I hope this President’s message, my last, finds you, your families, and your employees in good health. As the final date of my two-year term as President rap-idly approaches, TxSWANA members are already in the process of electing new Executive board members. Soon the organization will have a new President to lead us through the next couple of years as we face current and future challenges. I am confident that the new President and executive board members are up to the challenge and I offer my support as we move forward.
Typically, at this time of year, I would reflect on our annual events TxSWANA Road-E-O, SWANApalooza, and the upcoming WasteCon. This year, however, the focus worldwide has largely been about understanding and employing mitigation strategies and techniques to minimize both the spread and the impacts of the deadly 2019 Corona Virus. To that end, both the state and international Road-E-O’s were canceled, and it was decided that SWANApalooza would move forward although as a virtual event and not in person. By next month we will know how SWANA intends to roll out WasteCon. Whether it is live, virtual, or a hybrid of those options, it will be a great opportunity for all of us to see how others are preparing and weathering the challenges being presented by Covid19. This year’s theme, which was decided well before the pandemic was a thing, is “Embracing Disruption”. The most appropriate and prophetic conference theme I have ever seen.
This is also the time of the year when many of us in the public sector will be presenting our budgets for the next fiscal year to our policymakers. This task will be more difficult than in year past as we have been constrained during the last legislative session by a 3.5% tax rate cap while figuring out how to continue our operations with increasing costs associated with the pandemic. One need only read the headlines to understand the impact the virus has had upon our organizations. Public and private sector entities are announcing layoffs, furloughs, and other cost-saving measures in order to weather the pandemic. Through all this our employees have been there, doing what we ask of them. These essential front-line workers continue to provide the services people expect even as they too have responsibilities away from the job supporting their families and keeping them safe. Let us, as leaders in this industry, do everything we can to supply them with the personal protective equipment they need so that they can concentrate on the task at hand and not be overly concerned about their working conditions.
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t call attention to the race and social justice issues that have been highlighted across the nation over the past few months. The senseless death of George Floyd represents a much-needed call to action. My final request as President of this great organization is simple. Going forward, let’s advocate for our employees of color, and members of any disenfranchised group, who are fighting for rights that many of us already have. No one is asking for a handout, only to be treated with the same dignity and respect that is shown to others. It is time for us to initiate those difficult conversations about race. We must commit to listen and learn from other points of view and to better understand the experiences of others. It is this dialogue that will allow us to see the similarities we all have in common and to gain an understanding of what life is like for those that may not look like us. Sun Tzu, the Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher, is quoted as saying, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”. The chaos is here, let’s take this opportunity to make life better for our employees.
Thanks for all of your support and be safe!