By John Ballotti
The Commerce Journal
From the Mayor’s Desk:
On Nov. 24, 1859, Charles Darwin published, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” By the time the sixth edition was printed in 1872 the title was shortened to “The Origins of Species.” It is certainly not my intent to retry The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial of 1925, or to enter the debate between the Bible and Darwin. However, I use these examples of the proposition of evolution and perhaps the most important court case concerning evolution to be adjudicated in the United States as metaphors for the changes proposed for Commerce.
In order for a species to survive it must mutate or change in order to adapt to its changing environment. This is also true for our community. Cities that fail to take into account the cultural and environmental changes foisted upon them by those communities that are part of their sphere of both economic and cultural influence will fail to exist.
The city of Commerce currently finds itself in the unenviable position of having to make decisions that some will consider to have been made without thought or merit, are inconsiderate, or marginalizing members of our community. Let me spend the next few paragraphs attempting to provide the public with an unfiltered report of what is happening with their city government and why some decisions have been made or suggestions proposed.
First, it was never suggested, beside whatever hysterical comments have been screamed or published that the Commerce Public Library be closed. What in fact has happened is that the current city council acted upon the recommendation of the most recent, that is, past city council. That council recommended that the city fund the library at 50 percent less than it had funded it in the past. The current council debated a motion for no change and the 50 percent reduction recommended. It was proposed that a 25 percent reduction in the library budget be included in the city budget. The change was not the 50 percent recommended but not the full amount budgeted in the past.
The notion that the city was using money to hire another law enforcement investigator that could have been used for the library is nonsense. In the past the city had the Emergency Management Preparedness Grant a grant that funded emergency management personnel. However, at some point in the past that grant was allowed to expire. The city currently funds emergency management personnel. Currently, the city is reapplying for the grant. The grant would assume the budget liability for the city. The funds saved by the grant could then be used to hire another police investigator. To presume that money is being diverted from one budget line to another in order to not fund the library is fundamentally not true and incendiary.
To respond to those concerned about the swimming pool. The Commerce, city pool is old and needs repair. The costs to repair the pool and the infrastructure to operate the pool are more than the council felt warranted to expend. If all the repairs were made it is likely the pool would not open this year. This becomes one of the questions of evolution. Many small towns, cities, and townships have opted away from the costs of maintaining a swimming pool in favor of a splash park or other water spraying facility. It is not the intention of the city council to deprive our youngsters of swimming pool facilities but rather to offer them an alternative summer activity.
Due to space limitations I must conclude this presentation with the three challenges mentioned above. However, I have been assured that next week I will be allowed to provide the citizens of Commerce with the lists of options available to the City Council of Commerce to ruminate over in attempting to resolve the issues.
Feb. 22, 2013
Dr. R. John Ballotti, Jr. Ph.D.
Mayor, Commerce, Texas