Tuesday’s Brownwood City Council meeting featured a sight we haven’t seen in 10 months: someone seated in the city manager’s chair who doesn’t have “interim” in his title.
Bobby Rountree may not play one on TV, but he is Brownwood’s city manager as of Sept. 17. He’d been at previous city council meetings including last month’s budget workshops, but in the capacity of an observer and city manager in waiting. Tuesday was his first “for real” council meeting.
He looked comfortable at his first meeting, offering input and interacting with the council, and if you didn’t know any different, you’d never know this was his first “official” council meeting.
Bobby is coming aboard at an interesting time as the city begins tackling pay issues for its employees. Bobby has directed that a city salary study be done that will compare Brownwood’s city salaries with perhaps a dozen other similar cities. He said that will be done “in-house.”
That’s a tough balancing act. Nobody can fault city — and county — employees for wanting to earn enough to feed their families, but obviously there is a finite pie to carve up. Pay is certainly a factor in the ability to attract and retain employees.
I wouldn’t want the job of a city councilman or county commissioner (nor would I want to play any of them on TV), who must figure out how to balance the legitimate needs and requests of employees with the desires of taxpayers, who are being asked to pay more for government services each year.
Occasionally I check out the Paris News Web site to see what Bobby’s predecessor, Kevin Carruth, is up to. (Probably about 5-foot-11.) Kevin, as you probably know, has landed in Paris as city manager.
Sounds like they’ve got some colorful council meetings. A recent article quoted a councilman as saying to other council members, “you’re saying I should trust you? Never happen, baby.”
At my suggestion, Paris City Hall reporter asked Kevin recently if he has any investments in Purina Cat Chow. Even in East Texas, Kevin can’t get away from references to cats — cat juggling, that is.
Our oldest child, Johnson, has announced that he wants to become a professional football player. That’s OK by me. He’s pushing 10, so I guess he’s old enough to know what he wants to do.
Johnson is playing with the White Lions in the Texas Yoot Football League, and he is distressed that the season is going by so quickly.
At practice and in games, I can only recognize him by the big number 44 on his white jersey. When he is standing or walking to and from the huddle, he has taken on the classic football player’s stance: hands on hips, head slightly bowed, Namath-like hunched shoulders.
They all look like that.
At a recent game, you could hear Coach John Pfoh exclaiming “that was Nash” after a play ended. Luckily it wasn’t because “Nash” — that’s Johnson’s nickname — had just drawn a 50-yard penalty or something like that.
Even I am amazed at how many people there are out there named Johnson.
I received an e-mail from someone who claimed to be named Johnson. He set me straight on my question about whether the authorities are just picking on O.J. because he’s O.J.
I e-mailed him back: “OK, Johnson … if that is your real name …”
Now people are calling me Johnson! “Hello, Johnson,” one of my 41 fans recently addressed me.
Something must have soured him. When I attempted to speak with him later, he said that “we Smiths don’t have anything to do with you Johnsons.”
Now just a mintue … I just told a co-worker named Smith I’m taking a couple of paragraphs out of this column because I couldn’t find the facts to back it up.
“I wouldn’t want to put something in my column when I don’t know what I’m talking about,” I said.
Smith began laughing uproariously. “It’s come to this, has it,” Smith said.
Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.