Bexar County Must Reinvent Itself!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
September 1, 2011
My wife Karen, international middle eastern dance instructor and performer likes to cite Billy Joel, Elton John, Madonna and Eric Clapton as classic examples of great performers who reinvented themselves, thus extending their careers. It seems as though despite their great performances, they hit a plateau or point in time where they were no longer growing. Because government is just as much an art as a science, so must Bexar County reinvent itself!
With this in mind, what Bexar County should be about is setting an example for the future while laying the foundation for a more economically intelligent and smart government! Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in six areas of transformational leadership, three of which I will cover in this article, appropriately emphasizing focal areas that financially and socially impact what our county government principally does in the areas of energy, health care, jail population, transportation, resource recovery and neighborhood revitalization. Education, primarily undertaken by the school districts and higher education institutions and water, stewarded by the City and other special districts are of vital significance to us though our role rather limited.
Speaking of financial impact, the energy policy of the County should be to emphasize the use of energy that wherever possible, is clean, renewable, efficient and conservation-minded. We have not only implemented a sensible energy policy for the County, we have hired a certified energy manager to lead the process. Ten percent of the energy use of the new LEED certified Elizondo Tower is generated by solar energy. Likewise, solar thermal energy is providing a $50,000.00 energy savings annually for many years to come as it helps provide hot water for our jail.
In health care, Bexar County desperately needs a clarion call for citizens to take better care of themselves through prevention. To do this, our University Health System, cited nationally for being most wired and wireless, should work to arm its citizens with secured applications or internet access on a volunteer basis to their own personal health charts. Annual checkups would prompt us to make appointments to see our doctors, dentists and other health professionals. Early warning systems would prevent rather than necessitate expensive, critical care in the emergency rooms.
Working with Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz, our jail typically packed with inmates, has for most of this year been able to produce 600-700 empty cells. Recently, inmates were sent to one of the surrounding county's jail creating a stir and questions about how that could be when we have surplus space in our jail. Though staffed for capacity (4,600) inmates, we apparently were not able to guard 3,800 inmates with such staffing. Since every 400 inmates costs Bexar County $8 million, Commissioner's Court, the primary guardian of the tax rate, must scrutinize and understand how this can be with our Sheriff.