The campaigning has been vigorous in the races for Galveston City Council. Amid the usual political rhetoric, some interesting ideas have emerged. 

Here are some that ought to be included on the public’s agenda in the next two years:

• Galveston is not spending enough on infrastructure. Galveston is not in a position to offer vast new subdivisions for middle-income housing. It is in a position to fix streets and address drainage problems — steps that would make existing neighborhoods more attractive. How to get that done? One suggestion is to set up a group at City Hall that is dedicated to managing big capital projects.

• Council members are elected for two-year terms in Galveston. Wouldn’t it make more sense to try to come up with a two-year budget? Sure, budgets would still have to be approved every year. But there’s a case for putting the city’s financial planning on a longer track.

• Similarly, the council needs its own calendar. Budgets have to be started at the same time each year. Grants and hurricane recovery projects have deadlines. Perhaps, if the council could clearly see what it must get done in a given quarter or year, it would find less time to get embroiled in the crisis of the day. The added bonus is that the renewed focus on business might be one small step toward civility.

• The city could refocus its economic development plans by revisiting its agreement with the Galveston Economic Development Partnership. Galveston’s public officials tend to consider whatever comes through the door, rather than recruiting types of business that would be a good fit for the community. Maybe the city should have its own economic development arm at City Hall.

• Galveston, even if it is solidly behind the Ike Dike, needs a Plan B. It’s not clear what a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conclude about the feasibility of the ambitious proposal to protect Galveston Bay from hurricanes. If the federal study concludes the concept is too expensive, the city needs to have an alternative. And that Plan B should be far along in development when the Corps finishes its feasibility study.

• Perhaps it’s time for an ordinance review committee, similar to citizens committees that review the charter before referendums. Galveston is an old city, and some wags have questioned whether the council has ever repealed an ordinance in the last 175 years. A review wouldn’t hurt.

We live in an age when all political discourse is ridiculed as empty rhetoric.

There has been plenty of rhetoric during this campaign.

But Galveston voters are fortunate in having been presented with some interesting, thoughtful ideas.

Voters ought to make a point of remembering them — regardless of who wins.


(6) comments

Miss Priss

Good stuff!

Steve Fouga

I find myself in agreement with truthserum on this one.

Sounds like Heber wants Galveston to be run more like a business. Or maybe more like... well... a properly run city.

George Croix

Yes. A business making money off PH on the front end, and spending money on it on the back end, as it becomes what it was before.

Steve Fouga

Well, that's not the kind of business I meant. I meant the kind that makes plans and uses schedules to help administer them, and hires worthy employees and treats them fairly, and... oh well, maybe it's too much to ask.

Maybe with Yarbrough likely to be elected, things will be more like you're predicting. I hope not. But of course we all know hope is not a strategy. Particularly those of us who did work in a business of the type I meant.

George Croix

Plan? A REAL plan?
I think in nearly 4 decades I got to actually follow one of those start to finish maybe a half dozen times. Maybe...
Most of the time, the plan was modified on the run right after the excrement hit the whirling blades...success was a function of ability to adapt and overcome.
Biggest reasons for dirty fan blades and a lot of running around to avoid getting splattered too bad?
There were two (not counting, of course, the emergency responses...they are by definition a situation where planning and normalcy have already failed...):
1) Unrealistic goals.
I lost track years ago of the number of times I had to try to carefully explain to Somebody, or Other, that wishes, wants, and and theories do NOT replace resources, talent, and Murphy. Sometimes, folks even listened....[wink]
2) Attempting to make work what nobody else had ever gotten to work, by doing the EXACT same &^%$# things again, on the theory that it wasn't the effort or idea that was wrong, it was the people in charge, who were, of course, not near as good as the new ones because...well, just because...
Can't fix that. Ego has a way of melting brain cells.
I'd say that both of those don't-do-this items could and would apply to about any job - from refining, to a Mayor's office...

Steve Fouga

Gotta have a plan -- with statement of work, cost estimate, budget, schedule, resource allocation, org chart, the whole nine yards. Otherwise when the fit hits the shan it's hard to tell what to modify to get back on track.

If ever, EVER a plan goes exactly "right," it probably means there was too much budget or too much time allocated to do the job. The company would have been better off making do with less, because they could have. This is the unlikely situation that most of us in industry never had to face.

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