Open Government Project
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State of Texas
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by David Stanowski
22 March 2010

Elected officials like to create government "Agencies". They claim that they do so, because Agencies can operate free from "politics" which allows them to act independently to more effectively "provide for the public good". However, as government entities, these Agencies are not subject to the competitive forces of the free market, which would ensure that they are offering goods or services that actually fulfill the needs of their customers. Government Agencies also often do not provide a reasonable return to their owners; the taxpayers.

Agencies are operated by unelected bureaucrats, but by removing "the politics" from the equation these bureaucrats are NOT accountable to the voters, so if and when voters become dissatisfied by the actions and performance of an Agency; they have little recourse. If voters try complaining to their elected officials, the politicians have the perfect excuse; "it's an independent Agency; not subject to my control". "I'm not responsible for what it does!"

Now you understand the true purpose of government Agencies!

Unfortunately, an entity that is not subject to competitive market forces, AND is not directly accountable to the voters is the perfect recipe for disappointing or even disastrous results! 

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.

Most candidates prefer to avoid taking clear and unequivocal positions on controversial issues. When it comes to a City Council election in this city, why should they say anything about issues under the control and administration of the Agencies? They can simply assert that they will have no direct authority or control over matters within the domain of the Agencies, so their views and opinions are unimportant.

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. 

Obviously, this is especially true of the mayoral candidates.

The Challenge:
Galveston's government Agencies have been Sacred Cows for many years. The GOGP will be publishing Position Papers on Galveston's four Agencies, so now is the time for each candidate to step forward and agree or disagree with our positions and outline their vision on how to reform and revitalize them.

The GOGP will be happy to publish your responses, but we hope that you will also share them in meetings with the voters, during the campaign, in guest columns, and that members of the media will ask you to articulate your visions about the public policies controlled by our Agencies.

Let the games begin!

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