The Texan Conservative Does Liberal California

While I was on walkabout in my 80s California stomping grounds, I traipsed through San Francisco on a hippie love tour, wandered through Carmel, whale-watched in Monterey, rode a horse through the San Luis Obispo hills, shed a tear at President Ronald Reagan's burial site, beat feet out of that armpit known as Hollywood as Tamer Hosny stepped into the cement as an Arab instead of an artist, visited Queen Mary, hopped the 26 mile ferry to Catalina, dined in San Diego, stuck my toes in Carlsbad State Beach and visited every mission I could possibly cram into an already filled schedule. I need a vacation from my vacation.


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Why Are People So Angry?

Well, I did it again. Another year, another vacation under the belt.

While I was gone to the land of nucking futs, otherwise known as California, it seems that society went to hell in a hand basket. Turns out, you cannot leave the kiddies home alone to play nice.

I leave for ten gloriously sunny and temperate days and people are tearing down historical artifacts and rioting. For the love of God, grow up.

There's seriously something wrong with people's brains
When I returned, my highly inquisitive and rather astute son wanted to know how I feel about dismantling confederate statues. The long answer - I am not a revisionist. My take on this whole debacle is that as a society, how will we ever learn from our mistakes and provide teachable moments to future generations if we erase things we don't like? When people want to erase our worst hours because it hurts their fragile feelings, they are ensuring that, without historical reference points, we are apt to repeat history. The short answer - it's dumb. People's brains are clearly atrophying.

Why are people so angry?
How can people be so darned angry when we just came home from a trip to that slick, colorful brochure that is prissy, sissy and delicate Niceville?

It's because the liberals simply don't care. They reside in a fairyland, far away from that thing called real work. They sit commune style in open-air rooms with their flip-flops folded criss-cross-apple-sauce under the floor pillow and wander around their campus with a no-fat, no sugar added mocha frappuccino with garbanzo aquafaba cream and pretend they are clearing some sort of cobwebs from their slack, medical marijuana glazed brains. And they get paid big bucks for this liberty. They stand for anything and they stand for nothing. They are happy to jump a train and happy not to. It doesn't really matter to them one way or another. They think nobody should give a crap, and if you give a crap, surely you are oppressing, xenophobing or homophobing someone, somehow, somewhere.

Juxtapose that with people in the red states. These people give a crap. They work hard for everything they have, while the jet set call them those pesky flyovers. You know, the ones who make this country possible by paying taxes and working hard. They don't get to show up to work in flip-flops and cut out early for a hang-ten before they make their way back to their personal air-compressed sleep chamber for the night. They are pissed off that all their hard work and taxes are being pilfered away by a bunch of amoral twits in DC who are supported Hollywood half-wits.

You pay money to watch the Hollywood types. They clearly don't give a crap what you think because you keep paying to watch them pretend to be you, or someone you hoped you could be - just so you don't have to work that hard. They spout off nonsensical crap because they have to if they want to remain employed by the nutters holding the money, and it angers you but you pay for their TV shows and movies anyway. Poor thing, people like Naomi Judd have it so hard. You know, being looked at and all. But hey, you just keep paying them to spoon feed you nutter-speak and hope that your brain will not somehow be fundamentally changed by group-think.

Hollywood 2.0
You send good, hard-earned money to a candidate, which sends him to DC - the other Hollywood, and then suddenly they stop giving a crap. Rep. Pete Sessions the Repete kid is a prime example. If you sent him money to help close the borders or stop Planned Parenthood funding, as was pimped last season, that is old news. Like the taboo of  wearing white after Labor Day, his focus changes the day after every election. Good luck getting these people to listen, let alone hear.

Hollywood 3.0 
While you are busy watching Hollywood and ignoring 2.0, a new breed has emerged, which is even more dangerous than the previous two. These hollymaphrodites are toxic combinations of Hollywood starlet and politician. They are better known as the media. These slick little suckers are so deathly afraid of unemployment and new media bloggers that they stoke the fires for a living. Don't confuse them with their extinct counterparts who actually worked for the publics instead of the almighty liberal dollar. Their stake is that controversy, whether real or fabricated sells, and indeed, follow the money trail. As long as you feed the beast, they keep getting fatter.

This circle of life continues and those people paying for it all keep getting angrier.

As confederate history is completely eliminated, and the statues are all torn down, they'll have to start on names next. Watch the City of Tyler for a name change soon, considering their namesake is the slave-owning President John Tyler who owned 70 slaves. Will we ban the word "Washington" because he owned 317?

My prediction is the idiocy will continue because liberals brains are getting tinier. That's what happens when you buy into Hollywood and don't exercise them.

Image credit: Twitter

In Bold Move, Wylie Proposes Lowest Tax Rate in Years

Congratulations to the City of Wylie, Mayor Eric Hogue, city council members and the City Manager Mindy Manson for somehow finding enough money to give us a 6.7 cent tax rate decrease, when all along they said they couldn't, shouldn't, wouldn't go with more than a 2 cent decrease. 

It's amazing how the money just finds itself, but for now I will put the snarky in the pocket for a moment and thank them for realizing how much they have been hurting Wylie's taxpayers. They finally listened to us.

I will also take back calling our Mayor the tax-whore, because he worked to lower our rate, not just to the effective tax rate, but slightly lower than that. This is finally good news and taxpayers should celebrate heartily. 

That said, I can explain how easy it was for them to make this shocking move. 

Firstly, they discovered that the double-digit appraisal hike we received was near embarrassing at nearly 14%, especially considering the city manager proposed the budget based upon a 9% increase. Secondly, based upon that massive increase, the city stands to make a bundle off all those poor suckers who are buying new homes in Wylie. Finally, because the city was getting mighty tired of having their reputation mired by all this tax talk. It's looking like they will not be the highest taxed city in Collin County anymore, and for that I am fairly certain they are breathing a sigh of relief.

Now let me allay some fears about "future increase" chatter that always seems to make the rounds when talking with ill-informed people. The effective tax rate is a two-way street. When a city lowers their tax rate to meet that, the total tax payment homeowners make stays relatively the same. Should property values decrease, they can increase taxes to the effective tax rate and guess what? The total taxes paid will stay the same. That's the beauty of of the effective tax rate. 

Not only did the city determine that they could meet the effective tax rate, but they are attempting to beat it as well. Isn't it funny how much of a difference two weeks make when council claims they simply cannot lower taxes more than two cents, and suddenly find 6.7 cents to give us? Kind of makes you wonder why they have been sticking it to us for so many years in the first place, but I digress. 

The point of this post is that we the people should be jubilant today, for we are winning. Now if only the other taxing entities would fall in line, that would be great. But in the meantime, the city of Wylie is doing their part to make Wylie one of the best places in all of North Texas to live. Well done. 

Befuddled Rankings for Wylie City Council

Based upon the tax increase proposed by every city council member at the last budget work session, I decided to rank the council members based upon how well they listen to citizens, represent their concerns and how much they involve their own egos in votes.

Below are some surprising and not so surprising ranking results:

1. Councilman Toby Wallis - a DVM with cogent thought or two
This newbie is the best we've got and that's a sad statement considering he's only been on council a second. It should be no surprise that Councilman Wallis resides at the top of my list. He hasn't had time to make any ripples one way or the other. Still, his behavior so far has been exemplary, and it is obvious that he is paying attention to citizen's cries for help on our taxes. He made it clear from the start that he wishes to do what is in the best interest of all of Wylie's citizens.

His platform was "I believe that there are 3 S's that constitute a successful city: Stewardship- we must take care of what we have for our children, Service- we are here to serve the community as a whole, and Strength- one of our greatest strengths is our sense of community"

This is a refreshing perspective as long as he remembers that a strong community spirit is what makes a community great, not dispiriting them by increasing taxes and forcing them to move from their homes. If he lives up to this platform promise, it is certainly a far cry from the six other robbing hoods currently sitting on council. But this platform remains to be seen so I proceed with cautious optimism.

2. Councilman Jeff Forrester - underwhelmingly unoriginal
Without a viable opponent, Forrester was elected a couple of years ago. Though I had been warned that he was bffs with Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens, I felt he would be a conservative councilman willing to take the heat on behalf of citizens. Over the past two years he has proved neither. Instead, he stands with the Mason brethren and hasn't offered anything terribly useful. He certainly isn't backing the fight to lower our taxes.

He ran on conservative principles, fixing the roadways with common sense solutions (that hasn't happened) and as a good steward of the citizens, "By ensuring that they are heard and that they feel represented". Do you feel represented by him when he suggests a tax increase when polled? Um, no. Voters were looking for something new, fresh and sexy out of a councilman willing to stand up to the dais bullies increasing our taxes every year but instead, he brought his Z game. Truly disappointing.

3. Mayor Pro Tem Kieth Stephens - a confounding leader
This man is probably the most shocking of all because it originally seemed as though he was on council to side with the people and "make Wylie the best city to live, work, play and grow." He even stood up against a push by one former councilman to enforce a smoking ban on business owners, saying he was opposed to legislating business owners and that the people should have the right to choose businesses they wish to support whether they offer smoking or not.

Looking back, Stephens walked on council without an opponent for two elections and during that time it has become apparent that his overarching interest is in siding with the Wylie First Baptist Church (FBC) which he attends.

Probably to his credit, he was not at the last council meeting where members were polled as to the tax rate decrease they were in favor of, so we will never know if he officially wishes to increase our taxes this year with a paltry two cents, but past records show he voted for tax increases year after year.

That is an interesting dilemma for him, because he ran on, "Working to reduce the tax burden" according to his platform published in the League of Women Voters guide for May 7, 2016.

The real reason Stephens has dropped in my estimation of him is because of his votes against alcohol, based upon his religious beliefs and not based upon helping to lower that tax burden listed in his platform.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about drinking, enticing pubs and sit-down restaurants, like those in downtown McKinney and Plano would not be that difficult if the FBC folks got out of the way, but Stephens (and also Mayor Eric Hogue) routinely vote against anything that has to do with alcohol.

Wylie Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens
It's no secret that the FBC is an issue in the ability of businesses to get liquor licenses in the area surrounding them.

When the city stopped supporting the downtown area some years back, in favor of building the 544 discount shopping and fast food corridor, the downtown merchants had to form their own association and support system while struggling to remain in existence.

Without a lively nightlife, they will never be able to revitalize downtown Wylie to its former "Wide Awake Wylie" days.

Though Stephens will not vote to support alcohol in the city, I was sent this image of him drinking the signature alcoholic drink of the evening, a S'mores Martini, at a Collin County event earlier this year.

I have to wonder about the duplicity this image presents when it comes to his votes on alcohol, which would dramatically increase foot traffic and tax revenue for the downtown merchants, and help him live up to his promise to reduce the tax burden on citizens. With years of tax increases, Wylie is definitely not the best place to live or play in as he promised when he ran for council.

4. Councilwoman Diane Culver - can't hear us over her gums flapping
Back in the day, many people told me they didn't like Culver because she was loud, crude and rude. My estimation was that she was the breath of fresh air that the stale old-school clique of long-time Wylie residents sitting on council needed. At the time, she ran on conservative principles, so I supported her. Since then, her love affair with talking seems to have colored her common sense.

It's true, through the years she did some wonderful things on council, like getting the Code of Ethics passed, though it certainly didn't hurt that a couple councilmen made some bonehead mistakes, or that my continual blogging embarrassed the city to the point that mayor finally hopped off his picket.

Mayor was of the mindset that the city's charter was enough to keep leaders in line, and they didn't need no stinking code of conduct the blogger and Culver were pushing for. But Culver ran and won on fiscal responsibility and a code of conduct and contrary to her public statement that she got the code put into place, it would NEVER have happened without the deeply embarrassing antics of former Councilmen Bennie Jones and Nathan Scott, my continued blogging to get the word out and the newspaper finally acting like the informer of the publics they are supposed to be, after ignoring the Scott situation for over a year.

Culver was even honored by receiving an official endorsement from Empower Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, who provide that distinction to those who are recommended and make it through the interview process showing they are fiscally conservative. I made the recommendation and the rest was up to her, so why she has been voting for tax increases to citizens, despite a rather healthy budget  that would have supported adopting the effective tax rate the past several years, is perplexing.

Culver supported the small, tax rate decreases and, according to her candidate Facebook page, she claims the tiny decreases to the tax rate were done so that the city could continue on with expanding services. This is government speak for tax and spend, and pretending that established homeowners need to pay for the new people moving into the city, despite the fact that their homes are worth more and thus taxed higher. It's crazy talk because all those new homeowners for the past several years are now more than paying for their share of growth.

Clearly this is a difficult concept for all of our council members to grasp. Growth does indeed pay for growth, or at least it should if the city is well run.

Despite the small tax decreases Culver claims are the highlights of her seat, each year they still amounted to overall tax increases thanks to the city's unwillingness to offset the tax burden of increasing property values. She has never taken up that effective tax rate cross for citizens either.

I guess she is under the misconception that our taxes should increase each year to help pay for all these wonderful things we are getting in Wylie, though citizens are still at a loss as to exactly what they are.

Yet Culver even stated rather emphatically at last Tuesday's council meeting that contrary to popular belief, growth doesn't pay for growth. Facepalm.

Uh, I suppose new growth doesn't pay for new growth if you're Wylie and you are run by a group of useful idiots.

If the city is still running in the red after near build-out for a handful of years, then it is seriously mismanaged. Is she really publicly announcing that the city is losing money and needs to increase taxes every year for five in a row just to cover their debt and expenses? Truly embarrassing.

What's worse, the woman who used to be horrified at our mayor's egocentric license plate that read "Wylie One", now glances at him throughout the meetings for affirmation that she's on the right track.

It seems that the city pumps her with nonsense, knowing they can lob and spew with her incessant need to talk during council meetings. This was evidenced in the last meeting where she barely took a breath, even speaking on behalf of those presenting, such as the Animal Shelter and even the city manager.

5. Councilwoman Candy Arrington - the get along gal
Then there's Councilwoman Candy Arrington. She's smart as a whip and is probably one of the only ones up there that understands a bit 'o finance, but I'll be damned if she doesn't go along to get along on every vote.

Her platform when running? Your guess is as good as mine.

This about sums it up:
Texas League of Women Voters
I guess that's one way of not letting people know what you stand for. I supported her in a runoff, but the lack of rank is a direct result of her asking important questions, and then still voting with the herd. She is frustrating at best, and if she votes yet another year to increase our taxes, I suspect she'll have a formidable opponent next year, and we'll be bidding her adieu.

6. Councilman David Dahl - the yes man cometh
Oh man, no. When I poll greeted during the primaries in March 2016, Dahl stood outside of the polls and told me that we'll have to vote on a bond soon to pay for road improvements. But he's always been a tax and spend kind o' guy. It's no surprise his platform was built on taxing and spending. At least he made no bones about it. Well there's that.

He routinely sits on the fence on nearly every topic, seemingly grateful when he doesn't have to vote first on something. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to see him have any conviction whatsoever on any topic; his finger votes with mayor's finger virtually every time, especially when it comes to tax and spend.

The only person with a larger picket impression on their backside than mayor, is Dahl.

7. Mayor Eric Hogue - the tax and spend whore
What can I say about mayor? He's the media Hogue. He's even his own enterprise! No seriously, go read all about his spending highlights and then make your way back here.

In my opinion, he has turned into the Worst Mayor Ever. For all the good he did in getting Wylie's name on the map, he's undone five-fold with years of tax and spend that are now causing  "his people" financial hardship. 

So much for the servant/leader attitude he claims to have as part of his candidate platform. As a representative of the people, he claims to, "listen and work to meet the needs of a growing community".

Listen? Has anyone got that out of his votes over his four terms? Oh sure, he listens, and then he charges forward doing what is best for the Eric Hogue Enterprises - motivational speaker extraordinaire!

I suppose that's one way to get yourself some tax write-offs.
Eric Hogue, in his Clinky the Clown costume. (Eric Hogue)

If you are wondering why the realty market has slowed down in Wylie, look no further than the tax and spend magician who is making your money magically disappear from your wallet.

Oh, he's witty, cute and kissable sometimes, but that has clearly worn off according to taxpayers. He's pretty well disliked now, which seems like the perfect time to groom someone to run against him in three years.

It won't be difficult to beat him, especially when you see what people think of him:
"How do you get rid of Eric hogue? He has all his yes people around him and no one will run against him"
"That is horrible that we have 3 more years of him"
"I guess it's time to clean house and vote in a mayor and city council that will listen to the citizens. Same goes for the school district.Everyone I know in Wylie is fed up with the taxes. Many are moving out of Wylie because of the taxes. Time for change and lower taxes"
"Seems to me some of the people running the City need to be voted out."
"I've been participating in Wylie city elections for 15 years. We need a new option for 2018 city counsel seats."
"The appraised value is not the problem, it is the ridiculous high city and school tax we pay in Wylie. Wylie's city council and Mayor are out of control and yet we just re-elected the mayor without any opposition. Go figure."
"How can we do a recall of Eric and the bobble head council? We have lived here for more than 10 years. My son and Eric's were in band together. I have known the man for years. I wouldnt give him the time of day now. They are NOT listening to the people. Remember Dr Fuller @ WISD?"
Oh yes, I remember Dr. Fuller all too well, ramming bond after bond at voters, and when we declined, he repackaged it and rammed it at us several more times. Hell to the yes, he even rode from school to school in a caravan of shame, showing voters broken door locks, bent lockers and stained gym floors that should have been part of general school maintenance, certainly not a bond.

The point is, he wasn't listening. All the money he wanted from taxpayers was about building himself a "legacy". He even went so far as to have WISD purchase land across from his Seis Lagos neighborhood for a third high school!

The scary part is, Fuller sounds eerily similar to Mayor Hogue. Do you ever wonder if we'll soon be visiting Hogue City Hall?  I shudder to think, and you should too.

These rankings were a long-time coming, but I feel there is no time like the present, especially when another year of tax increases is staring homeowners in the face. 

Wylie Council Lie About Representing Citizen Wishes

I've heard it said by Mayor Eric Hogue before; when nobody shows up at council meetings, it must mean they are happy with the direction council is taking. 

Except we did show up. 

People showed up and told them in May that they were unhappy about our taxes, and we asked them to lower them by adopting the effective tax rate. 

The fact is, we have told them what we want, and tonight, they just told us they don't give a rat's cheek about representing us, and certainly not the full rat's ass. 

At the end of the day, our council, who we voted in to represent our wishes, capitulated to a 2 cent decrease in our tax rate (except Councilman Wallis who suggested 3.5 cents). This number is by no means firm yet, but the very fact council wasted three hours of time nobody can ever get back again, asking questions of City Manager Mindy Manson, only to go with whatever she presented anyway is a total mystery.

There was lots of talk about spending, and then more talk about how to spend more later. Absolute dipshizzles. 

The outcome of tonight's budget work session is certainly no surprise to me. They do the same thing, like clockwork, every year. And you know what they say about doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. The meme above says it all.

Even if council comes up with another 1.5 cent decrease to total 3.5 cents by the public hearings next month, it will still be a TAX INCREASE. 

Why? Because next week the effective tax rate is announced by the Collin County Central Appraisal District. Adopting it would mean the city would keep our taxes the same as last year. 

Gee, they didn't seem to have any trouble working within last year's budget. They added headcount, gave raises, bought stuff. and put money in the bank. They even took in more sales tax and property tax revenue than their budget estimates. But this year momma needs new shoes.

This is the crap they pull year after year, all in the name of being conservative with your money. Meanwhile, you are stuck with increasing taxes and mortgage payments because your escrow payment increases to cover the higher taxes and insurance costs. Your city cannot stop taxing you because they cannot stop spending. This is evident by the ridiculous amount of money the city owes. 

Some Wylie homeowners even complained their payments went up $300 and $400 dollars this year. That is clearly of no consequence to the city council. They don't care; they just can't wait to spend your money on new toys.

So if I had to place a bet on the effective tax rate, I would guestimate it to be around 5-6 cents, but I will report it here as soon as I find out what it is. Yet council walked away from the budget work session tonight thanking themselves for going with a conservative 2 cent decrease. 


As fiduciaries of our tax dollars, why council and mayor think increasing our taxes and spending the money like it's going out of style is a conservative use of our tax dollars is beyond me. Meanwhile, they are vigorously patting themselves on the back tonight for pretending to represent our wishes. 

Well they didn't.

Image credit: Quickmeme

Wylie Takes Taxpayers for Chumps

Here I sit, writing this blog instead of doing my homework. I suppose the Master's can wait a few hours while I attend to the other, more pressing master - taxes.

Welcome All Chumps
It may have taken me a couple months of breaking down the tax information for everyone, but now I am going to show you how the city is playing us for chumps.

In last year's budget work session, the budget requests were not much unlike this year's.

The 2016 Budget Matters in 2017
Listen closely to this video. You'll hear City Manager Mindy Manson asking council not to reduce the tax rate because she has to pay for everything presented. The main takeaway here is that every year, at every initial budget work session, Manson comes to council presenting a virtual doomsday scenario that requires every penny available to cover expenses. Not to mention the increasing tax revenues they are sure to get above and beyond the "conservative" estimates presented. I say not to mention, because they sure don't.

I know, I know, 2016 is so last year, so why am I going over this now? As we dig into the requests presented in 2016, we can begin to see the picture of how the money flows at city hall.

Staff Pay
First, I'll point out that I have no problem paying staff salaries that are in line with other similar communities with similar budgets. I believe staff do a great job representing this city. Just look at City Secretary Carole Ehrlich alone, she is a massive fount of information and even if she cannot stand the blogger who has at times made her life hell, she always has a smile for me. I don't want the city to become a training ground for youngsters who turn around and leave for higher paying city jobs. That just creates lost revenue and productivity.

I agree that every person working in the Police and Fire departments deserve to be fairly paid as well. They hold jobs I certainly wouldn't want to do. I am grateful for every one of them, every day, because we have had to seek their help in the past. Like when my father-in-law had a massive heart attack and they were at his house a block away from mine within four minutes. Also, every time I have had to call the police to report the activity of the highly popular drug dealer on my street, they have been super helpful. These blog posts are not aimed at staff in any way, they are aimed at the executive city leadership and Mayor Eric Hogue, who are playing everyone's emotions while they build a Monopoly empire.

That said, a complicit council has gone along for the ride, certainly for as many years as I've lived here. I have yet to witness any sitting council that has the ability or intellect to understand how budgets and city finance work. Their questions about the budget through the years tell me they are without a clue. That's not to say there haven't been council members who get it, because there have been, but they are beaten down year after year. We saw this with former councilmen David Goss and William Whitney, and now we will begin to see this with Dr. Toby Wallis. As long as the Mayor and Mindy tag team are running the show, nothing is going to change with our taxes. Nothing.

If you want something to change, vote mayor out in three years and demand they fire the city manager. Don't say I neglect to present you with solutions.

Playas Playing
I blogged about this almost one year ago to the day in Wylie Tax Rate Kept Artificially High.

An example of the players can be seen in the video above. Mayor and Mindy bantered back and forth about how a 1/2 cent decrease in our tax rate would only result in a measly $20 decrease. At one point Hogue completely dismisses it saying it's "nothing" for taxpayers and Manson agreed, stating how harmful a decrease in tax rate would be to the budget.

The reality is that the decrease was worth far more than their fictitious $20 when applied to my own property value increase. That alleged $20 turned into a $135.11 increase last year. And over, and over, and over again, each year my taxes to the city increased, totaling $561.75 since 2012. You can see from the taxes on my home below where they got really greedy starting in 2015, but it didn't become noticeable to taxpayers until 2016, when escrow notices started arriving in the mail.

Mayor and Mindy's flippant attitude is precisely the problem with this city.

After the budget was initially presented in the video above, they conveniently modified it. With those modifications, they lowered department expenditures and provided a 2 cent tax rate decrease by the time September rolled around and council voted to approve the budget. After all that they still took in that massive $2.9 million tax revenue windfall.

Rainy Day Fund
Note that in the last budget work session in June, Manson claimed that the city needed to keep 30% of the total budget in "reserves", which must be their fancy new name for the "rainy day fund". Back in 2011, an independent auditor told them they needed between 20-25% of budget in the rainy day fund, in order to keep our high bond rating. Suddenly, Manson is suggested that the city needs 30%. I'm calling BS on this one. That is nearly 1/3 of our entire budget and in the current model of dramatically increasing property values, I cannot image the necessity of nearly 1/3 of our budget to hold our bond rating steady. That's preposterous. What's worse, I cannot believe she dared say that with a straight face, or that nobody on council said a word about this ludicrous claim.

Police Headcount
When we compare the 2016 budget to the  CAFR that was officially audited in January 2017, we can see that the city spent considerably less in certain departments and used the money in other departments.

Notice that public safety, otherwise known as police and fire with a little bit of animal control sprinkled in, was provided with $18,180,607 in the final approved budget, but actually used $17,534,893 under-spending by $645,714.

Also notice that general government expenditures, also known as the city manager's kitchen sink, conveniently overspent by $428,141.

So the police headcount of 61 the city so desperately wanted for the 2015-2016 budget meant the city manager could pilfer a line item she knew full well would never be spent in it's entirety. How did she know? Because there is a clear record of what the city is asking for in headcount and what they actually fulfill each year.

In 2014 alone, the city budgeted 15 new headcount for PD. In September 2014, city council voted to approve a budget with 61 total officers, yet they only had 46 at the time, and they only added 7 of the 15. Obviously the funds "allegedly" available for PD to add headcount were used elsewhere.

Notice, in September 2015 when the 2015-16 budget was passed, they had 53 officers and held eight slots open for the budget for a total of 61. You can see by 2016 they only filled two slots. THIS a game the city manager and Mayor Eric Hogue are playing with OUR money. And this is just the PD's budget. I wonder what FD headcount would look like if I put in the same information request for them?

This is NOT the fault of PD or FD. THIS IS the fault of the city manager and mayor who are playing games and pilfering funds from emotion-based departments in order to have some mad money lying around throughout the year. If they are doing it with PD and FD, they are surely doing it with other departments. And the city council members just bobble their heads in approval. It annoys me greatly that the chiefs of police and fire are being played.

Tugging Your Heartstrings
Our city gets away with it because they tug at the heartstrings of a benevolent taxpayer base, who want to see police and firefighters get what they deserve. I mean, how can we tell them no? Just as our council members stumble over themselves while ingratiating Mayor and Mindy's backsides, they believe they are altruistic in the money grab.

Meanwhile, Mindy and Mayor NEVER intend for the money to go entirely to public safety. The excess funds are always spent or moved elsewhere, like the $645,714 under-spent in public safety, which was then clearly overspent in $393,124 in an ambiguous line item called "combined services general" for 2016.

So, what about that tax revenue windfall of $2.9 million last year? As a taxpayer, wouldn't you expect them to return your money back to you? Nope, they included it as part of the $3,151,965 put in the bank last year, as you can see from the ending fund balances below.

Enter the Hailstorm
Which takes me to the final part of this 2016 video, which played out over the past year. What started out as repair and remodel of the public safety building after the hailstorm, has turned into a full remodel and expansion as heartstrings are tugged at yet again, this time by hail.

The public safety building was damaged by the hailstorm and insurance paid what it would cost to repair the building, roughly $1.2 million plus a yet undetermined recoverable amount. Normally the city would come to us with a bond to build such an expensive building, but how can they? Our taxes have been going up and people have been pitching a fit over it. They certainly can't increase our tax rate without rioting in the streets. So how are Mayor and Mindy going to pay for their expensive building and get away with it?

Had the hailstorm not occurred, rest assured, the city would have come to us for a vote. Instead, when they have so much excess tax revenue coming in and they are stockpiling money, they have no problem paying for not only a repair and remodel, but a $7+ million dollar expansion reported in The Wylie News on May 17th of this year.

You can view the presentation on the total overhaul of the public safety building here. In this meeting that took place May 9, 2017, council voted in favor of ADG architect firm at a cost of $943,880 just for the design plans. That doesn't include construction.

Oh sure, the weepy saps around Wylie are nodding in unison that the PD deserves a nice building, and they do. But nobody came to us to ask if they could use our money to do it. It's just going to be done because that's what Mayor and Mindy want.

What Mayor and Mindy want, they seem to get, even it it means taxpayers lose their homes over it, which is what is taking place as people are moving out at high rates since May. Sadly, people can no longer afford their house payment because of the dramatically increasing property values, coupled with the city's obstinate refusal to adopt the effective tax rate. So as a homeowner, why not take the increase in property values and beat feet out of the highest taxed city in Collin County? It seems our city leaders think that's just a casualty of all these "services" they claim we are getting with the luxury of paying the highest tax rate.

How will the city be paying for these new police digs then? If they combine last year's tax revenue windfall that was put in the bank, with the insurance payout that will total more than $1.6 million, as well as any tax revenue windfall they can scrape off of our backs this year, voilĂ !

Every story has an end
The moral of this story is that on July 18th, at the next budget work session, we'll be lucky if the city adopts any tax decrease at all. Instead, they will fling the back of their hand to forehead and tell us, just like in past years, that the thought of adopting the effective tax rate is simply too much for our budget to bear. What with all those wonderful services we are getting, and all, like a larger library (the 80s called to say there are now actually things called preschools and handheld readers!) and a rec center that has never operated in the black since the day it opened (um, Ballys is calling and they want to run it for you), and all those roads they are building, yup they intend to push for a bridge over Lake Lavon yet again (yawnsville).

Oh, and good luck trying to tell Mayor and Mindy what they can cut from their precious budget. Yup, we're pretty much chumps when only a dozen people can bother themselves to complain about our taxes at a council meeting.

Now back to my schoolwork, for which I am also paying a mighty price.

Wylie PD Officer Headcount vs Budget Requests

If you recall, at the budget work session earlier in June, several city council members shut down a concerned citizen during his time to speak. Mayor even pushed a mic grab by pulling Chief Henderson up to the podium.

During that rude orchestration, a comment was made by one of the council members that they had witnessed how devastating it was for a recruit to make it through our system, only to be turned away because there was not a budgeted position available. That statement is an outright fabrication.

I submitted an information request to the city, asking if they had to turn away any recruits since 2012. Here is the response which shows the number of sworn police vs the number of headcount available. At no time did they have to turn away anyone.

Also notice that PD has been given plenty of funds toward headcount each year, but they have not filled the positions for one reason or another. It is unfathomable that in 2014, when there were 46 officers on the day the 2014/15  budget was approved, city council approved an sickening 15 slots in our budget. Do you have any idea how much money that represents per person, when the city pays for a recruit's training, salary, overtime and benefits? 

When the current budget was approved last September, there were 55 sworn officers and 6.5 headcount built into the budget. But when former Councilman William Whitney asked to take a second look at that headcount request, he was virtually steamrolled by Mayor Eric Hogue. 

The "overtime" excuse does not hold water. I defy you to take overtime pay away from police and see how happy they remain. They want overtime pay because it bumps up their salary considerably.

The "low pay" excuse no longer holds water, as the city has been providing market increases every year during this period. A market increase bumps up salaries to meet those of nearby cities of similar size or budget.

What this means is that year after year, the city council is pushing through a kabuki dance of numbers that is emotion-based, instead of reality-based. This emotion appears to flow into every area of the budget, and the taxpayers have provided them with an open wallet.

What council members and Mayor Hogue have not done is provide taxpayers with relief from the increasing property values, because they have continually voted to increase our taxes the past four years, while pretending they are lowering our taxes with a smoke and mirrors tax rate numbers game.

All we are asking for this year is an adoption of the effective tax rate. It's really not that difficult for them to give us that, by holding to last year's rather healthy budget.

It is a total mystery to me as to why our city leaders think this is rocket science. It's not.

Image credit: City of Wylie

Wylie is Rolling in Dough

At the last Wylie City Council meeting, City Manager Mindy Manson showed council a preliminary budget during the work session. The chart they used this year shows the tax rate making a steep drop over the past five years. Interesting.

Mayor Eric Hogue and a few council members love to toss around the false narrative that they are reducing our taxes and this chart is a great representation of that. Or is it?

Though the city may have reduced the tax rate, the highest in all of Collin County I might add, this chart and the false narrative only perpetuate a mass misconception. It is easy to pass this chart around because they know that taxpayers get confused about how their taxes work.

When the city council tells you they lowered your taxes, they mean they lowered your tax rate. From the chart above, they only lowered it five cents between 2012 and 2017.  The city representatives love to show this chart, because it makes them feel like heroes for making you think your taxes are taking a nosedive. Except they aren't.

Now let's compare the Wylie City estimated taxes from 2012 through 2017 using an average-priced home as our basis. More to the point, using my home.

This is the reality of that alleged tax reduction that Mayor Hogue and council members like to pretend they gave you. These numbers are the estimated taxes that came directly from my notices of appraised value from 2012 through 2017. Does this look like a tax reduction to you? Obviously it's not.

The taxes paid to Wylie continually increase because the city council refuses to adopt the effective tax rate each year. Instead, they opt to take more money from taxpayers, and pretend they are giving you a tax break by lowering the rate slightly. Certainly not enough to offset the massive increase.

Now some people try to blame the Collin County Central Appraisal District for their increasing taxes. Except, this entity only sets your home's appraisal value. Mostly they pull the number out of their behinds, but for the most part, the appraisals have pretty much been lower than what I could have sold my home for each year. The fact is, scarcity, among other things, has caused home values to increase dramatically over the past couple years and is expected to again in the coming year.

That said, each year, the appraisal district announces the effective tax rate, which is supposed to be adopted by city council to help offset the tax burden on homeowners. The effective tax rate helps keep your payment out the door generally the same as the previous year. Clearly, that is not what Wylie has been doing. Instead they have been taking your money and touting a fake tax reduction.

Now lets take a look at the difference between our current tax rate of .8489 and if Wylie were to lower our taxes by ten cents to .7489 this year. That 2017 payment of $1944.28  on my home, would be reduced to $1715.24, essentially rolling back to their 2015 budget. They could certainly live within those means, considering how much money they took in between 2012 and 2015, plus all the new property tax revenue on the anticipated 350 new homes as well as new businesses opening this year.

Now tell me again how Wylie isn't rolling in the dough?

Photo credit:

Wylie Sister Entities - One is Not Like the Other

Guess what showed up in The Wylie News last Wednesday? Front cover, above the fold even. An article about how concerned citizens would be protesting the Wylie ISD board meeting last Monday, just like they protested at the city council meeting a couple weeks ago.

Except, they weren't. For anyone following the We the People Facebook page, or even Nextdoor, there was no discussion of a Wylie ISD protest. Still, the notice was worth sharing on social media to see just how many people are concerned about the school taxes. Precisely two people showed up.

So exactly how did this article make it into the paper then? As I've mentioned before, the newspaper often prints articles at the behest of Mayor Eric Hogue. They are, after all, the "official city newspaper of Wylie", a title bestowed upon them by a council vote each year.

So think back to the city council meeting last week. At the end of the budget work session, Mayor Hogue was sure to mention that people need to protest the other three taxing entities: Collin College, Collin County and Wylie ISD. Conveniently, the next day the newspaper article hit the newsstand.

So if Collin College and Collin County have been routinely lowering their tax rates to citizens, what entity do you think Mayor Hogue was referring to? That's right, Wylie ISD. There's nothing quite like your mayor playing adversary against the school district.

Now think back to The Wylie News article mentioned above. If there had been zero discussion among protesters about attending the Wylie ISD meeting, why, then, did the newspaper publish this article saying there was?

I suppose the newspaper might have attempted to insinuate a protest, but that does not represent journalistic integrity, making it highly doubtful that the newspaper just made up this story. For this story to go to print, they would have been approached by someone feeding them information; or misinformation as it were. I wonder, who would gain from taking some of the tax heat off of the city and placing it on the school district? Obviously, a rhetorical question.

What came out of this faux Wylie ISD protest is the ability to show people the difference between a Board of Education that behaves as a partner with citizens and which sits quietly and thoughtfully through public comment, versus an unruly and unprofessional Wylie City Council, that seems confounded as to the definition of "public comment" and how to behave through it. Here is an assessment of my last two meeting experiences, as I watched how other citizens were treated by both entities.

From the moment citizens walk into a city council meeting, they may be stared down or just plain ignored, unless they seek to approach someone. Certainly, our mayor is not working the crowd in the entryway or welcoming citizens into the chamber. When you walk in, it is reverent, like a courtroom. When you speak to council during a work sessions, some sit with their fist propping up their head in what appears to be boredom, some attempt to shut you down while you are talking, sometimes they invite staff to do a mic grab and they even debate your point of view.

Contrast that starkly with Wylie ISD. Once a citizen enters, they are hard pressed to avoid a practical bear-hug from Superintendent Dr. David Vinson, If he doesn't go in for the hug, he is happy to chat with everyone and make them feel welcome. There are smiles all around and some of the other board members also work the crowd, as do staff. Everyone there does their best to make citizens feel welcomed. When you walk in, it feels warm and lively. When you speak to the board, they actively listen. At this particular board meeting, when the citizens finished speaking, one board member gave heart-felt encouragement to concerned citizens.

Notice if you will, the difference in how the public is treated by these sister entities:

Wylie City Council Work Session

Wylie ISD Meeting (video to be updated once Wylie ISD publishes it to their website).

Turns out the crap bomb that Mayor Hogue had intended to spatter on Wylie ISD, when he suggested taxpayers should protest the other taxing entities, instead exploded on him. So not only does Hogue's mayoral legacy include increasing taxes over the past four years, soon to be five, but it also includes his inhospitable council meetings. He does, after all, lead by example.

Many sisters get along very well, but every now and then there's that petty family member that tries to cause trouble. It's too bad, too, because the Wylie ISD trustees show us how easy it is to have grace and compassion for those who are affected by their decisions. I have never witnessed this at a council meeting.

Image credit: White Christmas

Wylie Council Admonishes a Concerned Citizen During Public Comment

Shame on Councilman Jeff Forrester, Councilwoman Diane Culver, Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens and Mayor Eric Hogue for admonishing this concerned citizen over his questions about staff and PD headcount. 

This poor man didn't even get to finish his statements before it quickly became the council show. Forrester led a several minute admonishment, followed by Culver who went on a several minute diatribe, followed by Hogue who drafted the Chief of Police to step in. 

The man's concerns turned into stern admonishment for an extended period of time, as he stepped to the side and waited to get the floor again. And our smug Mayor looked on. 

This image beautifully portrays what happened during public comment of the council budget work session tonight. When it was over, for council to welcome this man back to meetings doesn't erase the ill-mannered behavior that was displayed by the majority. 

Very disrespectful!

Wylie Taxpayer Demands

CAFR is an acronym for Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and it is where the "real" numbers of city business are held. Well, sort of. You'll be hard pressed to find out exact expenditures but you will see overall budgeting and totals.

Let's tackle one sneaky way the city increases your taxes paid to them.

As you can see from the image, the city breaks down their tax rate into two sections - debt service and basic rate. How taxes are supposed to work is that when debt is paid down, the city should reduce the basic rate by that amount. Except, the City of Wylie has been raking that extra dough in, thus knowingly increasing our taxes.

This can be witnessed when comparing the last ten years of tax revenue by source. According to the 2016 CAFR, Wylie's Ad Valorem (a fancy way of saying property tax) increased 107.2%, Sales Tax increased 111.3%, and franchise taxes increased 39.7%.

In fact, the total tax revenue increase since 2007 has been 101%.

So it begs to be asked, wasn't the city supposed to take the tax burden off of homeowners, once they started realizing increases in sales and franchise tax revenue from all the businesses moving in? Well, that is how a well-run city is supposed to do it anyway.

When we look at excess fund balances on Wylie's 2015 CAFR, the ending fund balance was $29,183,358. Since they only banked $631,077 over the previous year they likely spent the excess tax revenue windfall from increased property, sales and franchise taxes.

On Wylie's 2016 CAFR, the ending fund balance is $32,335,323 and they banked $3,151,965 over the previous year, which likely means they put the $2.9 million property, sales and franchise tax revenue windfall in the bank.

Notice how Wylie's financial position improves from year to year. So much for taxing entities being not for profit. 

With all those extra funds Wylie is realizing, it shouldn't be a stretch to the imagination to see the sandbagging that takes place during the budget season year after year. This is done to purposely keep our tax rate artificially high. The funds are either spent or put in the bank; they don't just magically disappear.

Below is a fine piece of sandbagging presented by our city manager for the 2016 budget. Note that each year the City Manager presents a budget that starts out lower in revenue and ends dramatically higher. 

Expenses conveniently end at a deficit (for example in 2016 the city manager's office overspent by $35K and combined services/general overspent by $393K). Things like public safety, urban development and streets start high and end low as those numbers are sandbagged in the budget.

An example of this can be seen in public safety where they sandbagged with over $18.1 million budgeted but actually only spent $17.5 million.

Last week some of Wylie's astute taxpayers met and studied the CAFR. The result of this meeting is that they identified that the city has more than enough funds in their budget to cover a healthy tax decrease. 

Because of this, Wylie taxpayers are demanding the budget be "rightsized" this year by:
  • Adopting the effective tax rate
  • Promising to reduce the basic rate as debt service is paid off from here forward
  • Giving taxpayers an additional reduction of ten cents, which is in line with many of the North Texas cities similar in size
Nothing less will be acceptable.

So while the city council and administrators pick themselves up from the floor,  here are a few other requests.

  • The city manager should come to council with a reasonable budget, abruptly ending the sandbag show, or she should be fired
  • A contrite council needs to vote  for the substantial tax break outlined above
  • Mayor Eric Hogue needs to apologize for bending us all over for years, while on his watch

Problem solved.

How Many Wylie Businesses Haven't Paid City Taxes?

I feel the need to revisit the Lawyer's Title deal again, because someone needs to.

Recall in my post Wylie Good Old Boy System Must Go, a claim was made at a council meeting that the City of Wylie tax was left off of the Collin County Central Appraisal District (CCAD) tax bill, for the Lawyers Title property between 2009- 2013.

The owner of Lawyers Title is Baron Cook, who's business, Wylie Industrial Court Dev Ltd., actually owns the Lawyers Title property.

During that council meeting, presumably because the situation was too confounding for anyone at the city to figure out, and because it would cost the city additional legal fees, council decided to forgive the interest and fees on what Cook owed on behalf of his company. The result of the meeting was that he had to pay his back taxes sans fees. That's great.

I wonder then, why previous years were ignored at this meeting? That's right. The Freedom of Information Act request I made to CCAD came back showing the city taxes for 2007 and 2008 were also left off those bills. Interesting.

Might I also point out here that it was intimated in the council meeting that Wylie Industrial Court Dev Ltd. was not receiving the tax bills because they were going to the realtor who was renting the space at the time. My, but that is interesting considering the address on these statements went directly to the business address, and not the Lawyers Title address.

I am left with so many questions as to exactly how such an omission at the CCAD could occur. Did these taxes actually go unpaid? Why didn't the city spend time researching the issue prior to placing it on the agenda, instead of just taking someone's word for it? Is the city really that derelict in their duty as fiduciaries on behalf of all taxpayers? Just how many other businesses in Wylie have missed paying city taxes? Exactly how far back does the city portion of taxes go unpaid on that property? Who exactly were on the boards at CCAD during this time frame? Was there some type of cronyism going on?

All valid questions, especially when we are researching the city's wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

I suppose we'll never know the full extent of this situation, and just how many other businesses have been affected by this CCAD omission of taxes. For me, it's definitely up there in the things that make you go hmmm.

Photo credit:

Welcome New Readers

Taxes are some serious business, and I've picked up quite a few new readers because of them. On Facebook, someone even went so far as to pay to promote my Wylie's Good Old Boy System Must Go post. Whoever you are, thank you. That was awesome.

Welcome to all my new readers who are incensed over Wylie's ridiculous tax rate. I've been here fighting for you for many years. Sometimes I'm snarky, sometimes I'm serious and sometimes I even crack myself up, but all of the time I genuinely care. .

I've been blogging about the situations in Wylie for a long time and I have truly heard it all. I've been threatened, called names, accused of being biased (um ya, this is a blog full of my personal opinions), and told I need to run for office. I've also been fed information. A lot. And what I love most is when people recognize me around town and reach out saying they are big fans. For this I am humbly and eternally grateful.

Through the years I've had my name on and off this blog, depending upon where I worked and how uncomfortable my employer was about my having a blog. It really doesn't matter what my name is, those who need to know who I am, do.

As a blogger, you have to stick to your convictions, question everyone's motive, form a thick layer of skin and most important, you have to be particularly fearless. That's me.

As regurgitated threats to shut me up make their rounds yet again, let me introduce myself so as to steal their thunder. I am the Gen X product of the 70s and 80s, instant gratification, sex, drugs and rock and roll, "me" generation. I had a mohawk and put my hair up with Elmer's glue and hairspray because there was no such thing as Got 2B Glued back in the day. I admit freely that I was a wild child, all of which I have blogged about at one time or another. I am utterly human.

I have shared why I became fervently pro-life in Punk Life, after holding my best friend's hand during her abortion, while watching nurses carry what looked like a pickle jar with baby bits floating in bloody liquid out of the room.

I have also shared my stories on being bullied, abused and raped. No pity. It's all character building.

Hells, I've even blogged about going through the change of life in Menopause: Satan's Plan V. I just don't know how much more open I can make my life than that. All these experiences have made me an incredibly strong, opinionated and loyal woman with a wicked sense of humor.

I know very few people with the smalls to publicly display their skeletons, so for those who don't like me and hope to discredit me, knock yourself out casting the first stone.

I will, however, continue to write this blog because of the strong sense of justice I feel.

So on with the merriment as I begin digging into Wylie's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and show you how you have been outright lied to about our tax rate going down and about where our money is going.

Why I Started This Blog

I am of the opinion that Mayor Eric Hogue only remains mayor because city administrators do a great job of telling people that they cannot possibly hold down a full-time job while performing the part of mayor. This, of course, is simply not true.

The fact is, Hogue has made the position of mayor the Hogue Show. One where he orchestrates his pet project, magic, and attempts to direct influence over the local newspaper, but they don't seem to be getting very far these days. You see, the city screwed themselves in that arena after they created a position for the reporter and hired her on. Shortly after, they became unhappy with the new reporter. Now the Wylie News reporter has been relegated to the back 40 instead of holding a seat at the dais like they used to.

In the past, Mayor Eric Hogue would have made sure he attended a controversial city council meeting, but at the last meeting, where there was a planned tax protest, he was a no show. Why?

This was a complete departure from yesteryear's Hogue who relished an opportunity to mastermind the demise of an opponent, or at least shut them down during public discussion. Tactics used in the past include making "clarifications" while the citizen is speaking, so as to use up some of their allotted three minutes, and preempting a complaint because he knew what would be said from the form the person filled out. Another tactic is that after citizens speak without filling out the form, a staff member traipses after them asking them to fill out the form under the pretense of following up. In reality, they are identifying who the problem citizens are.

So instead of staying home and dealing with the protest, Hogue hid in Las Vegas and left Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens to deal with the protest. Hogue certainly did not have to attend the conference in Vegas. He could have sent someone else, or he could have let WEDC members represent Wylie. Then again, maybe he was visiting his magic pal David Copperfield again on the taxpayer's dime. It's no secret Copperfield has an ongoing show there and that magic is Hogue's pet project.

Why did Hogue not show up for something as important as a tax rate protest? Showing up for that meeting could have proved detrimental to his "legacy" should he read as uncaring, disingenuous or arrogant to the protesters, all of which were very real possibilities. Instead, he left council to their own devices, and they showed their true colors.

Some of the attendees told me that from the looks of the faces of those sitting at the dais, they felt the only ones who cared and took notes were Councilman Toby Wallis, DMV and Councilman Jeff Forrester. They felt like the others were totally disinterested in what was being said, including City Manager Mindy Manson. They felt let down, like council would be happy to show them the door and replace them with people who have the money and don't mind paying the high taxes. They did not feel like the majority of council were genuinely interested.

Was the citizen input really lost on them? What do they need to do to get their attention? Do they need to line up 100 people to speak? Council really had a prime opportunity to see first hand just how much their actions have hurt the people they claim to represent, and those who attended and spoke felt like they simply did not care.

The result is that citizens, who would rather spend their time coaching little league and attending their own functions are now forced to speak out against the steadily increasing taxes.

This is all part of the larger problem with city leaders. The prevailing attitude is that people are applying for these seats and running for council so they can work their pet project or add it to their resume. How does that help anyone but themselves? What do citizens need to do to be heard?

I started a blog.

Blog naysayers, who are usually friends of those I am reporting on, attempt to discredit me. They claim I complain but offer no solutions. I call BS on that. Through the years I have offered more solutions than I can count. The problem is, our city officials are under the misconception that only their opinion matters. They start out consulting taxpayers then they fall into believing their decisions represent what they "think" citizens want.  Their excuse is that if they don't hear from anyone then it's house rules. Soon, the freshly appointed or elected member slowly erodes into what's good for the cause, rather than what's good for the masses.

They also claim I should run for council or a board or else I have no right to complain. Through the years I have sacrificed more personal time dedicated to making the city a better place than any of those sitting on boards. The problem is our city leaders don't want to hear solutions which they did not come up with on their own. As with many politicians, they remain closed-minded, despite lip service claiming otherwise.

This dynamic led to the exchange I had with Kevin Finnell, a member of the Zoning Board of Adjustments, who sought me out through my blog's Facebook page. The argument he made is that anyone who complains isn't worthy of attention when they don't sit on one of the few, select boards.

By seeking a private citizen out to admonish, he does a discredit to the position. Authoring this blog is not an official public position. I was not elected or appointed to do this. This is my personal blog full of my personal opinions that are protected by the Second Amendment, I might add. The fact that he felt comfortably within his right to dress me down and even cuss, is a perfect example of the mentality we have seen displayed by many of Wylie's leaders.

The exchange with this board member is eerily reminiscent of when I was verbally accosted by a Planning and Zoning commission member.  Well at least the P&Z woman didn't cuss at me like this man did. Yet, this woman along with Mayor Hogue, is the reason I started this blog many years ago. It is one of the precursors to the city adopting a Code of Ethics. Perhaps the city should remind their board members of that.

The harsh reality is, change in Wylie is on the horizon. Wylie is too large to continue on with the good old boy, slap the back, handshake deals. It will be change where citizens step up and run for office because they want to help the citizens, not because of some special pet project. 

I started this blog to get citizens engaged, which is precisely what an actively engaged citizen looks like. Too bad this definition does not match that of city leaders.

Image credit: Austin Monthly

Wylie's Good Old Boy System Must Go

During budget discussion two years ago, wasn't it Mayor Eric Hogue who answered a question from Councilman William Whitney about lowering the tax rate thanks to a revenue windfall the city would receive. With increasing property values Hogue stated, "Just because we can lower the tax rate doesn't mean we should." Nice. This from the man who would just as soon turn Wylie into a police state. Again, it was Whitney who questioned during budget talks about adding four more PD slots last year, why the city would entertain adding them despite the inability to fill four existing PD slots. In an offhanded comment, Hogue stated he would like to see an officer, "on every corner" in Wylie. Alarming.

The WEDC Website has been like this for about a year
While Wylie's citizens are complaining about the high tax rate here, the highest in all of Collin County, one city entity lurks in the background, hoping nobody will take notice of their coveted playground.

The Wylie Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is charged with bringing new business to Wylie, and they have quite the hefty budget to do so.

Recent complaints have been made on the Nextdoor social media site complaining about WEDCs budget adjustment, listing a $9770.45 expense spent on Mavs season tickets.

One angry taxpayer wrote:
"Our tax dollars at 8."
"I think it's politics. Always scratching someones back or palm. :("
And another:
"That is a waste of money. Maybe they need to replace the entire committee."
And this:
"Wow! Our tax dollars at work. Wonder if we demand tickets to a game what they will say. We should go to a city council meeting and ask."
And finally this:
"Cowboys tickets please! Deplorable."
You see, people are sick of being bent over while city employees have a grand time on our dollar. Just like when Hogue took his pet project - magic to Washington DC last year, on the taxpayer dime. Also attending was City Manager Mindy Manson, presumably in tow to take advantage of mayoral photo ops with David Copperfield and House Rep. Pete Sessions (REP). Yes, this was touted as city business.

So who exactly is the WEDC taking to the Mavs games anyway? It's not like we have a plethora of new industrial businesses or headquarters that are being wooed to town. This is Wylie, for crying out loud. Sheesh.

Though WEDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite is a city employee, he seems to fall under the radar most of the time.

Another nifty incentive for Satterwhite is that he gets to office where he likes. It seems that's how the fashionable EDCs do it around town, and Wylie is no different in wasting taxpayer funds on rent. Now there's a way to save money so taxpayers can get a tax rate reduction.

Oh, did I mention that Satterwhite was arrested in March 2009 of a DUI and sentenced to 60 days, ultimately receiving a 12 month probation? According to the city employee handbook, he should have been fired, but Mayor Eric Hogue worked hard to keep him on staff.

Still, according to Councilwoman Diane Culver, she told me Satterwhite is, "The devil we need". Really? I guess the city administrators and council members strongly believe they cannot live without his stellar ability to develop and bring new business to Wylie. Please.

In all fairness, the WEDC is tagged with bringing industrial business, and helping pave the way for large complex developers, but the activity surrounding this need is also directly responsible for enticing the fine array of chicken shacks and fast food.

To understand why its time to clean house at the WEDC, you would have to understand the cast of seedy characters who fall into and out of various boards and elected positions around Wylie.

Add caption
The WEDC offices in a cushy sandbox at Lawyers Title located at 250  Highway 78, conveniently with playmate Baron Cook, who plays escrow manager by day and owner of  Wylie Industrial Development Corporation by night. His company happens to own the Lawyers Title building where WEDC rent space out of the back.

Interestingly, the Lawyers Title checks list an Inwood Bank address in Garland so as not to link themselves with WEDC Board President Marvin Fuller, the Wylie Inwood branch president. Kind of looks a bit like city rent indirectly benefits a WEDC board member. Cute.

Now keep this all straight, because it starts getting tricky here.

Cook recently petitioned Mayor Hogue to get the city to release him from paying back taxes, penalties, interest and attorney fees to the tune of $47,541.71, to which Hogue personally requested the item be placed on the city council agenda.

At the April 11, 2017 meeting Cook claimed the previous tenant in that building fell in arrears, and when they moved out, nobody knew the situation until the Collin County Central Appraisal District (CAD) sent Cook a tax bill in 2010.

At the same time, in 2010 Cook's Lawyers Title company moved into the very same building. He claims the CAD made an error and did not bill him for the City of Wylie portion of his tax bill from 2009-2013. Except, Cook has owned that building since 2003. So you mean to tell me that nobody in the office realized taxes weren't being paid? I wonder how it would play out if homeowners tried that excuse on the city? 

In feigned ignorance to the tax man, Cook claimed Keller Williams was responsible for the tax bill as part of their lease. But that doesn't explain why there was an issue from the time they moved in until 2013. 

Then there's that little business as to why this didn't come up again since 2013? Cook claims both he and CAD dropped the ball.

I suppose we'll never know why any of this happened, but hey, turns out when you want to get out of a tax bill to the city, and you are part of the back scratch fever club, you get a pass. City council voted unanimously (Councilwoman Culver was absent) to give Cook a break on back interest and fees and he only ended up paying $39,018.54 a tidy savings. Obviously Cook knew that if he threatened to fight the bill, the city would capitulate to the pressure of oppressive city lawyer fees, which is exactly what they did. Benevolent.

If Cook's name sounds familiar, it should. He's the one who got that sweetheart deal selling his own land to Wylie ISD, while sitting as a trustee. Yup, to you and me that's McMillen Junior High and Davis Intermediate.

About now it probably shouldn't come as a shock that the same situation presented itself with WISD trustee Mitch Herzog as well. Indeedy do, his boss and father-in-law, Richard Parker's company purchased WISD land at a steal, combined it with a tract they owned, and sold it for around a cool million to the smallest hotel I've ever seen, yonder on 544. Never mind the inconsequential fact that he was also sitting as a WEDC board member who inadvertently helped facilitate the deal. Well then there's that.

Hang on folks, because the fun doesn't stop there. Another titillating factoid is that WEDC board member Todd Wintters ran for city council and was elected! That's right, that conflict of interest hot mess walked right into his seat, along with Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens, completely unopposed. As you saw in May's election, Stephens tippie-toed in again, totally unopposed. With these two, the Wylie First Baptist Church contingency was completed in that move, as they have infiltrated every facet of the city with their people. That was the day the FBC officially started to work my last nerve.

Oh, and did I mention that the WEDC holds their board meetings in their office at the Lawyers Title building at 6:00 a.m. so citizens won't show up? That was the nifty change they made after getting slapped by the Texas Ethics Commission for holding closed meetings. Open Meetings Act thumb-nose. So much for transparency.

Seems to me like WEDC board members get more than their backs scratched as part of the good old boy club around town. Clearly, Wylie has gotten out of control and it is truly time to clean house. You just can't make this stuff up.