The Cost of Public Service

A couple of months ago a local court jester attorney saw me downtown, held up a wine glass, and yelled, "Well, there's our corrupt city councilman." He then followed that with an onslaught of incomprehensible sputtering punctuated by some fairly detailed obscenities.

What are you supposed to do when faced with that? Argue? Ask why he's calling me corrupt? Talk to him rationally? 

No, you have to take it because that's supposed to be the gig.

I ran for this city council seat and won because our city needed some deep and systemic change. We needed to fix our antiquated infrastructure. Our sewer and water pipes simply aren't good enough for long-term growth. We were paying city employees - your employees - poverty wages. Our roads are cratering before our eyes. 

And we needed a solid plan for the future, which I proposed we could power on the back on clever technology and partnerships with local higher educational institutions. We needed to work on an economic development plan that provides opportunity for growth and jobs in all areas of our city, especially places north and northeast that we've ignored for decades.

These are hard discussions and tough problems, and I feel I've barely made a dent in them. Instead I spend quite a bit of time dealing with the "politics" of things and I really would rather not. 

We're missing for proverbial forest because of the trees, and in this case we are in the middle of an economic transformation that will rival the industrial revolution. It's not immigrants who are going to take away jobs. It's automation.

If we're smart and make good policy, Amarillo can be a leader during this economic transformation and how all parts of our city can benefit. But then comes the cost. I've really thought deeply during the past seven months on the personal cost of this job that pays $10 a week. (A lot of people are happy to call me inept or incompetent or corrupt on Facebook, but I've never talked to them or seen them at a meeting when I ask for help.)

This isn't about an election or reelection. There's going to be plenty of that going around these next few months. This is about serious discussions and why we've failed to have them.  This is about where Amarillo is today and where we have to go in the future. 

So I've decided to talk about it here.

Let's go.