The Man Behind the Curtain


As promised, I wrote that I would update readers on the information requests I submitted.  After a lot of back and forth to clarify my requests, it was determined that the city cell phone bills I requested are not to be released to me due to some mumbo-jumbo they had the city lawyer pull out of his backside.  The cranial flatulence in city hall is absolutely dumbfounding.   
 Here is the letter I received from the help desk.
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: City of Wylie Help Center <wylietx@mycusthelp.com>
To: Removed for private citizen
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2011 5:20 PM
Subject: Service Request Updated
Description: http://mycusthelpadmin.net/WEBQASUPPORT/ZAdmin/QAImages/0.gif 

Removed for private citizen,
 
Attached above are the documents that are responsive to your request below with the clarification.  I redacted the accounts that were not included in your request.  I also redacted the City's account number in accordance to Open Records Decision 684 put out by the Attorney General in 2009. Kathy Spillyards and Red Byboth do not have city issued cell phones; therefore, they are not on the bill.  According to the document attached above it shows that Rick White and Carter Porter had no usage.  Eric Hogue did have usage; however, his detailed portion of the bill has been sent to the Attorney General for reasons stated in the letter that was sent to you yesterday from the Attorney's office.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Have a great day!

Stephanie Storm

By the way Stephanie seems like a real doll and they should be happy to have her.
I have asked the city to send my requests and their ‘letter of intent to hide information’ on to the attorney general’s office.  I will be contacting them directly and explaining exactly why I made the requests and what I am searching for.  I think once they hear my very compelling reasons, they might consider complying.  If not, I will continue on up the chain.  I have a very compelling reason to seek this information.  Evidently Mayor has very compelling reason to hide it.
What I received back from the city so far was a set of city cell phone bills with a nice, thick, black mark over all of Mayor’s calls. They claim they don’t have to release the information under FOIA because of the following reasons:
Confidential Information to include:
Attorney-Client Privilege. Really?  Am I going to see the city attorney’s phone number?  Wow, stop the presses.
Certain Private Communications of an Elected Office Holder:  It babbles on about highly intimate or embarrassing facts.  What?  Was Mayor taking his phone into the men’s room and shooting pics of his Jockeys?  Being the good Christian Pastor, I highly doubt that.
They assert the information in the cell phone bills would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person.  Hmmmm….Perhaps we should ponder the term ‘reasonable’ here, because I’ve never been known to be a prude about phone numbers, but unless he is dialing 1.800.SIN.CITY then I’m not sure I would find a series of numbers objectionable.  Hey, I’m used to numbers.  I’ve even written a few in my day. Imagine that?
 The attorney’s letter also blabs incessantly about addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, personal family information, credit, debit, charge card, access drive numbers, and finally certain email addresses. My response to the absolute stupidity of this letter from our city attorney is that if Mayor is worried about all of that nonsense, then he needs to get his own effing cell phone and stop using taxpayer dollars to pay for so much personal business.
This smells of Blagojavich all over again.  Evidently, Chicago’s Blago is Wylie’s Mayo. This ridiculous ‘now you see it, now you don’t’ magic trick leaves me wondering exactly what does Mayor have to hide anyway? 

A Little Crackers and Cheese with That Whine?


If you haven’t heard already, perhaps you should be made aware that former councilman Carter Porter wrote a letter to the editor of the Wylie News which was published today.  Not that I care to help that rag sell papers, but I think that you should run, not walk to your nearest store to get you one.  It is the absolute best belly laugh I’ve had all week long. 

Not only does Porter whine like a little girl with overly tight ponytails about “The Three” whom he claims are “unavailable” for last minute events, he goes on to assert they are attempting to reap some reward for their efforts on the city council.  This letter to the editor is about as rank as a six week old leftover tuna sandwich.  I cannot help but wonder on what planet did Porter wake up when he wrote this diabolical diatribe claiming council members are after some fictitious reward? Can someone tell me; was he blonde in a former life?

Let us examine this letter, shall we? 

First, Porter bemoans, “The Three”.  O-M-G, could he not come up with a more colorful term than that?  What’s wrong with Huey, Dewey, and Louie?  Or better yet the Three Stooges?  To be honest, I’m rather leaning toward Jesus, Mary, and Joseph myself.  Come now; let us have a little humor about ourselves, shall we?   It makes the business of lambasting three council members for the public’s comments about why Red Byboth was voted in as Mayor Pro Tem for yet another monopolizing term slightly more palatable.  Porter’s letter is less about backing up Red Byboth than it is about lamenting about his three personal nemesis: Goss, Culver, and Jones.  I am attempting to make sense out of what Porter could possibly have to be upset about?  Oh, that’s right, he lost the election.  So now he is going to skewer those who are the antithesis of his own being.  I think the black helicopters are circling overhead.

What is most disturbing is that Carter states as fact that Culver, Goss, and Jones are “using elected positions to garner political and personal favors” and he also stated as fact that they are “trying to build a little power empire to feather a personal nest.”  These statements are downright libelous and reckless, even if Carter writes them in a letter to the editor.  He has no basis of fact to back those statements up and he should be ashamed of himself.  As a Realtor, he should know better than anyone that making false statements purposely or unwittingly to a client can land him in trouble.  It is similar with libel.  What facts did Porter present in his epistle to back up those statements? Where are the meeting minutes?  Where are the FOIA emails? Absolutely astounding.

The fact that Culver and Jones do not have businesses in Wylie is a testament to the fact they have no personal nest to feather, unlike Councilman Rick White whose business has grown exponentially in recent years, should we look into that a tad further?  Councilwoman Spillyards and former Councilman Porter both might have gained clients in the past because people look to and trust community leaders.  Goss has a small home business that his wife runs but I certainly don’t see them rolling in the dough.  So where is the evidence for Porter’s inane dribble?

What is equally amazing is Carter’s statement that in order to qualify for position of Mayor Pro Tem, a council member needs to be available upon short notice.  Carter goes on to complain about how Jones, Goss, and Culver are unavailable.  Culver isn’t any further than Byboth used to be when his business was in Plano, so applying that logic Culver could have been made Mayor Pro Tem.  Porter even goes so far as to state, “They aren’t in town most of the time.”  Is Dallas that far away as to be considered out of town?  Wow, really? I didn’t know our council members attended to the dying at bedside and needed to be there lickety-split.  My bad.  Am I the only one who thinks Porter’s statement is truly asinine? 

Porter goes on to state that Byboth raised children here and built a business here.  I hate to point out the obvious, but Goss and Culver both have children in school in Wylie at the moment and Goss’ family is attempting to build a business here.  Porter made some absolutely illogical statements and I’m now starting to wonder if sitting down in a chair while writing that garbage was stifling oxygen to his brain.

Porter also states, “There is a faction of Wylie that resents a network they refer to as ‘the good ol’ boys.’”  Last time I checked, I was the one to use that phrase.  Upon analysis of that statement, Porter seems to have displaced his own membership in the group upon others because, as I’ve been pointing out since the beginning of this blog, the good ole’ boy system consists of the lifers on council and on boards.  All one need do is count up the years of several community leaders to see what I mean by that.  Sorry to burst Porter’s bubble, but he is one of the many I was referring to.

From what I can tell, what we have here is a letter from a sour puss that lost his race and is striking back, using the controversy of his friend Red Byboth’s senseless reappointment as Mayor Pro Tem as a reason.  I have no idea why Porter is so upset that he lost his seat on the council because he certainly didn’t put forth much effort in his election.  He didn’t show up for the candidate forum rather begging off with elective surgery that might have been rescheduled.  He didn’t show up at the polls on Election Day.  In fact he didn’t really even campaign beyond stabbing some signs in the right-of-ways and in his friend’s lawns for crying out loud.

Porter’s letter was morally reprehensible.  Can I just say silly ass-clown at this point? Close your eyes and get the visual on this one.  It fits.  It truly fits.

Stacking the Deck

I have in my hands an email in which a couple of city employees are actively recruiting current board members for reinstatement to their seats. This is precisely what happened with Ramona Kopchenko.  I have an email from Mary Bradley, administrative assistant in the planning department in which she is actively seeking reappointment of Ramona Kopchenko by calling her.  Ms. Kopchenko tells her she would send her son to drop off the application.  To view the email you may put in a records request for email dated 5.3.11 from Mary Bradley to Jack Casey and CC: Carole Ehrlich.  Ask for the entire email thread at:
http://www.wylietexas.gov/city_government/city_secretary/public_information_request.php

Also in that discussion thread they are discussing other board members.  It was written that Ruthie Wright, “picked up an application today and stated that she will submit to me by 2:00 today” and regarding another board member Linda Jourdan, City Secretary Carole Erhlich even goes so far as to state, “I bet she will want to be reappointed.  You might want to drop her a line…..” when responding to an email from Mary Bradley who stated she has, “called her several times. I sent her another email today, still nothing.” 

Is staff really in the position to make the determination for others that they want to be reinstated? It begs to be asked, is staff being paid our tax dollars to recruit city puppets?   I did a little investigating:

Below is a part of the meeting minutes from the 5.10.11 city council meeting:

Executive Summary
Each year the City Secretary’s Office solicits and compiles applications from Wylie residents wishing to serve on various Wylie Boards and Commissions. These applications are received through the year until May 25th of each calendar year. Additionally, in May/June of each year, the applications are compiled into appointment timeframes to allow the three council member panel time to interview each applicant and subsequently choose a list of applicants to recommend to the full Council to serve two year terms on the various boards. The terms are staggered so each year approximately half of the members serving on each board and commission are appointed.

Note the word ‘solicits’.   The connotation of the word ‘solicit’ is pretty clear, however I would like to see a better definition of this word from the city manager.  Does this mean that staff merely advertises either by mass email or in meetings that the application process is beginning or do they actively recruit members whom they wish to get on these boards,reserving the invitation to only those they know? 

I cannot help but wonder if the stack of applications the selection panel receives are somehow weighted in one direction.  Do we really want our taxes going toward babysitting individuals currently seated on a board?  I mean, if the individual cannot get off their butt and drop off an application without a little hand-holding, then are they really that committed to serving our city?  Do we really want the applications skewed to side with staff’s or even council’s friends or acquaintances whom are pushed in the direction of serving when it was not their original intent? 

According to Red Byboth at tonight’s city council meeting, he stated that there were a lot of, “good willing people and so few seats” to put them in.  If staff receives that many applications, why then do we need them to stack the deck?

Straddling the Picket


After the code of conduct workshop and council meeting was over last fall, I personally thanked every council member.  I suggested to them that what citizens of Wylie were asking for from our city officials was quite simple.  We are not asking for a laundry list of no-nos that are impossible to enforce.  We just expect our leaders and appointees to follow some basic societal mores of acceptable behavior.  I received a completely blank stare from Rick White, Carter Porter and Kathy Spillyards on this; not surprising.  I then made my way over to Mayor and we proceeded to have a 40-minute discussion. What I received was a bunch of rhetoric indicating support of a code of conduct laced with devil’s advocate.  It left me wanting to ask Mayor if he could just remove the picket from his posterior and settle on one side or the other.

Let me define societal mores for our council in the best Sociology 101 terms I can muster.  It means that every society has a basic understanding of right and wrong for its members.  How societies deal with poor behavior is through the process of shunning.  Since the majority of people wish to be accepted they follow the path considered ‘right’ by the majority.  What is considered ‘right’ for one society may not be for another and the dynamics of that process are always changing.  Think about what TV images were acceptable in the 50s and what are acceptable now.  One might never have heard Lucille Ball advertising condoms back in the day, but we can find commercials for male mini-me dysfunction just about everywhere now.  Not every member of the society can appreciate those messages, but the majority accepts it as the new norm and the commercials continue to play.

When our discussion moved toward a code of conduct, Mayor also complained about one council member going to Las Vegas and becoming obviously drunk.  He indicated that is exactly what took place at the previous Las Vegas convention he and another council member attended.  Mayor went on to use a hypothetical analogy depicting him as showing up a party and getting falling down drunk.  He wanted to know how I would feel about that, thus making a case for a Code of Conduct.  I told him to be honest, I would be horrified.  I don’t expect that sort of behavior out of a city official. He wanted to know why we thought we were right, and who would decide that, and how could that be enforced.  More inane rhetoric.  So my question to readers is this, do we hold the representatives of our city to a higher standard or not? 

Let me run with my own little analogy.  If I were bosom buds with one of the council members for example, and we took a private trip to Las Vegas and got drunk, ate beyond any gluttonous standards considered reasonable, sat on top of a limo as it drove us down the strip, and then passed out next to the pool, and if it were something that our value system routinely allowed for in our daily life then I probably wouldn’t have a problem with it other than the nasty headache the next day.  We would have been acting as private citizens.  The risk we might run is that this behavior ultimately makes its way into the public domain.  If someone took photos of us bingeing and plastered them all over the Internet, we probably deserve the shunning that will surely come.   Then it becomes a problem for the citizens whom we represent.

If we were attending a mayor leadership convention, I would most definitely have a problem with it.  Especially if we were there as representatives of the city of Wylie on the taxpayer dime; our behavior is a direct reflection upon our community as a whole and its reputation.  I think most people would ask our city representatives to not behave in a manner that sullies our name.  Applying that standard to the personal life of a city representative is pretty much par for the course.  All one need look to for support of that analogy is Anthony Weiner’s tweets and the ensuing media twitterings in recent headlines.  It’s  really pretty simple, if you don’t want to abide by societies expectations of you, don’t run for office. 

Do we shun or reward city officials who behave poorly in public? Last year our city implemented a code of conduct for its employees.  Nice.  According to City Manager Mindy Manson, they all worked together to come up with what the majority found to be acceptable conduct and now every employee is required to sign it prior to employment.  Can we really take a council seriously when they refuse to accept their own code of conduct?  Can we really take a council seriously when they say, “That’s covered under the city charter.”  Or, “That’s covered by the State Ethics Commission.”  Let me get this straight, the clowns can force city employees to sign a code but they will not accept one for themselves citing rather intangible documents as their bible.  Are they wearing giant red noses, orange curly wigs, and oversize feet?  Seriously.

Our council purposely reinstated a Planning & Zoning Commission member who has behaved poorly in public.   Our council rewarded Red Byboth for stating in a council meeting that he feels like resigning because of low voter turnout and then at the next meeting he is made Mayor Pro Tem yet again.  Evidently we have our own Weiner’s in public office and it is time to call them to the carpet.  It’s also time to get the tweezers out because that picket must surely be leaving some splinters by now.

Spoiled Sports

By now, hopefully all of you are aware that Councilman Bennie Jones wrote a letter to the editor of the Wylie News that was published in yesterday’s paper.  In his letter, he pointed out a very disturbing incident that took place at the last city council meeting on 6.14.11.  A motion was made to make Councilman Jones Mayor Pro Tem, it was seconded and then the vote crushed it like a steamroller over a can of Spam. 

Some might say Jones shouldn’t be airing dirty laundry, but in my opinion, that is just a cop-out.  It perpetuates the secret handshake society and serves the public poorly. It’s just so much easier to sweep the filth under the rug than it is to go clean up the mess, isn’t it?  That is exactly the mentality the majority of voters want wiped clean.  Are we not demanding transparency?  We don’t expect our public officials to be perfect but we expect them to be honest with their public at the very least.  Why is honesty such a dirty word?

Some might chalk Jones’ letter up to sour grapes but I don’t think so.   Bennie points out the same thing I’ve been writing about here; that certain members of our city council stick like Elmer’s and vote en masse even though it defies logic.  Hell, this Mayor Pro Tem vote defied gravity; it reverberated with the lofty goal of keeping the seats and ultimately the votes status quo. More fun and games but I’m thinking more in the lines of the ‘Do Not Pass Go, Go Directly to Jail’ variety.

If you’ve been reading this blog then you could probably guess why the vote for Byboth prevailed.  It was motioned by Councilwoman Diane Culver and seconded by Councilman Goss; otherwise known as the two that have not been given the secret handshake and password to the tree house.  I guess if you were a betting reader, you could have made a bundle.  Had you bet the gang of 4 would prevail in the cluster quash, you would have been correct.

After Councilman Jones supported Rick White through his campaign, even sporting White’s sign in his front yard, White couldn’t even support him in return, instead voting for Red Byboth as Mayor Pro Tem.  This splayed the holding pattern of that seat for the umpteenth time, monopolizing it yet again.  I think we could make some money here on a new game called Wylie Monopoly.

Why exactly did Byboth get another round at Mayor Pro Tem?  Let us examine the dynamics just a little further.

1)       I had warned about this very thing at the 5.10.11 city council meeting
[http://www.wylietexas.gov/boards_agendas_and_minutes/docs/05_10_2011__Agenda.pdf]

They wanted to push for a quickie vote on the 3 member panel to vet the commission and board appointments.   I pointed out in my address of council how inappropriate it looked that Spillyards and Byboth had both served on the past panels more times than looked appropriate and how it served only to monopolize the seats, but you won’t read my statement in the minutes or in the Wylie News because they do their best to scrub me.

2)      Looking a little deeper, why didn’t our Mayor call Ms. Culver with the congratulatory nod as soon as the election results were in?  The fact is he did not call her until nearly midnight even though the final results were in by about 8:40 PM.  Was that a purposeful dis?  Oh snap. Mayor can say he was busy, at church, or with the family; whatever. 

3)      The talk of the council ever since the ill-fated election has been shrilly focused on the shame of how few citizens voted in the election.  Bet they would be all smiles if Carter Porter had made it back on the council and nobody would have had a group sulk about only 600+ total votes.  Shall we gift them with Pampers at the next council meeting?

Newsflash: no more and no less voted than any other similar election in Wylie.  They are foolish to point out otherwise because what this really smacks of is an utter distaste for Councilwoman Culver and Councilman Goss.  Did they really take their dislike of Culver and Goss out on Councilman Jones?  Spoiled sports?  More like spoiled brats.