Since I started this blog, I have run into a recurring theme when I meet new people or make new friends within the community. Interestingly the recurrence is that at first people are surprised that I am a genuinely decent person with a huge heart and a truly wicked sense of humor, and finally they find that my blog provides them with a sense of confirmation about some of their own thoughtful stirrings.
When I meet someone new, one of the first statements they make to me is, “I don’t agree with everything you write on your blog.” Well of course I get that. What a boring world it would be if everyone agreed with everyone else. What I find is that translated how this statement really reads is that they need to disassociate themselves with my politically incorrect musings so as not to muddy themselves publicly in some way. As the friendship develops, more of their inner thoughts seep out and they give me affirmation that my blog is needed in lieu of any real code of ethics. When all is said and done, they also seem to get their secret jollies over the fact that someone is actually out there giving city leaders the what-for publicly when they truly deserve some scrutiny. Oh others have tried, but they give up because it is definitely like beating your head against a brick wall of mutual back slappers. Oh but they don’t know my tenacity.
As I reflect back on the day I started this blog, I recall expecting total nonsense as I drove to that very council meeting in question. I knew that two conservatives were on the selection panel in charge of appointing citizen volunteers to the boards and commissions. I also knew that all three of them, Councilman Bennie Jones, Councilman David Goss, and Councilwoman Diane Culver did not appreciate how I was treated by one of the P&Z Commission members after a meeting in October 2010. Though Councilman Jones was under the misconception that the event was somehow dealt with by P&Z, Culver and Goss knew it was not handled properly by anyone on council or by P&Z. In fact, the issue was hardly discussed by anyone. The nonsense I expected was confirmed when Mayor Eric Hogue said that he wanted to look at each commission separately. I knew that Hogue, Spillyards, Byboth, and White were going to gang rape the recommendations of the panel, and I was right.
I shook my head and smiled as Hogue picked his way through the appointments and landed on the issue of P&Z Commission member Ramona Kopchenko. I watched as the Gang of Four swaddled themselves in a love fest for Kopchenko who had verbally accosted me in 2010. I watched Spillyards and White give me their sourpuss F U faces as they voted to reinstate her (I wish all proceedings were video recorded). I sat in disbelief that Councilman Jones also voted to reinstate her. He claimed later to me that he did not realize she had also been verbally abusive in a P&Z meeting toward Ruthie Wright and frankly, I am not surprised because people seem to have just accepted the caustic attitude of Kopchenko rather than realize that there should be some recourse. If nobody raises a red flag, nothing will ever be done. Sadly they have accepted the fact that there is no such thing as evidence gathering or interviews or much in the way of rules so Ms. Kopchenko got away with truly shitty behavior. However thanks to my blog, I suspect some eyes are upon her and she is doing her best to behave. In looking at what I know about human nature, if those are the stripes she truly wears then she will not be able to hide them for very long. People who are predestined for some attitude will continue to use it.
I feel though that the lack of investigation and vetting wasn’t the only reason Jones voted to reinstate Kopchenko. However there has been an undercurrent of comments so I am just going to come right out and say what others have told me. People have stated that they feel Jones voted to reinstate Kopchenko because she is black. So there it is the ginormous, effing, grey elephant.
Though Jones and I have had many discussions about how much we dislike racism on either side of the black and white fence, I don’t think we make any bones about the fact that it does indeed exist within our community. I’ve heard from others that nobody wants to run against Councilman Jones because they are afraid of him. Really? Is that because he is a big, black dude with a stern demeanor or is that because they think he is truly unbeatable? To be honest I think he is absolutely beatable, especially when his past votes are dissected, but then again he is not the one I want to see removed from council at the moment as there are bigger fish to fry and so this is not a beat up on Bennie session. On the contrary, Bennie’s heart is in this and I can respect that, even if I do not always agree with his votes. Anyone running against him would have a difficult time earning my support because the big black dude is actually a sweetheart, but shhhh don’t tell anyone.
So yes, Jones’ overwhelming blackness and my overwhelming whiteness are being discussed in my blog and I don’t feel any shred of racism or sadness in my heart about this topic. I think it is a relevant topic with a looming code of ethics hanging overhead because black and white should never enter the decision making arena. Was Kopchenko given a pass because she is black as a reactive stance to a complaint against her? I would like to believe that is not the case. Then again, perhaps people are afraid of Ms. Kopchenko too. Whatever the reason is that she was reinstated by Hogue, Spillyards, Byboth, White, and Jones will have to be answered by them at election time. Surely she was not reinstated for stellar behavior.
Though the reasoning behind the reappointment of Kopchenko was not the only reason I decided to start this blog, it was simply another reason among many over the history of Wylie politics. The blog had to be created because there seemed to be no other way to beat it into the brains of the self-proclaimed demi-gods on council that they are not in charge – we are. Council has given citizens absolutely no recourse and we have been at their mercy for too long. I started the blog because I was determined to fix what was broke. I did not start this blog as any personal vendetta against any one of them in particular and contrary to what some people may think, I don’t write my blog because anyone is particularly egging me on. Quite the opposite, I am fairly devoid of any real feeling about my writing other than I am highly entertained by it at times. If people are receiving befuddled awards it is because they are being total dipshits. Hopefully any help I can provide will come in the form of a formal code of ethics adopted by council in the very near future. I am not holding my breath though because it seems that the only thing more tenacious than me is the arrogance of our city leaders.
The accosting by Kopchenko is referenced as the catalyst by the Wylie News article Council to Move Forward with Ethics Code in last week’s paper. They are wrong. Staff writer Judy Truesdell states, “This issue arose out of a conflict between a member of a volunteer commission and a citizen in 2010.” Oh no it didn’t. The Code of Conduct came up after former Mayor John Mondy wrote his letter of shame and it came up again in the 2008 election where both Mayor Eric Hogue and Councilman Rick White stated openly in the candidate forum that they would support a Code of Conduct. I was not the first to bring this topic up. That ‘citizen’ award rightfully belongs to someone else.
I am a firm believer in the code of ethics. The code provides the community with a tool to be proactive rather than reactive. Though let’s not place false hope that having a code gets rid of the undesirables chop chop. If we want to rid ourselves of a council member we would need to start the recall process or we need to vote them out. What it does do is place a new sense of culpability upon our city leader’s shoulders. It gives citizens a means of having incidents investigated in a reasonable amount of time rather than swept under the carpet as my complaint against Kopchenko was. It gives citizens the ability to take that complaint public so others will help group shame the offenders into compliance.
Sadly while watching the workshop last week, I got the feeling that Mayor Hogue wishes for citizen complaints to go public in order to shame them into keeping their mouths shut rather than having to address the council and have their name in the newspaper. He claims there are a lot of people who will be complaining because they want to hear themselves talk but I don’t believe that for one minute. I would guess that statement was designed as some sort of lame stab at me. Rather, I think it can be used by council as a tool to shut the public up. Most people do not want to be in the spotlight and are terrified of public speaking contrary to Hogue’s idiotic statement on the topic.
My greatest concern is the insistence by Mayor Hogue that the ethics panel be made up solely of city council members. Well what the hell with that? This gives them the ability for more group thuggery as they can steamroll a citizen’s complaint right there in the public view. Sadly, they can still vote that nothing be done over a complaint brought before them and with this current council, I would suggest that is exactly what will indeed take place which is why I am opposed to the panel being made up only of council members.
My opinion is that the panel be made up of many varying leaders within the community which are appointed by each council member so that the offended citizens do not end up with more of the same and no, I don’t have any desire to be part of such a court. Leaving the council as the jurors gives the potential for an even number vote should one of them be part of the investigation and made ineligible to be on the panel because of it. Appointing a citizen panel would be the most reasonable tactic in my opinion. No worries though, if Mayor gets his way with the panel there will be severe consequences. Even if council decides to out-vote a complaint brought against one of their own, they have to do this in a public forum and be blasted by the court of public opinion. This will be the continued beauty of my blog or others blogs.
Still, I have to believe in a code of ethics even if there are some questionable items in it. If it is employed correctly and the panel actually follow the process rather than attempt to circumvent it, the code can be a way to set boundaries in place which give the city leaders cause for pause. Yes, a code will help be the yoke on their shoulders keeping behavior in check proactively rather than reactively and this will ultimately be a good thing for everyone.