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Sometimes a news story is more interesting for what it doesn’t say than for what it does. Take, for example, the local “newspaper’s” announcement that Stephenville’s Mayor has been appointed Tarleton’s Commandant of its Corps of Cadets. Omitted from the report is any demand that the Mayor should resign from the City Council.
Of course, there’s no rational reason why the Mayor should resign from the Stephenville City Council. After all, in May of 2014 he won a second two-year term, which won’t expire until May of 2016. He has every right to remain in office until then.
But what’s interesting about the omission of any demand for his immediate resignation is that last year, during the campaign, the local “newspaper” was telling its readers that people affiliated with Tarleton, whether as employees, or alumni, or in some other relationship to Tarleton, should not be serving on the city council. The “newspaper” argued that given Tarleton’s important place in the community, any Tarleton-affiliated council member would have to abstain from votes on issues affecting Tarleton, making it more difficult for the city council to accomplish anything. But if a Tarleton-affiliated council member did cast a vote on a Tarleton-related issue, he would inevitably corrupt local politics in the process through his unethical action. And who’s a more important member of the city council than the (now Tarleton-affiliated) Mayor himself?
Now I personally think that nobody affiliated with Tarleton should be elected to the City Council if he sees his main roles as Tarleton’s voice on the council and protector of Tarleton’s interests. Each council member must make the welfare of the general public, and not that of a particular institution, his main preoccupation.
Nor could I support anyone, regardless of his affiliation or lack thereof with Tarleton, who says that “what’s good for Tarleton is good for the city,” a statement that’s actually been made by some members of the community in arguing on Tarleton’s behalf for something from the city council. Such a statement is true under some circumstances and false under others. For example, I thought it best for both Tarleton and the city that Lillian Street be sold to Tarleton and closed off to traffic, given the excessive number of accidents on Lillian and the need (in my opinion) to improve public safety. On the other hand, I also believed (and introduced legislation to that effect) that Tarleton should be required to pay the city a storm water drainage fee of about $60,000 a year—something the “newspaper” somehow never gets around to mentioning. What Tarleton’s leaders think of having to pay this additional money to the city, and what they think of me for my leadership in making it do so, is something about which I simply neither know nor care.
But back to the main issue—why has the “newspaper” apparently abandoned its crusade to keep Tarleton-affiliated personnel off the city council? Maybe because someone realized that it would then only make sense to prohibit the election of council members somehow affiliated with St. Gobain, or FMC, or Wal-Mart, or any other entity with a stake in Stephenville’s future as well. Perhaps someone reasoned that if you ban everyone who has an interest in Stephenville’s future from serving on the council it would be rather difficult, at best, to find anyone in Stephenville eligible to serve. Perhaps that’s why the local “newspaper” has dropped its opposition to Tarleton-affiliated council members.
By the way, by the strangest coincidence, everyone whom the “newspaper” opposed in 2014 on Tarleton affiliation grounds was running for council against either the Mayor himself or another city council candidate allied with the Mayor. You don’t suppose…? I guess what’s sauce for the goose is not always sauce for the gander—at least not according to our local “newspaper.”
Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present). He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014. He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.