Commentary

Snippets

For only the second time in my more than thirty-six years in Texas, snow was covering the ground when I went out on my first service call of the day (Friday, 08 Dec 2017).  To be sure it brought back memories of my “up north” heritage and youth, but some of those memories aren’t the most pleasant.  For instance, while many here in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Texas played in the white stuff, and a few had the audacity to wish it would stick around until Christmas, my memories had more to do with crawling out of a nice, warm, comfortable bed in the wee morning hours to go out into the cold to shovel the snow from our driveway and make a drivable path from the remote garage.  Nope, no thanks.  Snow needs to be kept up in Yankeeland!  No, the pooch shown above is NOT my German Shepherd.

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Maybe this is just my opinion, but I think Port Arthur leadership thoroughly botched preparations for, and the aftermath of, Tropical Storm Harvey.  From my standpoint, indications have led me to believe that although a state of emergency was declared in the city, the public was deliberately kept from learning of the potential disaster approaching us.  This means much of the community was completely unprepared to deal with the heavy excessive rains that fell leaving many locations completely inundated with flooding waters.  Had community leaders acted responsibly, perhaps drainage pumps wouldn’t have run out of diesel fuel, and nursing home residents wouldn’t have been found on stacks of mattresses floating in water, or in wheelchairs sitting up to their armpits in water.

The same holds true for the aftermath.  Everyone and their brother came into the community to rescue those who couldn’t leave their homes due to the immense rainfall rates that left most streets flooded with deep water.  Had it not been for those with boats, especially those from outside the area who risked life and limb to save others, it’s very likely the carnage would have been significantly higher.  To be sure, in my own experiences with storms like this, the disorganized mess Port Arthur had this time around would never had taken place were Emergency Coordinator John Owens been left at the helm.

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Rumors have it that Port Arthur City Council member Osman Swati must have other things on his agenda seemingly more important than attending City Council meetings.  Although I haven’t checked to see just how many he has actually attended, I’m told they are far and few between.  Now in that he oversees Council District 6, which is (I think) Districts 2 and 3 combined, one would think he’d be interested enough in matters pertaining to his constituents to attend ALL meetings instead of a select few.  It’ll be interesting to learn his side of this … that is, IF he decides to respond.  After all, Port Arthur City Council members, including Mayor Derrick Freeman, haven’t very good records for responding to inquiries from city residents.

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Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law?  Apparently every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, Matilda and Gertrude now considers it “fashionable” to accuse someone of having sexually abused them years, if not decades, ago.  The sad part is that social media now seems to have a more punishing effect on people and their lives than does our judicial system.  The point people are missing altogether is these statements regarding attacks are at this point nothing more than hearsay; that is, unsubstantiated allegations.  With few exceptions, almost everyone and their sister is coming our will allegations of wrong doing on the part of damned near everyone and their brother who just happen to be in prominent positions.  And to what end?  Maybe it’s just to get their names in the news, or its politically based, or it’s just an outright lie.  Whatever the reason, it isn’t for John or Jane Q. Public to decide innocence or guilty, it’s the responsibility of the courts to hear testimony, review evidence and listen to witness statements, before passing judgment against anyone for something that could very well ruin their lives completely.

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I have a question for you.  Does the City of Port Arthur have a Police Department, or does it not?  I think this a valid question because when I travel into or throughout neighboring communities, I almost always manage to see at least one law enforcement vehicle on patrol; and, in most cases, more than one.  But considering my work takes me along not only major thoroughfares, but onto any number of other streets and roadways as well, I can go days without so much as noticing a PAPD unit parked somewhere with the officer writing reports.

And large numbers of Port Arthur residents agree, especially since there weren’t hardly any PAPD units cruising our city streets in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey.  In my own neighborhood, for instance, I can safely say that I’ve only seen three or four PAPD pass through; and, only one of them was conducting what I would consider a “patrol”.  The rest of them were seen heading off to an off-duty job somewhere and just happened to drive down one of our streets.

When I first came to Port Arthur back in the mid 1990s, there were routine neighborhood patrols almost everywhere in the city.  Randomly scheduled, at least one patrol unit per shift could be seen on a daily basis.  People in the neighborhoods knew why their patrol officers were, and would regularly provide officers information regarding questionable events in their area.  Too, so familiar were the people with their patrol officers that often when a holiday rolled around, residents would make sure their patrol officers would have turkey, dressing and other things on Thanksgiving, a package of fruit or some sort of other edible at Christmas time, or something to help celebrate the marriage or a birth in an officer’s family.  But, like so many other things around Port Arthur, those days went along the same path as the dinosaurs millions of years ago.  They’re gone and the increasing levels of crime plaguing the city today evidence it.  Perhaps if our Police Chief (this is tongue in cheek) would hire new officers before trying to run off the ones we already have with allegations of wrong-doing, Port Arthur wouldn’t be as short-handed as it is right now.

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Port Arthur hasn’t fallen into complete failure just yet, but unless our city government and administration get their heads out of their you-know-whats, this path towards becoming another Detroit are sure to continue.  The devastation brought about by Tropical Storm Harvey indeed had a very detrimental effect on the community, and there are those who would prefer to simply lick their wounds, get rid of their property here in the city and move on.  Unfortunately, the likelihood of them getting anything more than chump-change isn’t very likely.  So ask yourself what is there to keep them here?  Jobs?  Not that most people know of, or if they do, they aren’t interested in getting hired.  A good school system?  Sure, if churning out people unable to read, write or perform even the simplest of mathematical skills, is what you consider success.  Hell, people, we can’t even give them streets and roadways safe enough to drive the family jalopy down without fear of damaging it!  So what in Port Arthur is there for people to want to stay?  Ask yourself, and take all the time you want.  The fact is Port Arthur is slowly dying and when it fails completely, as did Detroit, Michigan, there won’t be enough to make the street bums stay.

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