The Brenham City Council recently renewed the contract of City Manager James Fisher for another year. While it didn’t surprise me that they chose to renew Fisher’s contract…especially in the midst of a pandemic…what was surprising was the amount of praise heaped upon him by the Mayor and Councilmembers. Anyone who follows the happenings of Brenham’s city government knows the number of controversies that have plagued Fisher’s first 3 years of employment. Besides the trash and recycling fiasco, there have been many other changes that have been questioned by not only the public, but by business leaders of our community.
It’s not just the changes themselves that are disturbing, but also Fisher’s approach to implementing them. Several Brenham and Washington County business leaders have told me that if you question him or disagree with him about something, he cuts you out of the process. This has happened to Brenham’s Economic Development Foundation and to the Brenham Community Development Corporation Board…both of which are filled with prominent business people. Our County Judge and the County Commissioners experienced that in Fisher’s first year as City Manager. While the relationship with these groups may be a little better at the moment, there remains a degree of distrust. And it’s not just on the local level. I’ve heard the same comments from the State.
And that’s what bothers me the most about the over the top positive comments from our City Council following his contract renewal. They are aware that much of Brenham’s business community is unhappy with the job Fisher has done. And, they’ve been told that he needs to do a better job of getting along with business leaders, and working with them for the good of the City. Brenham is not Austin or Houston. Our City Manager cannot run the City as if he’s in his own little kingdom, where only his word counts. It takes business leaders and members of the community to help keep our town special, and a great place to live. I sincerely hope that all of the praise was just for Fisher’s ego, while behind closed doors he was told that big improvements in community relationships are needed.
Brenham deserves someone running the City who can get along with others, who doesn’t shut people out who disagree with him. Fisher’s way of doing business and dealing with others needs to change. We’ll see what happens over the next 12 months.
And that’s the way it looks to this Spectator.