December 14, 2015

Shut the city of Marlin before Marlin ISD?

The school district in Marlin, Texas, making statewide news over possible shutdown by the state of Texas, got a one-year reprieve from Mr. Bow Tie Bush buddy, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams, last month.

But, that was immediately followed by worse news, namely, a catastrophic failure of the city's water treatment plant (bad enough to close those schools itself), a problem that could lead to criminal charges. (It's too bad criminal charges aren't possible against who sold the city a bill of goods a decade ago on a water plant bigger than its needs, but that's a whole nother story.)

Meanwhile, the city has a new police chief to replace the late Darrell Allen. That said, unless other changes had happened in the last four months, while Damien Eaglin might make a fine chief, he was NOT the senior ranking officer under Allen before Allen was shot, though Allen named him as acting chief before he died, and this surely will have some repercussions in the department there. Capt. John Cornish is still listed on the city's website, so he apparently didn't leave. And, the city council should have had the final call on "acting chief" decisions, just like it did on hiring Eaglin permanently.

Add in that some Marlinites made claims that the city used to have a population of 13,000 at one point, which the U.S. Census clearly refutes (at the decadal censusing, it was never above 8,000, though Falls County at one time had twice its current population, before modern farming advances), and you have yet another problem.

So, in combination, you have:

  1. A city with a massive overbuild on water (combined with a massive undermaintenance on streets and other infrastructure);
  2. A school district that, especially at the elementary level, has for long fallen far short of meeting the population it DOES have, and a school district that, even by Texas standards, was resistant to integration in the 1960s and shows the effects of that to this day to some degree;
  3. Possible controversy at the police department (not to mention that, while Darrell Allen was a good chief in some ways, rumors about some "personal control issues" and city officials never looking at them are another concern;
  4. Residents believing in a mythical past.

I don't think the state of Texas has a legal mechanism to disincorporate a city, at least not a home-rule one, and voters surely won't take that action themselves.

However, maybe it does need to have the doors closed.

As for the school district, I'm not sure how that would work. The state has shut school districts before (I lived in south suburban Dallas when Wilmer-Hutchins was finally killed off), but in the past, those have been urban or suburban districts with larger ones nearby. Marlin's the largest school district in its county.

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