes can notice the drone above them and I've actually seen where they actually react to the drone movements. Sometimes I've even got the shadow going across the shark and the sharks will actually react to the shadow. Now as a photographer, I really, really strive to not interfere with how the sharks move or with any wildlife in general. So that's been my learning curve. I now know how to maneuver the drone down there and put it in a position where the sharks do not really notice it. But yeah. I'd say you've got to stay above them about six to 10 feet. They won't notice you.

HH: Interesting. What are people's reactions to see the shark next to them?

CG: Man. There's all kinds of reactions. I have seen people get panicky, people on paddle boards who have no idea that the sharks are there. In most cases, people get curious. And you’d think that people would be scared, but honestly I've seen surfers, I've seen people on boats who go right next to a shark and have no idea that it's there and then when they notice it, I guess it's human instinct, just curiosity kicks in and most people are not necessarily scared. At least that's what I observed.

HH: I see. Have you ever seen a shark be the prey?

CG: Oh no. I have not. There's been a couple of recorded instances of great white sharks being attacked by orcas, killer whales, but that is very, very, very rare. It's one of those things where if you see it, it's like winning the lottery. The sharks are apex predators. So I would love to see a shark interact or become the prey in a sense because it would just be awesome to see but no. The closest I've seen a shark look threatened is when a sea lion or a seal doubles back and chases the great white shark. And that happens actually a lot.

HH: I see. What do you mean in your video when you say that the sharks are the cleaners of the ocean?

CG: Well, they are part of a very big ecological system that has many roles. And one of the biggest roles of sharks is they don't always just hunt and kill. They are scavengers. There's birds that do that as well if there's a carcass out there, that carcass will break down and become of earth again eventually, right? But that process involves buzzards coming down, cleaning up the carcass so that it breaks down easier. Sharks are similar to that in that they will come in and clean up a… I'm sure you saw the dolphin footage, right? The dolphin being eaten by the shark? The sharks will actually come in and clean up things like that, carcasses. Tiger sharks, they eat everything. I mean, when scientists have cut up their stomachs, you'd be amazed what you find inside of sharks which is a good reminder that we should protect the ocean, right? Because if they eat that, it just means that it's going to go into their system, right? And it's going to endanger them thus polluting the shark species.

KH: Well, Carlos, thank you so much for taking Henry's questions. He got to skip the second half of school today. So he's the most popular kid at Fernway Elementary today, and they are waiting for this thing to be published. So Henry, why don't you head back and I'll take it from here. Good job, buddy.

CG: Thank you, Henry.

HH: Thanks.

KH: Thank you, Carlos. That was fantastic. I was captivated by that video you captured of the great whites cleaning the ocean of that dolphin. And you just have such a zen manner about your videos and the way you narrate them. How did you develop that way of thinking about what is really a visceral experience and at times really as primally violent as you can get?

CG: A big part of it is I do a lot of research prior to flying. Finding the sharks took some time, and there are some hotspots through California, Southern California in particular, you have Del Mar, you have Dana Point, even Manhattan Beach, those are all hotspots for sharks and up to Santa Barbara. And what I found personally is if you go talk to anybody randomly on the beach, people have this stigma around sharks that they're out to get you. They’re dangerous animals. They hear the rhythm of the Jaws theme, right, in their head. And I believe that it's been 30, 40 years of just conditioning of their reputation, for lack of better words. So I really strive to just film the sharks naturally. And I wanted to set a different mode of thinking for how these sharks act and how they can be perceived by the public. I put some music to it that is not the dramatic overplayed, scary music that helps convince people or give people that perception that sharks are dangerous. Now, don't get me wrong. Sharks can be dangerous. But they are just, like I mentioned in one of my videos, you don't want to go out and pet a lion in the wild, right? It's the same thing with a shark, but people aren't necessarily scared of lions when they see them.

KH: Is the reputation of the great white shark in particular changing? Have you experienced that? I think we're probably getting an unrepresentative sample of the people you capture on film, but a lot of them seem much more curious than afraid.

CG: Yeah. The one thing, and I probably need to put this disclaimer on my channel is that 95% of the content that I'm capturing, those are sub adult juvenile great white sharks.I think in one video, I even mention that a young shark in an encounter with a dolphin, it didn't necessarily know its place in the sea. And you can see that clearly when the dolphins pass by, the shark goes up to it almost like, "Hey, look, I'm a shark. I'm going to greet you." And the dolphins kick up their tail and the shark takes off scared. So they're just like little puppy dogs. And that's how I really look at these sharks here. Now, if you go to Guadalupe, if you go to some areas of Australia, which I have not been filming sharks there, those sharks probably have a much different behavior than the ones we're seeing here in Southern California. So in general, yeah, I am seeing the sharks being just curious. They want to go, like a puppy dog, just go sniff and see what this interesting thing moving in the water is. But it is also good to remember that with that curiosity comes inexperience and that most shark attacks occur because of a misidentification. So you don't want to be in a position where you're misidentified as a seal, for example, or as a stingray in the case of the sharks I'm filming.

KH: I don't know that I've ever heard great whites described as little puppy dogs. But I'm wondering if there are theories as to why so many young juveniles congregate in the waters off of Southern California, is it a breeding ground? Is there some social aspect to it? Because you're right, you don't get the big ones there and having surfed down there, it's something everybody shares amongst the community.

CG: Yeah. Yeah. And really you typically find them right along the shore in coves where they're protected. And Southern California, it's just full of these coves where there's their favorite meal here, which is bat rays. And as far as where the adults are, the adults tend to be off of the deeper waters in the channel. So the Channel Islands, past Catalina, all the way to Guadalupe in the South. And full disclaimer, with me in particular, and I even have a big disclaimer on every single one of my videos, I am not a marine biologist. I am not an expert on great white sharks. And I always encourage independent and scientific verification of everything pretty much that I say. So I try to put citations. One of the great resources that we have here in Southern California is the California Shark Lab. It's the California State Long Beach Shark Lab actually. They provide me some information and some insights as to what's going on in my videos. And so it's through various modes of research, other marine biologists that I'm in contact with that I absorb what they know and then film it.

KH: You I think rest a lot on the commentary in your videos. And I was going to ask you how much research goes into it but it sounds like quite a bit. It seems like it's important to you to not just present a visual experience but to teach through that.

CG: I try as much as I can to present an objective scientific, educational video in terms of the data and the information that I do give out. I'll give you an example of the research that I did to try to start to channel to begin with. And without this research, I never filmed that viral dolphin getting eaten by those four sharks. If you go onto Google and you type in Pacific Coast shark sightings, you'll get a site that's called the Pacific Coast Shark News. So it should be the top site. And that's actually a database that’s been kept since the early 2000s. And it's not a fancy website, it's your typical 2000s looking website, but it's been a database kept by scientists. And they kept that database all the way to 2019. There's no pictures, it's just text. And so what I did is I went all the way back to the inception of the site and you start noticing a trend of beaches. And through that trend, I started just putting stick marks for each beach. By the time I got to 2020, I noticed, okay, so this beach had 20 shark sightings between 2013 and 2020, for example, I think I'm going to go film there. And that's how I ended up filming the dolphin encounter. I was just there in Santa Barbara. It was a hotspot. I noticed there was a trend of many shark sightings before there was drones, before there was GoPros. So I was like, "You know what? I'm going to trust the numbers and I'm going to go there. And that's exactly how we found the location. It was pretty cool.

KH: And for context, for those who haven't seen this video, which millions have by now, it's a dolphin that died of maybe a boat strike or natural causes that the sharks found. I think Henry was asking you about that when he was wondering about sharks being the cleaners of the ocean. Do I have the details right? The dolphin was dead and the sharks found it.

CG: Yeah. And just to verify, we don't really know what killed the dolphin. I was actually lucky enough to see the very first strike that occurred on that dolphin carcass and it doesn't appear the sharks killed the dolphin. It was already dead. And so sharks do what they do. They will take a free meal anytime they can get one. And that dolphin is a dolphin that's found in deeper waters. And so it's not a coastal dolphin, like you see the common dolphins coming right through. Those are the ones you see all the time. This was a different type. And when I spoke to marine biologists about this, they said, "Yeah, it's probably a sick dolphin, maybe got hit by a boat out in deeper waters. And the tides brought it in and the sharks did the rest.”

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KH: You talked about diving into the archives and preparing yourself and researching all of the shark sightings going back decades. Would you say that there are more sharks today or do we just have a better ability to document them?

CG: I think it's a combination of both. I just got an email this weekend from Dr. Lowe down at the Shark Lab, and I asked him how many sharks they tagged this year? They tagged 53 sharks in 2020. That's a record number of sharks that they have actually put tags on with acoustic, some GPS receivers on them. So they're getting a lot of data from these sharks. And I think in the next few years, we're really going to get a closer estimation of how many sharks there really is off the California coast. One of the things that I theorize - now, this is not scientific, but I have this personal theory from where I'm flying. I believe that the mamma great white sharks are having their pups somewhere in the Channel Islands, between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands. So somewhere in there, I believe that they're having pups because you're just getting so many juvenile sharks coming to the coast. They got to be having them very close.

KH: And what is the importance of finding this stuff out of learning about their ethology and behavior and their migration patterns and all of this?

CG: Well, one of them for sure is water temperatures and how that's tied into climate change. One thing that I have observed is there's a particular estuary lagoon, and I've actually filmed leopard sharks a half mile inland in that lagoon.

KH: Have you posted that yet? That would be amazing.

CG: No. No. I have not posted any of that stuff. That is one of the things that for me, I thought, I wouldn't think that you'd see stingrays, leopard sharks a half mile inland, right? And as you look at the lagoon, there's no actual fresh water in it right now. And I've looked at maps and California has a notorious history of damming up its rivers, right? And so that's just, I believe one of the effets of what's happening here, as water temperatures go up, as sea level rises, these sharks are able to find, and I'm talking about leopard sharks here, but they’ll tell you that could lead to great white sharks just hanging out inland as well. They're able to go inland, right? And we had a king tide last month, I filmed a king tide. And I'm involved with an organization called reefguardians.org. I'm their drone pilot. I do all my volunteer drone work with them. And with them, I've actually been able to document the sharks a half mile inland. It's very interesting to see this dynamic happening there. The lack of rain means that the water is not getting into that lagoon. So it changes pH levels. It changes the salinity in the water. And according to the math, the salinity and all those numbers with the marine biologists that I've worked with, they say, "You know what? If the water gets deeper, this could support a great white shark."

KH: Wow. Well, not to freak people out, but it has happened on the East Coast with sharks working their way up rivers. We see that occasionally. One of my favorite things that you document is sharks encountering other sharks almost like they're exhibiting social behavior. Is that your interpretation or is it just accidental?

CG: There's a lot of social behavior. And I'll tell you right now, I have actually filmed a location that I would consider very top secret. I don't want to go off on a real big tangent here, but I do want to tell you, I get questions daily. I get emails, I get Instagram messages, "Can you tell me where the sharks are? I want to know where you're seeing these sharks, what beaches do I need to avoid?” I personally do not share locations. Some people want GPS locations of where I saw a shark. Unless you are directly involved in research or something like that, my mindset is that I'm not going to share a location of where I'm filming sharks. Now that may be a little selfish, but there's good reason behind that. In my eyes, the second that people know where there's sharks, you're going to start seeing bad behavior. And I've filmed a lot of bad behavior from humans with sharks. And so, as somebody who wants to document the sharks in their natural state, the thing I hate to see is me seeing a shark's path being altered because a human wants to go take a selfie with it. So that's my little tangent there. You have to preserve the locations.

KH: Maybe I'm inferring too much, but I haven't seen many videos from you that show that kind of behavior. Is that intentional and out of a desire not to elevate or glorify it. I mean, the closest I can think of is the swimmer encounter that you filmed. Can you describe that? Because it wasn't exactly bad behavior but it was potentially a little reckless.

CG: Yeah. I mean, it was a little reckless. He was just swimming beyond the breakers. And I happened to have the drone over and I noticed there was a shark in the area and I just followed the situation. Also I am 95% of the time too far away from people to warn them. I fly my drone two miles away often. So it's almost impossible for me to warn people. I get a lot of comments about, "Why didn't you warn him? He’s swimming." I was like, "Well, I can't run that fast and I can't yell that loud." So as far as bad behavior is concerned, I do film a lot of it, so much so that we’ve sent it with reefguardians.org, we've actually sent my footage to the California Wildlife Fish and Game Department. And used that as evidence to propose the installation of a marine protected area for juvenile great white shark nursery in Santa Barbara. And some of the footage that I've captured, for example, I have people on boats deliberately chasing and running over dolphins. I've filmed paddle boarders just chasing a shark and pretty much antagonizing it, scaring it into shallow waters where there are swimmers and just continue to chase it along almost a half mile path. So that's the behavior - I don't typically share that on YouTube. I want to keep YouTube positive. I think that the authorities need to see that but I don't think the general public needs to just see that on my channel. I want to keep it more positive

KH: That image really flips the script, doesn't it, of the sharks as mindless eating machines, chasing humans.

CG: Oh, totally. Totally. And I film sharks and dolphins together, and then you throw a boat in the middle that chases both of them, it's not something that is behavior you want to see, right? When I get my drone up, I have people on boats flip me off. And I completely fly legally. I don't fly over people. I adhere to the rules and regulations of drone pilots, right? FAA regulations. However, some of these boats and fishermen, this is the other thing I filmed in the last couple of months - I have a strong sense that there's people chumming out there. And for those of you that don't know what chumming is, it's basically taking buckets of blood or taking buckets of anything that would attract a shark scent-wise and dropping it into the water to bring in prey, to bring in sharks. So I have personally witnessed that happen a couple of times. Most recently somebody messaged me asking about shark locations. And I clicked on that person's YouTube channel and the very first video is them bragging about dropping buckets of blood in an actual marine protected area.

KH: And the danger of that is that it upsets their natural behavior?

CG: Well, it's a twofold problem. One is sharks have their instinctive hunting behaviors, right? Sharks have their areas where they go to hunt. The largest shark I've ever seen was off of Point Dume. It was an adult, I would say at least 15 feet. It was a big one. That is a marine protected area. That means that motorcrafts can't go through there. Fishing is prohibited there. And you have to have a special permit if you want to do spear fishing. So it is a protected area. Now with sharks, if you're dumping blood there, you're basically attracting animals, maybe even in higher quantities than is normally there. And it's as simple as conditioning - to use the dog and puppy thing again, you're conditioning an animal using treats essentially, right? And that's a very busy area with humans as well, swimming. So the last thing you want is a boat a quarter a mile off shore dropping blood in the water, where there's thousands of people swimming on the shore.

KH: You say you don't have the ability to warn people. But I would imagine by now, there are some who would recognize your drone. Can you describe the unique appearance of your drone and what reactions you get to it?

CG: Yeah. And there is another drone that we do employ sometimes, it’s a Mavic 2 Pro Enterprise. That comes with a speaker. It's used for emergencies and things like that. But it's not something I fly often because again, I am filming to film them and I'm using my cinematic drone rather than an emergency use drone for what I'm doing, right? But as far as telling people about my drone, yesterday I was out filming and I did see two surfers that were right in front of where I launched. And I really just went yesterday to film some just behind the scenes footage, talk about my rig and that kind of stuff for the YouTube channel. I launched a drone just for fun, get it up there. It's a known shark area, there's two surfers there. And right behind the surfers, as soon as I launched, there's a great white shark. Now, those surfers were not in danger at first. And even in the video, you'll see that the shark is not interested in them. But what I've learned from observing the sharks is they get curious. It's almost like they can hear or sense the electrical charge of a human in the water. And those zigzag to shore and back up, to shore and back up. This shark did that a couple of times. But the surfers were, I want to say 25, 30 yards from me in the water. The shark was another, at first, maybe 50 yards away. Not bad. But the shark then veered back and literally did a beeline straight to the surfers. At that point, I yelled to the surfers and they reacted. They saw a fin and I captured it on video. They got out of the water. This process has happened a few times through the last six, seven months where I'll tell people to get out when I can. And then they see my drone and my drone is a white Phantom 4 v2. And it's basically, I've put some shark teeth on it like this is a smiley

KH: I love that. It's a happy shark mouth.

CG: It's a happy shark mouth, basically. Definitely, you can see the teeth and I could have written the words shark, but honestly you can't see it. You can't read from that distance, but you can definitely see a smiley shark face teeth on the drone when it's over the water. So the surfers, they saw it, they confirmed to me yesterday on camera. They saw the drone, they could see my teeth on it, and then I'd tell them, "Hey, if you're out here, you ever see a drone with these teeth on it and it's low to the water, there's a shark right under it."

KH: What is the most amazing thing you've captured and had to abandon because you had to get your drone back? As a pilot, I'm just imagining all of the decisions you have to make, not only about the shot, but about the flight time and the distance and the range and all of that stuff. Are there ever really tough decisions you've had to make about continuing to film?

CG: Yeah. I am notorious for the beeping sound. So the drone, when it's running low on battery, it will beep and beep and beep, and it's made to be annoying on purpose. So the last thing I want to do is bring attention to myself. So that's one thing when I'm at the beach, I don't want to disturb people. I launch and go straight up to where you can't hear the drone and then fly away. But then when I'm running low on battery, it starts beeping and everybody's looking like, "What is that beep?" And I was like, "I'm sorry, it's my drone. I got to get it back.” So many cases I'll get my drone to very, very low battery. In fact, one of the instances when I got really low on battery, I'm not afraid to fly far. And I pretty much, I discovered a location that - it's the top secret location. I'm sharing it with scientists, I'm sharing it with Nat Geo because it does have a very, very high scientific importance to it. And what I have filmed is an area with 30 to 50 great white sharks with prey in one single location. And that's unheard of, at least from what I hear, it's pretty unheard of. And so this location is one of those that I run my battery all the way down, because there's so much happening there. And I've not shared any of that footage on YouTube. I don't want to bring any attention to it until it's been properly studied.

KH: What don't we know about sharks that has become a burning question for you, or what particular image or encounter are you hoping to capture that you haven't yet?

CG: Man. For the next month, my prediction is, I think I will capture a gray whale in close vicinity to a great white shark, maybe even in the same frame.

KH: Why do you think so?

CG: Because the gray whales pass really, really close to the shore on their Northern migration up towards Alaska. And as they pass these really shallow waters, they look like they're about to beach themselves. They get so close. So if you take out the map and look at the hotspots for great white sharks, there's a couple of those spots where I know gray whales go through because I've seen them at that beach. Except that whenever I saw them and was photographing them from shore, I didn't realize that there was sharks there too. So that's one of the things. But one of my goals in the next month, next six weeks is to capture a gray whale with great white sharks in the same frame. But the other thing of what we don't know, what great white sharks are doing into the channel. Like I said earlier, they may be having their pups there. There has never been a documented great white shark birthing, right? Nobody knows where great white sharks are having their pups. And so that would be... If I found a female and her pup, or if you found an area where they're having them, that would be the Holy Grail of great white shark research.

KH: What does the health of that population say about the health of the rest of the ecosystem? Is it a barometer or a canary, if you will, for what's happening in the oceans more broadly?

CG: Yeah. Healthy sharks means healthy oceans. One of the theories of why shark numbers are possibly exploding is because I believe it was in the mid 90s, you have to double-check this, but the Marine Protection Act went into effect. So it put a lot of the prey that sharks have as meals, they basically put those as protected species. And we're talking about seals, pinnipeds. And so what happened is that population exploded because they were now protected. And so what you have is sharks with tons of food. So one of the theories is our shark numbers may have gone up because they have plentiful amounts of food now.

KH: I'm going to try to phrase this as not too philosophical of a question, but I often like to ask artists about the process itself. And I'm wondering if you're as appreciative of the moment when you're in it, when you're actually having to do the work of flying the drone and tracking the animal and listening to the beeping and doing all your flight planning and all that, do you get to enjoy it as much as we do when you put it all together with the commentary and the music and just the beautiful visuals or are you more of a technician in the moment and an artist later?

CG: I think it's a combination of both, but quite frankly when something cool is happening, even if I'm flying by myself, people around me know. They can tell, they're like, "That guy is excited." It looks like I'm playing a video game on the beach, just standing there. And my wife, she's really shy when she flies, because she says, "I don't want people looking at me like I'm a weirdo playing a video game on the beach." I was like, "Don't worry about them." But yeah, when I see something cool happen, I get very into it. I get very excited. I find as a photographer that being a pilot with a drone and being a still photographer is different. So here's an example. When I'm shooting the Northern Lights up in Iceland or Canada, for example, I will shoot the Northern Lights and then it's very easy for me to just set the camera down. And my wife and I do this all the time. We just sit there and enjoy it. The drone operation is a little bit different because when I'm over a shark or I see something, an interaction that's really cool. I can't just sit there and enjoy it because I have to be the technician. Right? I enjoy the challenge of getting the right camera angle. It's a different mode of enjoyment for me. If I capture a shark moving really fast and I'm able to follow it and just shadow it with my drone, I get so much joy out of, "Oh my gosh, I followed that shark perfectly through the frame. It never left the frame. I got it doing what it's doing." That's where my enjoyment comes, I guess through the cinematic use of the drone.

KH: That's great. Well, as you know, we mostly have political and national security type conversations on this podcast. But we always ask the same question at the end of every episode of Burn the Boats, I'm dying to know what your answer is going to be. What is the bravest decision that you've ever made or been a part of?

CG: That is a really good question. For me, that decision was more of, I guess, a political decision. I was very involved in politics early in my career. I lived in Oklahoma and I consider myself a progressive. So living in Oklahoma as a progressive, it's a little tough, it's a very red state. And so for me, I'm Latino. I was in politics there. I was very active in the Democratic Party. So I became an executive director of the Chamber of Commerce in one of the cities there in Oklahoma. For me being in that role, some of the phone calls that you would take there were very interesting. Because my name is Carlos, some people would just call, it was like, "What?" “No, I'm the executive director. You can talk to me.” But to your original question, I made a really tough decision at the time in the community to research and try to find a way to develop revenue for the city. In terms of beautification, I was really big on trees, we need to plant trees across our sidewalks. We need to put some monuments that are pretty and inviting for the community. We just didn't have money for that. So we took the I-40 and we looked at all the communities on I-40, we noticed that there was not a hotel/motel tax in our city, but every city had it. So I spearheaded a campaign to get that hotel/motel tax passed. Being in Oklahoma, introducing a new tax in a city like that, I went out on the limb. We ended up winning by 64 to... 64 or 80 votes. I can't really remember, but we passed. I have not lived there in 14 years. But now I look back at what's going on, there's trees on the sidewalk, the vision came true. So that was a challenge, has nothing to do with sharks, has nothing to do with art, but it is a little bit to do with politics because I had to bring in state senators. I had to bring in people and get them on board and say, "Look, we need a new tax. We need to beautify. We need to do things like this."

KH: Well, thank you for sharing that. Talk about thematically aligned with Burn the Boats. We got it all this episode. Thank you so much.

Thanks again to Carlos Gauna for joining me.

Next time on Burn the Boats, I’m talking to Dr. Jon Heavey, an emergency room physician on the front lines of the battle against COVID, who began his medical career as a battalion surgeon with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq.

If you enjoyed today’s episode of Burn the Boats, please rate and review us on iTunes - it really helps other listeners find the show.

Thanks to our partner, VoteVets. Their mission is to give a voice to veterans on matters of national security, veterans’ care, and issues that affect the lives of those who have served. VoteVets is backed by more than 700,000 veterans, family members, and their supporters. To learn more, go to VoteVets.org.

Burn the Boats is a production of Evergreen Podcasts. Our producer is Isabel Robertson. Audio engineer is Sean Rule-Hoffman. Special thanks to Evergreen executive producers Joan Andrews, Michael DeAloia, and David Moss.

I’m Ken Harbaugh and this is Burn the Boats, a podcast about big decisions.

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Miles Taylor: Inside the Trump White House

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Miles Taylor describes the chaos created by Former President Trump, and how people within the administration tried to combat it.
Listen to Miles Taylor: Inside the Trump White House

Amy McGrath: The ‘Honor Bound’ Memoir

Burn the Boats | S:1 E:48
Amy McGrath talks about her new book, which details her time in the military, her tough political campaigns, and the challenges we face as a country.
Listen to Amy McGrath: The ‘Honor Bound’ Memoir