Fortunately, details matter to some

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist

“Are there any additions, deletions or corrections to the minutes as read?”

I heard the question as early as third grade, when I was one small member of a small 4-H club in a small town in Montana. It was a yes-no question, but the answer was always no.

For the most part, that never changed, not in student council meetings in high school or even the governmental meetings I covered as part of my job. But then I started covering the Clovis City Commission and the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority.

The yes-no question remains, but now the answer is, “Yes, please see the second paragraph of page 12 …” and the like. The person answering was, and still is, Randy Crowder.

The longtime mayor pro tem of Clovis, Crowder is a District 1 city commissioner. He’s the one who often extends Commission meetings by correcting the minutes and asking about the $20 here or the 1,000 gallons of water used there.

The common mantra is every governmental body needs one member like Crowder, but you don’t need two. You’d probably never get anything done if you have a Commission entirely composed of Randy Crowders. But I wonder how many decisions are made correctly if a Commission doesn’t have somebody like him.

That’s not to say Crowder is perfect. He does make mistakes, and sometimes that’s what impresses me the most.

Flash back to Tuesday’s City Commission meeting. The final item on the agenda was permission for NewsChannel 10 to use a Clovis park for the day later this summer as part of its news broadcasts. Crowder put forth a motion to approve it, but then noticed the station would be exempted from the $190 in park use fees any other organization would pay.

He and other commissioners didn’t want to set a precedent to give certain organizations breaks on fees necessary to help fund city operations.

But he didn’t blame the station for trying to get away on the cheap, nor did he blame fellow commissioners for giving the station preferential treatment. He said it was his mistake for letting the request get to the City Commission without fees, and offered to donate $190 to the station. The request was granted, with park fees intact.

Acts like last Tuesday’s aren’t examples of Crowder calculating for a higher office. When David Lansford declined to run for re-election as Clovis mayor, many felt Mayor Pro Tem Crowder was the logical successor. But Crowder said he’d rather work on an effluent water pipeline project than run city meetings.

“I examined the position,” Crowder said prior to city elections. “I found my comfort zone for social events is very small. My comfort zone for a project is huge.”

His comfort zone is a blessing for the city of Clovis in some ways, but a loss in others.

If people like Crowder aspired to go to Washington, D.C., maybe we wouldn’t be having Iraq war debates between a pro-war member of Congress who didn’t read the pre-war intelligence and an anti-war member of Congress who didn’t read the pre-war intelligence. Or maybe the Senate wouldn’t have passed the Patriot Act 99-1, then debated on its legality in ensuing election years.

I don’t live in Crowder’s district, but I’m glad he’s serving. I’m not going to agree with every Crowder decision, but I know they’ll be informed decisions.

No question about it.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be reached at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com