The Paris Texas Chamber of Commerce is the only organization in Paris that says what the others cannot or will not say.

This makes us hated by some and appreciated by others.

Either way, it doesn’t change what we do.

We regret that we rattle some nerves in a few circles, and we appreciate the encouragement and support from others but, regardless, if Paris is to be the kind of town you want to live in, we all should say what we think needs to be said.

There is no diversity without thoughtful dissent.

And if you see someone doing something that you know will harm others, you have an obligation and a responsibility to call attention to it. If you know what to do when it it is obvious that others don’t, you have a responsibility to point the way. Whatever the recommendations, none are mandatory.

No one is forced to listen to us.

But we do we do what we can . . .

Over 50% of the people in Lamar County have incomes at or below poverty levels. These are, unfortunately, the invisible or forgotten of our community. We don’t talk about them; and we don’t talk to them, because we don’t really see them.

What our community leadership is doing does little to improve the quality of their lives or create economic opportunities for them. They are the forgotten or, at least, the ignored.

Neither do our community informational or educational programs relate to the way they live their lives.

Even worse, equal economic opportunities simply do not exist for all citizens.

Most of the projects or things the leadership wants to do are to make their lives better or enhance Paris’ appearance to them, their friends, or business acquaintances. The hoped for amenities do little to directly improve the lives of over 50% of the population.

We tell them that the benefits will trickle down.

By the time it gets there, it is a thin soup without much nourishment.

Accountability for what we do is hidden by a mountain of excuses or in a soup of deliberate obfuscation.

Those that can afford it less see their tax dollars vanishing with little to nothing of major importance to show for the money; something that has continued for much too long.

It is what happens when egos confuse priorities or the goals to achieve an objective are not clearly defined.

If Paris was the kind of town others want to live in, all these things would be unacceptable.

If Paris’ leadership had followed our recommendations over the years (on tax abatement and incentives, all the recent turmoil would never have happened. If they had followed our suggestions on economic development, Paris would not be facing another decade of population loss. If they had taken our advice on housing and beautification Paris would look a lot better. If Paris had worked with us on creating real economic opportunities), perhaps there would be fewer families living below the poverty level.

O, well, they didn’t.

It seems Paris only wants to ignore what Paris has done, and hear good things about what we’re doing, and demands approval of it. Too many view most objective reports as “negativism.”

It is an unrealistic approach to needed action. Ignoring what is occurring throughout the community is ignorance, and unrealistic.

Sometime, maybe before it is too late, some council or board will wake-up to discover the Paris Chamber’s recommendations could be worthwhile, with no downside.

Or maybe not; nothing to lose and everything to gain may be too much of a problem to consider.

But until Paris decides to be the kind of town others want to live in, the Paris Chamber will continue to say what we think needs to be said, and be a voice for those who have no organized voice.

It’s what we do.