Friday, February 17, 2017

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