Wednesday, August 31, 2011

War Games


In last night’s city council budget workshop, everything I’ve been saying all along has come to fruition. 

Any way you slice it, using money from the rainy day fund for items that are not detrimental to the health of the city is a dumb idea.  Mindy Manson, City Manager Extraordinaire and posse sought the advice from a financial advisor who told them in order to keep the city bond rating healthy, they should maintain the rainy day fund at 20-25%.  Well I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.  Oh sure, people like the Library Ladies and the Wylie Spew crowd like to repeat those catchy phrases they hear tossed around by our council at meetings.  It’s certainly easier to use someone else’s words than to come up with your own.  As it were, we find out later that the 15% our council approved as a rock- bottom, drop-dead rainy day fund balance mistakenly thought to be healthy to maintain our bond rating, didn’t appear to be so healthy after all.  Gee big surprise.

In the meeting, Manson cited a source which defines a rainy day fund as, “A cushion against circumstances where there might be a revenue shortfall or unanticipated expenses.” Damn I love being bright. OK, I like being right too.  Manson ended the budget somewhere about 27-28% rainy day fund.  This means that we can still use it next year for those increased bond payments we are expecting, and some desperately needed equipment.  Now I’m feeling the need to point out here that bonuses and raises are not unanticipated expenses.  They should be anticipated and taken out of the general fund.

According to Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth, he came up to me after the meeting and uttered the words, “I may have lost this battle, but I won the war.”  I’m wondering exactly what war he thinks he won.  Could it be the one he created between the left and the right on our council?  Or could it be something else entirely such as the burning desire to have one of the three ‘delivered’ to him.  Deliverance is not all it’s cracked up to be. 

I believe Byboth played the 2% raise, knowing it would never pass muster, and that he might get those against the raise to consider the 2% bonus as the lesser of two evils.  I think he is under the misconception that because Councilman David Goss, Councilman Bennie Jones, and Councilwoman Diane Culver agreed with the bonus being taken out of the contingency fund rather than the rainy day fund so that the budget could balance and rainy day funds could be left intact, his master plan to sway them was sealed in some sick and twisted way.  If Byboth’s great claim to fame is to bully council members around the chamber and behind the scenes with head games and smoke and mirrors, then he misses the point of this exercise completely. 

My, but that’s a pretty arrogant stance he takes, thinking he won some fictitious battle, and also a fairly subjective one as well.  He doesn’t take into consideration the reasons those three were against the 2% bonus in the first place or why when polled at the workshop that they consider supporting the budget as it stands now with rainy day fund sans a 2% bonus.  Could it be that the player is getting played?

So let me get this straight, Byboth’s apparent sole purpose for pushing this asinine 2% raise and looking like a total buffoon was merely to scam the three council members who were against taking it out of the rainy day fund to come over to the dark side and approve the 2% bonus instead in his little switch hit plan?  I’m thinking the only point he truly made here was that he comes off looking like a total ass-clown, willing to exclaim publicly that he wanted to cut heads and lose the trust of city employees as well as citizens.  Seriously, the only thing he did was make himself appear to be that type of council member I’ve been blogging about since the very beginning.   I’m thinking Red lost the whole war on that one. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Workshop Dealio

A little budget workshop miracle occurred tonight.   It seems Mindy Manson and crew were able to make the budget balance, dole out the 2% bonuses, and not take it from the rainy day fund in order to do it.  Tonight’s smart cookie award lies in the hands of Ms. Manson.  Let us hope this is the edition voted on and approved in two weeks. 

I was a tad disappointed that firehouse 4 and the quint (and I’m convinced this is secret code name for big-ass fire truck) were not on the docket.  These will represent some serious expenditures in the near future and I’m hoping we don’t come back for a mid-year revision to the budget in order to snake these in.

Bizarre reach requiring the Befuddled Clown award for the comment made by Mayor Eric Hogue who stated that he joked with Mindy Manson, “What rainy day fund?” Evidently, he was referencing back in the day of Y2K and how they didn’t start putting money into the rainy day fund until the year 2000.  Well that’s awfully amusing because back in 2000 we had what, 8000 citizens and very little infrastructure to warrant a rainy day fund?  Silly.

Yes, the Red Sea parted, the water turned to wine, the fish miraculously appeared, and nary a sack-cloth garment need be torn.  Well perhaps the ones torn were my pal Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth’s and his sidekick Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards.  Why?  Because they continued down the path of most insistence that Mindy Manson, City Manager Extraordinaire find the employees a permanent 2% raise. 

Tonight I’m all about doing the happy dance for Manson because she stuck to her guns and proceeded to hand Red and his little pet the bad news when Manson stated that she could not in good conscience suggest a 2% increase with the current economic instability.  Hot damn, you go girl!  In the end, Manson wove her magic and what came out of the golden top-hat was a little something something for everyone.

The sun gets to rise yet again.

The council gets to look like heroes.  

The citizens don’t get hosed with higher taxes.

The insanity of taking money away from a rainy day in the future came to an end satisfying many people.

The employees get a small handout. 

The net result however is that Red lost his battle and took it like a man.  Got to give him credit though, he came up to me afterwards and handed me his friend’s head on a platter in exchange for losing a little wager. That’s OK Red.  I won’t move forward with the tiny gift because, well, because I can always say I lived up to my end of the deal even when you failed to do so.  Damn, I’m good.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Frienemies

Last week a friend of mine in Wylie lost her husband to a massive heart attack.  He was only 51 years young.  Oh, and it was the day before their 27th anniversary.  This tragedy doesn’t end there.  This woman is the loveliest of women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing; she has a smile that can warm your toes.  This is an absolutely gorgeous lady inside and out who not only had to deal with the loss of her sibling last year, but also won a battle with breast cancer the year before that.  How does this happen, and who deserves this anyway?  Nobody.  Not ever.

I got to thinking about all of the people that touch my life in one way or another and that I truly appreciate.  So I’m going to get all sappy about the good things my friends and frienemies bring to me every week because I wouldn’t change any of it for anything in the world. 

There is a special place in my heart for Councilman Bennie Jones.  He has a very sweet soul and I love that smile and laugh.  He has one of those warm milky sort of voices you just want to sink into like a warm towel.

I have a soft spot for Mayor Eric Hogue.  He’s all business at the beginning of council meetings, but as they near the end, and most particularly on long meetings, he gets a bit slap happy and silly and he laughs more.  It always makes me laugh, too.  Thanks for the giggles at the end of every meeting, Eric.  I go home happy to have taken part every time.

How about Wylie View co-administrator Alicia White?  Sometimes she can be pretty intense, as we saw at the last council meeting.  However when she sat in the audience at the candidate forum, I saw an intense look of love and tenderness between her and the hubs, Councilman Rick White as he initially struggled through his first question.  For a moment, I thought I might actually like the woman.

Then there is City Manager, Mindy Manson whose soft and smooth voice is like a spoonful of honey.  She truly is a classy lady who works very hard for the citizens.

The Library Ladies are special, because they truly care and they are so determined and committed.  I am always happy to see them at meetings.

Gilbert Tamiez sitting in the front row is a staple at the meetings.  Though I doubt we agree on much of anything, personally I find him to be a very nice gentleman.

Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth is probably the most outspoken one sitting up there.  He is the most Red-necked Yankee I believe I’ve come across yet, however despite that gravely outer shell, I’ve come to know his inner marshmallow, but don’t let him know you know about that soft side because he’ll vehemently deny it.

Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards is a truly beautiful and classy woman whose smile lights up the chamber.  I like that we both share a soft spot in our hearts for art.

WISD Trustee Barbara Goss is like an angel with that kind aura that surrounds her.  She is patient and intelligent and I know with her on the board of education that our students are in good hands.

Councilman David Goss is like the little brother I never had.  It’s fun to push his buttons, but I have to be careful he doesn’t pick me up and spin me around until I get sick, in true sibling fashion. 

Having councilwoman Diane Culver around is like having your own personal comic strip.  Every time I speak with her I find myself laughing.  I think we could keep each other highly entertained for months, would we were marooned on an island.   Well at least I would have washboard abs from all the laughing  anyway.

Though I have never met him, I have a soft spot for Mayor John Mondy. I believe he single-handedly started Wylie on the path toward what it is today and for that I thank him.

I appreciate Wylie News staff writer Judy Truesdell because she is a steadfast member in attendance at every meeting and she works very hard to bring the news to the people who are unable to attend.

Though we do not always agree on the issues at hand, these are people I have come to have a profound appreciation for.  I know that their hearts are in the right place, and ultimately they want what is right for Wylie.  For those not serving on a board or council, I hope they continue their interest in making Wylie a better place to live.  For those serving on a board or council, I hope that they will take the time to learn about and appreciate those whose lives they touch every day with the decisions they make.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bait and Switch

This is nearly a week in the making and it is going to be a long one my friends.  So grab yourself a brewski or three and join me for a long chew on the fat.

I have to say that I’ve been able to get to know Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth a little bit over the last month, okay you caught me.  I’ve been able to know Byboth a lot over the last month and though I love the little red guy uber-bunches, and his heart is in the right place, I just have to put it out there this way:  Red, are you out of your effing, ever-loving mind?  You can be mad at me all you want for writing this blog, but you have it coming this time my friend because I’ve thought long and hard about our discussion the other night and I cannot believe what you did to Manson, the city employees, and ultimately the public.  It was truly crappy.

At the city council meeting Tuesday night, we thought they would be discussing a 2% bonus along with other budget items, after all that is what was on the agenda.  Then Byboth spoke and tossed a monkey wrench into the stench.  He suggested a 2% permanent raise for all of the employees, then proceeded to bestow Manson with the object of his desire and ask her to bring it on back for a sloppy second round.

I remain truly flabbergasted and nearly speechless at this notion.  Why?  Because our Mayor asked the City Manager if she could cut the general budget and bring it back to them and, oh by the way can she do it in a week, and Manson said no way.  But guess what?  It’s been completed…surprise, surprise, in less than a week!  Was it really that easy, Mindy, or did Red give you a few key hints where to look that accelerated revision post haste?

Now we’ve been invited back for a workshop that was originally scheduled for September 6th because Manson said she couldn’t do it in a week, but has now been moved up to this Tuesday, August 30th. Really?  This just gets better with every day that passes.

Let me count the perceptions this leaves me with because a couple of words have finally come to me, and let me tell you they aren’t pretty. 

Perception One: Evil Twins
From a fiscally conservative perspective, it appears our city has grown so fat and happy that they couldn’t see for looking, as my grandma Danielczak used to say.  Was our city sitting on so many expenditures that were perceived as needed, that they became merely commonplace and were overlooked all this time?  Funny how they can find a leak when Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth gives them the thumbs-up to go out there and get themselves a freaking 2% raise.  YES RAISE.  Nothing like a little motivation to plug the leaks in the boat.

This ugly 2% bonus that Mayor Eric Hogue has been pretending is a “one time, lump sum payment” has morphed from its evil twin ‘bonus’ to ‘raise’ in a matter of a week.  Nice.

Perception Two: To Tax or Not to Tax, That is the Question
In the first work session, our council originally was contemplating providing the citizens with a ½ cent tax decrease.  In the second work session that was reduced to a ¼ cent tax decrease and then poof, it went stealthily away with the tap of Hogue and gangs staff.  The reasoning behind this?  It wasn’t going to be much of a cut to taxpayers, equaling less than $4 a year on average.  More importantly, it was brought up in the second budget workshop that though taxes should be reduced because the city of Wylie has the 2nd highest taxes in North Texas, the last thing they wanted was to find they overstepped their boundaries and had to come back a year or two later and not only take that decrease back like a bunch of Indian givers, but also increase our taxes as well.  Now wouldn’t that be peachy?

Oh, and we constantly have it tossed in our faces that we the voters gave them the ability to go even higher with the taxes and we should be bowing and scraping that they haven’t taken them that high.  Gee, good on you.

Perception Three: Ante Up
So the official go-ahead was ordained by Byboth, who couldn’t make it to the previous budget workshops but was able to fly in on his broom on this one and steal the show with his wheels and deals.  You should have watched Mayor Hogue practically piss himself in delight as the 2% raise bomb was dropped.  City Manager Mindy Manson stood there dumbfounded. 

Despite Manson’s head shaking that it would be very difficult to come up with cuts to make the 2% bonus, and nearly impossible for a 2% raise to be sustained, she was able to miraculously find some more things to cut out of the general fund, oh and in less than a week too.  Funny how the mere suggestion of money, especially at Manson’s rather healthy salary range, will motivate people.

For crying out loud, all the city had to do was come up with the roughly $250K difference in order to dole out those bonuses and a handshake, but now Red wants to provide a permanent 2% raise to the ‘remaining’ employees.  Note the word ‘remaining’ that he used and that Councilwoman Diane Culver called him out on.  But more on this later.

I pointed out to Red the other night that perception was everything and that I would have to blog about this to which he said, “Go right ahead.”  Red took the ante of a 2% bonus on up to a 2% raise, which I would have to guess will be presented in the workshop Tuesday night by Manson, though I hope not.  I believe we need to stick with the original premise of a 2% bonus and find the cuts in the general fund in order to make this work.  I believe Red is living a pipe dream and if he pushes that pipe down the taxpayers throats, his credibility and ethics will likely be questioned, especially for promoting permanent expenses in an unstable economy. 

I’m all for helping out the employees in Wylie.  They are some of the most dedicated and hardworking individuals I’ve ever watched.  I totally have a little puffy heart on and am absolutely googly-eyed in love with Chief John Duscio, who does such a fantastic job with what he has to work with, even writing back to me personally on some complaints I’ve made about the teenaged Lucifer who lives behind me and loves to vandalize my fence and yard.  Our fire personnel are top notch professionals with a response time so quick it will make the hair fly off your forehead.  Our City Engineer Chris Holsted is a champion who really has his act together and is a wealth of information whenever you need it.  There are others too numerous to mention, but these are some of my personal faves.  I’m all for giving them a raise, when it is prudent to do so.  I’m all for giving them a bonus, as long as the rainy day fund isn’t tapped as a response.  I’m all for giving them what they want so long as we aren’t leveraging equipment for years to come in order to make it all happen in the dream world that Red painted the other night.

Perception Four: Dropping Like Flies
Byboth’s big plan is for Mindy Manson to go back to the budget drawing board, having been given the green light to give a permanent 2% raise which has already been word-smithed as ‘increase’ even though she stated there was no way such a permanent increase was sustainable.  So let yourself imagine the unthinkable and fathom exactly what could be next, because on top of raising the raise, Red added to the strife yet again with a little bit of “remaining employees” terminology.  So don’t be surprised if this new and improved budget doesn’t include some heads rolling as well.  Nothing like leaving the bodies in the wake behind you.
 
Do the employees want their 2% so badly as to toss each other under the bus to get it?  I highly doubt that.  There sat the employees looking around at each other wondering who was going to get the axe in this deal.  This was a truly tragic piece of work.

I hope the employees get on the phone and call Red and ask him WTF?  Because if he was serious, the employees now run the risk of losing longtime friends and peers in order to get a 2% raise, when all it took were some cuts to equal as close to the $250K as possible in order to get that one time, lump sum payment that really needs to be called an effing bonus, and everyone would have gone on their merry way.  Is it me or did Red bitch-slap the public with a bait and switch?  In a word; yes.

The End Result:
The perceptions in my mind about these expediently devised cuts remain steadfast.  Since the economy started its quick descent in 2008 and we have yet to provide the handing out of pink-slips, is there indeed some dead-weight on staff?  Probably.  My company once stood at 40 employees 3 short years ago and you can count us now at 17.  We get the job done because those left know how to rock and roll.  So do I understand if this looming workshop will include a reduction in staff?  Yes.  Am I happy about it?  Absolutely not, especially when other cuts could have been made to give the bonus and all of the employees would have been able to stay in their jobs another year.  Sure, a 2% permanent raise sounds awesome but right now it just plain sucks the big one for those who lose their jobs so the ‘remaining’ employees can get a raise off their backs.

Mostly I am unhappy about this new turn of events because one of the specialties of the day bragged about when these budget talks started was that Wylie didn’t have to hand out pink slips or even dole out furloughs.  If staff reduction is their plan to get from point A to point Z, then they fail miserably.  They fail the employees.  They fail the budget.  They fail the taxpayers.  I would like to give them the big ‘F’ because it happens to be this Yankee girl’s most favorite letter of the alphabet.

Personally, I voted for Mayor Eric Hogue twice.  I could have ‘no-voted’ him in the last election since he ran unopposed, but I felt it more important to send a message that he was supported, despite that fact he was ‘no voted’ in big numbers.  If this new budget deal is merely a pink-slip haven in order to give out raises rather than bonuses, then I am saddened that he does not appear to be supporting us in return, because 2011-12 will become known as the little budget that couldn’t.

Do I expect to see an emasculated budget before us on Tuesday?  Probably, because at the end of the day when you still have rainy day funds sitting there burning a hole in Mayor’s and Manson’s pocket, swapping out funds and labeling them for something the public perception finds as ‘acceptable’ rather than ‘unacceptable’ still means you are taking the funds out.  But as Mayor Eric Hogue says, “do you want the city of Wylie to just stock-pile the tax dollars…?”  No, but we expect those we voted in office to behave with our checkbooks and budget in a manner befitting the honor we bestowed upon them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Night Lights

Well my friends, it's Wylie High football season again and I've waited anxiously for it to start up since last December when the boys made us shirt-bustin' proud. 

Today will have to remain a politically blogless day, because more importantly there will be a party in row E......

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gap Flap

I thought I would be too tired to blog today after being up until 1:00 AM last night, but I caught my second wind after I picked my newspaper out of the mailbox.  Today’s Letter to the Editor was pretty apropos after the marathon 4-hour meeting last night.  Lou Gigliotti, a business owner in Wylie, wrote a letter that slam-dunks the notion of responsible cuts and irresponsible spending.

Gigliotti points out, “We, the taxpayers, paid $40 million for a party house with two basketball courts, a health club indoor running track and things that a city government has no business doing.”  Gigliotti is irritated that he received a flier in his city water bill advertising the recreation center for baby showers, reunions, and birthday parties.  I have to admit, he’s on to something there.  $40M seems a pretty severe route to take in order to provide party planning services to citizens.  I also agree that what activities are offered there are pretty flat.  Climbing the wall is OK the first 120 days but after that, what’s new?  Lots of people walk the track but personally, I want to be among the flowers and the trees, and the birds and the bees.  Maybe that’s the ADHD in me.

My workout room upstairs has more appeal, and when I spread the cost of it over the number of years I’ve been in this house, it’s relatively cheap compared to a rec center membership.  Plus, I’ve got a pool in the back yard, albeit a small one, but it works just fine with my drink of choice, a nice minty Mojito in hand and some serious alternative rock playing in the background. At least I don’t have to be embarrassed in public as I pretend to do a synchronized swimming routine to Incubus or Foo Fighters.  Now there’s a sight to behold.

In last night’s meeting, City Manager Mindy Manson stated that the Recreation Center was never expected to run in the black, or Even-Steven for that matter.  Projections were for the Rec Center to bring in about 80% of the revenue needed to keep the doors open.  It has always been expected to run in the red.  80% is beyond gap, it’s more like a gaping hole that can’t ever be sewn shut. Simply put, your Rec Center loses money month after month and the city makes up those losses according to Manson by taking it from incoming sales tax.

A concern I have about this is that when the Rec Center opened, they offered some extra months on the annual plan in order to get people in the door.  I wonder how many people will actually renew their membership in this down economy, especially since the city will be agreeing to increases in our trash, gas, and electric bills.  What I can say on the flip side of this argument is that at least the city is attempting to bring in more funds to help pay for the 800 lb. gorilla sitting at the corner of Brown and Country Club.

Mr. Gigliotti went on to write, “The irresponsible spending is the product of Mayor Hogue, the city council and the city manager.” The harsh reality about this statement is, the city manager and her staff bring the budget to the council who then votes on it after a handful of people get up and speak their mind.  Last night was no exception as one of the Library Ladies, as they are fondly known, Ms. Gerry spoke up in her usual goofy way complete with googly eyes and giggles, stating, “I like this budget.” Okay.  An interesting statement considering none of the council members really liked it and decided to hold yet another workshop to go over more possible cuts.  Councilman Rick White’s wife, Alicia White spoke eloquently about supporting the city, and the employees.  Well, eloquently until she got a little ahead of herself and started to yell into the microphone like a frigging drill sergeant.  Thankfully she got control of it and pulled it all back together, followed by some claps of her Wylie View rah rah city-pulpit-peers and city employees who all want more money.  You reckon?  Others spoke for and against the 2% bonus and stated their reasons why.  I spoke and will publish my letter when I write more about the actual meeting in the next couple of days.  As I’ve been saying here, I want the employees to be rewarded but only if more cuts can be made in order to pay for it rather than using the rainy day fund to cover it.  That rainy day fund is about to be hit over and over again in the coming years, like a dirty rug and personally I find that to be a bad plan. 

Probably the largest problem I have with the mindsets and ideologies of those who came to speak last night, along with some of the council members and the mayor, is that when Mayor Eric Hogue spoke about paying the employees he compared the city to a company.  The problem with his belief system is that companies are in it for a profit but the city of Wylie is not a for-profit business and you simply cannot compare the two.

People say the city manager and council are doing a fine job of it all because we are not in the shitcan as much as other communities.  Well perhaps that’s because other communities don’t have the outrageous tax rate that we have here.  According to Gigliotti, “Our city council is an amateur hour at our expense. They should cut every department by 10 percent minimum. Either cut the pay and benefits or cut the number of employees.”   I agree with the idea behind this statement wholeheartedly but take it one step further to suggest they cut their budgets even more even though Manson stated last night that for the last 3 years departments have cut each time they were asked to do so.  That is all well and fine, but more can be done.  More can always be done, especially when they have over 300 employees.  Mindy Manson is one smart cookie and I have every confidence she’ll come up with some more cuts to propose at the workshop in two weeks, perhaps with a little help from her friends. 

Finally, Gigliotti stated, “My building has been for sale for years. No one wants to come to Wylie because of the high taxes and unresponsive government.”  Well he’s got us there.  So is Wylie the little engine that could, or is it the little city government too big for its boxers?  When times are good, nobody sweats the small stuff.  Now that times are not so good, monetary indiscretions will become quite apparent.  Only time will tell.

Stuck It

Too busy and too tired to post anything of substance today about last night's marathon four hour city council meeting, I had to write this quick blip before I move on for the day.

Kudos to Mayor Eric Hogue for picking a side and sticking to it like glue with regard to his passion about providing the city employees with a 2% bonus.  Many ideas were kicked around but not once did he play devil's advocate and I was happy about that. Last night we saw a mayor people can trust in rather than one blowing smoke up the collective skirts.

Again, I agree the lower paid employees should get bonuses, but if they wish to extend it to all employees then they need to come up with some cuts to offset it. Though we may not necessarily agree on how to get there, or even perhaps we do agree, I believe we can all agree on one thing; the employees do work hard.

A workshop has been set for September 6th at 6PM to hammer out cuts in this budget, if possible.

The final vote will take place September 13th at 6PM.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Election Calamity


From what I can tell regarding the election workshop on the agenda for tomorrow night, it appears they will be costing us more in the end.  It seems everyone wants their piece of the pie these days and State Bill 100 is no exception.  It appears the state wishes to push the little guys around so their elections are in line with the larger ones.  They want us to get on their time scale and hold elections in odd numbered years in November.  Oh sure, we can keep our elections the same, but we don’t get help with funding from the county in even number years. 

TXunz Thoughts:
  • Four year terms are a bad idea.
  • Unstaggered terms mean the potential for rollover of all seats at the same time and a council of newbies.
  • Any way you look at this thing, it’s going to cost us money.
  • Voter turnout in Wylie is painfully dismal no matter what election we hold.
  • There are always people who vote straight party ticket and this may hurt our local candidates.
  • 4/3 staggered terms pushes for a 4 year seat. Do we really want anyone sitting there that long?

I tried to take the slides from the August 24th City of Wylie Agenda and pretty them up so they make more sense.  You read and decide:

CURRENT ELECTION PROCEDURES
�� CONTRACT FOR ALL THREE COUNTIES WITH COLLIN COUNTY ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR.
�� JOINTLY CONTRACT WITH WISD AND CCCC (EVERY OTHER YEAR) FOR THE PAST 14 YEARS.
�� SHARED COSTS ARE FOR CITY/WISD/CCCC POLLING PLACES ONLY.
�� COSTS OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS HAVE VARIED FROM $5,600 TO 8,400. NOT INCLUDING RUNOFF
ELECTIONS.

SB 100
OPTIONS FOR CITIES UNDER SB 100
�� CONTINUE TO HOLD ELECTIONS EVERY MAY, INCLUDING EVEN NUMBERED YEARS, BUT COUNTIES DO NOT HAVE TO ASSIST IN EVEN NUMBER YEARS
�� MOVE ELECTIONS TO NOVEMBER
�� CHANGE TERMS TO 2 OR 4 YEARS IN ODD NUMBERED YEARS

WYLIE OPTIONS FOR MAY
WYLIE OPTIONS TO KEEP 3 YEAR TERMS AND HOLD ELECTIONS IN MAY IN EVEN AND ODD NUMBERED YEARS :
�� PURCHASE EQUIPMENT & HOLD OUR OWN ELECTIONS.
�� CONTRACT WITH ROCKWALL COUNTY
�� CONTRACT WITH COLLIN COUNTY

WYLIE HOLDS ANNUAL MAY ELECTION
�� COST FOR WYLIE TO PURCHASE DRE VOTING EQUIPMENT FOR 3 POLLING PLACES
�� ESTIMATED INITIAL EQUIPMENT & PERSONNEL COST $46,810
�� YEARLY COST $15,000
�� WOULD NEED SECURED STORAGE
�� ADDITIONAL STAFFING MAY BE REQUIRED
�� SPLIT IF JOINT WITH WISD 

PROS:
�� TERMS STAY THE SAME
�� ELECTIONS ARE HELD ANNUALLY
�� POLLING PLACES REMAIN THE SAME
�� CAN CONDUCT JOINT ELECTION WITH WISD 

CONS:
�� ADDITIONAL STAFFING/AND COMPLETE OVERSIGHT OF ELECTION
�� NO OUTSIDE PARTY CONDUCTING THE ELECTION
�� CITY PROVIDES PAYROLL FOR ALL ELECTION WORKERS
�� STORAGE NEEDED FOR ELECTION EQUIPMENT AND SECURITY OF ELECTION MATERIALS

CONTRACT WITH ROCKWALL COUNTY EACH MAY
�� COST TO WYLIE FOR EQUIPMENT RENTAL AND ALL SERVICES CURRENTLY PROVIDED BY CCEA INCLUDING ALL THREE COUNTIES AND USE OF SAME POLLING PLACES $9,357. (Contingent)
�� ROCKWALL COUNTY CAN’T CONTRACT WITH WISD DUE TO WISD BOUNDARIES BEING OUTSIDE ROCKWALL COUNTY.

CONTRACT WITH COLLIN COUNTY
�� COST TO WYLIE FOR EQUIPMENT PURCHASE AND ALL SERVICES CURRENTLY PROVIDED BY CCEA INCLUDING ALL THREE COUNTIES AND USE OF SAME POLLING PLACES $25,756.39. (City only)
�� CCEA WILL JOINT CONTRACT WITH ALL ISD AND CITIES AS SHARED COST. (FOR ENTITIES THAT OPT MAY)
�� CCEA WILL PURCHASE EQUIPMENT WITH COSTS PAID BY CITIES/ISD
�� IF CITY OR ISD CALLS OFF THE ELECTION AFTER COMMITTING TO EQUIPMENT, THE EQUIPMENT COSTS MUST BE PAID.
�� AT SOME POINT THE COUNTY MAY DECIDE TO GO TO CENTRAL VOTING ELIMINATING LOCAL POLLING PLACES

NOVEMBER
�� MOVE ELECTIONS TO NOVEMBER BEGINNING IN 2012
�� MAINTAIN THREE YEAR TERMS
�� ALL POSITIONS’ TERMS AUTOMATICALLY HOLDOVER SIX MONTHS TO END IN NOVEMBER
�� NOVEMBER ELECTIONS MUST BE CONTRACTED WITH EACH COUNTY (COLLIN, ROCKWALL & DALLAS)
�� CURRENT ESTIMATED COSTS (2012) PER COUNTY:
COLLIN - $13,765
DALLAS- $ 2,600
ROCKWALL-$1,897

PROS:
�� HIGHER VOTER TURNOUT
�� IF WISD GOES TO NOVEMBER ELECTIONS, COST SPLIT THREE WAYS
�� VOTER CONVENIENCE
�� MORE EMPHASIS ON ELECTIONS
�� CITIZENS ABLE TO VOTE IN LOCAL ELECTIONS EVERY YEAR
�� COUNTIES HAVE AGREED TO PLACE LOCAL ELECTIONS FIRST ON THE BALLOT (THIS IS NOT A GUARANTEE)
�� ESTIMATED COST WILL VARY DEPENDING ON COUNTY ELECTION TYPE AND TABULATION AND CENTRALIZED COSTS.
CONST. AMENDMENT
GOVERNOR’S RACE
PRESIDENTIAL

CONS:
�� IF WISD CANCELS ELECTION, OUR CCEA COST GOES UP TO $18,317
�� POSSIBILITY OF MORE UNDERVOTES DUE TO STRAIGHT PARTY VOTERS
�� RUNOFFS IN DECEMBER
�� HARD TO EDUCATE WITH PUBLICITY
�� COUNTY POLLING PLACES USED

MAY
OR:
�� CHANGE TERM LENGTH TO HOLD ELECTIONS EVERY OTHER MAY, ONLY IN ODD NUMBERED YEARS
�� OPTIONS: TWO YEAR TERMS OR FOUR YEAR TERMS

MAY – TWO YEARS
�� TWO YEAR TERMS - ALL SEVEN SEATS UP EVERY OTHER MAY – WOULD REQUIRE UNSTAGGERING TERMS
�� MAY 2012 ELECTION CANCELLED WITH TRANSITION PLAN AS FOLLOWS:
�� MAYOR – MAY 2015 HOLDOVER 2014-2015
�� PLACE 1 – MAY 2013
�� PLACE 2– MAY 2013 HOLDOVER 2012-2013
�� PLACE 3 – MAY 2013
�� PLACE 4 – MAY 2013 HOLDOVER 2012-2013
�� PLACE 5 – MAY 2015 HOLDOVER 2014-2015
�� PLACE 6 - MAY 2015 HOLDOVER 2014-2015
The effect of this plan is that in 2015 all of the places on the City Council will be up for election.


SB 100
�� PROS OF TWO YEAR TERMS:
�� VOTERS ENGAGED CITY WIDE EVERY TWO YEARS
�� ONLY HAVE GENERAL ELECTION COSTS EVERY TWO YEARS
�� COLLIN COUNTY WOULD CHARGE CURRENT COSTS TO HOLD ELECTIONS IN ODD YEARS & COULD CONTRACT WITH WISD

�� CONS – TWO YEAR TERMS:
�� ALL SEVEN COUNCIL SEATS UP FOR ELECTION EVERY TWO YEARS; ENTIRE COUNCIL COULD TURN OVER; NO GUARANTEE OF CONTINUITY
�� WOULD REQUIRE RESOLUTION TO BE RATIFIED BY AMENDING HOME RULE CHARTER (ELECTION) TO AMEND CHANGE IN TERMS AND UNSTAGGER.
 
FOUR YEAR TERMS
�� FOUR YEAR TERMS - 4/3 STAGGERED TERMS
�� FOUR YEAR TERMS WOULD RECOMMEND 1 YR HOLDOVERS

MAY – FOUR YEAR
�� MAYOR – 2015 1 YR HOLDOVER
�� PLACE 1 – 2013
�� PLACE 2 – 2012-2013 1 YR HOLDOVER
�� PLACE 3 – 2013
�� PLACE 4 – 2012-2013 1 YR HOLDOVER
�� PLACE 5 – 2014-2015 1 YR HOLDOVER
�� PLACE 6 – 2014-2015 1 YR HOLDOVER
�� The effect of this plan is that Places 1-4 serve a term from 2013-2017; and Places 5-6 and the Mayor serve a term from 2015-2019.

SB 100
�� PROS OF FOUR YEAR TERMS:
�� ALLOWS STAGGERING WITH 4/3 SPLIT
�� EFFECTIVE IF SPLIT WITH WISD - COST WOULD BE LOWER CONTRACTING WITH CCEA IN ODD NUMBERED YEARS (CURRENT COSTS)
�� ONLY HAVE GENERAL ELECTION COSTS EVERY TWO YEARS

�� CONS OF FOUR YEAR TERMS:
�� SOME MAY VIEW FOUR YEARS AS TOO LONG IN OFFICE.
�� WOULD REQUIRE RESOLUTION TO BE RATIFIED BY AMENDING HOME RULE CHARTER (ELECTION) TO AMEND CHANGE IN TERMS.

SB 100
�� HOW?
�� SB 100 ALLOWS COUNCIL TO CHANGE ELECTION DATE TO NOVEMBER OR EVEN-NUMBERED YEAR TERMS TO ODD-NUMBERED YEAR TERMS BY RESOLUTION
�� RECOMMENDED BE CONSISTENT WITH WYLIE ISD ELECTIONS TO KEEP LOCAL ELECTIONS ON SAME  ALLOT AND TO SAVE BOTH ENTITIES MONEY
�� IF OPTION CHOSEN FOR HOME RULE CHARTER AMENDMENT, DEADLINE FOR CALL FOR ELECTION FOR NOVEMBER 2011 WOULD BE SEPTEMBER 7TH.
�� DEADLINE FOR WISD TO CHOOSE OPTION IS DECEMBER 31, 2011. SIMPLY DONE BY RESOLUTION. DEADLINE FOR CITY TO CHOOSE CHANGE BY RESOLUTION AND/OR CHARTER ELECTION IS DECEMBER 2012.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hidden Agenda


It seems to me that we have a bit of Washington DC mentality taking place right here in Wylie.  In its most simplistic form, the old school Washington DC wishes to keep spending status quo and merely raise the debt ceiling so they can borrow to pay for their past spending sins.  The neo-DC-phytes want the spending cut so the US doesn’t have to borrow money from China to pay for our past transgression spending. 

In similar fashion, the neo-Wylie-phytes seem to want the frivolous spending stopped.  I should think they see that the most prudent plan of the day should be one of cutting spending where possible in order to pay for our debts and the coming expenses.  Running up debt at the moment is a suicidal path and I believe we have witness this on the national level with the downgrade by the S&P and the violently swinging stock market activity.  The old school Wylie-ites seem to want to borrow from the rainy day fund, thus moving the money to the discretionary spending account so they can keep on, keeping on with business as usual.  Is this a plan?  I don’t think so.  I believe it to be an ostrich head stabbed in the sand technique that could really come back to haunt us.

You would think the community spoke pretty loud and clear about how unwilling they are to spend money right now when the city got the idea to have a grand opening celebration for our new city hall.  As everyone sat around the worktable and discussed the result of phone calls made to bring in donations, nobody had anything of substance.  All eyes looked to the master of fundraising Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth to bring in some big bucks for the event.  Sadly, Red couldn’t get it done all by his lonesome and nobody else on that council could help.  Did Red and the council fail miserably?  I don’t think so.  The truth is, nobody is spending right now because to extend yourself beyond your abilities means putting your neck on the proverbial chopping block.  So that grand party with vendors, music stage, and fireworks was cut down to the nub. Caution is the name of the game and one would think our city council would take that anti-spendthrift sentiment to heart.  Not so. Spending as usual seems to be the name of this budget game at the moment.

Here is a link to the agenda for Tuesday night’s city council meeting:

If you examine the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting, you will see the continuation of a bizarre and definite pattern with this council.  The public forum is in the beginning of the meeting.  I believe it is their hope that most of the people will leave after they sit through what I can only hope is a string of people giving them the what-for about spending money we don’t have without cutting something in return.

I believe council hopes people will think the public forum is the most important piece of Tuesday’s business by placing it first in the order of things.  Oh and by the way, the meetings start at 6:00 PM so many people aren’t able to show up.  By design?  Probably. 

The problem I have with the budget is if we examine past practices by this council and those that came before, by the time they get to the public forum, most have already made up their minds about the budget.  Very little, if anything, will be changed about this budget between Tuesday, and the day they actually adopt it, on September 6th.  I would bet the budget Mindy Manson and her merry minions cooked up, gets spoon fed to the taxpayers pretty much as is.  If some serious fiscally responsible changes are made, I would be highly surprised and will write a post singing their praises.  What I would like to see is a knock down drag out session amongst the council members up there, where everything is on the table to be sliced and diced, and nobody is safe.  That won’t happen, however it really should.

As a side note, when I read the agenda packet, something else that stands out in my mind is the WEDC balance sheet.
Personnel Services :  Salaries $177,552.00
Supplies:  Office Supplies $14,200.00

Seriously?  I want to know if anyone else has pulled out their trusty calculator like I did and divvied that up over a 12 month period?  The WEDC is spending $1,183.33 per month on office supplies?  Holy gnat gnads, just how many pieces of paper and pens could so few employees actually be using over there?  Are they supplying the employees with Tiffany pens?  Then again, I suppose with a salary somewhere north of the $150K annual mark, Satterwhite must be crapping gold nuggets for the city so I guess all is right in the world of EDC. 

After the public forum, there will be the discussion of CWD’s extreme green program.  The agenda lists an increase of $.15 per month to the citizens.  I can only hope the council has finally resigned itself to an edict of only a $.15 monthly increase for this service in the first year, especially considering the general trash cost is going up for residents on top of this increase.  

There is also a work session on changing the elections up.  I simply cannot wait to hear the outcome of this discussion because some of the changes being kicked around require holdover of current seats and the myriad of options to be considered might keep our current council members in their seats longer, especially if council opts for new 4 year terms.  Scary.

Finally, the very last item on the agenda is a work session that will deal with coming expenses, fire station 4, and a quint.  The quint is an especially expensive and needed fire truck.  It should be no surprise that staff put this little ditty last on the agenda.  I bet they are hoping most of the attendees will leave before the work sessions begin.  After all, budget discussions and council business is not terribly sexy stuff and I’m sure it competes with someone’s reality TV show somewhere.  However this is probably the most important thing on that agenda and I urge the whole audience to stay riveted to their seats because the topic at hand will mean expenditures and more debt. 

The budget that I’ve seen in front of us locally is really indicative of this hide and seek and spend like drunken sailors theme that is causing us the same real issues at the national level.  The problem with this mindset is that the bill comes due.  Bills always do.  They have come due ever since the time of Caesar and Jesus. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Elfing Budget

Every Wednesday is a new adventure in Wylieland. I look forward to getting my Wylie News and kicking back to a good old session of Play the Grammar-Nazi.  Oh sure, I have my fair share of typos in this blog.  Sometimes I go back and correct them and other times I don't bother.  When you are typing 70WPM and the thoughts are pouring out of your brain at warp speed when it is near midnight, you pretty much give up caring about perfection.  I find I write like I work on my art.  I make a general rough draft of lines, and then I work a little here and a little there because I get bored very easily, and in the end I come back and put in all the details. 

I do however always look forward to the typos in the Wylie News.  Sometimes they are entertaining, especially when they cause a scene for a local realtor. To be honest, I don't think our little Podunk paper has ever been published blemish free since I moved here in 2001.  This week, Letters to the Editor are no exception.

Usually I’m laughing at the typos in the newspaper, but not this week.  Instead, I had a good belly laugh at this week’s letter from Mr. Matthew Butschek, Esq.  To be quite honest, it’s comical and eerily surreal at the same time.

Butschek refers to Mayor Eric Hogue as the “Head Elf”.  Now I know I can probably dwarf him when I’m wearing my stilettos but honestly, I never found him to be quite that short.  Hells, I can probably dwarf most men when I’m wearing my stilettos.  There’s something to be said about a sexy pair of shoes in a board room with all that testosterone in the air.  But I digress.

I don’t agree with Mr. Butschek’s assessment of Mayor Eric Hogue as head elf.  I think instead that we’ve got Snow White’s dwarfs sitting up there, from left to right: Inquisitive, Dopey, Classy, Shifty, Teflon, Good Time Charlie, and Blunt. Despite this slight disagreement on classification, I think Mr. Butschek has some good ideas.

In his letter, Butschek points out that the economy is in the crapper and the budget presented by the city manager lists income and expenses as remaining generally status quo.  He is upset that no real effort has been made at this point to, “trim expenses.” Well let’s not use that word, shall we?  Since word-smithing is so popular these days, I like to think of it as “elfing” because the words “cut” and “trim” just leave readers with a bad taste in their mouth.  Ya, that’s it.

Mr. Butschek wants to elf the budget. He is concerned about the new equipment, personnel and cars needed.  He is concerned about this 2% one-time, lump-sum payment to the employees that the “Head Elf” won’t call a bonus, even though it is.  He is concerned the rainy day budget is being elfed itself as our City Manager has carved it up like a pumpkin at Halloween and intends to just plain decapitate it next year.  Butschek is concerned that we are borrowing money because we cannot stop spending.  In short, he wishes to elf the eff out of the budget.

I would like to see the budget elfed too, to be honest, but we don’t get that vote. What we do get is to speak our mind about it and hope the council has the intestinal fortitude to slice and dice that budget down to a mini-me of its former self.  Can they do it?  More importantly, are they willing to do it?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hyperbole and Self Expression

Perhaps I was wrong when I thought that quasi intelligent and somewhat internet savvy people would be the ones reading my blog.  I am starting to believe I was wrong to think people had a realistic grip on what a blog actually represents.

A blog is a written set of opinions by an individual.  Sometimes blogs are interactive which means people can leave comments.  My particular blog is not interactive.  As I stated in my very first post, if you want to state your opinion, use some other forum or start your own blog. 

Blogs can sometimes be used for a purpose, such as political.  Others may be entertaining such as another blog I have that tells what I deem to be highly entertaining stories about my family and me.  What both of my blogs represent is an imaginative expression or rhetorical hyperbole.  I believe you would need to have an understanding of how that is defined in order to have a true appreciation for my blog, because if you are taking my words literally, then you are totally missing the point.

Let me take a few examples and toss them out there for you with the real definitions:

Because I state that our fine mayor Eric Hogue is sitting on a picket, does that actually mean he has a wood picket shoved up his hoo hay?  Seriously, if you have to think about this one, please turn off the computer before you hurt yourself.

If you think Councilman Bennie Jones actually throws a book called, “Diary of an Angry Black Man” at people, then you need to get a course on pop-culture, because it was a play on the popular Tyler Perry movie, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”.   

If you think Councilman Red Byboth is actually the devil, then you would need some serious counseling.  He’s a decent man whom I feel I can actually now somewhat consider as a friend.  I think if I needed something, he might actually come help me and I can tell you that if he needed something, I would probably help him if I could.  I get Red.  We are both Type-A personalities and I totally get that.

If you think I actually care to dirty dance or do anything else in that realm with WEDC Sam Satterwhite, then you haven’t seen my own husband have you?  I’m thinking my husband is pretty handsome and he has at least a foot on Satterwhite, oh and his eyes are bluer and he has a smile that makes people instantly drawn to him.  Oh, and he also has a pretty cool New York accent that used to make my knees knock when I first started to date him 19 years ago.  Yup, I have a pretty good thing going as my spousal unit keeps my extremely high maintenance self quite satisfied with the girly, frou frou stuff I love so much.  More importantly he allows me the ability to be the strong-minded, opinionated, and highly outspoken woman I am.  Oh, and he doesn’t feel threatened by me either.  He can actually hold his own against me and is probably the only man known to be able to put me in my place with only a couple words or the dreaded ‘look’.   

The point of my blog is to let the community members know what is going on since they cannot attend council meetings.  I meld my posts with sequences of hyperbole and creative expression.  So if hyperbole is shocking and fictional, then why do it?  Because I keep myself highly entertained and without it, this blog would just be a boring series of words.  For the reader, when hyperbole is mixed in with the real stuff, it sure makes for interesting reading and hopefully a few giggles.  Would you come back and read my blog day after day if it wasn’t somewhat entertaining and at times shocking? Nope.  I didn’t think so.

Just my two cents.