Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
Hit Bottom, Yet?
by David Stanowski
04 June 2012
Although the City of Galveston likes to boast about its many wonderful features, like an insecure kid who acts cocky to cover up his deep-seated feelings of unworthiness and the fear of failure, inside the collective psyche of the City, there is the belief that civic success is not a real possibility.
This low civic self-esteem manifests itself in many ways such as the belief that City government can find a way to screw up almost any project that other cities do routinely.
For example, there is the feeling that it’s almost embarrassing to ask people to pay to park on the dilapidated Seawall, and that the City is just too incompetent to find a way to charge them to do it; so let’s don’t even try. Efforts to make improvements create new risks, risks raise the probability of failure; and the City just can’t take the pain of any more failure!
Litter is a way of life, re-paving streets is a foreign concept, functional sidewalks and curbs are non-existent in many places, storm sewers generally don’t work, blighted buildings are boarded up or falling down; but why bother to enforce the code, because the number of vacant buildings seems endless. Yes, the underlying question is; why bother!
And last, but certainly not least, the City has allowed itself to become controlled by the Poverty Industry. Poverty is not a very glamorous business, but when a city thinks that it can’t do any better, some are glad to have it. Seventy two years after public housing was introduced in this city, it remains the only city in the County that is so blessed, even as all the growth has occurred elsewhere.
Many people cannot imagine a world where the City of Galveston told the rest of the County that it was time for them to shoulder their fair share. An act like that would take self confidence.
The most telling exchange that exposed this attitude came when Councilmember Colbert told Councilmember Beeton that we can’t tell the rest of the County to take some public housing, “because they don’t want it”, with the obvious implication that the City of Galveston does want it.
What is the fundamental difference between a city that wants public housing and one that does not want public housing? When we can finally answer that question, we will truly understand why the population of this city has been in decline for 52 years while the population of the State has doubled!
The issue that will be decided by the voters on June 23rd is not whether this city is for or against pubic housing, but whether enough people will get out and vote to stop the GHA from more than doubling the number of its public housing units while the rest of the County refuses to take any! This will be the ultimate litmus test of civic pride and self esteem.
If there is not enough collective will to do this simple task, then the City’s Poverty Industry will remain in control, which means that the City has not yet hit bottom, so further decline lies ahead!
A paradigm shift in attitude is needed to reverse a half a century of decline!