Paris, Texas can best be described as having a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). With MCI, people have more memory problems than normal (for their age), but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives.

While the Paris Chamber never claims to be a member of the medical profession, we can observe that there is the “Paris way” of forgetting recent local history and local actions, and understand when other observers point out that a mild cognitive impairment is a locally-desired legal defense component.

Of course, getting on with our everyday lives includes a lot of weird behavior. But the only thing MCI has to do with local behavior is removing the memory of bone deep contrariness and small meannesses.

It’s part of the “Paris way” of throwing stones and still sleeping well.

In the greater picture, the last two or three decades have basically been a waste of time and money. Paris’ cognitive impairment is a way to forget the failures.

If we don’t forget, we have to find an excuse for them.

Since 1993, as a community, we’ve spent around $5 million on plans and studies (one a $235,000 “Master Plan” that did not include city parks); on a number of ‘retail coaches’; a hosts of community and economic development experts; consulting engineers; and many another not-so-expert experts. Millions more of our tax dollars have paid for construction of sidewalks, curbs and streets that didn’t meet the city’s barest minimum required by ordinance, and some in outright violation. We’ve given millions more in abatement of property taxes and as cash-gift “incentives” for job creation that never seem to materialize. We’ve wasted time and money designating ‘redevelopment areas’ that never “re-developed” and, in some cases, assigning the designation to areas that had never seen any measurable previous development. We’ve even given away real property for nothing in return.

By Paris’s way of doing things, no wonder we need a touch of MCI.  Otherwise, without forgetting, we would all be busy praying for forgiveness..

For the last 5-years, citizens are promised transparency and compliance with lawful mandates governing tax abatement and the giving of other incentives, dealing with investments and jobs. But have you seen a completed report on either of these two items?

Maybe, you have – but you’ve forgotten it?

The city allows what used to be the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce to deposit the funds from the Occupancy Tax into their bank account, and to suck out over $50,000 annually for their ‘city-assigned right’ to co-mingle funds. And what used to be (a private, non-profit organization, not one of our local governmental units), hands some of the tax-dollars to the Visitors Council, and some more to the Convention Center group (the management of which is supposedly under the Visitor’s Council). And the balance of funds are used to pay the Visitor’s group and the Convention Center’s expenses, but just such expenses as group insurance, office insurance, utilities, telephone, payroll taxes, travel, retirement contributions, book-keeping, and/or a few other incidental expenses – none of which, it is claimed, are part of ol’ what used to be’s expenses.

But who knows? Its only been going on for 20-plus years. 

MCI is a terrible thing to waste. So, no one remembers that voters approved the Occupancy Tax for use by a Visitor’s and Convention Council, not for ol’ what used to be.  And we blessedly forget – or forgive – that all citizens are forced to give a voluntary organization our tax dollars?

Unfortunately, while we may suffer memory loss, our sense of smell is okay.

The Paris Way of using cognitive impairment (the ‘mild’ variety, of course), is a neat way of doing things – if you are one of those either giving or receiving somebody else’s tax dollars.

After years of all this, what has it accomplished?

If “the Paris way” works, why do we look the way we do? Why so much obsolete housing, so many vacant properties? Why have we lost population? Why do we argue over issues, but never about the principles that create them?

A reader of the Paris Chamber website emailed us a suggestion: Paris should change its name to Sanka, because there’s no active ingredient in the beans.”

Sometimes, MCI is the beginning of more serious things.

So, likely, instead of changing our name, we ought-a’ build a nuthouse – for no reason at all.