5 Things We Know On A Sunday
- Lubbock voters did the right, prudent and smart thing in narrowly voting to cede the Coliseum/Auditorium Complex and land back to the State of Texas and Texas Tech University. We won’t go over old ground again, we’ve stated our opinion in this space and others over the last few months why this is the right move for the City of Lubbock right now, given the current landscape both economically and politically.
- That the vote was as close as it was, 52-48 % in favor of abandonment is a testament to the failure of the Lubbock City Council, The mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and even Texas Tech in the ham-handed approach to what should have been a 65% margin at the very least in favor of the proposition. The message early all from all entities was muddled, mixed, and without focus. The leaders of Lubbock, whatever that may entail, seemed to think each and every other entity would step up and carry the water on this vote. No one seemed willing or able to take the lead on the issue and be willing to explain why the voters should move to vote for the proposition. That unwillingness to lead created an atmosphere of the proponents having “something to hide”. The voters smelled that and they reacted.
- For Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope, a guy a like a lot, to go out Saturday night after the narrow win and try to claim a political mandate was pure political folly. It is close to political insanity to try to do that and whoever advised him to make those comments shouldn’t be allowed in the same room with the Mayor anytime soon. If anything, the vote confirmed that Lubbock folks are in a distrustful mood. We saw this in the County Commissioner voting that saw a couple of long-time politicos thrown out for being tone-deaf. Pope should heed that warning and this vote. He’d have been better advised to take a conciliatory and humble approach to the vote last night. He should have said that he realized it was a divisive issue, that he understood the frustration of voters over past council decisions regarding the complex, the Citizens Tower issue, LP&L problems, Storm Drainage Run-off Fees and the police sub-station issue. He should have said he embraced those concerns and that with this vote, this council would show the people of Lubbock that this council would be better stewards going forward and thank them for the small, slight margin that allows the project to go forward. Instead Pope took a Victory Lap that all but ensures even more resistance from those folks in Lubbock who think the council is tone-deaf and doesn’t care. I can’t blame them after last night. If Pope and the current council are smart, they’d do well not to bring any bond-issues or major projects up to Lubbock voters anytime in the next year or two. If they do, those measures will likely fail.
- The vote Saturday was a vote against the City of Lubbock leadership being trusted to handle anything big. The humorous part to me, as I’ve said over and over, is that in order to punish the people folks thought screwed up handling money and facilities. . . they were gonna vote to give them more oversight over more money and facilities. That was irrational. But, emotional votes are often irrational; and when it comes to spending other folks money – it’s easy to vote with emotion instead of reason.
- The last thing, the last thing the City of Lubbock should do is build another Coliseum/Auditorium Complex using public money. The City, all cities, are horrible at running things that should be done privately. That’s why I have no problem with a vote to “abandon” with “no plan in place”. There doesn’t need to be a plan. At least not by the city. Want a venue that can host dirt events, mid-sized concerts, seats around 4-6 thousand people and attracts bookings year around? Fine. If you think it’s a great idea that Lubbock is screaming for – build it privately. Don’t use tax-payer money. The City of Lubbock stinks at that job. Let someone else do it. If no one else wants to do it, it’s because it’s a money loser. Bottom line, entertainment isa “Want” not a “Need” for a city. There’s lots of things I want and wish I had around West Texas. Those things aren’t viable and I don’t want my family and friends and even worse, people I don’t know, to have to pay for my wants. This is a chance for Lubbock to grow-up. Fiscally, intellectually and with an eye to the future. A future where the things that should be done by a city are done by the city and the things that should be done by the private sector are done by the private sector.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Ryan Hyatt lives outside the city limits of Lubbock, Texas and was not able to vote in the election. As a long-time resident of Lubbock and Lubbock County though he reserves the right to comment on the issue.