I would be remiss if I didn't pass on the sad news of Benny Mathis' passing this month. The facts are that Benny Mathis, 63, former executive director of the Texas Structural Pest Control Board, died on Dec. 15, after a short battle with cancer.
As reported by PCT Media Group, "Mathis had been involved in the pest control industry since 1968. As Executive Director of the Texas Structural Pest Control Board, Mathis administered the laws and regulations governing pest control operators. Mathis worked diligently on implementing the Texas School IPM program. His active role on the penalty policy, legislative support, speaker of continuing education in major meetings with Texas Pest Control association, Texas A&M and Texas Tech left a major impact on the industry."
What's not reported is the kind of person Benny was. I have seldom seen a regulator afforded as much respect and friendship by people in the industry. He seemed to have a way of making people on both sides of an issue feel listened-to and important. Personally I had a lot of respect for Benny because of the way he embraced school IPM regulations back in the early 1990s. School IPM laws were the classic unfunded mandate, a burden on Benny's agency. The state in essence said, "We're giving you this incredibly challenging new law to enforce, and we want you to do it with your underpaid, overworked staff. See ya."
A lot of bureaucrats would have found a way to do the minimum, skirt the intent of the rules to ensure minimal disruption of the status quo. But Benny worked hard to make sure that regulations were in line with the intent to change how pest control was done in schools, and backed up his commitment with enforcement (even fines!) of school districts that did not play according to the rules. In my opinion, Benny is one of the reasons Texas has a strong school IPM program today.