If you saw the last video that we did you might think that I, as publisher, support opening up the beaches. Frankly, I do not care one way or the other. But what I do care about more than that is dedicated public service for the greater good.
If you watched the video of County Judge Canales from Commissioners Court on Wednesday, you’d see that the attitude that you get when you think nobody is looking is very different than the one you see at the press conferences when she’s speaking with such compassion. It leads the public to think you’re making decisions for all of the wrong reasons.
She challenged Commissioner Chesney about speculation. Well, if we the people are the judge of this case then we say “overruled.” The commissioner is entitled to establish grounds for his argument. While courts are supposed to be rooted in facts, defendants are found guilty every single day in America based on pure speculation and very little fact.
Anybody who knows me understands my affection, admiration and loyalty to the legendary Dick Deguerin. He once said of a criminal case that “Everything is on the table — except compromise.” That works well when negotiating a criminal case, but not when dictating public policy.
As we’ve reported here and others outside of the local mainstream have reported, there has been a communications disconnect between Judge Canales, her fellow commissioners, Mayor McComb, and members of the public since nearly day one of the crisis. I’ve personally had one conversation with her and found her to be fairly pleasant and sincere. Of course, we had our differences and of course, I felt there was a certain ambiance about her that struck me as being a young politician wanting to make a mark. I was willing to ignore that because in the end, I felt that she had good intentions and was facing the crisis of mammoth proportions. This entire situation has obviously taken a toll on her, and everybody. But then there is the disconnect.
This move about the beach closures is not based in science or fact. It’s based ENTIRELY on speculation. To say that beaches being open are causing a spread IS speculation and because of that, to use her argument, this entire case is speculative.
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be cause for speculation about it, but don’t accuse others of speculating when you’re speculating yourself on the situation as a whole.
It’s simple: this is not going to end up good.
I say that because after keenly watching, listening and using observation, you can tell that this is about a lack of communication.
Mayor McComb. His body language says that he is tired of it. He’s tired of being seen as the second in command and he’s tired of the Judge taking credit for what he is doing. Mayor McComb held meetings with school administrators and leadership about planning for the school year only to have the rug pulled out from under him at a press conference. His actions also tell us that he is frustrated with never having adequate input into the management of the crisis. Speculation? Somewhat. But I’d doubt it’s wrong.
Port Aransas. Another example of the frustration. Officials there have admitted over and over again that they aren’t being communicated with effectively and that they feel as if their voices are never heard by Judge Canales. Their actions on Sunday were not of defiance, but frustration. You could tell it. They had a problem, they tried explaining their position, they were not given fair consideration at the table and their voices were shadowed by mere speculation of data that had not yet been proven. Again, speculation? Nope. Just ask them.
I do crisis communications for a living for a major air manufacturer. Crashes happen and every single time there is a clear leader. That leader doesn’t rule, they listen and direct. That’s what we have here, nobody listening and directing. Judge Canales is ordering. That’s no way to lead a crisis.
Early in my life, as a child I met Bob Bullock. He became a hero and at his funeral, I as a young man stood there wondering how Texas would survive without him. As a teen, I got to know him pretty well and he once said to me “Whiskey school taught me one thing. It taught me that I wasn’t always right and I didn’t always have to be. I hope the people of Texas will forgive me for that.” I think they did.
Listening. Communication. Conveying. Listening again. That solves the problem and makes everybody feel important and as if their voices are being heard. No matter the crisis each neighborhood, each community, each precinct has their own problems and points of view that you just don’t understand. You have to give them the flexibility to do what they need to do and not just tie their hands and make them feel as if you don’t care. The voters won’t forget, because their leaders will remind them of what you did. That type of leadership ends a political career—quick. Ask any “one termer.”