Making Cents out of the Senseless

I opened up my Wylie News only to find a Letter to the Editor by that cantankerous and crotchety old man, Earl E. Newsom.  Remember him?  An official Good Old Boy that twiddles his day away on the Wylie View with the other old-timers in Wylie, slapping each other hard on the back with their yuckity yucks and slams of all newcomers.  Oh I forgot, he is ‘supposed’ to be the one who brings reason to the simpletons who sit on that site all day long with nothing better to do, while the rest of us are out earning a living.  Reason?  Seriously?  After reading his dissertation to the editor, I am wondering if he could reason his 4 cent tax decrease analogy out of a paper bag.  More like scare tactics.

This is precisely the crap I have been talking about in this blog.  Here is a former Wylie City Council member from back in the day when deals were done around the big BBQ pit out in the field or around the liquor cabinet, and none of the 8-12k citizens were watching the handshake deals go down.  I thought he was supposed to be one of the more conservative ones but rather, he feeds the citizens this dribble about losing police, fire, and parks.  Yup, if that is his argument to garner support for more of the same, then that clearly makes him one of the Good Old Boys. 

During his stint with the City, we got shyster developer after shyster developer thrusting their boring square tract homes upon Wylie and never did they even consider utilizing the lakes as a draw for the big custom homes on some land that would really hit pay dirt in the property tax department or the quality of home department.  They didn’t even take good advantage of the beautiful rolling hills and ravines as a draw.  Rather, they allowed Fox and Jacobs, Pulte, Centex, Grand, and Choice to come in mow down trees, level the hills and slap in row after row of boring tract housing with the same ugly grey roof that reminds me of the 50s and 60s tract housing in Detroit and Chicago. 

Newsom may or may not have supported all of this nonsense but this is his legacy now by proxy.  If you don’t like the pitifully obscure, cheap and vanilla homes and ugly metal buildings set in areas that make no sense in Wylie, you can thank the councils before for having been part of that decision making process.  Yup, they bestowed their bizarre financial and zoning policies upon us years ago during that developer feeding frenzy that left us with a sea of mediocre rooftops and a couple developments bordering on looking like the projects in New York City.  Then they scratch their heads in wonderment as to why they can’t draw in some really nice restaurants.  Thank God for Sam Satterwhite and the Target development for without it, can you imagine the squalor?

I can’t help but wonder where Newsom pulled his “$0.04” cent analogy out of?  Even in the best of times, the most we could hope for is a one cent tax break, which is not anywhere near his four cents he used in an attempt to woo readers over to his side.  Is he trying to snooker people into voting for who he wants them to vote for by feeding them a line?  Someone told me that a lot of people vote how Earl votes.  Really?  Are there that many people in Wylie that don’t have their own brain? 

Newsom’s analogy posed to the readers about cutting programs is just plain ridiculous.  In fact, shame on Earl for writing that clap trap nonsense because he, of anyone, should know better.  There are plenty of opportunities in the budget to take care of a few matters that have provided for a blank check in which Finance Director, Linda Bantz and City Manager, Mindy Manson keep tapping with some regularity.  Rather than handing out $13K to non-profits, that money could be in the bank helping offset the new lower home values we now sport.

There are other things that can be cut as well.  What about that sucking black hole called the Rec Center?  That building was designed to run in the red, never making any revenue, only costing the citizens money year after year.  In fact, though some of my City pals might get rather annoyed at me for saying this, does anyone even know that the City employees who contribute to their 401K are matched 3 to 1?  That’s right.  Our taxpayer dollars are matching their contributions 3 to 1.  Talk about gravy!  What is your matching at work?  I would bet it’s not 3 to 1. (note here, I had someone tell me the matching is actually 2 to 1, which is still more than any private sector job I've ever heard of)

I have had people suggest that is just a good will measure to keep employees since their pays are so low and to that I say they have been fed a lie and bought into the ‘woe is me’ marketing scheme being advertised by our City leaders.  I have been doing my own comparison of incomes and am finding they are paid right in there in the mix and in fact some are paid quite a bit more than other communities.  For anyone to say the employees in Wylie are low pay, they are feeding you a line. 

Of course current or former Wylie City Council members used to having a blank check would like you to think the first thing to cut is police, fire, and parks.  That is the same old scare tactic they have always used when anyone even suggested the mere possibility of taking their checkbook away from them.  Why do I say it’s a scare tactic?  Because low and behold right there on Tuesday’s City Council Agenda is a pre-budget work session on cutting the tax rate one cent.  TaDa! You see, they are listening, oh and they are afraid, very afraid.  Afraid to the point that they wish to head off any notion that a candidate might get voted on because of their platform to cut taxes that they are willing to address it up front so as to steal her thunder.  Am I the only person to see the total hypocrisy in this work session?  The Good Old Boys on Council are so desperate to keep things status quo that they desperately want to help Newsom get his pal on council.  As a preemptive smoke and mirrors measure, Mayor and Mindy will attempt to shut the citizens up with their one cent tax break talk and hope Newsom, former Councilman Carter Porter, Councilman Rick White, Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth, and Mayor Eric Hogue get their low-quality pal voted in.  If that is what you want, then by all means vote with Newsom, he da man.

Not only that, even without the possibility of the one cent tax decrease on the work session, Earl’s argument doesn’t even include the fact that we have increasing sales tax revenue which could go a long way to make up his overblown $1M figure.  A one cent tax decrease would mean a negative $223,570 and is far more realistic in our budget than the hyper-inflated four cents he would like you to imagine.  Now if I were you, right about now I would start wondering exactly why it is that Newsom wrote this incendiary letter to the editor.  I mean, the man is not stupid by any stretch.  So why is he attempting to pull the wool over citizens eyes with his psychobabble letter chock full of scare tactics on cutting police and fire protection?

Newsom states he is looking to someone for true leadership in the community, oh like the leadership we got during his tenure and the leadership he provides on that hateful website the Wylie View?  Is that the sort of quality leadership we are looking for?  Look around at the quality that does not exist in Wylie now since he sat on council.  Look around at the drab metal outbuildings, mini-storage, commercial properties with faux stone and brick fronts, and the rows of tract housing.  Look at the zoning that makes even a monkey scratch his head.

On top of all of this zoning fun, which is perpetuating the downward trend of our home values, we can thank the cheap as crap property that is enticing entities like Habitat for Humanity who are buying up empty lots and slapping on their low-income housing. In fact, our property values waned to the point this year that the average home value is no longer in the  $150K range as it was, it is now $141K.  Yikes!  The continued piss poor decisions being made by our city leaders are continuing to lower our property values.  In 2009 the average home value is reported as $159K.  Then it slid to $152K.  Now it sits at $141K.  This is absolutely unacceptable.  This year our City Council had the audacity to vote to approve a 55+ low income housing which is likely going to hurt our home values even more.  Our Council is going to propel Wylie into being the low-income housing capital of North Texas.  It begs to be asked, “How low can we go?” 

Newsom’s council days were those of bowing to the Herzog Development group that comes in every so often to flex their muscle and ask to cramma jamma more homes on even less property and to approve low-income housing to boot.  Even now, watch while a couple of the councilmembers and Mayor slather Herzog with their toothy grins and googley eyes.  Are you feeling the love every time you open your tax statement?  I’m sure Herzog does with all his handshake deals given to him over the years. 

How do you think our budget will fare with these lower property values?  It means considerably less property tax revenue coming in so if Council wishes to propose a 4th Fire Station, as is part of Tuesday’s agenda, a bond will be the only way to pay for it and you guessed it, our property taxes will increase again to pay for it all.  Soon, our property tax will be damn near what our mortgage payment is and all for what?  Earl neglects to tell you in his Letter to the Editor that you are the highest taxed citizens in all of North Texas.  Well then there’s that.

Why is it that Wylie deserves the honor of being the highest taxed city in all of North Texas?  We don’t really have much to show for it.  No community pool, no community event center, no hike and bike trails, no nice restaurants only discount shopping, big box stores, and discount food.  If this trend continues, you will see massive flight as the quality people dump their houses to beat feet out of here and nobody will want to move in because they won’t be able to afford the taxes.  In 20 years we can look forward to being just a step above a ghetto.  Oh I suppose if you want THAT sort of leadership then by all means, follow Newsom’s advice. 

Newsom’s four cents would be a dream but he uses that example to scare the citizens just for old time’s sake.  A one cent tax decrease would be more like it and is the best we could hope for at this juncture.  Is that a lot of money coming back to the citizens right now?  Of course not, but it is simply one step of many to get that tax rate lowered.  Using the statement that it’s only $60.00 in the taxpayer’s pocket is completely irrational, as if that is the only tax break we might ever deserve.  His statement doesn’t even take into consideration the work WEDC Executive Director, Sam Satterwhite is doing, as an attempt to bring even more retail sales tax revenue to Wylie. 

Newsom’s statements about how little the return of funds to taxpayers would be should the tax rate be cut is just plain silly.  It is not about how much, it’s about perception.  Several years of reductions in the tax rate, even at $60 a year would go a long way toward lowering us to a reasonable rate and making us on par with other cities similar to us.  Duh.  But I would suspect that Newsom knows that already but would rather feed readers an illogical statement and scare tactic instead because that is what he does on the Wylie View as they all shout, “Hail Master” after him.  I don’t give a fig if it’s only the proposed average of $14.11 a year based upon an average $141,132 home value, it would go a long way toward appeasing the citizens as a good will gesture.  Ya think? 

I don’t understand why these Good Old Boys are so hostile to the fact that people have had enough of their stale policies and practices.  A woman I talked to yesterday at the Meet and Greet for Councilman Bennie Jones asked how long he lived here.  She wanted to be sure he was not a Good Old Boy.  The Good Old Boys don’t seem to get that people are truly pissed off at how ridiculously high our tax rate is as compared to other communities in North Texas. 

Why don’t they get it?  Because they are so out of touch with the citizens it is unreal.  You see, the Good Old Boys are all friends with each other and they hang out at all the same Good Old Boy watering holes: the Chamber of Commerce, a couple Wylie City Council members, some of the banks and businesses in Wylie, the Wylie View crowd, the WEDC board and other Boards and Commissions, and on WASA the senior political action committee.  This long list of people are the very ones who are shaking in their boots at every election because they are afraid the citizens will finally wake up and get pissed about the state of our city and who is really to blame for it all.  They aren’t hanging out with you and I, Joe and Jane taxpayer trying to make ends meet while burning the candle at both ends. They are having a blast with our taxes.  Just take a look at the lease the WEDC has and who it is with, as one prime example.

Of course not everyone will agree.  Some people really like the old, rusty metal building look so they might just wish to follow along with Earl E. Newsom’s vote for ‘positive leadership’ which is really his desire to keep things status quo and citizens scared at the idea of cutting budgets and taxes. 

I’ve heard that Newsom doesn’t read my blog.  Well of course he wouldn’t.  He, along with the other old dogs in Wylie, don’t want to hear what the average taxpaying citizen really thinks. They would rather live in that lala land of spend and tax and continue Wylie down the same old path.

I’ve said this before but it bears repeating.  Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results each time, is the definition of insanity, so keep that in mind at the polls.