Regional Collaboration, Justice, the Law, and Equity
August often seems like the month where the year turns. It marks the shift from play to school, from summer to fall, from looking ahead at the year before us to looking back at the year so far. While in El Paso winter is still many months (and degrees) away, it is no longer as far off as it once was. Though this August is certainly different from years past, there is still a sense of renewed urgency, gravity, and purpose.
Our thematic focus for August is around three major topics, all quite serious: regional collaboration, law, and ethics. While each of these topics represent a major theme in their own right, they are closely linked. Regional collaboration enables law to prevail through government, law dictates how regional collaboration is administered, and ethics ideally informs how both are structured and operate. Just as the start of fall urges us towards reflection and reevaluation, so too do each of these areas demand regular attention and activation.
Many do not know that I am trained as a lawyer and am a bar card holder in Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, so this month’s theme is especially close to my heart. It is easy to think of the law and its associated ethical underpinnings, like justice and equity, as vague principles: important to uphold but largely immaterial to daily life. In some ways, however, that is the beauty of the law system in this country. It exists to instill order but operates best when we are not overburdened by demands. As the head of the Chamber and an enthusiastic advocate of business, I see the law, justice, and equity as essential for a thriving business environment. The law serves as protection for all parties in a contract by ensuring fairness and consistency, serves to make government accessible and accountable, and serves the interest of society by ensuring positive conduct and enforceable regulations. The law, and our tempered conformity to it, is the ultimate testament to a civil society. Without law and order, business simply cannot thrive.
And most certainly, the Chamber recognizes the need for legal intervention in certain cases. We are pleased, for example, that the courts in Texas have continued to rule in favor of moving forward with the construction of the multipurpose center in downtown El Paso. While we regret the cost to the taxpayers, the ultimate authority of the law and the reading of rules and regulations has green lit the project. We recognize that, above all, the law is open to hear cases and adjudicate based on fairness and precedent.
As with previous months, we will be regularly highlighting these major themes through programming and our newsletter; we will also be creating space for richer discussions about equity—what works and what need rethinking. I am especially excited that these themes anchor this month’s Leadership El Paso session, creating linkages between emerging leaders and the systems that govern.
This month also lines up with our ongoing efforts to ensure there is adequate legal and governmental support for business during COVID-19. We remain focused on addressing our growing business vulnerability, especially the vulnerability of small business, and have increased our work to ensure there is adequate government support.
One final note: as you open this issue of the newsletter, we will have just observed the one-year anniversary of the August 3 tragedy. On the evening of August 3, we flashed the Star on the Mountain 23 times in honor of the 23 victims. Our region is still reeling from the violence and hate of that day, but I am proud and humbled by how our community has rallied to support one another over the past twelve months and to demonstrate the strength of compassion and kindness. Together we are El Paso Strong, now and forever.