Band of Seven

One of the many topics touched on with Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth last night was that he thought I was attempting to provide preferential treatment to home daycares over licensed daycares, when I spoke at the home-based business workshop last October.  I suppose council would have had to understand my history in order to see why that was a sticking point with me.

Mr. Byboth and I discussed several aspects of this topic, one being that parents need to take more responsibility in the care of their children, another being that we shouldn’t give preferential treatment to a home business that is not paying taxes because it chapped Red’s hide that a home-based daycare can write off 100% use of their home and not pay taxes.  My response to this statement (today now that the tequila is no longer talking) is that they do pay taxes, they pay sales tax every time they spend their earnings locally for supplies and toys at the big box stores or even other local stores.  What I suggested to my new playmate Red last night, is that home daycares offer the parents a service and a certain quality of life in the community.  Though I can see both sides of this argument, let me explain my passion for home-based daycares a little more.

From the time my son was born, I had him in a home daycare.  One day during nap, my son stopped breathing.  She was there, she witnessed it, she dialed 911, and performed mouth to mouth until the ambulance came.  My son survived, thankfully.  Had he been in a daycare setting, I am convinced the caregiver would not have been sitting there close enough to the sleeping babies in order to actually see him go into convulsions and turn blue.  At a daycare center, she would have been working about the room, cleaning or disinfecting according to many of the center’s policies during nap time.

When my son was 2 ½, that goddess of a caregiver no longer took toddlers and it was time to move on, sadly.  I located a daycare, and after three weeks in their care, I came home from work to find my son, in stocking feet, down at the end of the street.  Now is the perfect time to close your eyes and visualize momma bear coming out swinging, with claws extended and teeth bared.  Suffice to say, I reported it to licensing.

I moved my sons to other centers with a perpetual revolving door of caregivers.  My son swallowed a rock on the playground when he was 4, and I mean a rock, because we have the x-ray to prove it.  The center was more afraid of admitting he was unsupervised than they were about whether he would pass it safely or not.  Let’s not bother worrying about the fact it could have blocked his airway.  Sure, licensing shows up every so often to check the centers out, but with a well-crafted tour, all manner of sins can be covered up.  Gee, let me open and hold this broken door for the inspector so they don’t notice the latch is broken and it slams hard enough to dismember a child.  Here, look at this while I stand with my back covering up something you don’t want to see.  The state of daycare, for the most part, is in a shambles and though there are some good centers out there, home caregivers can offer a smaller group setting and more hands-on interaction with the children and it is often a preferred option for parents with infants and toddlers.

I decided to make researching the system a priority so I could find out what was really going on in order to write a book about my experiences.  The more I researched, the more I discovered things that absolutely disgusted me.  I also discovered that writing this book would not correct the problem.  It starts at the state licensing level.  I suppose fate stepped in and after 9/11 I was laid off from work and decided I would make the sacrifice to be home with my kids.  The book was put on hold, but the idea was not.

Rather than deal with the issue of changing ordinances that govern home-daycares, P&Z and ultimately the council took the woosie way out and simply made all home-based daycares exempt.  I certainly never asked for them to be exempt when I made my argument, I simply asked for them to do a little research on the topic to see how their ordinance changes could put someone out of business, perhaps even cause them to lose their home, and eventually give citizens less options available to them.  We certainly want to earn taxes on a business, but we should also want to provide a certain quality of life to the citizens as well.  Win, win.

Instead, I was accosted after the meeting, of which I made complaints about which fell on deaf ears, and games were played.  Rather than open up a line of communication, the offense was purposely dropped on the floor and swept under the carpet.  I blame the mayor for the disgusting spectacle that has taken place since then.  As the perceived leader of the city, his job should be to make decisions with passion and conviction, not to placate everyone he comes across and then jump the train going the other way.  This sort of posturing and vindictiveness serves no one.  You will be hard pressed to find a 6/1 council vote with mayor playing on the opposing team.  This practice of swinging to the majority makes voting an absolute joke. This is also why game-playing never works, because ultimately everyone loses. 

Stop the games, stop the hate.  Check your egos at the door and play nice with each other. Roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Pretty simple, but it seems insurmountable for a band of seven at the moment.

Happy Hour

I did indeed enjoy that cocktail, or two, or three with Wylie Councilman Red Byboth, but who was counting?  Perhaps I shamed Red into sharing a couple drinks with me earlier today.  I honestly have to say I went  into it trying to dislike him, but I simply cannot.  Perhaps it is that bald head rumored to be virile by certain circles, or those rippling abs from having lost some weight, or maybe it was those prose-worthy words we yelled back and forth as the din turned into a mad cacophony.  Maybe it was the racy topics we touched on from the federal government, to sex.  Either way, I danced with the devil and I thoroughly enjoyed our time together.  I would like to think he did too, but perhaps you'll have to ask him.
 
In those six hours of letting our hair down, well ok you caught me, me letting my hair down and Red letting his peach fuzz down, one thing became very apparent to me.  What I have been saying in this blog, that the council is completely dysfunctional and has a rather large rift in it, is an absolute truism.  You could inscribe it in your bible.  You could take that to your bank. You could even place a couple bets in Las Vegas on it with a healthy dose of confidence.

Who do I blame for all of this?  The head henchman honcho Mayor Eric Hogue, now there is an alliteration for you at O'dark what ever time it is because time is standing still at the moment.  Oh no, that's the room spinning.  Joking, only joking.

So as I sit here and basque in the afterglow of the little Red man, who by the way I actually was able to turn even redder a couple times if you can believe that, shazam and slam dunk for the TXun, I cannot help but wonder how our little community has become so torn.

It starts with the leadership; this I know.

Dancing With the Devil


Just when I thought I was getting over my fantasy of actually dancing with WEDC’s Sam Satterwhite, I got to dance instead with the devil tonight. Actually, not the devil, not really.  He just shares the coloring a bit.

I just had a productive conversation with Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth moments ago.  Though I think we can agree to disagree on a few things, he did tell me about the texting incident.  Now because I am actually a pretty decent human being and when I give my word I mean it, and because he asked me not to divulge who he was caught in the texting act with because he did not want this person to get into trouble from those they work with, I will not state the name here.  What I can divulge was that it was indeed someone (in my opinion a total bobo) involved with the city, that was making a joke about one of the individuals who was addressing the council at the time.  Should it have taken place?  Well no, frankly.

Red was caught in the act of replying by someone on the council who made a comment to him and though I think Red did not send his reply, it is honestly neither here nor there at this point.  What was reported to me, because I could not attend that particular meeting, was that someone else was texting Red. I alluded to a chubby pal in my previous post, but I believe that is because the individual who informed me about the texting incident did not know who the actual person was by name and got some names mixed up. 

I told Red I thought it was uncalled for and unprofessional and I asked him to knock it off and he agreed he would stop and that he would ask the other individual not to text him as well.  The knuckleheads.

Though I have slapped Red here a bit more than I originally thought I might when I started this blog, I actually have a fairly healthy like of him.  He and I do not agree on a lot of his votes and at least now, I believe we have a mode of dialog in which I can ask him why he voted a certain way, or why he made a certain comment, or why he did something, and I can get a better perspective. I cannot promise he will escape my ire in the future, but I can say that I like him despite.

Now Red, I’m going to hold you to that cocktail, darlin’  ;-)

Reality Check

I am aware that many people do not care for the tea party.  I believe what they think they know about us is what they have learned from watching and reading the news.  I have come to believe firmly that the point the tea party is missing is that we are supposed to be grass-roots.  Attempting to slam the federal government at the very top, from the right, is simply not going to work.  What many tea party groups are missing out on is the small potatoes.  The little local guys.  A good and wise friend of mine said, “It is at the local level where people’s pockets are hit first.”  A truer statement could not be uttered.  Grass-roots means that we must attack the problem from the bottom up.  A slogan I put on one of our fliers last year was just that, “Bottoms Up.”  It exemplifies what our goal should be:  to affect change at the local level first and then continue up the ladder.

I believe vehemently that Washington will never change unless we apply the trickle-up theory.  I met with Tim Cox, author and creator of the ideological group, GOOOH.  It means Get Out Of Our House, literally.  After sitting through a presentation in 2010 and speaking with him, I believe he has it a bit wrong too.  He wants to affect change through the people where citizens get together and interview each other, then vote on someone to move up from the small community level, and then they meet with surrounding communities and one rises up, and then at the county level, state level, etc. in order to rise one or more up to the Washington level as those below them vow to vote for those who trickled up and simply vote out the hacks in DC.  I believe this process can work, but I believe it needs to happen at the local level first. We most focus on the prize, which is taking back our city government from the hands of self-serving, pompous, jackasses.

This is true tea party grit and I will continue to expose the jackasses until they are removed by those citizens who are willing to check their egos at the door and serve as ‘we the people’ rather than what they can get out of it for themselves or their personal businesses.

When I made my information request to the city for cell phone bills detailing texts sent and received during actual council meetings, where the open records act covers even electronic communication to and from a council member as part of the proceedings, I expected the usual obscure tactics from the City of Wylie jackasses.  As you can imagine, I was not let down.

In the letter sent to the past and present council members and past and present mayors it states, “If you do not have any phone bills in your possession, you do not have to contact your cell phone company to get them. You just need to let me know in writing that you have no documents responsive.”

The old bait and switch tactic.  Sure, they sent out my request with the sweetie pie side of their face, but with the uglier phantom side of their face they slide in the old escape clause.  Right there, written in bold print, they are essentially telling those I requested the documents from, that this is their opportunity to hide the information.  This my friends, is Texas State Ethics Commission fodder.

We have council members who beg off accepting a city cell phone, so they can use their own phone for city business, quite possibly as a means of hiding their activities from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Red Byboth and Kathy Spillyards both do not have city issued cell phones.  I must admit, I trust Ms. Spillyards far more than I trust Byboth with ethical behavior, especially after Byboth was spotted sending texts to a dark-haired, chubby chum who also happens to be a city employee and was sitting in the audience at the July 12th city council meeting, oh and he appeared to be texting back.  I cannot express enough to readers how completely moronic and arrogant this behavior is on the part of Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth as well as the employee.   

Here are the facts:

We have a mayor who refuses to turn over detailed city cell phone records paid for by us, the taxpaying citizens.  Obfuscating letters are sent to the Attorney General from our city attorney in hopes they will confuse the situation, or better yet will scare me off. Hey Bubba, let’s draw a picture of a gun on here before we mail it.

We have council members texting with city employees back and forth during a council meeting and being told by the city that they don’t have to turn over those records according to the Open Meetings Act, so long as they don’t have them in their possession.  Buford, light that thar bon fire, will ya?

We have proof from the increasing cell phone calls according to the summary phone records I posted previously, a mayor who is obviously campaigning on behalf of someone during every campaign though it is not himself. Gee, does the mayor have an imaginary friend?

We have a mayor who was witnessed transporting people to the polls on Election Day.  No worries, I’ll take you to the polls, Mable.

What to do?  What to do?  The choice seems pretty clear.  When the council is finished with the budget, they could move post haste to a code of conduct and this time, actually take the responsibility seriously rather than piss around with the usual head games, posturing, and obstinance.   If they adopt such a code, I believe all of these little biting problems might just go away for them.  Without a code to follow, they seem to have a difficult time keeping themselves in check and my blog will continue to abound with the idiocy. 

Either way, I will continue blogging because I believe that it is time for a reality check among our city leaders. 





Dirty Dancing

I opened up my newspaper today to find an interesting letter from Mr. Matthew Butschek published in Letters to the Editor. 

Quite esoteric in its scope, I believe the point of his letter is that rather than swap money from the rainy day fund to the general fund to pretend the budget looks healthy, why don’t they try trimming the fat?  Well there’s a novel new idea. 

Mr. Butschek, that would require a mindset of frugality from a set of people who don’t desire to dispense with all the accoutrement that come with their positions of power.  I believe all this power has debilitated the little part of their brains where that seldom used thing called logic comes from.  Can someone help their synapse function a little better?  Perhaps they need to stand up in order to get some oxygen to the site.

Learning the Steps
Here is last night’s city council budget breakdown and justification for stealing rainy day funds to spend this year:

Fleet $246,902
Equipment $188,206
Personnel $246,902

The Fleet is necessary, with much aging equipment.  Included in this would be the replacement of 4 Tahoe trucks and 2 Impalas for the police department, some fire truck and fire Tahoe replacement, parks and rec sprayer truck and 1-ton truck.  It was stated the mileage on the police vehicles was over 100,000K miles.  It was also stated that there is much more needed that the city will have to take loans out on in the near future.  Say what? Are we whipping out the credit card now? 

The equipment requested is also much needed for fire, police, and the IT department as well as 2 mowers and a piece of useless equipment mandated by our ever so intelligent federal government that I won’t bother going into here.

The personnel amount quantifies a 2% one-time bonus for the employees.

The Twisted Tango
Last night, despite a couple of council members stating they did not agree with providing a one-time bonus to the employees in the previous meeting, Mindy Manson and staff went ahead and blasted through, suggesting the full 2% that Mayor Eric Hogue had requested.  It seems there is no compromise on this council.  So it’s the full 2% or nothing.  What Mayor wants, Mayor gets.  Sounds a bit like Mayor is drinking the Obama Kool-Aid of late.  It wasn’t enough they took rainy day funds last year.  They expected to take funds again this year, and also next year as well, drawing the rainy day fund down perilously close to the baseline of questionable conscience and an A+ bond rating.  That would be a fund at 15%.

A bonus for an employee making $40K annually would provide a share of $800.00, less taxes.  Though that may be helpful,  and the idea behind it is that it might pay a bill or two, I cannot help but ask why would we want to steal money from a rainy day fund to do this?  Keeping the employees happy is not a clear and compelling example of rain, especially when we are in dire need of equipment which City Manager Mindy Manson said we will surely have to leverage in the future.  Let me point this out again – LEVERAGE.   Lack of raises or bonuses is not a popular stance with the employees I’m sure, however they knew the risks involved with their compensation ultimately being in the hands of the community when they took city jobs.  It is par for the course.

Not to be snide, however wouldn’t the employees rather keep their pay status-quo than look at possible pay cuts or furloughs in subsequent budgets?  With such an unpopular idea on the table, some of the council members would rather placate the city employees and look like heroes, and by the way keep those possible votes, rather than belly up to the bar and make sure everyone is sharing the burden, not just the taxpayers.  I understand the thought process that the common working class is taking the burden of this poor economy, but providing them with bonuses should not be done at the expense of a healthy budget.  It is a misnomer for the robbing hoods on council to pretend the budget is healthy when we are robbing from Peter to pay Paul.  I suppose they think their imaginary friends will come to the rescue in future years.

Councilman David Goss spoke the truth when he said that they may lose employees but there will surely be others happy to take their place.  This is the risk one runs but it is the flavor and tone of the current economy.  If the employees hope to move up in the future and hope to continue their nice cushy benefits, they will stay.  If not, they can go look elsewhere and probably find scaled back benefits and possibly lower pay.  The employees are top-notch, but they are not worth putting the health of the city budget at risk just for a little short-term pleasure.

Alaman Left
The majority of council wants to push dollars from the rainy day fund into the general fund so that they can provide bonuses.  No.  Move funds to buy much needed equipment rather than take out loans on it, which end up costing the city more than if they kept the rainy day fund healthy and moved funds later (next year) to pay cash for the equipment.  How is leveraging our ‘needs’ more frugal than providing a ‘want’ by way of cash bonus to employees?  Rainy day funds are for needs, not wants.  Sure everyone wants a raise.  Hells, I want to do some serious dirty dancing with WEDC Executive Director, Sam Satterwhite thanks to that sexy, forceful side we got to see last night, but the point I am really making here is that it is a want and not a need. 

Tax Cut Quick Step
Also on topic last night was the proposed tax decrease.  Last meeting it was suggested the city provide taxpayers with a ½ cent decrease in taxes.  Last night it had been driven down to a ¼ cent decrease.  Councilwoman Diane Culver made the comment that she didn’t want to get into the game of providing a decrease, using our rainy day fund, and then having to come back to the taxpayers and increase it again. She said it was too early to take this step.  Such a decrease would add to the budget $55-56K and would provide taxpayers with relief to the tune of $3.40 next year on average.

Awards Ceremony
Now for some awards of the evening:  Councilwoman Diane Culver receives the Freaking Brilliant Award for asking WEDC Mr. Satterwhite what they cut out of their budget and thoroughly stumping him.  Best laugh I had all night, albeit stifled so as not to get myself tossed out of the meeting.

Councilman Bennie Jones receives a runner up Spank the Pony Award for asking Mr. Satterwhite what exactly the WEDC $78K travel budget consisted of.  Our VP of Asia Pacific Sales spends three weeks traveling 7 countries and hosting meetings and shows with 300 attendees each, twice a year for that amount.  Mr. Satterwhite, I’m truly intrigued now, but my interest is not only as to whether you can dance that passion around on the floor or not. 

Mindy Manson receives the Fluster Cuck Award for her part in this budget debacle by her own admission.  She stated that next year she expects us to draw down the rainy day fund to 20-22%.  She said we can even go down to 15% and still maintain our bond rating.  Manson pointed to other communities who have milked their rainy day funds for all their worth.  Yet if we examine this a little further, those are the very communities that are now in trouble.  When you draw the funds down to hara-kiri level and then have a major problem, you are left with a real cluster on your hands.   Then what?  I will be able to blog some more about how rainy day funds were used with shameful frivolity and how our bond rating will go down because we got ourselves into a wedgie, and now money will just plain cost us more.  Just because the funds are there doesn’t mean we need to use them, does it?

Of last night’s top honors, Rick White takes the prize.  He is officially awarded the Ass-Clown Award. Surely he was joking in his response when each of the council members was polled as to their thoughts on providing citizens with a ¼ cent tax decrease.  Rick fanned the flame with his comment that he would like to see that $55-56K used elsewhere.  Is he insane?  Why on earth would he want to use those funds for anything?  Are those funds burning a hole in the collective city council pocket?  Those funds should reduce the amount of rainy day funds currently being eyeballed.  Oh no, let us use them for something else, to hell with the police and their old vehicles.  Let them ride bicycles.  I think White needs to stand back from those fires he takes photos of; he seems to have inhaled a bit too much.

The Last Dance
It’s time to cut up the city credit card.  It defies logic to take on debt next year in order to give the bonuses this year. Need not want should be the theme of the budget this year. It’s time to put the chastity belt on the city checkbook as well, because the taxpayers are paying for the waltz and tango and what they are getting instead is the funky chicken.

Tufszitsky

I've just come from the Wylie city council meeting and though there is much to discuss, tonight's entry will be a rather short blip about the WEDC.  Here is a page listing their pet projects:


From the laundry list of “inventory”, you can see that the WEDC (Wylie Economic Development Corporation) is tasked with essentially building an industrial business base.  From Sam Satterwhite’s presentation tonight, you would also think they are tasked with total unaccountability to anyone but themselves.

I had several people point out how offensive Mr. Satterwhite’s presentation was. We heard a million here, hundreds of thousands here, millions here.  When Councilwoman Diane Culver asked him what the WEDC cut in their budget since everyone else was cutting their budgets, Sam the Satterwhite became Sam the Stutterer. So glad your balance sheet is healthy you didn't even have to think about cuts.  Sheesh Sam, with that ‘tude, you might be fun to do some dirty dancing with on the dance floor, but subtlety is not your strong suit is it?

Mr. Satterwhite stood up in front of a nearly full audience and essentially told the city council that they approve their own budget and will submit it and oh, by the way if you don’t like the budget, there is an old Russian saying, “Tufszitsky.”  I’ve got an old Polish phrase for Mr. Satterwhite that is equally as fitting, dupa jasz. 

Don’t I recall there being something some years back as to them holding meetings behind some closed doors?  Wasn’t there an ethics complaint somewhere on that?  Hmmmm…..

I would like to think Mr. Satterwhite and entourage would be a little more sensitive to the public perception, but nearly everyone in the audience gasped when he told the council that essentially here is our budget, yeah there’s a tiny boo boo on it but we’ll correct that on the next one and give it to you by August, and you don’t get a vote on it you just get to accept what the hell we give you, and you’ll like it too by the way. 

Talk about getting the screws put to you.  Dang, it wasn’t even fun.

Chatty Kathy

Since Mayor Eric Hogue was elected to office in May 2008, he has chatted a whopping 97,852 minutes.  He has also sent 5,407 texts and used 177,769 KB of data, as of the end of May, 2011. Interestingly enough, every election Mayor’s cell phone minutes increase exponentially.  For a mayor who told me, “I have the job I want.”  Why campaign then?  Could it be he is attempting to surround himself with some key peeps?  What will be next for him?  Do I feel a County Commissioner race coming on?  For someone who doesn’t like it political, he sure seems to dip his toes in the political waters a whole bunch.

From the numbers below, it is pretty evidently our Mayor likes to campaign for the city council seats.  Too bad he was not running his own campaign as he ran unopposed last May.  It’s such a crime for someone to run unopposed.  It sort of takes the spontaneity out of it all. 

Here is a breakdown (sorry the numbers don't line up when I copied and pasted them in this blog) of total minutes and texts for Mayor Eric Hogue:

Date                      Min.      Texts     Data KB               
June 2008             2881         1           2583      
July 2008              2903         5           2167      
Aug 2008              3574         6           2697      
Sept 2008             5494         9           2935
Oct 2008              4320       31           2706
Nov 2008              3273       68           3755                 Presidential Election
Dec 2008              2425       55           2595
Jan 2009               2780       61         10331
Feb 2009              4266       99         15933
Mar 2009             3585       84           5918
Apr 2009              4384       85           9395
May 2009             4326     101         14079                 Council Election
Jun 2009               2614       75           5535
Jul 2009                2471       76           3831
Aug 2009              3884       98           4159
Sept 2009             3677       91           4161
Oct 2009              3777     112           4538
Nov 2009             3075     172           5227
Dec 2009              2830     182        14931
Jan 2010               2371     137          4030
Feb 2010              3822     158          7260
Mar 2010             2993     115          3349
Apr 2010              3323     279          5645
May 2010             3195     238          5263                Council Election
Jun 2010               2173     180          8595
July 2010              2408     133          3832
Aug 2010              2288     185          4263
Sept 2010             2752     277          4292
Oct 2010              2514     287          5802
Nov 2010             1471     292          6356
Dec 2011              1672     291          4943
Jan 2011               1644     161          3834
Feb 2011              2327     204          2620
Mar 2011              3399    239            591
Apr 2011              3852     362         none reported
May 2011             3961     479         none reported      Council Election

The numbers speak volumes.  Goodness sakes, Mayor is speaking volumes and so one must ask why does he refuse to hand over the detailed city cell phone bills?  According to the Freedom of Information Act, he should have handed those bills over to me post haste, instead he paid the city attorney to write a letter to the Attorney General’s office to ask them for a ruling on it, claiming that turning over the information I requested would prove personally embarrassing for him.  Really?  Who exactly is he spending all those minutes with and during what part of his work day is he doing it? So many questions, so many confounding  responses, or lack thereof.  

Next time the readers see Mayor shopping or on the street or at a meeting, you should ask him who he’s been talking with on his city cell phone.  If the public is ever allowed to take a look, I bet that will speak volumes too.

City Hall, Juvenile Hall

Below is my latest open records request for the city:
Please provide me with the detailed city provided and/or personal cell phone bills where texts were sent or received by any past or present city council member or past or present mayor during a meeting where a quorum was present according to the open meetings act.
"A “verbal exchange”clearly includes an exchange of spoken words,92 but it may also include an exchange of written materials or electronic mail.93"
From May 2000 through Present.
Thank you

To which I received a letter back asking for clarification:

 From: City of Wylie Help Center <wylietx@mycusthelp.com>
To: Removed for private citizen
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 10:03 AM
Subject: Service Request Updated :: W001099-071611
Removed for private citizen,

We received your request for information and we need some clarification on a few areas. 

In your request dated 7/16/2011 (received on 7/17/2011) you asked for
"detailed city provided and/or personal cell phone bills where texts were sent or received by any past or present city council member or past or present mayor."  Are you requesting cell phone bills (specifically referring to texts) for the past council members and Mayors for only the time period they were in office, or are you requesting all records from 05/2000 to 07/16/2011 regardless whether or not they were in office?

Additionally, you state "during a meeting where a quorum was present according to the open meetings act."  Are you specifically requesting cell phone bills showing texts that took place during a city council meeting or are you requesting texts made during any board/council meeting that the city has held where a quorum was present? 

Any clarification you can provide would be of great assistance to us in narrowing this request.  Thank you and have a great day!

Stephanie Storm

Below is my response:

From: Removed for private citizen
To: City of Wylie Help Center <wylietx@mycusthelp.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 21, 2011 5:58 PM
Subject: Re: Service Request Updated ::
Hi Stephanie,

I will provide you with an example:  I have eye witnesses that stated Red Byboth was sending texts and receiving them from someone while attending the last city council meeting. When there is a quorum present during an open city council meeting or work session, any communications taking place, including electronic communications must be made available even if it took place on that member's personal cell phone.  That would mean that he has to turn over the details of those texts sent and received while he was present in that meeting.  This is not the first time I have personally witnessed or had it reported to me that a council member was texting during a meeting.  I am not so concerned about the phone call portion as they do not routinely answer their phone will they are in attendance, nor am I particularly concerned if they missed a call because they were in a meeting. I most certainly would not expect texting to be taking place during the executive session portion of a meeting because of the very nature of an executive session.  The texts being sent and received during the meetings are what I am interested in because the public was not made privy to this information while an open meeting was taking place. 

Thus to answer question number one:  I am requesting the detailed text and phone portion from all past and present council members and mayors where those texts or calls took place either on their personal or city provided cell phones while they were present for a city council meeting only during the time frame in which they were serving between 05/2000 and 7/16/2011.

To answer question number two:  I am requesting cell phone bills showing texts and calls that took place during any open portion of a city council meeting. I am most concerned currently with actual city council meetings if that helps you narrow the scope a bit.

Thanks for all you do,
Removed for private citizen
 
This brings me to my topic du jour. I am amazed at the lack of attention.  It appears as if any shiny thing grabs their minds away when a citizen comes to speak to them.  I can say that David Goss, Bennie Jones, Diane Culver, and Kathy Spillyards always look squarely at the citizen as they address them. To me this shows great integrity.  They don’t feel the need to affirm their thoughts through peripheral eye-contact with their peeps in the audience.  Rick White looks around and I can only guess if it is to gauge whether people are laughing, smiling, or rolling their eyes.  Evidently, Red Byboth is too busy texting others, the big buttcrack, and our mayor is looking around, possibly thinking of novel new ways to shut down the person speaking.
 
You know, it’s not easy getting up there and addressing the council.  There they sit on their throne-like structure and we are supposed to come humbly and make offertory suggestions rather than just put it out there, for fear we might anger the great Oz.  It’s scary and intimidating and for those not used to public speaking, it can be nerve wracking.  As I stumbled through my first time, I tried desperately to control a wavering voice.  What happened next was that the council members only focused on a couple different sets of words and did not listen to anything else I had to say.  As asinine as that sounds, they felt I was too strong and I was called ‘passionate’ rather than being called a bitch, which is probably what they really wanted to call me according to several conversations I’ve had.

Why?  This is what I asked myself over and over again.  What was it about me that they absolutely hated from the moment I spoke?  Is it because I am attractive?  Highly intelligent?  Well educated?  In Tea Party leadership?  In reality, what they ‘thought’ they heard was completely different than what was actually taking place.  Had any of them listened, they would have heard the very first words out of my mouth after I heaved a nervous sigh, “I am very nervous.”  Not one of them heard that.  They picked up on the words, ‘educate yourselves’ and ‘how dare you.’  What I was addressing was the fact they had previously discussed the possibility of limiting the amount of space in our homes that we can use for personal business.  I offered up an example of a home daycare.  I said how dare they think they can get inside our homes and limit our ability to make a living such as in the case of the home daycare owner.  They needed to understand the types of businesses they were about to govern because it was clear nobody took that into consideration, especially with home daycares.  Something as innocuous as a percentage of use phrase could absolutely devastate the livelihood of just one woman.  Home daycare owners use 100% of their house, plus the yard and possibly a storage shed.  No, they only heard ‘educate’.  It is a word that has been tossed back at me in jest many times since.  Education as a basis of decision is what anyone sitting in judgment would reasonably be expected to perform.  They didn’t like that idea.  It’s a shame too, because there are funds available in the budget for them to do just that…get education.  If they are going to set policy, why wouldn’t they educate themselves on the topic first?  Not according to former councilman Carter Porter who said basically that he was there to vote, not to educate himself, when he sat in the February workshop and complained about how many times the other council members were hitting up the education funds.
 
They focused too on the word ‘discriminate’.  It was tossed at me with venom by Ramona Kopchenko as if because she is black, her race somehow owns that word.  Some of the policies being discussed would absolutely have discriminated, favoring one type of a business over another.  It was used in the proper vernacular but obviously lost through poor interpretation by others.  Narrow-minded people will only accept experiences that continue to enhance what they think they know about a topic, and reject all other experiences that might provide other rationales. 
 
Since I stumbled through my first meeting, I’ve become better at addressing them, but I learned quickly that anyone who brings a passionate argument to them is ridiculed behind their backs.  Anyone who comes with an argument in which the majority does not agree, is even talked down to by a few council members, such as in the case of the priest from St. Anthony who did not want to have the church included as part of the downtown historic district.  This serves only to shut down citizen participation.  Who wants to address a room dripping in arrogance and risk being yelled at?  Does council really want an oligopolistic approach to the city governance or do they truly want citizen input? 

There are even times that someone wishes to speak who does not know they are supposed to fill out a form before the meeting, and they are overlooked as they stand up.  I watched this very practice take place when Gerald Dunn was running for city council and Mayor Hogue just passed right over him, though Dunn had moved to the end of the aisle and stood up to approach council.  With such brush offs, I am surprised we aren’t required to lie prostrate, and then genuflect prior to our approach to the podium.  Do we bow and scrape as we exit, never daring to turn our backs upon the great lords? Heavens!

I did not point this out in my response to the city, but it was reported to me that the individual responding to Red’s texts was thought to be sitting in the audience.  Wow Red, that’s some set of smalls you got there.  According to the open records act, you get to turn that over to us now.  Smart. 
 
I cannot believe our council members would have any compelling reason to be texting during a meeting, let alone texting back and forth with someone in the audience. Is the meeting at hand not important enough to attend to that they need to reach out to some extracurricular topics by text?  Perhaps they are on their Facebook account checking out someone’s new party pics.  Then again, perhaps they thought the citizen addressing them was too fat, or too stupid, and they would rather swap texts than listen to the citizen drone on for those absolutely dreadful three minutes they are allowed.  I mean, isn’t that the purpose of holding the meetings at 6:00 PM so that most people who have full-time jobs cannot make it thanks to a long commute, or other pressing family matters?  Can you imagine if council members had to actually sit through a stream of attendees who wished to take full advantage of their three minutes?  We might actually hear someone pounding out the zzzzzzz’s up there. 
 
When the public wishes to speak to them, they have something on their mind.  Rarely does someone come just to sing a song or read words out of a dictionary, however I am kicking around the idea of miming my next message.  Hells, it might be sort of fun acting out a three minute charade for those hearing impaired council members sitting up there.
 
I especially love when Rick White and Mayor Eric Hogue begin looking around the audience while one particularly active audience member speaks to them.  It’s as if they are seeking anyone’s empathetic eyes to lock with rather than have to actually digest what the man is saying.  That sort of behavior tells me that the listener could care less about what is being said, and would rather seek someone to commiserate with. It is a way to roll their eyes without having to blatantly perform that act in front of others that might call them out on it. 

This bizarre and downright juvenile behavior is precisely why I started this blog.  

It's a Dull Crayon

Looking forward to today’s Wylie News, I was a smidgen disheartened to read a very dull and lifeless letter favoring Carter Porter in the Letters to the Editor section.  Written by James R. Griffin III from Austin, I had a difficult time tracking with any general theme of his note. What I can garner is that Mr. Griffin didn’t like Catherine Butschek’s letter of last week, and he didn’t like her "commentary" because it was "opinion".  Uh hello?  Isn’t that the vein of a letter to the editor?  He drones on about how the dreaded “600 voters can affect the tone and direction of the city council.”  This is the same old stale argument we keep hearing from the leftists on the council.  Sheesh, the wilted lettuce sitting in my crisper is fresher than that puerile statement.  These same 600 voters set the tone for the previous seats, and the previous seats, and the previous seats, and so on, and so on and am I droning on enough to make you want to fall asleep yet?  I think the readers here get the idea that the tone is set by voters, that is sort of the purpose of elections, isn’t it? 

Mr. Griffin is upset and claiming that Ms. Butschek “demonized” Carter Porter for his service on the council.  Can I let everyone in on a little secret?  Carter Porter did not need Ms. Butschek to demonize him as he did a fairly apt job of that all on his little lonesome.  He is famous for his snide and snotty emailed responses to citizens, and his condescending comments to citizens as they addressed council at various meetings.  His letter to the editor was nothing more than a illicit diatribe from a foot stomping child.  He even gave a priest the what-for along with his consummate bruiser seatmate Red Byboth as our clothed mayor just smiled on in apparent agreement.

Griffin goes on to state, “There are several in Wylie that are anxious to see the rest of the ‘old’ council go away and have for the past seven years.”  Your point is?  The very man you are attempting to support with this bizarre, entangled, and meandering letter is one of the old council members the majority of voters wanted to give the big tootles to.  I really don’t see where Mr. Griffin is attempting to go with this statement.  Nope, not getting the point.  Dude, it’s a clear day, land the plane already.

There is one thing Mr. Griffin wrote that I can agree with, well other than the grammatical error but after a long day at work, who isn’t prone to mistakes?  It truly isn’t, “a good thing to always to have one side pitted against the other.”  Pitting of one side against the other is indeed what we seem to have with this council, when being right takes the place of sound judgment, and putting citizens they don’t like in their place takes the place of cooperation with the community.  As I see it, we have the pit boss to thank for that.  The mayor ultimately sets the tone of the meetings and he appears to be accomplished at this by purposely shutting down a topic or directing it with his constant interjections on the path to another dimension. This befuddles the topic so that it is not fully comprehended by the audience, nor fully explored by the council. Mayor sets the tone of the meeting and from his voting record, we can see unmistakably which side he is pitted against. Ah yes, but I digress.

What I did not see in this letter from Mr. Griffin was any drift toward the unfounded, vitriolic vomit spewed from Carter Porter several weeks ago about three Wylie council members.  Mr. Griffin doesn’t like the us vs. them direction in Wylie, yet Mr. Porter’s published letter only served to perpetuate that dogma already prevalent on this council.  I fail to see any cogent point of Griffin’s letter other than the only person willing enough to back up Carter Porter has to be located a 3 ½ hour drive south of us, in Austin.  Is this the best response anyone can conjure up in support of Porter and his trash talk?