Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
16 April 2010
Very few cities have a park board. Its functions are normally performed by a Park's & Recreation Department and the Convention and Visitors Bureau inside of city government. Why did Galveston create this Agency to remove these functions from City government back in 1962?
Apparently, City Hall was not doing a good job taking care of the beaches and supporting and promoting the local tourist industry, so creating an Agency that removed these functions from City government seemed to be easier than actually fixing the problem. However, how a government entity is organized does make a big difference. Agencies are run by unelected bureaucrats with "oversight" provided by an unelected board. This is not the way to make government accountable to the voters!
It is very likely that the Park Board did a much better job than the City had done in this capacity in the early days of its existence, due to exceptional employees and Board members, but when its performance eventually declined, the structure of the entity makes it very difficult for the voters to force it to become more accountable.
It is now time for each candidate to step forward with their vision of how to improve the performance of the Park Board to help strengthen the local tourist industry.
Do you think that the Park Board should become a department of City government? If not, why do you think that it will improve in its current configuration? What will cause it to do so?
Like many political entities, the City of Galveston has placed four of its most critical functions inside Agencies: the Port, public housing, schools, and beaches and tourism. These Agencies desperately need review and examination; and many changes. This election campaign is the perfect time to begin that process.
The reason why EVERY candidate SHOULD take a clear position on all the major issues facing this city, even those currently handled by the Agencies, is very simple; that is the type of bold, decisive, and visionary leadership that we MUST have, at this critical juncture in our history, to have a chance to fully recover from Ike, reverse our 50-year decline, and deal with the challenges of the worldwide economic crisis. Anything less is unacceptable! Our leaders simply can no longer ignore huge segments of public policy that must be part of a unified vision to make this city work.
Why has voter turn out been so low in recent years? If the voters believe that none of the choices offered to them will make a real difference in how the City is governed, and the quality of their lives; why should they bother? With so many issues that do have a big impact on their lives quarantined from their control by placing them inside Agencies; the motivation to vote is reduced even further!