I didn’t start out a term limits guy, but the shrieking death throes of centralized power and unwarranted claims of calamity suggest that we need to live with the current limits for a while. I encourage the city council to give it some time.
Imagine the City of Arlington as a canvas. And YOU, as a resident, business owner, student, or employee, are one of nearly 400,000 artists who paint on this canvas of nearly 100 square miles.
In this analogy, we can recognize that some artists have a large and well-equipped palette with many colors, while others just have a tiny few colors and not a lot of paint. But each one of us has something to add to the canvas that is the City of Arlington, and the paint that we add to the canvas has to blend and work with all the other painters if the canvas is to make any sense.
Humans have a problem, though—the painters with big palettes get together and then decide that the picture will be better if they tell everyone else how to use their paint, effectively squashing the creativity of all the less well-equipped painters and turning them into paint-by-number drones.
The big artists are not always wrong, but the fact is that the beauty of this canvas may well be better developed if we don’t limit ourselves to the thinking of a small cabal of wannabe Rembrandts who may be great at painting bowls of fruit, but have no ability to recreate a scene of animated people in a public square.
I’m stretching the analogy perhaps too far, so let me bring it back. The city council of Arlington and many of the hive mind that run this city really believe that the city will die if they are not at the helm. These guys mean well, and they are not corrupt in the traditional way. It’s more of: “Hey, let’s build that thing, and it will be good for the city. And it’ll be cool that I get to participate and get a piece of the action by serving the city this way.”
This hive mind sees the city as its canvas, and they see themselves as the most qualified people to decide what the painting on the canvas needs to look like. I’ve always found this humorous, as it seems like the most important task for many council members is to just vote in favor of whatever the city manager says is a good idea. It doesn’t seem like that difficult a task—vote “yes” on everything, and all will be well.
Newsflash—the city’s staff isn’t interested in actually helping the needy by creating a better solution. That’s not what a city staff does. All it knows is command and control. I’m sure that they feel better about putting it to those dastardly businesses, but they did not actually help anyone.
This approach leaves out the very real creative aspect of entrepreneurs and it regularly burns any newcomer. The short-term rental guys, for example, were not players in the city until the city decided to put them out of business until they were near the entertainment area, as though it’s rational to outlaw the short-term rentals in any other part of the city.
But that’s just one issue—there are dozens of examples where the planning department decides that they would get involved to “help” businesses. A year or two back, the city staff decided that it didn’t like payday loan organizations. So, POOF, we pass new regulations on those businesses which are designed to run them out of town, rather than actually helping the single mom who needs new tires right now and gets paid on Friday.
I could make this little screed another 10,000 words (don’t tempt me), giving example after example about how the charter schools have been mistreated by the powers that be, or how favored businesses don’t have to follow the rules that everyone else has to follow, but the bottom line is that the inbreeding of city council members contributes to the deadhead thinking that always leads to bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations, more interference, and less actual creativity in a city.
So, you have to force them out. They get a few years, and then they are done. And no cooling-off period that allows their return! Watch what happens in other cities—the council member that is forced out is put on the Economic Development Committee or North Texas Council of Governments, where open conspiracies go on every day about how to bring $50 billion rail systems to move around people who are learning how to work and teach their kids at home.
We must have new blood that is not merely the next generation of some Son of Somebody, but actual new people who bring new perspectives to the issues of the day.
There are undiscovered artists in this city who just need a little space to grow, but they cannot show their skill when they are told that they must use their tube of brown on all the spaces marked No. 4 and not to buck the system for fear of being considered an outcast, and denied the opportunity to sit on some city board.
And if Mayor Williams gets bored and wants to serve the city, we can always hire him to perform the annual ripping up of Abram Street next year.
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