By George Slaughter
As he enters his fourth week as mayor, Mayor Bill Hastings has several departments to focus on nowadays. It’s a change from his days as police chief, where he said he focused just on that department. As mayor, he said that things are a lot more intricate than what’s seen from the outside.
“I’m working very fast, furiously, and hard to get caught up,” Hastings said. “It’s been very educational. It’s gone very well. I wake up each morning excited to come here.”
Hastings said when he was police chief, making day-to-day decisions was one thing. However, when it came to larger issues, including those that might affect officers’ families, he would ask his deputy chiefs, sergeants, and others to hear his thinking and provide feedback. Hastings said it was, and is, important to consider different angles and personalities when making key decisions.
The feedback was useful. Hastings said sometimes he would come out of those meetings happy that he had a great idea. Other times, he wondered where he got such a harebrained idea.
He’s speaking with more people today, such as City Administrator Byron Hebert and city department managers. He’s been learning what their jobs entail, and asking what, if anything, he might do to make their jobs easier. He described the state of the city as “very good.”
He also visits with other officials. On Tuesday, for example, he visited with former Mayor Don Elder Jr., who now serves on the Metro board of directors.
Hastings has also had multiple individual conversations with all the council members except Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll. Hastings said that Carroll, an attorney, has had several recent dates in court that prevented a visit.
Hastings and the council members will be meeting informally later this month to review and discuss the city’s strategic guide, which serves as a planning document for city leaders.
Hastings likes to take notes of what gets said in key conversations. Like many executives, Hastings keeps a handwritten journal in which he details how his day goes. He tracks who calls, and when, on what telephone number. He summarizes conversations from those calls and those meetings. He also has a day planner where he writes down his appointments.
He’s careful to write it out by hand. Nothing electronic. Hastings recalled two times that the police department computer system went down, and the challenge of recovering lost data.
As for his handwritten notes, Hastings said there were times as chief that officers would ask if he remembered a particular meeting. He was able to look things up as needed. When he cleaned out his police chief office, Hastings said he brought home five boxes filled with notebooks. He intends to keep them, but joked that his wife, Susan, asked if he were crazy for doing so.
Summer months mean family vacations and other obligations. The first regular council meeting, set for June 10, has been canceled due to a lack of quorum. The second regular council meeting, set for June 24, is expected to be canceled for the same reason.
The council will hold a special meeting June 17, which will be Hastings’s first meeting as mayor. He said his first action at that meeting would be to read a proclamation honoring the Katy High School softball team, which won the state championship Saturday.
“I can think of no better way to start my first council meeting,” Hastings said. “They had a wonderful year, and they fought hard for what they earned.”