Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX


December 4, 2011

Transparent government a must for JEDCO, city

JACKSONVILLE — The concept is simple — those who handle public funds should do so in as open and transparent a manner as possible.

The reason behind the concept is also just as simple — those who handle public funds are not managing their own money, but the money of every taxpayer in Cherokee County.

Which is why the actions, or inactions, of the Jacksonville Economic Development Corp. over the past year are so baffling.

While attending a conference in May 2010, City Manager Mo Raissi learned that economic development projects of more than $10,000 needed city council approval.

Also in May 2010, both JEDCO and Jacksonville city officials asked the Texas Attorney General’s office whether JEDCO needed council approval before awarding more than $10,000 to an existing business or as an incentive for one to locate in the area.

The attorney general’s office said, of course, approval was needed. In its opinion, not to do so violated state law.

Here comes the rub.

Instead of following the opinion of the attorney general, not to mention the spirit of the law, JEDCO officials decided to keep doing business as usual by:

• insisting the attorney general’s opinion was not legally binding, JEDCO’s attorney Eldridge Moak said in a Nov. 19 Daily Progress story.

• claiming the procedures in place in 2010 were, in their opinion, within the letter of the state law.

• claiming when the council approved JEDCO’s approximately $1 million budget, it was also allowing the board to use its discretion in how it spent the money.

When asked, Moak said regardless of state law, the city council had the authority to change JEDCO’s rules.

So why the confusion over council approval for more than a year?

By comparison, look at how the Bullard Economic Development Corp. reacted when it learned that by its own charter, city council members were prohibited from serving on the board.

The problem was that BEDCO president and chair Shirley Coe also served on the city council.

In reaction, Coe announced she would step down from serving on the board. The board then said it would ask the city council to amend the charter to allow council members to serve on BEDCO.

It is unrealistic to think public officials will not make mistakes.

But it is how those mistakes should be acted upon and corrected that is important.

If the Jacksonville City Council made the rules, why did it act so timidly in dealing with JEDCO, especially when the council was armed with an attorney general’s opinion?

They could have chosen to change the rules, as BEDCO is doing, but didn’t in the yearlong dispute.

What’s left in the wake is the appearance of a fiefdom being established at JEDCO, answerable only to itself, not the elected officials who are accountable to the people and to the state.

That is not the way good government operates.

In the future we expect to see prompt and thorough oversight of the tax dollars allocated to JEDCO.

Text Only
  • Hoisting flags and honoring family

    While searching our syndicated columns to fill this space, I realized ... it's probably time for me to say a few things.
    A lot has been happening lately, professionally and personally.

    April 18, 2014

  • Local reviews ‘Tomato Republic’

    On April 9, I had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the world premiere of The Tomato Republic, a documentary movie about the 2013 Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral election. The film was entered in the Dallas Film Festival within the Texas subjects division.

    April 15, 2014

  • Don’t do it yourself

    After years of fooling with just about every do-it-yourself project imaginable, I finally came to a startling conclusion. Just about everything I can do for myself, or think I can, somebody else can do for me faster and better and cheaper as well. Starting at an early age, I tried to learn every known skill in order to become independent. The heartache and frustration resulting from such a stubborn urge knew no bounds.

    April 5, 2014

  • When push comes to Shuve

    Ever been to Shuve, Louisiana? Don’t feel like you’re by yourself. Lots of folks have never even heard of it, much less been there.

    March 1, 2014

  • The spice of life: Some seasonings have benefits

    In the 15th century, Europe was in search of the spice of life.  For them, salt was not enough.  They also wanted cinnamon, pepper, cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  It was for spices that the Portuguese sailed around the southern tip of Africa to reach India.  During this time a pound of Ginger was equal in value to one live sheep.

    February 26, 2014

  • President’s Day celebrates leader who built country’s foundation

    This month we celebrate President's Day. George Washington, who is also known as the "Father of our Country,” is one that I admire the most.

    February 7, 2014

  • CVS tobacco decision gives hope

    Just as I was starting to think money ruled the world and everything in it, a national giant makes a move that will cost them $2 billion in annual revenue.

    February 6, 2014

  • The bra: Friend or foe?

    This is a nod to Women Inventors Month; not the best-known observance on the calendar, but worthy of recognition nevertheless.

    February 1, 2014

  • Chocolate and chilies contain vast health benefits

    February is a good month to talk about chocolate.  For most of us, chocolate means dessert, but it can also be an ingredient in savory dishes.  For example the flavorful mole sauce from the Mexican tradition is a different way to work in some healthy dark

    January 29, 2014

  • Hard work and shining light on dark corners

    Newsrooms of today may not be like the image you have in your mind.
    There are no smoke-filled rooms with fast-talking reporters and editors hovered over desks arguing over the best angle to take on a breaking story.

    January 24, 2014

Election 2012
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide