A lot of readers will wonder about my response to this question:
Texpatriate: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at her or his job? If so, why?
DBC: I don’t.
I wish that I had taken the trouble to elaborate. Judge Ed Emmett has not been an abysmal failure. Running county government in a rapidly growing county is a difficult job. The county's problems pre-date Emmett's tenure as our chief executive, and many of them will still be there after he ends that tenure. No elected officials can fix everything.
The problem with the job that Emmett and his Commissioners are doing is this: They are doing exactly what their sponsors and the two major parties have put them there to do. The county provides some services, taxes get collected, and the business climate stays friendly to businesses, especially large businesses. They do just enough, in other words.
But the county deserves more and better than just enough.
I would like to see the county provide more and better services; that requires broader and deeper levels of taxation, a far less regressive scheme for property taxes in particular. I would like the large businesses in this county to pay more toward those services that make a high quality of life possible for their employees.
Let's do what we can to attract manufacturers of alternative-energy and energy-saving technology to the county. West Texas may have a tracking boom in progress, but it is also witnessing a proliferation of wind farms on the high plains and in the Permian Basin. Could we get companies to build windmills and photovoltaics right here? In fact, could we convince all those energy companies downtown that their best play for the post-boom world is to start building solar and wind infrastructure now? I believe so.
Houston has established Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones to attract businesses and encourage startups; it's not a perfect plan, but it's something that county could adapt. The city and county also have vacant manufacturing facilities into which startups could move fairly cheaply. We have one of the busiest ports in North America ready to ship out the goods. We have a diverse, multi-national workforce; we have a network of community colleges to retrain workers for these new processes.
I would keep preaching, but it's time to put this blog and myself to bed. See you on the 22nd.