Prop. 1: It’s time to think out-of-the-box or climb in and shut the lid

Advertisement NEWS & SPORTS – FREE & LOCAL

Russell Huffman

Dr. Malcolm Cross has devoted about 3,000 words over the past two weeks to his stance against Prop 1, and not one word offering a solution to the poverty and low wages plaguing Stephenville.

His most recent penning was reinforced with words like “opposition, opposed and object” because he doesn’t want any change.  Dr. Cross wants you to know he is VERY opposed to Prop 1.

Based on his last two columns, I would say Dr. Cross is looking out for #1, which is much like the rest of us. He doesn’t want to pay more taxes and he doesn’t want the city involved in things that might increase his taxes.



But Stephenville has problems, and needs solutions. Should we listen to the well-educated voice of experience which says nay and his reasons as to why? I say no, let’s not just sit on our hands and accept the status quo.

The Stephenville Chamber of Commerce and Stephenville Economic Development Foundation have come out in favor of Prop 1.  These organizations see a changing world where places such as Stephenville are going to have to create their own opportunities. We either start doing such or we fade away into a place referred to as, “a nice place to visit or retire, but you sure can’t make a living there.”

Monday’s announcement that FMC is again cutting its workforce is a sign we need to work harder than ever to bring job diversity to Stephenville. Layoffs can happen overnight, while economic development for Stephenville is going to take some time and it’s going to take some money.

The city of Stephenville has money in reserves to cover shortcomings and, of course, that will only go for so long before the financial scale starts to tip, but there appears to be a solution to some of those money questions.

It’s called turning trash into dollars. BIG DOLLARS.

While there’s no immediate way to accurately figure out how many tons of roofing and building materials are in need of disposal, it’s bound to be a very large number.

Now this is just a “guesstimation,” but there could easily be 2,500-5,500 roofs being replaced around Stephenville and the surrounding area. The average roof and materials associated with it can weigh up to 4-5 tons. With the Stephenville landfill charging $50 per ton that’s $200-250 per roof or anywhere from $500,000 to $1.4 million when you finish your math. Please bear in mind this is a very wide and rough estimate. If you can call this  a “windfall,” it won’t be long lived.

But there may be some big money which can be used toward banking economic development, capital improvements (a new shredder could extend the life of the landfill for perhaps 100 years) or maybe even something different.

But wait, “What about filling up our landfill too fast?”

Did you know there is a machine out there that recycles shingles into material that can be used in asphalt paving?

The addition of recycled shingles to aggregate base, hot mix asphalt (HMA) and cold patch materials has been shown to increase pavement’s resistance to wear, increase pavement’s resistance to moisture, decrease deformation and rutting, and decrease thermal and fatigue cracking.

Yes, it’s an out-of-the-box idea where you charge $50 per ton to take in shingles and then turn around and make those shingles into a roadway in your town. Of course you have to have the money for the machine and a way to store and sell the material. It’s an idea that might get shot down due to costs etc, but it’s still a potential solution to an eventual problem and not a “NO” we can’t do this.

But, in my mind we need to start thinking out-of-the box, and the folks we entrust with getting this economic development under way need to think along the same lines.  Problems don’t go away by saying “no,” ignoring them, doing nothing or suggesting somebody else will surely step in and handle them.

The potential solutions to solving some of the problems may not work for one reason or another, but problems are solved by doers who offer solutions and have the drive to fulfill them — not by those who say NO!

Russell Huffman is chief roust-about and step-and-fetch-it at The Flash Today. His previous work includes both print and broadcast journalism with awards from the Texas Press Association for news writing and photography. A former Army officer, Russell earned his commission through the Tarleton State University ROTC program. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole. To contact Russell, do so at


  1. I find your comments about me amusing. You say I oppose a tax increase, but last year my critics charged I was too happy to raise taxes. I wish my critics would make up their minds. During my last year on the city council we were split between those of us who believed in the need to raise both spending and taxes (remember the infamous 1 cent property tax increase?) and those who thought that we could raise spending without raising taxes. Most of us who thought the tax increase was necessary to cover spending increases lost our elections. Also, you failed to address the fact that the supporters of Prop 1 claim, quite definitively, that it will allow more spending on economic development without a tax increase or spending cuts in other areas. You, at least, are more realistic and cautious, but I don’t understand why you’re not criticizing what I consider to be unrealistic expectations by Prop 1’s supporters. My 14 years of wrestling with city council budgets taught me that frequently if one wants to increase spending one must either increase taxes or cut spending elsewhere to free up the money for the new spending. The fact the voters (and evidently you) disagree means I can no longer hold office obviously, but I think my theory is still correct. I’ll discuss it more in my next column–thanks for the ideas.

  2. One other point: You said I offered “not one word” outlining my own economic development ideas. To the contrary, I listed several ideas, including quality services, an equitable tax rate, simplified economic regulations, a level playing field, and tax cuts if we can afford them to stimulate purchasing power and economic growth (I borrowed these ideas from John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan). You’re perfectly free to criticize these ideas and explain how and why expanding the size of government is better than applying free market principles, but to deny that I offered these ideas in he first place is false. I discuss this more in my next column.

  3. Sir, please read again. It’s in the very first sentence of the piece and it reads “and not one word offering a solution to the poverty and low wages plaguing Stephenville.” The wording was “poverty and low wages” and not “economic development”. Kind of ironic you would miss that even when it is placed at the forefront. You’ve ignored the low wages and poverty in your writings and offered no suggestions other than quality service, equitable tax rate etc. HELLO! There is a workforce out that is not looking for a white-picketed house. They are simply looking to survive. They are looking a job that will provide food, clothing and rent for their family’s shelter. Paying rent because they can’t afford to buy a home. AND AFTER YESTERDAY’S CITY COUNCIL MEETING STILL CAN’T AFFORD TO BUY ONE BECA– USE THE COUNCIL CAN’T SEEM TO GET A GRIP ON ZONING AND HOME SIZES!!!! Maybe it wasn’t the one-cent increase you voted for that left you out of service to the public, but your not seeing the forest for the trees? Regards 🙂

  4. I neither ignored nor overlooked the comment about “poverty and low wages” in Stephenville or the need to do something about them. I believe that economic development policies based on deregulation, low taxes, and free markets are the best way to make progress against “poverty and low wages” in Stephenville or anywhere else. As for the city council’s failure to “get a grip on zoning and home sizes,” given that I’m not on the city council, I take no responsibility for its alleged failures. I think a careful reading of the coverage of last year’s election–especially the campaign materials of those who won–will show that the tax rate, however low it was, and however small the increment by which I voted to raise it, was the most decisive factor. This also helps explain the great length to which supporters of Prop 1 assure us that it can be passed “without raising taxes,” as pro Prop 1 yard signs and propaganda try to convince us.

  5. But, Malcolm, were you on the city Council when they implemented an autocratic 1500 sq. ft. housing ordinance that left many low income families out of the city’s housing market? Thus, the current council is having to struggle with fixing the inequity in sq. footage requirements and yet protect people’s property values.

  6. Carla: Do your homework. Let me know when this issue came up, who else voted the way I did, what you said or did about this issue, and when you’re going to run for city council to undo all the bad things (you say) I did.

  7. I do not know when the 1500 min. sq. footage requirement was passed. I was just wondering if it was while you were on the council and how you voted on it, Malcolm. It negatively affected lower middle class families by restricting the size of houses and limiting their housing options.

    I didn’t say you voted for this. Just wondering if you did. Surely you would remember whether you voted on such a significant change.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.