Like our former President (who lives 100 miles up the road) who doesn’t know, that during a drought and entering a Texas summer, to not stock a pond in Crawford, I have reached a Decision Point. One in which I do not know what to do.
When I was first elected, this place was a lawless cesspool. The infrastructure had crashed and the State was about to take over the waste water plant. Then the water. The water lines were breaking all over the place, the VFD was non-existent (except for their monthly hamburger night), and the streets were in decay.
Being the only “wet” town between Dallas and Texarkana, and without law, it was filled to the brim with every type of felon known. From your garden variety drug dealer, to the drug users, alcoholics, and child-molester, we had them all. Illegal immigration (thanks to Pilgrim’s Pride), was rampant and many people didn’t even speak the language. La Fiesta, where knife and bottle fights were common, was occurring (esta noche) almost every weekend. The night air on those nights was filled with the constant beat that sounded more like a polka than a Mexican hat dance. A stark reminder to the few remaining good citizens, that they should stay indoors after dark.
To put it plainly, I had no idea. I had figured (thanks to wife’s advice to quit making fun of them and see what I could do to help) that I could just put my name on the ballot, lose, and then proceed in making fun of them. The deadline for running was that very day! (We had just moved here, three months prior, from an area of lakes. I had worked for seven years on this sixty acre site. Preparing it for what? I didn’t even know at the time. However, preferring land over water, we had given up a 3.5 acre home on a lake front property. Besides! I had a 5 acre lake on this place. Who needed the water? I certainly didn’t need the taxes! Lake properties are the worst) So, that’s what we did. And that’s what I did. I put my name on a ballot.
And won by a landslide!
The month afterwards, the people got up a petition of 110 signatures. To run me out of office! They didn’t want any change. Nosiree. Not around here. They liked their cesspool. They even contacted the local (Democrat owned) newspaper! The rope ready for me at my second City Council meeting.
After I (basically) told them to ‘pound sand’, I went to work.
Now, seven (four more landslide elections) years later, we have refurbished the waste water plant, rebuilt most of our water lines and storage tanks, been through two engineering (crooks) firms, and repaved most of our roads. The State uses us as an example that towns can meet their strict, sometimes stupid, requirements.
I organized a police department, and we went to work. (We haven’t had a murder since one of the typical groups of idiots were drinking beer in their front yard, when one of them decided to shoot another one through the head. Oh yeah, I was on the scene until they were taken into custody) The rats at gone now. Some died off. Some went to jail. Most fled to safer ground. And no more Fiestas! No more music. Our people often leave their keys in their cars at night.
We have what I would declare is the best LEO’s in East Texas. I drill the Constitution into them. They know. We passed an ordinance making this an English speaking town, and our City employees are free to carry. Either to work, or on the job. They choose not to. We now have accounting functions equivalent (or superior) to any municipality. We have trained, key people, in every position and handle events without difficulty. Even events that would shut down most towns completely. I am proud of our people. They are professionals, and friends. They are like my own family now. But this is business…
My quandary is that I am now wondering if we still need the ‘System’. I’m a believer in contract labor. Contractors, for me, is the way to go. An honest business can no longer succeed with employees. Municipalities are no different. What I have always done is to run the place like a business. Not just another damned bureaucracy. The people (the citizens) of this town are the ONLY people who matter. The employees are just their representatives. Not their masters. This is why we maintain the lowest (.31 per $100) property tax in East Texas. At least the lowest for any ‘legally’ run town. We have cleaned up vacant and deserted lots, and are ready to grow again. We have a railroad through town and even a major Interstate Truck Stop ready to open operations soon.
Even so, this last Xmas (the end of the year) brought us to a point of having to pay for vacation, sick, and personal time not used during the year. This came to a substantial amount of money, and got me to (and this can be dangerous) thinking.
Understand that I came up through the ranks of a major company. A company, you know, and that works mainly with teamsters. A labor intense company, with all of the trappings and conflicts that come along with it. The last thing I want is to create another personnel nightmare. And that is what, I think, I’m beginning to see. Only in the light makeup, and guise, of government. The people are beginning to make assumptions. No doubt, demands (however light) will be next. It’s a natural progression.
Am I going off my nut when I pine for the days of no governance? We have our infrastructure up to speed now, and with the help of contractors, we could easily run the place with one full-time girl. Am I crazy for continuing to think ‘outside of the box’? You see where I’m going with this? Even though we run lean-and-mean and have as good of people as there are, am I crazy?
Or do I make that,
What would you do?