What else is necessary for Port Arthur today?

Published 3:41 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2016

By Anthony McDaniel

This past Sunday I enjoyed watching Oprah’s Master class. I’ve always been a fan of Oprah because of the love she has and expresses for humanity. Her goal has always been to help people grow, heal and learn. She uses her gift for the benefit of humanity and it has blessed her in immeasurable ways. On her show, this past Sunday, Elizabeth Lesser, the author of the book “Broken Open,” is discussing what it feels like at the different stages of aging. While I found it to be a very interesting show, I will cut to the chase and illustrate one of the most profound points she made that inspired this article. Ms. Lesser states, “In today’s society people are so consumed with acquiring wealth, prestige and power they forget that love is the only real solution to all the challenges we face.” This immediately made me think of our (I can’t say fair) city.

My very first editorial in the Port Arthur News was entitled, “Black leaders doing very little once elected.” That was in 1996. I explained in that article, and many other articles thereafter, that the writing was inspired by one of my most respected mentors, Bishop TD Jakes. He says, “Anything a Christian is involved in should feel the effect of their presence.” After hearing him say that, I immediately adopted it as my personal philosophy of living. For this very purpose, I have made every effort to affect the lives of Port Arthur residents, being one myself. I have promoted the edification of young people who aspire to the arts, recognizing the deficiency of support they experience compared to young people who aspire toathletics. Not to mention the street campaign began in 2012 by yours truly that started with a petition and collection of signatures, making at least three appeals before council (two of which included power point presentations of the deplorable roads we travel daily), multiple editorials illustrating the substandard conditions of Thomas Blvd., Bluebonnet Ave., leading up to what I once called Gilham Semi Circle due to the incompletion of the circle that existed for so very long, and 39th Street leading up to 9th Ave. In addition, local television news found the campaign newsworthy enough to get on board.

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I was received by the council with, “We would love to fix the streets but simply do not have the money” while there was money in reserves as well as grant and tax efforts that could have been made, as well as a partnership with the county. This was confirmed by County Commissioner Precinct 3 Michael Sinegal. We elect officials to find ways to make things happen in our community, not to find excuses for disappointing the constituents. Now four years later, we find ourselves just getting a portion of Bluebonnet repaired as we once endured the formerly known Gilham Semi Circle. Council members who have supported putting streets on the back burner will likely say that we don’t know what’s going on because we don’t attend meetings, forgetting that some of us watch them online while others can simply see slothfulness in the execution of much-needed repairs in infrastructure. Give us time, they say, and I, being a reasonable man, have honored their request, and I think four years is about long enough, wouldn’t you say? Now, with the coming of new city management, corruption is uncovered. I ask you why couldn’t this have been discovered years ago by the leaders who claim to love the city so much?

Let’s talk about neighboring cities, or due to time constraints only one. Nederland, Texas, which in 2014, had a population of 17,208 in comparison to our Port Arthur with a population of 54,548. The Doornbos Heritage Park alone, with its swimming pool, duck pond, gazebos, walking track and multiple play areas for children, outshines all Port Arthur parks combined. Not to mention the Tex Ritter Park where the Dutch Windmill is located, along with the Les Maisons Acadian Museum, gazebo, and eating areas. Those facts alone beg the question why a city, such as ours, with more than three times the population and the largest oil producing industry in the world, doesn’t have a better quality of recreation for its residents?

Nederland’s Motto is “Programmed for Progress;” Port Arthur is called the “city by the sea.” I think you will agree that when a city is loved, its leaders are sensitive to the needs of the inhabitants therein. I am reminded of an old Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway song as I ask you this last question, “Where is the love?’

Anthony McDaniel is a resident of Port Arthur.