Letter to Editor:

“When politics enter into municipal government, nothing resulting therefrom in the way of crimes and infamies is then incredible. It actually enables one to accept and believe the impossible...” Mark Twain

Lots of big words, sounds pretty smart, but what Mr. Twain meant in this quote was, at the local level, political nonsense and dishonest practices are at their worst. What would make him believe such a thing?

That last question is what we like to call “rhetorical” (I already know the answer). I wonder what he would have said if he had been in Alice the last few years? Let’s not dwell on any of that, let’s look forward.

We have an opportunity for our community to work with positive energy, a chance to focus on dealing with economic issues that have been largely ignored for the last 2 years. Let’s admit that we can’t agree with everything our newly elected officials say and do, but let’s look at what is really going on. Business as usual is not acceptable to the new council, or anyone else, except maybe those chief administrators in the City.

It should be really simple. Make good or make way. Now I know that we all have friends that work in positions with the City, but how much is that costing us? How many of us would trust the City administrators to manage our businesses, or households, or our checkbooks? I am certain this last comment is going to make certain folks “go bananas” but if things have been going so wonderfully, why is there a mess? Those who read this have to admit we could spend hours identifying specific problems, but let’s just agree there have been problems and move on.

We have a diverse council with representation from some strong parts of our community. The Mayor is a retail business owner (very keen on marketing), Mrs. Moran is a former City administrator (during a time when things ran better), Mrs. Carrasco, is a realtor with experience understanding Alice’s strengths and weakness (a big part of her job is to “sell” Alice outside of our community), Mrs. Garza has served on our school board, is a retired business owner, and she, along with her peers, have dealt with downturns before, and Mr. Crisp is a businessman in the oilfield (the driving force in our South Texas economy).

Sure, they won’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, and there is going to be some “bumping and rubbing” as they figure out how things work. A governing body needs to be able to figure things out, ask questions, and make their analysis. But the “tail does not wag the dog”. Administration does not get to control the direction the Council takes. For example, there is nothing in the Texas Open Meetings Act that says council members (and the public) can’t question the job performance of City staff in open meetings. Heck, I asked them, we all did. So, why are these questions and statements now forbidden? Why does administration interfere with the questions? Is it because we hate the person asking the questions? Is it the way the questions are asked? Is it that the questions might show someone hasn’t done their job? Will the questions remove the crazy idea that things are perfect inside City administration?

There is no great secret to city management in Alice, Texas. We need to stop pretending that there is. Instead, let’s work on things our officials agree about.

Everyone on this council has said they don’t want to raise taxes. All of the council has stated they want changes in the budget and with personnel rather than raise taxes. Almost all of them (four out of five), have stated publicly they want to make changes in City administration. They even voted unanimously to operate the Natatorium.

Wow! Look at all that common cause. So rather than waste time trying to promote political nonsense and division, why don’t we insist they get on with what a majority of the voters elected them to do?

Alice is the “Hub City”. We are a retail hub with a market population of over 80,000, we are a healthcare hub, we are an education hub, and we are an industry hub. Prior to, and during my time on the city council, Alice was the largest oil hub south of Houston in the south western United States. During that time the U.S. Department of Labor provided data that showed Alice, Texas had the highest number of skilled workers per capita than any other community in Texas.

We need to remember these things, and remind the world who we are.

Sincerely, 

John Lemon

Alice, Texas