The Secret Code

Well lookie what I just found on Tuesday’s agenda, buried at the very bottom of business:  Code of Ethics Workshop

“Consideration and discussion on possible future adoption of a Code of Ethics.
(M. Manson, City Manager)”

Code of Conduct vs. Code of Ethics, it’s all the same thing.  I guess it was inevitable.  After all, Councilwoman Diane Culver ran on a platform to bring a Code of Conduct back into the spotlight.  Frankly one needs to be adopted so good on her for pushing this issue.  The city made their employees sign one in 2010, but has remained steadfast in their refusal to adopt one for council and boards & commissions.  One must ask why.

Now why do they do this crap?  Every time this code thing has come up over the last year and a half, they have buried it at the end of their meeting.  I’m sure they hope most people will leave by then.  My understanding is their last meeting went until Midnight.  Do they hope this one will too?  I mean, who will care to stay long enough to hear Councilman Rick White state that he thinks they are all above reproach, and that it will be used as a tool against them during an election yet again?  Who will care to stay and watch Mayor Eric Hogue whine and dine the idea as he flip-flops to both sides?  Who will care to watch Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth claim one is not needed and point out the failed code in Frisco as backup.  Well that is choice considering his past actions or results of his past actions were what brought this idea around back in 2006 and 2008?  Gotta love these people.

Let’s review the hall of shame just for good measure shall we?

In the mid-2000s, then Mayor John Mondy wrote a letter requesting leniency in the sentencing stage of a convicted sex offender.  The letter was written at the behest of Red Byboth because the offender was one of Red’s employees.  Oh but Mondy wrote it on freaking CITY OF WYLIE letterhead!  Hello?  Did anyone caution him on the peril this action could bring upon the city?  So the kiddie diddler got probation, thanks in part to Mondy’s letter of shame.  If he diddles a kiddie again, that kid’s parents could sue the hell out of the city.  Holy cow patties!  Dear God and all that is right and wrong with this world how could anyone in their right mind set the City of Wylie up for that sort of liability?  Then again, Red is pretty charismatic so I can see how it would be difficult to say no to him.  Poor Mondy took the fall for this numb nuts escapade, but then again nobody held Mondy’s hand while he signed that letter for his friend Red, the boobs.  Still, a Code of Conduct would have stopped this from happening.

OK, I said boobs.  I’ll wait here for half the men to catch back up for a minute…

In 2009, when the council considered the inclusion of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church as part of the Downtown Historic District, they were taken to task by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas who wrote on behalf of the new Priest Father Semler on non-inclusion.  Father was brand spanking new in his duties at St. Anthony’s and was burdened with addressing council on this matter.  The church did not wish to be included in the district and whether you agree or not with that idea, how the matter was handled by Councilman Carter Porter, Councilman Red Byboth, and Mayor Eric Hogue was a disgrace.  Though I was not at this meeting, a good friend of mine was and I interviewed him on what took place.  He said it was criminal the way Porter and Byboth spoke to Father Semler. He said they were rude and condescending and addressed them as, “You Catholics.”  Even the Grandes Dame Rita Smith took note.  Many people addressed council and asked for them to not force the church to be included in the district.  Red can be sweet as an apple pie some days, all warm and spicy from the oven, but he can also be a pretty caustic and crotchety prick.  Red wore the latter face when he spoke at the meeting that night, admittedly because he said the Diocese pissed him off.  He confided in me that he allowed his foul mood to spray at the Father like a skunk sprays his pursuer, because he felt the letter from the Diocese was pretty incendiary.  Well there’s some logic and a great reason to verbally vomit on a Man of the God in a public forum.  My friend said that Mayor Hogue snidely addressed the audience and that “Boss Hogg” as he referred to Hogue was incredibly rude and condescending even, he felt, giving my friend a nasty look on the way out after the meeting.  Now not to call my friend a liar or anything, but that doesn’t sound like the Mayor I know.  Normally he keeps his looks in check, or at least he does with me.  Despite the fact that he dislikes me, I actually like Hogue.   I only wish he would get the fence picket out of his ass at times because I seriously dislike when people continually play devil’s advocate and side with the easier choice rather than stand with their own conviction.  Probably one reason I am not a Romney fan. But I digress.  A code of conduct would have given Porter and Byboth cause for pause before their vile attitudes and words nonplussed the community.

Wylie got to wear a black eye not only at the WISD level, but also at the City level when Councilman Merrill Young was caught using a fake degree he bought for $200 from a degree mill in order to obtain his teaching certificate, oh AND to be hired by some kind of ignoramus at WISD to teach science at McMillan Jr. High.  The convicted liar, who is serving probation, refused to resign from his Council seat he also held at the time, rather instead not running when his seat was up.  The sheer arrogance of this move was astounding and frankly, Council needed a mode of recourse to deal with this monstrous act and a code of conduct might have been just the ticket.

In the candidate forum in 2008, an audience question was asked regarding support of a code of conduct.  Mayor Eric Hogue and Councilman Rick White said indeed they would support one.   Now that’s a classic because they both badmouthed the idea at a subsequent workshop and retreat last year.  The video used to be on the Wylie Today website and if you contacted the editor, he might put it back up again just for this next election go-around.

When the code came up in the workshop a year ago, all eyes were on City Manager Mindy Manson who cited only failed codes in other cities.  You know, I’m sick to effing death of her not doing a thorough job sometimes.  In Psychology, people look to things that support their mindset in order to avoid cognitive dissonance.  It’s just so easy to look to the failed codes in Frisco or elsewhere, rather than digging in and researching the thriving one in South Texas, isn’t it? 

When the cost of the Rec center for families larger than 4 came up, Porter and Byboth jumped right on those complaints.  Hey, there’s nothing quite like shutting down dissent through humiliation and ultimately shutting down public input through  a well-planned nasty email response and snotty talk during the meetings.  Again, a code would not allow for this type of behavior for very long.

Then again, we have the passive aggressive technique of no response at all.  This is a particular favorite of mine because it has been used on me when I complained to the council members about how I was verbally accosted by Ramona Kopchenko, a Planning & Zoning commission member after a council workshop on home-based businesses.  Mayor responded to my complaint, evidently on behalf of EVERYONE.  Nope, I didn’t get a response from Porter, Spillyards, Byboth, or White.  Not once.  Evidently they deferred to Hogue on the matter.  In the nicest possible way I must ask you what the hell do we need you up there for then?  Hells, let’s just have Hogue decide on all matters city.  WTF?  As a citizen, I would rather get 7 different emails stating the same thing redundantly, than to wonder if anyone got my message when I only received back one reply from the Mayor.  This is truly an unacceptable practice and would not be tolerated by a company, would not be tolerated by a school district, would not be tolerated by the police, and would not be tolerated by the fire department.  Can you imagine writing to Chief D about some vandalism and being ignored? Not cool in the book of TXun .  Not cool in the book of anyone, for that matter.

We have witnesses who saw Mayor Eric Hogue taking the elderly to the polls in last May’s election. One colorful character even came out of the poll bragging that Hogue and Mondy both called him and told him to get his butt up there to vote, in his words.  When studying Mayor Hogue’s cell phone records, the numbers I reported in earlier posts showed a dramatic increase in phone calls and texts in the two months preceding the election, as the fever and pitch rose, and then dramatically dropping off again afterwards. I will remind you here that Hogue was not campaigning because he ran unopposed and got to skate through the process. Well that’s all nice and well, but I could not help but point out the ACORNesque look and feel this whole thing had.  I understand wanting to help out the shut-ins, but for the Love of St. Valentine don’t make it look like you are campaigning for your pals.  You are a mayor and not your bud’s campaign manager, nor should you be.

We have Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth texting a high-ranking individual involved with the City at a council meeting, where privately texted jokes were being made about the citizen who was addressing council at the time.  Well they weren’t private, were they?  We have other texts that have been made during these meetings with members in the audience. All of this falls under the Open Meetings Act and absolutely should not be taking place. This kind of crap should be strictly verboten and again, a code would take care of this.  Is anyone getting the picture here yet? 

Finally, I was verbally accosted outside of council chambers by P&Z Commission member Ramona Kopchenko who called me a name and wagged her finger in my face, completely unprovoked.  Actually, what provoked her was when I spoke at a workshop and introduced myself as one of the Wylie Tea Party leaders and she proceeded to roll her eyeballs at that mention and then look around the workshop table for commiseration.  This was not her only poor behavior either, because she shouted, “Puh-leeeeez” at Ruthie Wright during a P&Z meeting discussing Hardiplank. This behavior is not acceptable for a city leader.  When given the opportunity to remove her from P&Z and appoint another viable candidate (who by the way made it on P&Z after someone resigned, so evidently he was good enough in the first place), Spillyards and White made special attempts to look at me and give me a stone cold F U face just before they voted to reinstate her.  Yup, council, first time ever, broke down the appointments to each board separately so they could address this one tiny change in the panel’s recommendations.  They had never done that in the recent past and certainly never on Mayor’s watch.  All this, so they could ‘show me’ who was boss.  Well as you can imagine, that was the night this blog was born.  Even afterwards, when I had drinks with Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth, he confirmed that they voted to reinstate her to purposely spite me.  Now there’s some mature behavior for you. 

Yup, it’s time.  We deserve to have our council seriously consider a Code of Conduct/Ethics for real this time, but I doubt that will happen.  Yes, I have lost faith in their ability to set aside their own selfish desire to bully citizens and behave in any manner they choose without any compunction whatsoever.   They purposely left citizens without any recourse, knowing full well the abysmal voting turnout we have in Wylie.  Rather, Wylieites just have to put up with it.  I will not accept this because this is not what makes a city a great place to live.

I am tired of the panty waists on council putting off a code using every lame-ass excuse they can come up with.  In my best whiny voice possible:  it hasn’t worked in Frisco, it can be used as a political tool, we have a charter to handle this, and we have ethics at the state level.  Those excuses didn’t help you behave in the past, what makes you think they will force you to behave in the future? 

You know I will be there at this meeting.  I want to watch Spillyards, White, Byboth, and Mayor Hogue give me the big sourpuss F U face again as they poll each other for another final decision to ignore this request yet again, or worse yet vote it down in a future meeting.  I want to watch them in action during the height of hypocrisy vote that sucker down because they do not want the public to hold them to a higher standard, so that they can go on business as usual with treating people they don’t like with contempt.  I want proof that Mayor Hogue and Councilman White fell back on their statements of support when they said they would support a Code of Conduct back when they ran in 2008. 

The simple fact is, if you are running a clean business as a council member, commission appointee, or some other leader of the city, then you have nothing to worry about do you?  For those who will surely speak in opposition at the workshop, I would caution you to choose your words very carefully because they will more than likely be highlighted here in my blog.  I cannot even fathom anyone standing up and telling a group of people that they do not need to be bound by a peer designed and enforced conduct rule book.  I will question the reason and the source because there is no good reason to think rules are just too costly to design, manage, and enforce.  Lack of rules will be even more costly.

Ethics aren’t easy; they were never designed to be.  Yet ethics are a part of our everyday life, including our work life.  If you cannot handle playing Councilmember by a general rule-book designed and enforced by your peers, then perhaps you shouldn’t be sitting up there.