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COMMENTARY: Missouri City extends a second chance to city executive

Michael Sudhalter

Michael Sudhalter

Please join The Star in extending a warm welcome to new Missouri City City Manager Anthony Snipes.

For months, many Missouri City residents have been asking for fresh ideas and a new approach to challenges that the city faces such as updating outdated infrastructure, spurring economic development and ensuring the Quail Valley City Centre is – worst-case scenario – a break-even venture.

Public safety facilities must be built and renovated at an expedited pace.

City officials insist that the police department is fully staffed, but it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to realize that MCPD needs more officers.

Snipes has a lot of work ahead of him. Based on his previous experience, it seems as though he’ll be able to respectfully inform the council members when his expertise exceeds theirs.

If not, what is a city manager other than a six-figure proxy of the city council?

The fact that the longtime political leaders were initially hesitant to go in a new direction is a positive sign and should strengthen citizens’ confidence in Snipes.

During the Missouri City interview process, Snipes had to answer questions about a controversy during his time as one of four Assistant City Managers in Austin, the state’s fourth largest city.

According to the Austin-American Statesman, Snipes was suspended and then resigned in the wake of an investigative report regarding a speaker he hired for a “city-sponsored training session on working with women leaders.” earlier this year.

The speaker, a Florida man named Jonathan K. Allen, made offensive statements and generalizations that “women ask a lot of questions, don’t like financial-based arguments and can be more emotion-driven than men.”

Let me be clear – these statements have no place in our society, especially in a public event supported by taxpayer dollars.

But the punishment didn’t fit the faux pas here.

If Austin officials had been thinking clearly, Austin City Manager Marc Ott would have demanded that Snipes make a public apology, issue d him a relatively short suspension and assigned him to diversity or sensitivity training.

And perhaps required that when vetting guest speakers, Snipes collaborate with another city employee or two.

A teachable moment turned into an opportunity for Austin’s political establishment to tar, feather and investigate Snipes in a city that has a reputation for politically correct hysteria.

Reportedly, even television host Conan O’Brien got a few cheap laughs at Snipes’ expense before millions of viewers.

If Snipes had actually made some of Allen’s aforementioned statements, Austin’s reaction may have been more understandable.

The whole ordeal could have kept other cities to shy away from hiring Snipes.

So kudos to Missouri City for looking past his mistake.

MC’s gain is Austin’s loss, especially since Snipes would have been on track to manage a large metropolitan city if “Conference-Gate” had never happened.

And it’s good to see that Assistant City Manager Bill Atkinson will stay on board, despite not being selected for the top job.

His expertise and familiarity with the city where he’s worked since 2007, should help build a dynamic combination with Snipes’ fresh ideas.

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