As we begin the inaugural “From the desk of Eric Neal” blog, I want to clearly state my intentions for writing this blog. I will not be writing this blog to use as a political tool. I will not be attempting to stir controversy or promote my viewpoints on political issues. Rather, I am undertaking this new endeavor as a means of providing insight into my thought process and the overall process by which decisions are made by your elected representatives. From time to time you may agree or disagree with an opinion or idea that I share in my periodic blog posting, and that is completely okay. I will be writing these posts with an open heart and ask that you read them with an open mind.
So with that disclaimer issued, let us get started.
As we begin this journey, I don’t want to spend this first post discussing any specific issue but rather a concept. This concept drives the overall decision making process of our current commission and will help you to understand that process as well as any future posts.
The last several years within our local city government we have seen a shift of priorities; essentially a complete shift in the overall culture of our city. We have had a renewed focus with the focus of “Core Values” at the center of that focus.
“Core” can be defined as the central and most important part of something. “Value” can be defined as a person’s principles or standards of behavior; ones judgement of what is important in life. So as it relates to the City by definition “Core Value “means something that is of most importance to the city.
We have had to reevaluate the essential role(s) of our local government and the overall direction in which the Commission should play a role in moving Marshall. It is my opinion that for a long time the City of Marshall did not have a clear focus and direction. There were quite a few “feel good’ decisions that were made and many vitally important decisions that were put off for the future. I do not place the blame for this at the feet of one Commission or any group of individual Commissioners specifically. I will be the first to tell you that the approach of putting things off or making the easy calls is definitely the easier approach. The publicity and lack of controversy can be alluring because, at least at first, you keep everyone happy and you don’t step on too many toes. However, like many of you, I was always taught that there is no free lunch and typically the right path isn’t the easiest one. So unfortunately for us personally and fortunately for Marshall, this commission isn’t the “easy way out” commission. Most of us didn’t run with reelection in mind and do not make decisions based on our ability to get re-elected. We are here to make what we feel is the best decision for the residents of this city.
With that background now established, we have to ask two simultaneously simple and complex questions. “What are the Core Values of Marshall and how do we address them? ” I am of the opinion that our core values are not uniquely specific to Marshall but rather they are and should be the core values of any and all city governments. I, and I believe most of our current City Commission, feel that cities should have a very limited focus. A focus that concentrates on a handful of specific tasks that we as a city should address. These areas should be given priority above all other and should be done to perfection. Anything else outside of that determined focus is purely ancillary.
Each year the senior class of the Marshall Maverick Football Team coins a motto, a motto that for all intents should be sort of the focus, a rallying call if you will, of that year’s football squad. In the mid to late 90’s (I can’t remember the exact year) there was a senior class that established the motto of “Back to the Basics”. That year’s teams focus was to get back to the basics of football. Nothing crazy, nothing outside of scope, just the pure basics of football. In all of my years either playing for or following the Maverick football team there has never been a motto with such profound meaning and application. It is my belief that this is exactly how we must run our city. We as a city must focus on the basics and do those few things well. We must focus our efforts on what a city should be doing and rid ourselves of roles that we really have no business being in.
So what are the basics of City Government? What should we be doing?
I believe that there are two areas that should be the primary focus of city government, not to say that there aren’t other areas we still must tend to, but two areas that should always be our top priorities.
- Public Safety
I am only bullet pointing these two items as my next series of articles will focus on each of these individually. Infrastructure will be first and will contain a series of three articles discussing various facets. In future posts I will focus on the need for effective and efficient Public Safety services.
The current City Commission has undertaken these two tasks as our primary goals as we make the tough decisions that we feel will make Marshall an even better place to live. We have seen some amazing successes in these areas over the last several years but I acknowledge that we still have needs in these areas to address.
I would like to thank you for taking your time to read this and hope that you will read my next post as I start digging into infrastructure.