June 29, 2019
Esmeralda Mata & Miranda Estrada
TCMA Session: Inaugural University Competition – Managing Today for Tomorrow (a.k.a. “College Bowl”)
Conference “Day 2” started with the Inaugural University Competition. The “College Bowl” Tournament was comprised of teams from universities with Masters of Public Administration (“MPA”) and Masters in Public Policy (“MPP”) programs, including: The University of Texas at San Antonio, St Mary’s University, The University of North Texas, The University of Texas, Texas State University, Texas A&M University, and The University of Texas at Dallas. These MPA/MPP students started work towards becoming the First College Bowl Tournament Champion months ago by engaging in various activities: (1) a community-service project, (2) a research component; and then (3) by earning points on Conference “Day One” by networking and connecting with professionals before and after the sessions.
The final portion of the competition, the “College Bowl,” started with a spirit contest for each university.
Following that, each university team selected five students to compete in a series of game-show styled events. The first event, “Jeopardy”…
…included questions about categories such as: City Manager, Economic Development, Human Resources, Planning, and Budget & Taxes.
Then, the teams with the two highest points (UNT and UTSA) played “Family Feud” to determine the winner.
To gather responses for Family Feud, TCMA surveyed 100 City Managers with questions ranging from “What should you not touch in an office?” to “What game should never be played at the office?”
In the end, UNT won the tournament and became the first ever TCMA College Bowl Champions.
It was inspiring to watch the process unfold – so inspiring that we are started making plans for next year – for Sam Houston to put together a highly competitive team.
TCMA Session: Ethics
From watching the fun of the College Bowl unfold, we moved back to the TCMA’s regular programming. The Ethics session was presented by Julie Couch (City Manager, Fairview); Paul Hoffman (City Manager, City of Bellaire), and Nicholas Finan, TCMA Ethics Chair and Executive Director of Management Services, City of Texas City.
Mr. Finan had an engaging assignment with the audience through a questionnaire. Most questions were directed for members of the TCMA, but I enjoyed learning much about the ethics of city management in particular. While a member of TCMA, you cannot endorse anyone for public office, run for public office, or, of course, take substantive gifts of free services.
We also learned ways to create an ethical culture within an organization through implementing and incorporating values, ethics training, and written policies and procedures, working directly with vendors and organizations, having an employee commitment statement, and conducting roundtables. Employees’ actions impact and reflect the organization and both employees and the organization benefit from learning to be ethical, or people of strong character.
Fort Worth Segway Tour (Nation Tours)
In the early evening we had the opportunity to tour Fort Worth – on a Segway. As we approached the building where we would start our Segway tour, I was nervous. (Well, we both were!) Sure enough, Esmie struggled a bit with turns and balance during the trial run….
…but she soon got the hang of it and began enjoying it!
For Miranda, fear a bit more palpable…
..but she too got comfortable and enjoyed the tour.
“Team Mom” Stephanie joined us…
…as did Huntsville City Manager Aron Kulhavy…
Although it was distracting to listen while trying to get comfortable at first, by the end of the tour, we both felt like champions for not falling off or getting injured (well, “no bloody kneecaps!”). And Tour Guide Jimmy was good – patient and helpful in getting us up to speed on the Segway, and then with stops on the tour.
The tour began with Fort Worth’s Tarrant County Courthouse.
There we learned the origin of Fort Worth and more about the early days of the city. Through the beginning of the tour we were able to see historic buildings like the city’s first fire station (currently a yoga studio, and so small, Jimmy explained, because the 1900s horse-drawn fire trucks were much smaller than our current motorized ladder trucks)…
…the building where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were photographed, Bass Performance Hall…
…and others. Esmie was most intrigued by the antique AMC theater—AMC theaters are much modernized today, but more atttractive. Jimmy informed us that it was the 9th AMC theater to be built.
The Flatiron Building stood out the most, though, because of its unique “flatiron” structure. The inspired design for the building was Manhattan’s Flatiron building, in which William Jenkins Worth—after whom Fort Worth was named—was buried in the basement. The Fort Worth Flatiron Building was one of the first steel-framed buildings and one of the tallest commercial buildings in north Texas is the early 1900s, even though three stories were cut from the building due to budgetary constraints.
The Flatiron Building, along with other areas dotted around downtown, has the presence of a panther. Jimmy explained that Fort Worth is known as “Panther City” after the indigenous animal was spotted sleeping in the streets of downtown, back in the day.
The panther is a symbol of hope and strength that remains today as part of Fort Worth’s history.
Finally, we had a chance to visit the JFK Statue that is, incidentally, just across from our hotel. As it turns out, JFK stayed at our hotel in November 1963, the night before he was assassinated in Dallas. The hotel (Hilton Fort Worth) not only has numerous JFK-related memorabilia inside, but also the memorial outside.
For students majoring in Political Science (as well as MCOM and CRIJ–we are double majors), it was a fitting and interesting end to the tour.
For dinner we visited Bird Cafe in Fort Worth’s downtown Sundance Square. Our appetizers included Smoked Pimento Cheese, House Made Hummus, and Roasted Bone Marrow.
We shared entrees Shrimp & Homestead Grits and Duck and Dumplings. The diablo shrimp and jalapeno gravy packed a pleasant, spicy taste. The duck was very tender, and the dumplings had a savory delicious flavor to them. We finished off dinner with blueberry bread pudding and peach cobbler.
After dinner we walked around Sundance Square and downtown Fort Worth. Our favorite part was re-seeing some of our favorite stops on the Segway tour like the Bass Performance Hall and the historic AMC theatre illuminated in the evening.