As most of you know, and I hope at least try to understand, much of what I write about comes from the mouths of the people I deal with on a day-to-day basis. That is, what people on the streets of Port Arthur are talking about and what they are saying. So it is because of this that I have to say that I have little or no faith in our current city government and administrative officials because, contrary to what they say, they are about as out-of-touch with the people of Port Arthur as anyone can be. Yet they cram things down our throats all under the guise of “being what the people want“. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is that many people in Port Arthur are wondering how their elected officials in city government can claim to represent the people in government when things like the Dominion Ranch subdivision keep cropping up? The Dominion Ranch subdivision suffered considerable flooding resulting from Tropical Storm Harvey, and again when heavy rains fell not too long ago. A number of those residents tried in vain to draw the attention of city officials, but received absolutely nothing in return for their phone calls, email messages and letter. That’s because members of Port Arthur city government and administration simply don’t give a damned what the people of the community want, nor are they willing to listen to them. I’ve personally experienced much the same thing several times since my wife and I bought our house years ago. All I can say about this is that if there is one thing most consistent about Port Arthur government and administration officials, it’s that trying to contact them using the means they demand is nothing more than an exercise in futility. No matter how many calls citizens make to the phone numbers provided, no matter how many email messages are sent, and no matter how many letters are mailed to them, when push comes to shove those same officials will swear up and down they’ve not heard a damned word from the constituents.
And even when confronted by residents at City Council meetings, our “elected” officials will often ignore constituents coming forward to plead their cases. Remember City Councilman Harold Doucet made sure to insult representatives of the Dominion Ranch subdivision that make what I thought was a very well planned and organized, thought-out demonstration of what has been taking place in their part of the community at a City Council meeting. Doucet made it quite clear that Elvista, Vista Village and Montrose was much more important to him than the taxpayers of Dominion Ranch, and only after the matter blew up in his face did he bother to make a trip out there to see first-hand what was taking place. Even then, though, it seems he wasn’t willing to listen to people upset with the problems in that area, and ended up getting back in his fancy pickup truck and leaving. Were my Council representative to treat me that way, I’d sure as hell make sure his next re=election campaign failed.
And then there’s Willie Bae Lewis. Not that he paid any attention to what was taking place earlier, Willie Bae is now all kinds of upset that the Council district he represents will be done away with at the end of this May, and he’s yummering all over the place how this will adversely affect the Hispanic community in Port Arthur. The truth is that ol’ Willie is upset that he’s going to be losing his Council seat, and is simply using the Hispanic community as a tool to hide his own disappointment that he won’t be able to get his friends and relatives any more cushy government jobs. Willie Bae never gave a hoot about the Hispanic community before this (nor does he apparently have much use for any ethnic community except his own), and now wants to use it to save his corrupt little butt from extinction. Sorry, folks, but Willie Bae Lewis doesn’t garner any sympathy from me.
But the biggest joke of all has got to be this scheme to renew efforts to revitalize downtown Port Arthur. I think this was a scheme destined for failure from its onset. Putting pretty storefronts on a specific number of downtown structures isn’t going to result in downtown Port Arthur being what it was six or more decades ago. Ask yourselves just what retail business is going to locate itself in a small segment of the overall downtown arena when there’s a real good chance it will be burglarized into oblivion within the span of a few short months? Furthermore, how can almost any business survive in a locale that most people are scared to death to go into?
Take a little drive into downtown Port Arthur to see for yourself the mess it is. Sure, there are a few structures having those pretty faces on them, but most are all but surrounded by abandoned, dilapidated other structures with plywood covering where windows and doors used to be. Make your trip at night and you’ll soon realize the only place street lights are lit is in the area of redevelopment; the surrounding areas dark enough to hide any criminal wanting to rob you or cause you harm. Small wonder when the city tried to entice national retailers into participating in the original redevelopment scheme only two responded to the letters (and respectfully declined the invitation). The remainder didn’t bother even wasting the postage to reply. That should have been a signal to those planning the event, but oh, no. Not in Port Arthur where the project went full speed ahead.
When I talk to people on the streets of Port Arthur and bring up the downtown redevelopment scheme, all I get is shaking heads and eyes rolling back into people’s heads. Almost everyone I speak to brings up the facts that Port Arthur is worrying about an anticipated $32 million budget shortfall, but is more interested in pretty storefronts downtown. They complain about the deplorable condition of city streets, and wonder why government and administration officials can’t address those problems in lieu of what most consider nothing more than yet another get-rich-quick scheme on the part of Port Arthur.
But most disturbing are the number of people who have simply given up on the city, and won’t waste even a few minutes of their time to so much as vote because of the way things are. The rate of citizen apathy here in Port Arthur supersedes that in almost every other Texas community of similar size. Most people think our government crooked because of how it likes to use “Executive Session” meetings to do things known to upset the people (remember the locomotive 503 issue?). The truth is that most people think Port Arthur’s City Council would have snuck the removal of No,. 503 right out from under them had not news of the pending sale and removal been leaked to local media. Hell, it’s already suspected that Port Arthur violates the provisions for those “Executive Session” meeting restrictions in almost every instance, but that’s another story in the making.
So this all boils down to “no trust, no faith“. The people of Port Arthur haven’t any trust in their city government and administration, so therefore they haven’t any faith in those elected or appointed to act on behalf of the people of the community. I agree with them 100%!