Monday, February 23, 2015

Great article by Lou Antonelli

Lou Antonelli is no longer with the Mt. Pleasant Tribune, but he has written an insightful article regarding our local elections, which happen in May.  The only way others will see this is if you share it with your friends.
Read it and then pass it along!

There's an old saying that "charity begins at home". The same goes for fiscal responsibility.

Next Friday, Feb. 27, at 5 p.m. is the deadline for candidates to file for the May 9 spring city council and school board elections. I want to take a moment to drive home what this means.

Those of you who attended the visit by Michael Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility at Herschel's Jan. 10 will recall how he pointed out the hollowness of "independent" in calling local school systems ISDs (Independent School Districts), as he urged frugality and the trimming of waste in government.

Despite strong ties to the central government in Austin, school trustees are still elected locally, and each year we have the opportunity to make a statement – if not progress – towards sensitizing the bureaucrats both at home and away of the impact their tax burden has on us.

All too often, these local positions are filled with people seeking personal gratification. School boards tend to attract retired educators or people with job-seeking friends and relatives. City councils become equally complacent, with contracts and bids being the goal in that case.

For example, in the case of the Mount Pleasant ISD, of the trustees up for election this year, one is a retired educator, and the other's wife is a current employee. The third, uncharacteristically, is a business owner.

In the case of the city council, the three incumbents up for re-election this year have, by a rough estimate, probably at least 60 years of combined service in office.

Apathy and routine leads to office holders regarding – whether intentionally or not – their offices as personal holdings rather than positions of trust and responsibility. A lack of accountability leads to a "get along, go along" attitude which has an ongoing corrosive effect on our tax rate and checkbooks, and sometimes disastrous results in budgets.

Many people, frustrated by the glacial progress of reform, throw up their hands and cry "What's the use?" But there are signs constantly of the progress made by asking the right questions and supporting the right candidates.

For example, despite the frustration of many over the "don't make waves" ethos of the county commissioners – a phenomenon hardly unique to Titus County – the election of one independent-minded commissioner, Al Riddle, opened up a whole new era of asking questions and not taking "business as usual" for granted.

Conspiracies require unanimity. The Russians have a traditional saying, "Two people can keep a secret, if one of them is dead." Much of the current frustration is caused by knowing things that were covered up in the past. But knowledge is the first step towards improvement.

Last year, the president of the school board, a retired educator whose son is a current employee, was unceremoniously booted from office in a landslide. Improvements still happen, and while gradual, are still improvements.

I suggest you turn your attention this week towards these local offices, and consider whether the citizens and taxpayers of Titus County would benefit from your service. Many times, people called upon by their peers respond "I don't have the time to do a good job", or "I'm not qualified." This is a sign of self-awareness and honesty. Unless the trustworthy step forward and fight the good fight, these positions of local responsibility will be filled by people seeking jobs and contracts for their family members and friends. The community suffers.

As a taxpayer and Titus County resident, I am concerned. In the past, I had the "bully pulpit" to hold forth with at the local newspaper, but a change of ownership brought in a corporate management made up of Wendy Davis idolaters. I still enjoy expressing myself, however.

Thanks for reading.

 Lou Antonelli

Republican Precinct Chairman, Precinct 8

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