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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How Long is Too Long?

I’m sure everyone is overjoyed to know that in another few weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to vote once again in local elections.

What’s that, you ask?

Local elections. You know, where you have the opportunity to decide who will shape the future of your city and school district.

That’s right. Come May 14, you can waltz right down to the ballot box and with no one looking over your shoulder, make your own statement regarding who you want to direct the path of the two most immediate governments in your life, your school district and your city.

Have you ever noticed how here in Southeast Texas some school board members or city councilmen—whoops, excuse me, councilpersons, have served multiple terms?
In some cases, I don’t mean simply multiple, but multiple multiple. I’ve always admired those individuals’ dedication to public service.

Although it is not politically wise for them to admit the fact aloud for fear of offending their constituents, public service is a thankless job, demanding time, energy, and usually a considerable loss of hair.

Please understand, there is nothing curmudgeonly intended, but I often have wondered just how effective these dedicated individuals are after three or four terms. With rare, rare, rare exceptions, constant power subtly insinuates arrogance into the blood of elected officials. At first, they’re fresh and eager. After a few years, six or seven, they begin to feel a sense of entitlement to the position. Another few terms, and there is no way on earth you will ever convince them that their methods, their ideas, and their beliefs are not the ones that are best for their constituents.

Now, I could get into Ford Park all over again. You remember that fiasco when county officials took it upon themselves to dig that hole to pour tax money down. If we had a law holding such idiocy financially responsible for boondoggles like that, what do you want to bet they would cool their heels in a New York minute?

But, let’s don’t talk about that. Let’s talk about how Beaumont wasted tax money by stubbornly refusing release of public information about the firefighting situation. The council knew better. They knew they could not hold onto the information, but they did and the state jumped them. Now, they’ve wasted more time and money because they ‘knew what was best for the city’.

In a pig’s eye.

Somewhere along the way in that exhilarating ride of power and influence, they forget that ‘myself’ is not how you spell ‘constituent’.

Before I talk about my own city council, let me stay with Beaumont a few moments longer. Actually, we could stay with them for weeks and not run out of the foolish ways they waste taxpayer money.

You know about the lake under construction. I can tell you right now, hundreds of drug dealers, homeless people, rapists, muggers, and those other denizens of the dark are panting at the opportunity to explore the dark shores of Thomas Lake.
Wise choice of the city council, a haven for undesirables instead of good roads for its taxpayers.

Sometime back, Port Neches came up with a long-term plan to develop the riverfront. They built Tugboat Island and then a splash park.

Great venues. I take my grandkids there often. I don’t even complain about visitors from everywhere utilizing the either spot. It’s for kids, and they enjoy it. Our city did a super job there.

Initially, they toyed with a venue much like Kemah, but finally let it drop (I thought) because of lack of easy access and absolutely no drive-by drop-in possibilities.

Now, word has surfaced they’re considering dumping more funds into the proposed scheme. I tell you folks, the scheme is a fool’s errand. They can spend millions upon millions and a solid hit from a hurricane will wipe it out. And don’t say it can’t happen.

These are just two or three situations where voters should consider perhaps new blood. Some of the long time incumbents think they know what is best for us if even we disagree.

So, throw the old ones a party, give them a gold watch, and show them the door.

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