Citizens Complain About Wylie Taxes

I don't know what is more disheartening, the fact that people are being priced out of their homes, or the fact that Wylie's taxing authorities are eerily silent on what is taking place within their city.

Here is an example of recent statements from taxpayers in Wylie.
"I filed & was rejected- I am a single mom & can't take off work to go to the protest, that's going to put me in more of a financial bind- i see a lot of comments here, but what can we do about it?"
"My payment went up almost 400 dollars a month due to taxes. Not to mention our insurance on our house got nearly a 700 dollar a year increase. We are moving because we are being priced out of our home."
In response.
"Yeah ours went up that .Much as well.. and based on this year's appraisal it's gonna go up another 300. Ridiculous."
And another.
"My appraisal went from $160K to $309K - How is that even possible!!!??"
Though this seems extreme, our situation is similar when we compare our very first assessment in 2001, when we built this house, with where it stands now.

Bravo for us, that our property values are doing well in this state, but I feel that is really more of a reflection on foreign investors gobbling up properties for several years.

Texas has been the international version of Fixer Upper, where homes have been bought, fixed up and resold or rented out. The other issue North Texas is combating is the desire to bring headquarters in from other states, juxtaposed with the lack of housing on the market. Everybody and their brother, and his in-laws and their second cousin, twice removed want to live here it seems.

Meanwhile, developers are still cramming and jamming homes on every postage stamp-sized parcel they can, and the city's development activities are finally catching up with them, prodding property values along.

For those of us who bought our homes ages ago, we're going to make a killing when we sell. But it doesn't mean we'll be able to find something on the other side of the sales equation, so we are digging in.

The State of the City may look rosy, but the scarcity of homes for sale means bidding wars ensue, leaving us with the situation we are in. Our goes-outta is quickly trumping our goes-inta.

Property values have been both artificially and organically lifted, and greedy taxing entities have been sitting fat and happy while people didn't miss the siphoning. The end result - it is only now when pocketbooks are being ritually emptied, that people are taking notice. This situation had to lead somewhere.

Though the taxes aren't set in stone yet, as people have until May 31st to protest their property assessment with the Collin County Central Appraisal District, it seems eerily quiet around the city and school district.

At the end of the day, not much is going to change on the home front because our property values and taxes are still going to increase, and these homeowners will still be dealing with increasing monthly mortgage escrow payments and difficult decisions of moving or losing their homes.

Will someone please tell me this isn't the end result of living the "Wylie Way". Surely, our city and school leaders can do better than this.

Image credit: Movoto Foundation

What you don't see matters in Wylie taxes and budget

I would like to say I had a little something to do with the virtual uproar on Nextdoor over Wylie's tax rate, I cannot. Interestingly, discussion seems to have taken on a life all its own, as one thread has over 250 posts.

Perhaps I have given a little push and plus on discussion inadvertently, as citizens come across my blog posts about our tax rate. It's not like I haven't been blogging about these topics for the past five years, or anything.

That said, let me provide fair warning that people are fairly grumpy about the tax rate. Add to that the increase of property values Collin County Central Appraisal District (CAD) approved yet again this year, and you can bet your sweet bippy that fairly grumpy is tame compared to his brother, downright huffy.

Indeed, many of Wylie's taxpayers are huffy that their taxes have increased dramatically over the past four years. They're organizing a protest as I write.

One statement I read from fellow taxpayer looks a little something like this:
"One thing that confuses me on that post. "they are spending it like drunken sailors". What exactly are they spending it on? I'm sorry but Wylie is not the prettiest city in the area. I don't notice any over the top glamorous buildings. Landscaping has to start to look like a field before it's touched. I don't see an abundance of city vehicles. Most of the schools look outdated (from the outside). Public art and city parks are mediocre at best. Roads are in fair condition but still a lot of improvements and expansion is needed. So I'm, confused on what they are spending it on.

Not arguing that we're not getting screwed, I just can't see where all this money is going if we are being taxed too high. Because it sure doesn't show anywhere."
Totally on point. Can I just say that I love this person? They summed up in 136 words or less, what I've been saying for years. What exactly is the city spending our tax revenue on, especially when growth pays for growth? Any new fire and police and their digs should have been paid for by revenue growth each year. It's not like we haven't had it since Woodbridge Crossing came to town. You know, that little compound on 544 that contains Target and Homegoods.

To address the comment in the quote above on schools, allow me to give credit where credit is due. The schools have nothing to do with city funds and frankly, WISD has done a great job of updating the schools with the latest technology and programs. Though they don't rollback the tax rate, the additional taxes they spend each year have put WISD on the map, and are a large reason why people are moving to Inspiration and other new communities that attend Wylie schools. There are real, tangible results that can be seen in test scores, school ratings and stellar students. Though our ISD tax rate is high, it's not the highest in North Texas, and our district has other extenuating factors related to funding. When we begin discussion on lowering their tax rate, we will have to tread carefully so as not to cut off our nose to spite our face. I suspect their time is coming as well, but for now my focus is on the city.

The city holds the second largest chunk of our consternation, and as was pointed out in the quote above, there just aren't that many tangible things we are getting out of it. OK, so they donated some land to Collin College, but our taxes are going to increase over that entity as well.

So, what exactly does a drunken sailor look like? Though the amount the city gets pales in comparison to WISD, the city gets other revenue, like a portion of sales tax from all those chicken shacks on 544 and 78. In fact, I can only recall one or two times our quarterly sales tax revenue has not increased over the past several years. It's reported in the Wylie News every quarter.

Why are people huffy, you ask? This year turns out to be the perfect storm, and to say I'm not tickled pink about it would be an outright lie. Especially since I have dedicated so much of my personal time to this blog and to politics.

To start, legacy homeowners are getting squeezed with CADs valuation increases year after year, bringing them only somewhat closer to fair market with the near 10% increase this year. To be honest, even if I fought my increase, it doesn't stop it from going up the next several years.  It only delays the inevitable. Meanwhile, sales prices of homes in the area continue to go up thanks to scarcity. There simply aren't enough homes on the market, and the moment a house sells a new CAD benchmark is set.

Also, people may lose their homes as they become priced out. Homeowners of recently built houses, who paid taxes their first year based upon unimproved land, are now getting notices from their mortgage companies, increasing the escrow portion of their payment dramatically to cover the land and improvement (their house). Plus, they are finding out their property value increased nearly 10%, and, as you can imagine, some may not be able to afford the increased monthly payment. Will we see another wave of foreclosures like we did from 2002-2005? Well I suppose that's one way to lower property values and ultimately our taxes, because that's exactly what it did, too.

Still, what about those who don't have a mortgage? Their tax rate increased 9.7% but I'll bet their annual pay increase wasn't that much.

The most important aspect of this tax equation lies with the Wylie tax rate. The names and faces rarely change, only the date does. So here's how I predict the song and dance will go when the budget makes its debut in a few weeks.

The city manager and finance manger will bring a preliminary budget reflecting some horrifying numbers that show revenue cannot possibly gel with liabilities. That's because the budget consists of make-believe numbers.

What they don't go over in detail is the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), which is where the real action takes place. As you can see in the images below, the line item worthy of note every year is "Non current liabilities - due in more than one year". For instance, in 2012 there was $108,995,761. In the current budget there is $103,932,269.

In what I call the second phase of the budget, the horrifying expenses are brought into seemingly respectable numbers and everyone brings out the virtual baseball bat to beat themselves on the back with for the great job they did balancing those fictitious numbers. Meanwhile, in phase three, taxpayers will be handed a few cent reduction, our taxes will still increase overall, and they'll be congratulated for delivering us from a budget crisis. Right about here I'm rolling my eyes. No, seriously.

This 15 minute video explains the concept fairly well. The point of the developing protests in Wylie is that people are on to the scheme. The city is not in jeopardy of running out of money if we push them for a full roll-back to the effective tax rate this year. In fact, they will not run out of money if we also push for a reduction beyond that of our tax rate by a couple pennies. The former is absolutely doable; the latter is a bit inconceivable considering the long and quasi-entertaining budget song and dance history. I imagine there would be a bit of melodrama from the city over giving taxpayers both.

Still, as in previous years, they have excuses readied for taxpayers who complain about the rate. They will nod their heads in agreement, and claim they are paying taxes just like us. They will placate us into thinking they are just as upset. At the end of the day, just as in years past, they will shimmy by like Solid Gold dancers with their canned narrative on growth, road improvements, police and fire headcount, raises and a public safety building overhaul, which is certainly needed but can be handled in other ways.

As a side note, with regard to PD headcount, the city placed an additional four PD in their budget this time last year, though they still hadn't filled a handful of spots with viable candidates. Former Councilman William Whitney picked up that torch, which was quickly extinguished by Mayor Eric Hogue, who publicly pooh poohed him. Yup, it happened just that way last year.

In an ideal world, it would be great to know that our city council members understand the concepts and truly dig into the CAFR, which has proven to be a grey entity floating above their heads for years. In an ideal world, they would vehemently lead the fight on lowering our tax rate and stand with us rather than against us.

Unfortunately, the legacy our mayor, city manager and past and present councils are creating, is that of a city that freely empties our pockets, and I have every confidence this will continue unless taxpayers stand up to them.

Image credit: Global Marine Drilling in St. John, Newfoundland

Wylie's Sister City

Over the past week, it has been affirmed to me time and again, just how much I love Wylie. I love the close-knit community feel we have here and I was reminded of this numerous times last week as I celebrated the beautiful life of my great niece and also mourned the tragic loss of it.

Very few people leave a legacy in their lives, if ever, so it is truly rare to find a teenager who not only left a legacy, but sowed love all around her. How could the light from this beautiful, artistic old soul in a young body be extinguished to early?

On Monday, May 1, 2017 I answered my brother's call to hear, "Alaina was hit by a car after school and is not expected to make it."

I cried out. How could this happen?

As the story unfolded, it turns out Alaina attempted to cross the street as she walked from her middle school to the high school for theater practice, and accidentally stepped in front of a car driven by a 16-year-old high school girl. In that moment, two young girl's lives were tragically altered forever. Heartbreak times two.

When Alaina was called to heaven two days later, it became crystal clear that she left a legacy behind. Not just a small glimmer, not a teenage flame, a full-blown torch for all to see.

This torch will be carried on by family and friends, and a community who came to know her through the testimony of her classmates. Dozens affirmed that her legacy is about the unwavering love and acceptance this young wisp of a girl lived and breathed.

As a community surrounded her and grieved heavily with the family, story after story was shared painting Alaina's beautiful character. She would sit with those who were isolated, reach out to those were were bullied and share her soul selflessly with those who needed a friend. One young classmate recounted how she was upset because someone called her fat, and Alaina told her she was just as she should be. Others shared how she made them feel special, even though they hardly knew her. I believe character is built not just by caring parents and a strong family unit, but also by a nurturing community.

Alaina's legacy was that of love and acceptance, and the small community of Flushing, Michigan played that legacy out as the family grieved this past week. This tight-knit community enveloped the family in love and care, just as the people in Wylie do when tragedy strikes one of our own. Amazingly, our communities are bonded in this way, just like siblings are forever bonded.

Last week, as I traveled to Flushing and experienced the spirit of a loving small-town, I looked to Wylie with renewed eyes and was reminded of why I love it here so much.

Wylie Campaign Disrespectful to US Flag

If ever there was a reason to vote for Dr. Timothy "Toby" Wallis for Wylie City Council Place 5, this is it.

At the polls last weekend, outside the Rita Smith Library, Ziggy Kagnew's campaign tossed the American flag on the ground. When they were admonished for it, they still put it on the ground as depicted in the image above.

In the photo you can see that Kagnew's push cards are held down by a rock from outside the library, which are placed on top of the flag, on top of his "Ziggy" yard sign for place 5. Disgraceful!

Obviously this is an issue considering Kagnew's campaign has been on Ethiopian rights and helping them take over government power starting at the local level and moving up.

You can find additional details on  my blog post Dr. Timothy "Toby" Wallis Endorsement

May 6th Election Endorsements


Wylie City Council Place 5 - Dr. Timothy "Toby" Wallis
Collin College Trustee Place 1 - Fred Moses
Collin College Trustee Place 2 - Jeri Landfair Chambers
Collin College Trustee Place 5 - Larry Wainwright
Proposition No. 1 - For

Early voting at Rita Smith Library

Fri & Sat 8-5
Mon & Tuesday 7-7
Election Day May 6th 7-7

Don't California My Texas

California expats are getting a really bad rap in Texas. Granted, there are some poor misguided soul-sisters to Dianne Feinstein, that have dared tiptoe through the yellow roses of Texas. But not all of them are bad.

Actually, if you talk to a lot of Californians that have moved here, they are happy to remove themselves from the oppressive, black hole of taxes and slime that is California politics.

They will always love California, but not for the reason you might think. I know, I once called Southern California home and I still miss the weather and beaches that are second to none.

That said, I welcome them to the land of the free. For if they are teetering on the liberal side, they will soon find out how awesome the big-ass, successful experiment in conservative values that Texas is.

Welcome to your new home!

Taxes Increase Four Years Running Under Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue

There has been exceedingly robust activity on the Nextdoor social media platform about Collin College, Wylie ISD, the City of Wylie and taxes. To think it all started with a simple question from someone about where the new college campus is going.

As you can imagine, I've taken every opportunity to educate the public on how our tax rates work, and why our taxes continue to increase. One would swear that reducing taxes is a novel new idea. For Wylie, it actually would be.

I've heard it said before from Mayor Eric Hogue and City Manager Mindy Manson, that cutting the tax rate means the city would have to cut services thanks to all the new growth. Whether intentional or unintentional, that statement is a lie.

Growth pays for growth as every new taxable entity begins paying their portion, which should cover services. The cost of city services is a result of how much the city is spending on police, fire, water, trash, sewer, roads, parks and a host of other things.

About four years ago the break even point for Wylie homes was about $220K taxable property value. Hypothetically, even if that number has increased to $260K, most of the new homes are more than covering their portion when they close, and many existing homes reside near that mark. But that number is really just a stab in the dark, and could even be artificially higher based upon all the additional spending the city has taken up through the years. Certainly, our property should be running in the black by now, at this stage of build-out. If it isn't, then the city is seriously mismanaging our budget.

Sure, Wylie has "reduced" the rate a half cent here, a penny there and last year by two full cents, but our taxes still went up. In case you want to do some additional reading, and if my highlighted post on the home page wasn't enough of a draw for you, I've thoroughly explained this phenomena in Wylie Tax Rate Kept Artificially High.

Many people have expressed concern over our tax rate, and want to know what can be done about it. I let them know that our city leaders will wrongfully assume everyone is happy with our taxes, as long as nobody shows up at the city council meetings.

Pinkie-promise, there will be much hand wringing and tap dancing at the dais, if anyone dares suggest a full rollback this year. However, when looking at the anticipated property value increase we are sure to be given again this year, there is no excuse great enough for the city to refuse to give us a rollback to the effective tax rate. None.

I'm not work averse, and I will continue to educate the masses about our tax rate until the city stops mismanaging our money. Because that's what it is when a city refuses to do a rollback to the effective tax rate year, after year, four years and counting.

Image: LinkedIn

Collin College Earns a Pass, While Wylie Earns a Fail

Until now, I have remained quiet over the Collin College bond vote. Truth is, I did not want to appear biased due to relationships I have with Collin and with the architect firm they worked with to come up with the bond figures. I have a son who interns for the architect firm and every person in my family has attended Collin dating back many years.

It's true, Wylie is the highest taxed city in all of North Texas, and adding any additional taxes to that from the Collin College district is not very appealing.

That said, we need an educated population and Collin has remained debt free, until this expansion, proving they have been very good stewards of the tax money we pay them.

The school is at capacity and I would never wish for students to be turned away because there is no available space.

Both my sons attended Collin and it was an awesome way to make their transfers to UTD and UTA a lot more affordable. In fact, both my husband, myself and my oldest son all have AA degrees from Collin. and my husband and I both have gone on to graduate school after earning BAs, and I suspect both of my sons will do the same thing. We can attest to the quality of education we received from the school.

Now flip all that I have admitted to upside-down while you consider the fact that I am a fiscal conservative, and the idea of increasing taxes leaves me with a bad case of cognitive dissonance over this vote.

I do not care for the .12/100 but to be honest, it is no different than the .9+/100 blank check we handed the City of Wylie over a decade ago. The city has never increased our taxes to that level, and I would not anticipate the college to do so either; not as long as we are vigilant taxpayers and we remind our mayor how bad he looks every time he threatens citizens with that rate.

A simplified explanation of how adding higher education to Wylie improves property values can be understood by what it brings the community. Creating a workforce that is better educated, increases property values. This in turn,entices companies and higher paying jobs to the area. As businesses move in or open as a result of the influx of students, faculty and administration, they reap sales tax which is a source of revenue for the city. The addition of supporting businesses also increases our property values.

With increasing property values and tax revenue, the idea is that the city will reduce our tax rate as their revenue increases. Though they have done this at low levels the past four or five years in a row, our taxes are still increasing because they refuse to roll-back the rate every time our property values increase.

I am not so concerned about our taxes increasing as a measure of this bond as I am over our city taxes increasing because of our property values, which represents the lion share of what we are paying every year. My beef with our tax rate remains with the City of Wylie, and not with Collin College or Wylie ISD, who do more to improve property values than the city has ever done.

In reality, our city tax rate is an abomination and, I will continue to place the onus for our high taxes on Wylie's city manager, administration and bobble-head council members who seem fine with the continued spending spree. as find acrobatic new ways to spend the tax revenue windfall they received the last several years, and will receive for the foreseeable future.

I will not take out our high taxes on Collin College. I will be voting in support of this measure.

Liberal Media Inking the Trump Waters

If you listen to the media, you would swear Trump's first 100 days have been absolutely catastrophic for the US. The liberals running our news outlets are like a slimy octopus, inking the water in an attempt to confuse you. Ignore them.

Here is my top 10 list of 100 days of Trump:

10. Secretary of Defense James Mattis; now there's a bad mama jama.
  9. Promising Chinese President Xi meeting soliciting help controlling North Korean nut job.
  8. Approved Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines will create jobs and increase oil supplies.
  7. Syrian sanctions imposed; a far cry from Obama's namby pamby red line in the sand stance
  6. Executive order cracking down on sanctuary cities.
  5. Banned federal funding of international abortions.
  4. Repealed unconstitutional Obama gun regulations.
  3. Many ISIS terrorists are dead in Afghanistan underground tunnels.
  2. Beefed up border security; illegal's entering reportedly half that of Obama administration.
  1. Neil Gorsuch. 'Nuf said.

Forget what the liberal media is reporting on their silly and biased networks, the truth is, a plan is clearly unfolding and though there have been a few missteps, our future still looks far brighter than it did this time last year.

Trump currently has a pass from those who voted for him, as polls continue to show he would still beat Clinton if the election took place today. That said, it is imperative he continue to meet his promises over the next couple of years, because if he doesn't, forget Hillary, we'll be looking at feminazi Elizabeth Warren.

Headline image credit:

Mobile Optimized

My apologies! I did not realize that when I changed my blog template, it would remove the mobile optimization. That has been fixed.

Carry on....

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Exercising Civility

I know my writing can carry a bite sometimes. For those who have cringed at some of my blistering handiwork, it's probably difficult to imagine that I'm actually quite polite in person. My friends have all realized that it's just the way I write my blog. It's not personal.

When I write, it's easier for me to remove unnecessary emotion in order to get to the meat of things. It's like eating rabbit and not thinking about a cute, cuddly animal with whiskers and floppy ears. Do you focus on the face of whatever meat you are eating? Sometimes it's just better not to.

When I write, for example, that snowflakes lying in the fetal position, sucking their thumbs at UC Berkeley are are just plain stupid, I'm not really providing any new information here. Mature adults already know it is. I'm just verbally walloping the morons, who needed a good smack on the backside when they were squalid brats, playing with their Barbies or Legos. Spare the rod, spoil the child, and all that.

This is not to say I call people fat or ugly; I would honestly be more predisposed to self-deprecate in that department. The fact is, I find all people beautiful and interesting until an ugly soul oozes out of them. Like Miley Cyrus. Now there's someone that started oozing black puss a handful of years ago.

With the advent of new media, there's something truly liberating about being able to say what's really on your mind. When someone is a virtual and literal ass, it can feel good to give them the what-for. Except, does it really? Maybe we only revel in the instant gratification, but it hasn't removed the anger from us which continues to eat away at our soul.

Still, I actually miss the days of biting our tongue. In doing so, it meant that we actually had to exercise civility; plain ole' get over it; move along cupcake; grow up; stop being a damned crybaby.

I think we have learned, over time, that we can somehow change how unfair life is by letting things fester until they explode colors, instead of putting on our big-kid pants, forgiving and forgetting. As a society, we have moved way beyond civility.

The new "thing" appears to be micro-boycotting everything, and it started with social media.

What do we do when we dislike something one of our Facebook friends has said, supports or believes in? We unfriend them. In doing so, we secretly hope they will recognize our moral superiority in the virtual shunning.

It's not civil. The civil thing would be to actually do some adulting; that is to speak with them if they are hurting us. But is someone's opinion really hurting us, or are we just being sissies about everything?

If all else fails, we can simply stop following them. I've stopped following a bunch of people from my high school days. Their views, language and humor aren't exactly my cuppa, but if I needed something from them, they would be there for me in a heartbeat. They are my people. We grew up together. It is insulting to toss away others for their thoughts, unless they are hurting us in some way.

Nowadays, when public figures don't like something, they flex their egotistical muscle in protest, by withholding their presence. Such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady who is skipping a visit to the White House along with a handful of other D-bags who don't like Trump. They are micro-boycotting President Donald Trump by withholding their person from him. How stupid is that.

Oh yes, his excuse is "family matters", but it isn't as if we can believe that crap anymore, particularly when too many Patriots are skipping to make it excusable. In my opinion, the selfish behavior of public figures has become more embarrassing than Trump's past juvenile behavior. They are supposed to be setting an example of acceptable behavior for their fans, not rolling in the mud.

To me, this speaks more about the lack of quality in their character, than it does about Trump's. It takes a mature person to be civil to someone they disagree with or don't like. In fact, civility is really just a muscle that we need to exercise more. The more civil you are, the more you walk in the grace of God.

I would never snub someone by walking by and pretending they aren't there, even if I don't care for that person or what they stand for. I can't stand our Representative Pete Sessions, but were I to be invited to his office to meet with him, I certainly wouldn't skip it to prove some point to myself. The point would certainly be lost on him because he isn't going to change what he's doing just for me. I'm pretty sure I cannot count him as a fan of mine, but he certainly doesn't ignore me. He takes my questions at Town Halls, and there has even been discourse. We exercise civility.

This is much unlike the throngs of sobbing college students who have been using the media to wheedle Trump, and doing so because civility is a lost art on them. Instead of acting like educated, mature adults, they fall to the ground and flail about like willful two-year-old children.

Unfortunately, this practice seems to be a liberal trait, where id is stroked to climax by enablers such as weak parents who are afraid to adult, weak media that have an agenda and evil forces working to fundamentally strip morals and values from our society.

New media has made it easy to be uncivil and technology has aided and abetted this by allowing people to hide behind a screen. Sadly, it's just easier than exercising our atrophied civility muscles.

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Dropping the Bomb

This week President Donald Trump approved dropping the GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast (MOAB), or better known to civilians as the Mother Of All Bombs, on ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan.

For those of us who watched terrorist attacks and Christian beheadings with horror, it's about damned time somebody grew a pair.  Ya think?

While ISIS was fortified by a girly Obama, who stood wringing his hands and playing pretends, they will not be so lucky with Trump. There is no place in this world for an Arab Caliphate, tossing gays off of buildings, burning women alive in cages or stonings and beheadings.

More important, there is no place for beading innocent children.

With this bomb, Trump appears to shout to the world that the days of ISIS running amok are done. They've been fired.

Despite the MOABs success in destroying an active installation, not everyone is pleased with the outcome. Not surprising, mainstream media is taking measures to solidify their anti-Trump rhetoric, slipping this MOAB into their playbook. The result is an undercurrent of WWIII hyperbole spreading through the web.

For rational and logical people, this is not a lead-in for WWIII. For us, this is a clear, calculated action to show terrorists and bullies that this ain't your Obama administration no more.

Hey mainstream media, here's the 411 on the MOAB, If mamma ain't happy, nobody's happy. Get over it.

Headline image credit: Getty - Noorullah Shirzada/Stringer/Getty Images

New Befuddled by the Clowns Look

Indeed, you are at the right place. This is still Befuddled by the Clowns.

I have updated the look and feel of the blog because I wanted something a little more hip, and frankly, because a change is as good as a rest.

Now let's carry on....

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Dr. Timothy "Toby" Wallis Endorsement

I met with Dr. Wallis today and after an insightful and enjoyable chat, I have decided to officially endorse him for Wylie City Council Place 5.

What I noticed first about Dr. Wallis is that he feels strongly about creating a better city for all of Wylie's citizens. More important, not once did our discussion ever suggest that he was running to feed a pet project. His goal is to represent all citizens. Period.

One of the issues that held me back from an initial endorsement, is the topic of whether Wallis would be accessible to citizens and council activities due to his busy work schedule. He assured me and provided examples of how he has flexibility in his on-call status as a veterinarian. It is clear that urgent meetings would not pose a significant issue for him, certainly not any more than any other working council member.

Wallis is engaging and smart, and most of all, he is concerned about making the right decision for all citizens of Wylie, not just a micro-group.

Conversely, I have not met with his opponent, Zwege "Ziggy" Kagnew, but the body of evidence as to why he is running is quickly becoming apparent. His social footprint paints a rather vivid picture.

In the video below, there is clearly a lot of rhetoric and outright exaggeration of Ethiopian Americans in the DFW area. The meeting was not inclusive of all voters, as much of it was not even in English. Additionally, he is campaigning with Jack Blackshear, a Democrat who Republican Angie Chen Button defeated for the Texas House last year in Garland. Why campaign in Garland? They don't vote in Wylie elections. This is cause for concern about who exactly comprise his campaign supporters.

It is disturbing that this video provides staggering "us vs. them" rhetoric, and imagine what it says to non-Ethiopian's in Wylie. Rather than take the stance that he is an American first and foremost, Kagnew and his associates appear to be partitioning and organizing themselves for battle.

What strikes me as most unusual is the tactic of setting up voter registration outside of the ENAT grocery store, which is an Ethiopian grocer. Is Kagnew's only focus in running for council, Ethiopians? It sure seems that way.

What's worse, Kagnew's campaign appears to be focused on garnering financial support from the Ethiopian groups to which he belongs in the Dallas area. How is this helpful to all of Wylie's citizens, where political activists outside of Wylie are attempting to effect political change within Wylie? To me, this campaign stance is troubling and shows how he has isolated those he intends to serve. This is pure ethnic activism and it has no place on Wylie city council.

After meeting Dr. Wallis, the choice for City Council Place 5 is a natural one; I am interested in supporting a candidate who's actions and words show he supports all citizens of Wylie, not just those he identifies with most.

Ebony and Ivory Battle for Wylie Council

UPDATE: An endorsement in this campaign has been made. Read about it HERE!

It's election season again, and to be honest, I really hate it this time.

I hate it because there are two candidates running for a seat of which I didn't want the current councilman to give up. But he is giving up for one reason or another, and in May we'll be waving adios to Councilman William Whitney, a strong conservative.

So what do we have to replace him with? Ebony and ivory candidates, and I hate that I have to make assumptions about both of them which may end up sounding more like stereotypes than an unbiased selection process. Despite this, Google usually doesn't disappoint.

Timothy Wallis Facebook
I've tried to reach out to Timothy "Toby" Wallis a couple times to chat with him. He's a veterinarian at Parker Road Veterinary Hospital. I caught him once after a council meeting where he had little time to chat and we exchanged mobile numbers. I've also tried to text him but haven't heard anything back. I probably shouldn't be so hard on him, I mean, the guy has five kids,and most are young, so you know he's got to be busy. Still, I wouldn't have to bother him if he had a website I could locate.

What I do know is that there is relatively little published information about him or his platform, other than a fairly inactive Facebook page. So I have to make assumptions based upon his relatively nonexistent online footprint and the five minutes I spent with him. He is obviously hard to get to know and I cannot help but wonder how accessible he will be to citizens. That said, he has the backing of many of the strong conservatives that I know in Wylie. Well there's that.

Zewge Kagnew Facebook
Then there is Zewge "Ziggy" Kagnew who is running for the same seat. He's all over Facebook and even has his own website, where he outlines his platform and tells us a little about himself. His focus is civic engagement and government transparency, which are those typical feel-good talking points. Ziggy's virtual footprint paints him clearly as an Ethiopian activist first, and a realtor second. There's the KNON 89.3 FM Ethiopian social and political life talk show, a highlight of his campaign in the Ethiobook and the ESFNA Ethiopian community membership. Still, he seems like an active community member who has taken the Wylie Citizen's Police Academy course. He's here, he's there, he's everywhere on the web, and he gets his Ethiopian people to come out and support him.

What I hate about this election is that on one hand, we have a highly educated, white doctor who does not appear to be terribly engaged in the community, and I worry about his responsiveness, and on the other we have an Ethiopian activist and realtor,that makes me wonder if he was even born in the U.S., and who is seemingly very responsive.

Meh.This is why I hate having another ebony and ivory election, because no matter what anyone has to say about either candidate, it sounds ethnocentric or elitist.

To date, I have yet to make up my mind about an endorsement, and it's not looking very promising for tomorrow, either.

Image credit: Fotoristin

A Starting Place for School Choice Discussion

I've admittedly ignored school choice until now, probably because Wylie ISD has been such a stellar school district for my sons. However, I have carefully taken the time to reflect upon the topic over the past several heated months since Texas Senate Bill 3 was introduced, and in the end, I must side with school choice.
If the premise of home schooling is that parents get the ultimate say about their children's education, taking that same choice away from others, who are unable to or simply cannot afford to place their students elsewhere, is a travesty.
I hear from my teacher and administration friends that districts will pay the price as they lose funding per head. But as a teacher or administrator, isn't your main goal the education of all children, not just the ones you get paid state funds to teach? We can all admit that some students simply do not thrive in the public school system. What are their choices, then? Has anyone even asked them?
Districts are claiming money will leave their district, but that premise is based upon them maintaining status quo on their balance sheets. Yet, if a district is doing a poor job of educating students, with school choice, the student gets to leave, and the district no longer has any costs associated with educating that student. SB3 goes even further and offers them consolation funds to go toward improvement.
In the real world, we tighten our belt with a lost job, we don't keep our same spending habits. Likewise, school districts will have to adjust their budgets accordingly if their students bail. If districts were doing their jobs, they would not have to worry about loss of funding from students moving en masse.
Honestly, it doesn't say much for school districts, if they have such low faith in their ability to retain students to the point they need to lobby against school choice and competition.
Probably the largest budget issue I see is that spending, especially on administrator salaries, takes precedence at budget time, and districts are forced to spend big money wooing superintendents. Though in line with other districts, you can see how our own Dr. Vinson's salary, coupled with the dozens of other highly paid administrators in the district, take up a large portion of our budget.
Dallas Morning News
These figures don't even include bonuses and other perks, either. Yet the reality is that we live in a world where teachers of 20 years are disproportionately paid compared to their responsibility and far-reaching effects. They earn roughly half what principals make, and a quarter or less of what superintendents and other high level administrators are paid. Districts are run similarly to for-profit businesses in many respects.
I see a lot of flaws in SB3. I dislike that it is not an all-inclusive, all or nothing bill that covers every child with an Educational Savings Account (ESA). Instead, there are students who won't qualify for funds if they are home schooled, or if they live in counties with populations lower than 285K, and it has a cap on households that make more than $75K. Wealthier households will still have available options they can afford to pay for, and rural, low-income areas will still be left with no choices. Talk about leaving kids behind.
SB3 had to be dumbed down in order to pass the Senate and has been threatened DOA at the House at every stage of its life. Not surprising, with Democrat in Republican drag, Joe Straus who acts as leader and chief gravedigger for all conservative legislation.
As long as Straus continues to stall and ignore conservative legislation, and as long as representatives like our own Rep. Jodie Laubenberg continue to vote for him as speaker in exchange for committee chair positions, school choice, and any meaningful education reform at the state level, will remain but a dream.
Though SB3 won't pass this go around, it is the start of a good discussion that warrants the involvement of all stakeholders, including parents, taxpayers and students, not just politicians and lobbyists.
With school choice, I believe we will end up with better educated students who are happier because they aren't forced to struggle in a situation to which they have no options. Isn't this the ultimate goal? Or are our students just immovable chattel to be chained in place?

Evil Cockles of the Soul

I wonder, would voter behavior have been any different had Sen. Ted Cruz been elected for president instead of Donald Trump?

People have always been drawn to a good villain. They are portrayed as dark, shifty and dramatic; sort of how we view the bulk of our modern politicians.

During silent pictures, moviegoers would boo and hiss at the evil villain and his overly-exaggerated, dramatic gestures. They seemed to get great enjoyment out of his badness.

When talkies came about, villains had to speak, and what a better way to depict evil than to give them an accent. The phantom was no different in a tragic story about a hideous looking creature. The Phantom of the Opera attempted to steal the leading lady's heart without her consent.

Through the years, people relish a good dose of evil. From Count Dracula's Transylvanian verbal lollop, played by the dark and brooding Bela Lugosi, to the evil antics of Bullwinkle's Russian accented Boris and Natasha who's attempts at evil were always foiled, to Cruella de Vil and her drawled 'dahling' and sinister motives.

In more recent times there are Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Jafar in Aladin and even Beauty and the Beast's Gaston. The characters range from supporting roles to main characters and are often the most memorable part of the show.

I cannot help but wonder, when it comes to electing our officials, have we moved into the smacking-good villain stage of voting?

What were some of our presidential options? Bernie Sanders and his New England grumpy old Muppet, Hillary Clinton and her evil cackle and "What difference does it make?" screech that will forever be entwined with her, and Donald Trump's freakishly orange complexion and shouting nature. Can you still hear his tart, "You're fired!" exclamation running through your head?

The constructs built in my mind of these characters are truly evil to the core. Evidently, the constructs in others minds are equally as sinister. I wonder if it is the humor these images evoke, or if, perhaps, we simply love to hate people. Just look at the memes.

Nothing would be different, even if, horrors, Clinton had been elected. Just as with Obama, people would have continued to circulate plenty of demeaning images of her.

The point is, we seem to be embellishing our wild imaginings as ways to somehow relate to the people we are voting for, whether good or bad.

Does this do permanent damage to our psyche? I believe it does, as we assimilate these images, and what we know about the characters, with those we are attributing them to. Though it might be funny and provide hours of raucous entertainment online, we are dehumanizing the very people we are supposed to be selecting to lead us. Not to mention, from a Christian perspective, how this plays out with our souls when done not in jest, but out of spite.

It is clear that people like and remember the unlikable, even going so far as to publish images of Cruz, comparing him to Grandpa Munster. Because of this, I doubt Cruz would have suffered less a fate than Trump has.

Still, I cannot help but consider that we secretly desire a good villain that can take our attention away from the mundane and allow us to pile our daily annoyances upon.

We must remember, however, that with new media, we can share our creativity and ultimately bare the deepest part of our souls to the world.

AHCA is Obamacare in Republican Drag

Golly, I love Rep. Louie Gohmert. Now there's a man that consistently sticks with his conservative principles. Why couldn't he be my representative? Instead, I'm stuck with that stale, old Re-Pete Sessions. Two decades worth of that man and the unbearable D.C. carbuncle just won't go away.

As if on cue, all of the usual Texas suspects have piled-on to this spiffy Obamacare regurgitation, as if they know better than the rest of us. You know, those of us who have to work and pay for crappy insurance plans, as we watch our premiums and prescription costs skyrocket. 

The ones to blame if this bill passes include reps such as John Ratcliff, Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions, who are extolling AHCA's merits. 

My guess is the Republicans in D.C. are touting much ado about nothing when it comes to RyanCare. Word on the street is that there aren't enough votes to pass it as of this late date. The vote is tomorrow.

Good thing, too. The reality of the beast is that this healthcare plan will no longer be owned by the liberals. If it passes, the Republicans will own this one, and Obama and liberal village idiots such as Nancy Pelosi will be relieved of the onus. When this thing fails, and it will, the GOP may as well not bother running for president in four years. So too the next midterm election will be difficult for anyone who votes in favor of this bill. We will not let anyone forget who voted for this Obamacare plan in Republican drag. 

Closer to home, this looks terrible for Sessions who crammed our mailboxes for years with mass mailers claiming he wanted to fully repeal Obamacare and replace it. I would sure like to understand why he has picked up a guitar and is writing an AHCA ballad. 

This isn't your 2015 repeal bill either, and it's funny that people like Sessions, who previously voted in favor of full repeal, instead has opted to support this bill, claiming erroneously that they cannot do a full repeal. Amazing, truly amazing.

This is proof that Sessions' past votes to repeal Obamacare were purely show votes, just like we said they were. How many times did I call Sessions out for that? I honestly lost count.

This is infuriating, too. People voted for Trump because they are angry over past Congress capitulation to Obama. They were angry over congressional show votes too, but in their stupidity, they kept a large number of establishment Republicans in place. This is precisely how a moratorium election  on Obamacare and SCOTUS can ultimately give us Obamacare Lite instead of full-on repeal. 

Then again, there's Trump, running the fools errand, claiming he'll rid the House of anyone who doesn't vote in favor of this bill. So much for his campaign promise to repeal Obamacare. Pinky-promise the wall goes the same way. 

I've read this bill. It holds many of the same Obamacare regulations and mandates in place that have caused healthcare costs to skyrocket. Costs will continue to increase, too. We'll also go back to hoards of people opting for no coverage and worse yet, those with employer sponsored plans will be penalized for having them, as the plan you used to have is suddenly considered income and is taxed that way. Oh, you can have your Cadillac plan, but you'll pay for it, by God. 

What happened to the litany of campaign promises of repealing Obamacare? Republicans took the easy way out, that's what. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and actually owning an epic piece of legislation, and showing the Democrats how it's really done, they would rather recycle the massive failure that is Obamacare, and simply stamp their name on it. 

Dumb, really dumb. 

Menopause: Satan's Plan V

I've always had bad luck. Well, where I call it bad luck, the hubster calls it klutziness. I swear, I'm like the kiss of death when it comes to stubs and sprains. Sometimes I feel like Rosanne Rosannadanna, because it's always something. If it's not one thing, it's definitely another. Did you know, there is only one toe left that I have not broken? Now, that little nugget of useless information does sweeten the pot. Seriously, don't engage me because it will only get more graphic.

To my credit, it's not always my fault. Two weeks ago the dog spit up on the kitchen floor and I traipsed through it in flip flops. To be sure, it was one of those slow motion moments, as I slid sideways and hit the floor. I tell you, a couple more pounds around the middle and I could have bounced. Too bad, because my elbow is still sore.

If I'm not breaking something, or stubbing something, this stubborn body refuses to cooperate. Well, let's just call that "Plan V".

Still, I always like to think of myself as tough as old boots. You know, someone who soldiers on. When I was younger, I broke a toe (little surprise there) while working a job that required me to stand and walk a lot. Later, I had temporary pain, tingling and numbness in my fingers during a job where I needed to type a lot. Oh yes, then there was that time I cut my finger off in the door and had it sewn back on. I probably don't need to expand upon just which hand it occurred. Recently, there has been the outright refusal and strike of my body to store something as simple as vitamin D, and lethargic and arthritic-like symptoms ensue. Of course, aging couldn't possibly be any different for me in this realm. The old bod just continues to delight as Plan V has set in.

I used to think women who opted for hysterectomies were just plain sissies. All of my friends have had one, making me feel a bit superior. Well, that is until this aging carcass adopted its own set of rules. Oh no, I couldn't just make it through to menopause without the petals falling off my flower power. Heavens no. It has to be my luck that during the glorious moment when I thought I was nearly free of the V, the female plumbing had to go awry. What a cheerful way to end the series, if you know what I mean.

If I haven't been personally wrangling with hemorrhaging, doctor's trips and a biopsy, I might have found it all terribly amusing. No seriously. Peri-menopause is like a bad comedy of errors. Just when you think you are nearly finished with wildly fluctuating hormones, child-bearing, hot flashes, the terror of missed periods and spotting, Satan, himself, makes a debut.

I guess I can see why so many women opt to have it all ripped out. O-M-G I want to rip that ram out, but hells bells I've made it this far. I had sensibly and somewhat stoically managed to tame the 'coagulation of evil' women joke about, without much effort on my part. To be honest, I thought myself one of the lucky ones.

I can probably count the number of hot flashes on my fingers and toes, and I thank regular exercise for that. To think I planned to get away nearly scot-free with only an extra 12 lbs. of water weight gain every month, which would spike my blood pressure, and only relieve itself with one of those handy water pills that brings seventeen trips to the toilet.

I should have known not to pat myself on the back so hard for lowering my blood pressure to the rather mundane 120/80 range. I even went so far as to ace Cramps and Grumpiness 101, Intermediate Hot Flashes and even Advanced Bloating and Weight-gain.  I've played the trooper for years, and after all that it would be almost sacrilege to opt for surgery now. Damned sketchy uterus.

I don't know what's worse. The utter bullshit that is periods, cramps, tampons, labor and a virtual monthly blood-letting, or the fact that there are actually men who want to turn into women? For the love of God, why?

I'd like to see them bleed heavily and gush chunks, while stuffing a cotton wad up their hoohay every 20 minutes for 36 hours. Oh yes, all this with no sleep and without wailing like an infant and falling into the fetal position. How does anyone think we can even hold down a job during this? For the love of God, somehow, month after month, we do.

As I finished up with my ObGyn this morning, she said what I've been lamenting over for at least five years, "Can you hurry up and just enter menopause already?" I'm trying, believe me, I'm summoning the will.

Wylie Complaints Cost Taxpayers

The Wylie and Washington Facebook page was at it again today. This morning they published and used the paid promotion feature to promote another complaint against the Wylie Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). This time it is a notice of meeting regarding the creation of a municipal setting designation (MSD). The accusation is that the WEDC does not want to clean up a piece of land with polluted groundwater.

This designation is nothing new to the city. It was sought on another piece of land and it enables them to sell off the property and recoup any costs involved in cleanup. Simply put, they ensure the buyer isn’t going to tap into a water source within a specified area. This is a great option for property where standing water and perhaps a layer of soil needs to be scraped away for cleanup, but the land is still usable for other industry. The idea is to get this land sold and developed so that the new owner can begin paying taxes and help lower homeowner tax burden.

These (not so) anonymous attacks on the WEDC are suspicious. What exactly is the point of all this expense to the city? Is this coming from a sore loser over not getting coveted property once held by the city? Or is this displaced anger because the complainant has never been selected for the WEDC board?

The reality of these complaints means they are costing the city, and ultimately the taxpayers, money in legal fees. The City of Wylie must now spend our tax dollars to defend their employee WEDC executive Sam Satterwhite, who was called out in a formal complaint sent to the AGs office. Seems like this is costing us a lot of money, instead of effecting any real change. Each complaint requires the AG to send a letter to the city, asking for pertinent information, thereby requiring legal representation of the city. Lawyers aren’t cheap.

Nothing will come of the complaints drawn up by the complainant’s lawyer.... Nothing. That will be the end result, and taxpayers will be put out for it.

So why don’t they take their case solely to the people, instead of through lawyers? It seems like this beef is really with those sitting on the WEDC board, who are besties with Satterwhite and the other good old boy club in the city.

Why doesn’t the complainant work to move the compass of public opinion toward removing those causing conflicts on the WEDC, through council changes? Council members are the ones who keep appointing these people to the WEDC board.

I fully understand the premise that the Wylie First Baptist Church (FBC) is controlling a lot of what is going on in the city and on the WEDC, however this individual's actions are costing taxpayers in legal fees to defend the city. I cannot support this tactic.

By all means, we should use public opinion to stop the FBC from infiltrating every aspect of the citizen's lives. We should use public opinion to stop members of the WEDC board from running for other electable positions. That said, lawyers are incapable of stopping or changing who is elected and appointed. So why take that route?

This situation is clearly a result of the quality of candidates running and elected by the people. We all know the FBC works hard to promote their congregation candidates during the election season, but there is nothing illegal about that.

Frankly, I cannot fault Kris Segrest for promoting members of his congregation to help advance his interests. If you were the pastor of the largest church community in the city, wouldn’t you, if you could get away with it? As a result, many of the elected and appointed positions on Wylie's councils, boards and committees are members of the church. This creates a conflict of interest involving the FBC, and their tight control over much of the activity taking place in Wylie.

It is best not to have any particular group holding a majority of official positions, such as WISD board of trustees, city council or any of the dozen or so boards and commissions. Unfortunately, very few people run for these positions and appointments, which results in the very powerful church getting people to step up and even walk in, unopposed for seats. Few people voting even realize this is taking place.

There are, and have been, a disproportionately large number of FBC individuals currently holding these positions. This is part of the problem intertwined with the WEDC complaints being leveled.

Our job as citizens who vote is to inform the public, through whatever means we have available to us, whether it be blogs, social media, meetings, or letters to the editor of the Wylie News, an incredibly under-read newspaper that exists solely at the pleasure of the mayor, rather than the publics they claim to serve.

If this individual would like to pick up the legal tab for the city that has resulted from these complaints, then I would be all for it. Otherwise, people need to work together to find council candidates that aren't beholden to the FBC.

It takes hard work and dedication, but through the election and appointment process, the problem will fix itself when the head (Satterwhite) has no body (board buddies) left to support it. And you can include the mayor in that mix, who has been sitting in his position a little too long for comfort. He works hard to bring new council members into the fold, and I view this as problematic.

Clearly, there are a lot of people in the city who are angry that this situation still plagues us as we hit 50K+ population. Surely there are suitable candidates available to run for council; those, who will help break up the FBC good old boy club once and for all, without costing taxpayers. Just a thought.

Image: City of Wylie

Paying the Piper: NTMWD Water Pricing Model

Wylie water woes. Now there's an alliteration you need to try saying really fast without feeling like Elmer Fudd.

If you have not heard about the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) issue, your pocketbook soon will. They are the entity that controls our water in Wylie, among other cities, making them pretty easy to hate on, particularly if you do not like your steadily increasing water bill.

Does anyone remember the days of $43 monthly water bills from the City of Wylie? I do. We were never ones to dump water needlessly into the lawn, so yes, I will indeed revel in your jealousy. But still, mine are more than twice that now and our water use has gone down this year. Especially now that the youngest child unit is away, showering at college, and because he took his rather large wardrobe with him resulting in less frequent climbs of the infamous Mount Laundry.

We know that costs are rising. We get it. But should we expect to take a nitroglycerin before opening future water bills? What gives?

Late last year several member cities flexed some muscle in an attempt to break from their responsibility to the whole. NTMWD serves dozens of communities, with 13 member cities making up the board, and four of those cities are about to cause the rest of us some heartache.

Plano, Richardson, Garland and Mesquite have made a complaint to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) on how the NTMWD sets their water pricing, in hopes they will not be held accountable to pay their fair share. Sorry, but that's the only way I see it.

Nobody likes the rates NTMWD doles out. They pass increases on to cities, who in turn, pass them on to homeowners, but what would happen if these cities, with the help of the PUC, break with NTMWD's take-or-pay pricing model?

We keep hearing this "take-or-pay" phrase, so what exactly is it? When member cities contract with the NTMWD, it requires an immense amount of infrastructure, and debt taken on for each city as it grows. The cities are contractually bound by take-or-pay, whereby their rate is set using the highest year of water usage they have had. It doesn't matter if they use less, if they don't use it, they still have to pay for it. That's take-or-pay.

It doesn't sound fair, or helpful toward water conservation efforts, but when you consider the costs required to bring a city on during their divide and conquer stage, that is a huge financial undertaking. So is the necessary continuing maintenance. The services committed by NTMWD don't end with simple water usage.

To see the reasoning behind their complaint, we can look at one member city. Plano's highest use year was 2001. Now that they are using less water, through conservation efforts, they believe they should have their rate reduced. Plano claims to have spent $78 million for water they have not used since 2001.

Oh sure, the take-or-pay system was favorable to Plano, Richardson, Garland and Mesquite during their peak growth phase, but now that they are generally built-out , the massive infrastructure costs and maintenance still need to be paid by somebody.

Image: US Airforce
Let's not forget the $300 million pipeline that had to be built to stop the spread of zebra mussels, and to return water flow from Lake Texoma to Lavon. During the height of our last drought, the flow from Texoma was turned off because of the little rascals, and because of federal law that prohibits transporting them across state lines. Turns out the pumping station in Texoma was on the Oklahoma side.

It was a healthy cost that went into returning the flow, but that is of no concern to these member cities who appear to be hyper-focused on water usage in their argument to the PUC.

When looking solely at water usage, it is easy to show how "unfairly" they are being charged. Yet what about the other, smaller member cities who are still growing? Is it fair to stick them with the infrastructure bill? The fact is, somebody has to pay the piper.

Member cities have been in talks about this situation for the past year. The other member cities include Allen, Farmersville, Forney, Frisco, McKinney, Princeton, Rockwall, Royce City and Wylie. Though they have been unsuccessful in finding a solution so far, was it right for the larger bullies to pull in the PUC at this stage? Absolutely not. Surely there is a way for member cities to work things out without being pitting against each other. This was a very disappointing turn of events.

Our best hope is that the member cities roll up their sleeves and find a solution, and we must encourage them to do so. Board meetings are held the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:00 p.m. in the board room, located at 501 East Brown Street, in Wylie. If NTMWD is forced to change their pricing model to accommodate the larger member cities, you can rest assured that your water costs in Wylie will triple, if not quadruple.

Header image: Express Tribune

Those WEDC Rascals

Looks like the good old boys in Wylie have put themselves into a pickle, and they are inadvertently dragging our excellent school district down with them in the court of public opinion.

Sam Satterwhite
A new Facebook page popped up on Saturday, called Wylie and Washington. Published on the page are images of a formal complaint sent to the Texas Attorney General's office and also Collin County regarding unseemly transactions made by the Wylie Economic Development Board (WEDC). 

The complaint calls into question ethics of the WEDC, their board President Marvin Fuller and Executive Director Sam Satterwhite. I'm not surprised this is coming full circle.

I have consistently complained about the conflicts of interest presented with the WEDC and their board members who keep running for and getting elected to various seats around the city. I reported on this land deal as well, in Holy Shrieking Shizballs. The bounty these dual positions reap is astounding when you consider how "deals" are brought about. Sure, they may excuse themselves from votes, but they were certainly present during the behind the scenes activities preceding them. There are other less noticeable conflicts as well. 

Kathy Spillyards
 and Mayor Eric Hogue
For example, the fact that Mayor Eric Hogue is a realtor seems like no big deal. Yet, how many activities has he voted on that ultimately turn into future profits for him? The same can be said for former councilwoman Kathy Spillyards, who inadvertently capitalized on official actions taken previously. When you vote on minimum home sizes required of a developer, ensuring a certain home value, and turn around and sell one of them a couple years later, you are making a profit off your votes. 

The same holds true with the various WEDC members who found themselves elected through the years. More recent conflicts of interest have included Mitch Herzog who has served for years as a Wylie Independent School District (WISD) trustee and also as a WEDC board member, and the former councilman Todd Wintters who served on the WEDC and was also elected to the city council which I reported in Wintters of our Discontent

The very notion of serving in elected posts and sitting on the WEDC board should have been carefully scrutinized by voters before they placed them in these positions. It wasn't as if I didn't warn anyone, what with my continuous blogs vetting the cast of characters that run for these seats  in Wylie. Still, year after year delirious voters make their way to the polls without a clue, and clearly without a Google search.

I have suggested for years that these board members should resign from the WEDC. Turns out, that public opinion has finally caught up with this stance. But what about legal opinion? 

Turns out, we may not like what is taking place, but it is all legal. And so is the WISD land sale. Whether we like how it went down or not, it did not require WISD to do "extra marketing" of the property either, as is one premises of the complaint.

Mitch Herzog
Controversy in Wylie is nothing new. Does anyone remember when Baron Cook sold land to WISD for $800K when he was serving as a WISD trustee? It's how Ronni Fetzer took his seat away, because people were annoyed with how unethical the land deal looked. Then there was that time the WEDC got in trouble for holding closed-door meetings. Oops. Now their board meetings are held at o'dark hundred. So much for the open meetings act.

Ethics laws require public officials to file a declaration on the conflict of interest and to abstain from voting on it, both of which appear to have been performed with the property WISD sold and also with the Baron Cook property WISD purchased. Though it looks sketchy and shady as hell, it is legal. Move along, nothing new to see here.

What concerns me is the witch hunt that is behind these allegations. The Facebook page was published nearly 24 hours ago, and the hidden agenda has me a tad curious. Exactly who is behind this complaint? Why don't they man-up?

Marvin Fuller
I honestly do not see this as an attack on the school district so much as I see it as an attack on the WEDC. Especially when the complaint specifically lists Marvin Fuller and Sam Satterwhite, yet speaks little, if at all, of their complicit activities in the documents. Why wasn't Mitch Herzog's photo made part of the complaint? What about WISD superintendent Dr. David Vinson? Why not just list all WEDC and WISD board members? To my point, this seems to really be about Satterwhite and Fuller. Who did they piss off?

Don't get me wrong, I have always felt Fuller and Satterwhite needed to go. They have been part of the good old boy system of secret handshakes for years. Like the time Satterwhite was arrested for drunk driving in 2009 but the city council looked the other way instead of firing him like the employee manual suggested. 

Seems Fuller and Satterwhite have made quite the enemy and it will be interesting to see how this plays out. If I had to venture a guess? The AG's office has more pressing matters and this too shall pass.