To Text or Not to Text

I attended the Code of Ethics work session held by the subcommittee which was formed to slice and dice the sample codes down into a ready to wear size.  It was interesting to be sure.
Staff pulled the codes for a couple other cities including the award winning Sugarland one, the one the employees signed, and the dreaded Frisco code.  You remember that one; it’s the code that people like Councilman Rick White, Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards, and Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth claimed in the work session late 2010 and again at the retreat early 2011 is the reason they don’t want one because it was problematic.  Well guess what?  That code was fixed in 2009.  My that’s interesting.  So in the past, was staff only pulling the one prior to the ‘fixed’ one?  Were they ignoring the fixed one in order to prove their point that they didn’t need a code?  Oh no they dih-int.  Oh and just so you know the same lawyer who worked on the Frisco code will also be working on ours.  I’ll let you ponder that one for a while.
The very first sticking point during the meeting became the texting during meetings issue.  Though Mayor Hogue and Councilwoman Culver both agreed that texting should not be taking place, Councilman Jones actually sided on the side of Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth on this issue.  Evidently both Byboth and Jones believe that it is perfectly acceptable for council to text someone during a meeting.  Jones said it takes place all the time in Dallas as they text staff for clarification.  Last time I checked, this was Wylie.  Jones also went on to say that the issue of texting during the meeting was just petty.  Well that’s all fine and well if you aren’t one of those lacking common sense and you never do it, but for those who are a bit horse-sense challenged, there needs to be a rule.  This texting freely and at will attitude really just goes hand in hand with the idea that they are council, they are God, and they can do whatever the hell they please and if anyone questions them, we are nuts, or clueless.  What-evs.  Hold on there a minute, I think those black helicopters that were circling overhead are about to land on a wobbly stack of cow patties. 
I take all sorts of issue with this stance.  Firstly, if council has a question, they should look to the city manager for an answer.  They shouldn’t be contacting say, Stephanie Storm to ask her what she thinks.  She reports to Mindy Manson the city manager. There is a chain of command, no?  Additionally, I have never ever witnessed Ms. Manson come to a meeting unprepared.  Frankly, if she doesn’t know an answer and someone needs to be contacted then have her do the texting. Duh.  Manson is not sitting on council making decisions, she can text and web-surf away as far as I’m concerned.  But she won’t because she is dutiful and diligent in her job, as she should be.
As far as personal calls, really they should be limited to emergencies and Mayor Hogue and Councilwoman Culver agreed. Then again if you are running your own business, as in the case of Byboth, and every call is subjectively deemed an emergency, then simply excuse yourself.  Done.  That is just plain common sense and something that can seriously be lacking at times.
I still hold steadfast to the notion that when business is taking place up there, council should not have their eyes downturned and glued to their phone, laptop, iPad, or whatever.  As a citizen, if I come up there to address you, I expect you to be listening.   It is the height of arrogance and incredibly rude for a citizen to watch you texting or surfing the iPad because you are bored or have something else on your mind.  Even if it is related to the topic being addressed, it is rude, rude, rude. What you have ultimately done is to make the citizen feel insignificant and unheard. 
Personally, I have received texts from two individuals up there during a meeting and to be brutally honest, it pisses me off to no end.  I refuse to answer that nonsense.  Oh yes, Councilman Jones thinks it’s OK to text because the public can just FOIA the information.  Is this the ultimate ‘I double dog dare you’?  Go ahead, make a request.  This is the response I received from Byboth when I requested his texts during one meeting.  Rather than answer my information request, Byboth gave me hell about it, telling me he’s not providing it, but I persisted and so he told me generally what was written and with whom and then he asked me not to share who because it could cause issues with that individual within the city, so I gave my word not to say who.  Ultimately I canceled the request but perhaps I shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t the public know who he was texting with and what was said?  After all, it took place during an open meeting. 
Similarly, to Jones’ way of thinking, this open meeting thingy just about covers it all.  Under the open meetings act we can request the information if we witness an offending text.  Ludicrous, especially since this gives of the oily appearance that something is awry when council wishes to make secret texts in hopes that nobody will ‘trouble’ themselves writing up a request.  This is tantamount to council conducting themselves in any manner they feel like, damn what the public thinks because, hey, they won’t bother doing the work.    
I fought this one for you peeps, you can request texts and phone bills from council even if it was made on their personal phones and yes you can thank me later for it because I guarantee it is cause for pause.  Despite that, the notion that the public can just exercise the crap out of City Secretary Carol Ehrlich and her staff every time someone is spied texting during a council meeting is ridiculous, redundant, and a waste of taxpayer money.  I will never be moved to believe that holding a FOIA up as my own personal cross is a good thing.  If the meeting is truly open, then keep it so and ask the question of staff sitting right there with you and have some discourse about that request.  Sending a text to Mindy while you are sitting up there is truly sending a wrong message. 
I will be interested to see if this tiny texting portion makes its way through the council gauntlet and actually on paper.  More reporting to come.

Code Work

As with all things, Monday will bring a new day.  New, because this is the day that the Wylie Code of Ethics Subcommittee will begin hashing out what a possible Code of Ethics might look like for Wylie. 

To be honest, this code thingy had to come around again.  Many people did not feel that it was properly hashed out in the past and it never came to a vote.  Besides, how could council deny what has been said about the lack of a code after enforcing a Code of Conduct among their own city employees? 

In last Tuesday’s city council meeting, Councilwoman Diane Culver brought a sample Code of Ethics from Sugarland, Texas which she said was award winning and highly regarded.  She stated that in the past, the codes brought before council were so negative and wrought with issues it was a frustration and she, “Wanted to bring something positive and that shows what works.”  

I was happy to see words chosen carefully by all of the council members except Councilman Rick White who whined like a sissy with a splinter about how the code talk can be used as a political tool and turn nasty.  I can only guesstimate he was referring to me when he said that.  Well my narcissistic little self will take it that way anyhow.  Sadly, White has not learned that a blog, any blog whether written by me or someone else, as a means to get council and appointees to behave in lieu of any real code of conduct was inevitable in Wylie.  Sometimes I think Rick’s just got a bad case of sour grapes because his wife’s fool-filled internet forum has been a bit dethroned.  I think there are two things that came out of my blog for Councilman White.  First, that had Dunn or anyone else actually been a viable candidate, he would not have won his re-election and finally, comments about how disliked his wife’s venomous behavior on the Wylie View is started to leak out within the community. 

I agreed with Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards in that if this code is looked at, it absolutely not be taken lightly.  She suggested a retreat for this type of project and not to tackle it at 9:20pm as that was the current time when the code workshop opened.  I can back that statement up by saying I never thought a code should merely be slapped into place like a hastily placed bumper sticker.  Nobody seemed willing to do the work necessary in the past however.  Oh, and it is work.  It will definitely be work no doubt about it.  I hope the work continues over a lie down and another work session because I believe one session is not sufficient to truly own this masterpiece.

Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth was eerily quiet through the meeting which did not surprise me because he had told me many times before that he did not agree with a Code of Conduct, but he had an absolutely brilliant idea; he asked for those who brought this thing to council to do some work on it probably as a form of punishment but also for the sake of time, to break the sample code from Sugarland down and get the waste out of it where items do not pertain to Wylie.  He is right though, those who brought it should do some work on it, thus Mayor suggested a subcommittee and he placed himself on that subcommittee post haste.  Councilmembers Diane Culver and Bennie Jones were also suggested for the subcommittee but in light of Jones’ mother currently in the hospital, Councilman David Goss said he would step in if needed. 

I can only hope that this code indeed will be taken seriously by our council.  Mayor Hogue stated that he wanted to do this thing, “In February before the silly season.”  He was referring to the dreaded election season commencement.   

The work session is slated for Monday night at 5:30 and is open to the public if you care to watch the three Councilmembers begin the hash out.  I for one will be highly interested in the work to be done because in the past I have accused Mayor of fencepost posturing and so that I may garner some new trust and hope in our Mayor,  I hope this time he will stick a landing. 

Low Income Capital

I cannot believe the absolute fuster cluck that took place at last night’s Wylie City Council meeting.  Brought forth was the issue of a 55+ low income housing project east of McCreary and South of Target.  Yes, more low income housing will be moved into Wylie thanks to your City Council, if they get their way. 

As the meeting unfolded , we discovered a visibly angry Mayor Eric Hogue reading the developer the riot act because he just found out from Texas State Representative Jodie Laubenberg that another low income development was going in a mere stone’s toss from this one except in Sachse.  OK, before you say, “Whew!” lets get some facts straight first.  The Sachse development has 100 units and will house low income families whose kids will attend WISD.  Yes, more indigent children will be sucking the tax dollars straight out of our pockets as we feed and clothe the squalid brats.  Something strikes me in that I never really equate low-income people with being extra careful with the condoms you know?  Seems the group I’m thinking this site will cater to will have an average of 4-5 kiddos being sent off to get an education in Wylie, on our backs.  Groovy dealio there. 

So one might think that when this whole shebang came up for vote, Mayor Hogue would be against it.  Well hold on, little doggies.  Hogue actually voted to approve it.  How’s that, you say?  Yup, Hogue did his classic huff and puff the magic dragon routine and then when the smoke and mirrors cleared, whoomp, there it is.  Wylie may be the not so proud owner of our own special little low-income housing project and let me just remind you why they call it the projects in the inner city.  Jesus and Mary were there but Joseph was out of the house tending to his sick mother, but seriously I beseeched them with seeking eyes to vote no on this thing.  Dear God, is our council THAT STUPID?

Oh, did I mention that Don Herzog from Herzog Development owns both properties?  Oh yes, well then there’s that.  Herzog actually got a snotty talk up by Hogue, but in all honesty I think it was really just a shout out name tag to a fellow homie. 

Oh sure, this place looks nice and all from their slick sales flier, but just think what it means for our home values.  I never knew a low income housing project to increase them, have you?  You can thank Councilwoman Diane Culver and Councilman David Goss for voting no. However the seriously misguided Mayor Eric Hogue, Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards, Councilman Rick White, and Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth all voted to put the skids on your future home values.  Nice.  Lovely to know the good old boy club in Wylie is still quite active and giving props to their pal Herzog. 

Just in case you really care what the specs are for one of these new tenants, they must be 60% below the median income in Wylie in order to qualify.  That means, according to City Manager Mindy Manson, that the average income in Wylie is $70K, leaving the new inhabitants at $48K or less.  Obviously they could not discuss the Sacshe project other than it was 100 units and by the proposed Wally World and Ranch Road.  Wal-Mart just brings the best out in people doesn’t it?  No surprise there.  I can only imagine Sachseites will be uber-happy to have their own personal Harlem with a Wal-Mart Supercenter they can walk to.  Rest assured, I let some of my peeps over in Sachse know about the new Herzog Dual Development legacy. 

I am left scratching my head and swirling in multiple WTFs.  So are bus-lines next?  Will we have to dodge the bag-ladies as they board the Dart Line?  What the heck are you doing council?  This developer stood up and said they intend to target the elderly living in Wylie.  Well isn’t that special.  Why on earth would you target people living in homes to move into the projects?  Dear God this just keeps getting better. 

Oh yes, Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth, with his usual genious,  was only too happy to point out that since there was no impact on WISD and property tax would be collected on the project, it was okie dokie.  Red my friend, that’s all wicked cool especially since you have let it be known all over town that you can’t wait to beat feet out of Wylie.  OK, so the units will be restricted to the aged.  Well all but 2-4 units which will be unrestricted.  Nice.  So are we going to find 4 families each crammed in those sending a pack of 35 kids walking down the 544? 

The developer, bless his little heart, said that he intended to own this project forever.  Well isn’t that extra special and heartwarming.  Especially considering how later in his used car salesman spiel he bragged how he built all his developments to sell.  He thinks it is unlikely that both projects, the Wylie and the Sachse, will be funded.   But WHAT IF THEY BOTH ARE?  Talk about placing a burden on the taxpayers.  These are the very people with their hands out asking for money that our Council is wooing.  Do we get to look forward to future OWS (Occupy Wall Street) marches and people with their backs blocking the Target and Starbucks doors?  Heavens!  The middle class Wylie folks won’t know what to do without their coffee.

So if the developer wins the Texas Housing and Community Affairs funding, he will be deed restricted to 55+ for 40 years.  Well that’s all fine and dandy for us now, but what if our children or grandchildren want to call Wylie home?  What will these projects look like then?  Do you realize that the low income peeps are not the ones who are going to be helping your sales tax fund?  I hate to break this to you, but the 55+ crowd are not in the divide and conquer mode, they are in the I don’t spend a pinching penny if I don’t have to mode.  Maybe you can get a Waffle House for them too?

I knew where this was going to head when Mayor Hogue asked the two old-timer mayors sitting in the audience what they thought.  Well at least they were bright enough not to say a flipping thing rather sending their wives up to the slaughter instead.  Oh but my yes, they both agree it would be a good thing.  WELL WTF DID YOU THINK THE SENIOR CROWD WOULD SAY?  By now I’m amazed they didn’t just vote it in behind closed doors and screw what the public thought.

I’m thinking now might be the time for you to stab the For Sale sign in your yards before our property values take an even further dump.  Might I suggest we repaint our water towers to say, “Wylie, the Low Income Capital of North Texas.” 

The Book of Wylie

When the book of Wylie was written years ago, I wonder if anyone had the foresight to think about how Wylieites would pay for all of the services that would be desired and would surely come.  I decided it might just be time to put fingers to keyboard on this topic yet again.

Using the last number I received from a council member, if the break-even point to the city is $211,245 per house, I wonder just how many of the roughly 13K homes are actually hitting that mark?  I mean, have you looked around?  Have you checked out the home values on Collin CAD?  My 2011 $1463.36 to the City of Wylie out of a total tax bill of $4398.85 is a mere drop in the bucket, yet I truly don’t care to pay more.  To be honest, I’m sick to death of being squeezed for money like the last drop of water is being squeezed out of Lake Lavon.  It’s time to reduce the burden on taxpayers.  But can they? 

What is even bleaker is that the $211,245 number doesn’t even take into consideration the debt?!?  Would we were to take every fund and the debt and run the calculations; the break even home value is probably closer to that original $250K mark or even more (this number is not set in stone, I have asked someone what it is and am waiting for them to get back to me on it but I bet it’s pretty close). Now nearly every home in Wylie is costing the city money.  Who thought THAT was a good idea?  They need to be severely punished.   Maybe a good ‘ole stoning or tar and feather would be in order.

I got into some interesting phone calls and emails with several people over the last week.  The net result coming from those conversations is that some of the council members seem to feel they are paying their fair share in taxes while they point the fingers at others sitting on council who they feel are not.
Let’s test the home value theory and look at some key players:

Reported below: Name, Home Value, & Tax Paid to the City of Wylie
Mayor Eric Hogue $126,288 pays $1135.20

Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth $590,505 appraised value, assessed value $187,620 thanks to his agriculture exemption and his other little piece of land with $ 60,440 appraisal and assessed value $39.00 Ignoring his whopping $39 slice of land, he pays the city $1686.52 in taxes.

Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards $164,903 pays $1482.31

Councilman Rick White $178,000 pays $1600.04

Councilman Bennie Jones $175,705 pays $1579.41

Councilman David Goss $144,363 pays $1297.68

Councilwoman Diane Culver $154,445 pays $1388.31

Let’s look at some other key players past and present:
Carter Porter $115,373, $$1037.09
Mindy Manson $276,776, $2487.94
Former Mayor John Mondy has several home values and they range between $144k - $160K with an average of $1366.33 per home owned paid in city taxes.

Nope, there is not one current council member with a home value that meets the breakeven point, so the babbling I heard recently about home values was merely a tittering on of the mouth about how one member of council pays a ridiculous amount as compared to everyone else on council.  That is a bunch of bunk.
When people moved into Wylie years ago, THIS is what Wylie had to offer.  Homes valued around the $150K mark which don’t pay for themselves. This was our normal folks and I cannot blame the homeowners for it.  Can you?

Everyone has a story of how they ended up here.  Of course some came for schools, some came for inexpensive housing, and some came for the country feel.  If all Wylie was offering at the boom time were homes valued between $130K - $180K, how the hell can anyone piss and moan that people are not paying their fair share?  That is just dumber than running the football toward the wrong goalpost.  To be honest, I don’t think people gave a flip about the system, and the notion of blaming them for where we are at currently is asinine.  They all have stories as to why they call Wylie home and I doubt that sucking the system dry was one of them.

I have to believe in my heart of hearts that people really hoped their home values would increase.  Why move here if you expected values to stay stagnant?  Sure, people like Councilman Rick White championed getting nicer looking building ordinances for the homes, such as the more upscale roof pitch and the fancy house numbers set in stone, and the percentage of brick on all 4 sides of our homes.  Council touted the Frisco and McKinney new home look and feel.  These were all good things.  Yet I cannot help but be pissed off every time I drive down McMillen/Park, or whatever you want to call the street that runs past Dodd, McMillan, and Davis where there are oh so lovely metal buildings and yet another freaking mini-storage going in as I write. Those lovely metal buildings will not help to increase the value of the homes around them.

When the bulk of people moved here they didn’t think about home values and infrastructure and paying for it all.  I wouldn’t expect them to either.  This is why we have a city government and it is their job to babysit these issues.  I suppose when you move into a new community, you expect those running it to know what the hell they are doing.  Thus there is great complacency among the voting public.  Hey, as long as they can pay their bills and they get a park or two and a rec center tossed their way, they are fairly happy.  Would they be if they knew the ugly truth that their taxes will likely not be lowered in any measurable way for several years to come?  Busy citizens + smoke and mirrors routine = complacent voters. 

Back in the day, community members had hoped home values would improve by approving bonds and tax increases.  Isn’t that the name of the game after all?  Nobody once ever thought the economy would crumble under us.  So as it started to slide, our fancy city hall was built, and a rec center was designed and built to run in the red, and the poop started to roll downhill. 

Because nobody wants to take the blame for our high taxes, I’m hearing city council members complain about those of us whose home values don’t cut the muster, being a large contributing factor. That is the ultimate cop out.  It’s just so easy to blame the homeowners rather than blame those who were in charge of plotting, platting, creating, and managing the growth.  

At the time it is clear no visionaries existed.  Everyone wanted their glory and instant gratification in the tangible – homes, now.  Everyone took the accolades: developers, home builders, council members, and mayors.  Nobody thought much beyond the current and following year or how packing so many same-priced homes would affect future budgets. Citizens were happy to get a new growing community, parks for their kids, and good schools.  A quietness settled in.

Was the epic marketing ploy of the century getting citizens to vote yes on bonds and tax increases without any future tax decrease when it was all said and done?  I hope not.  I think every council member since the boom has hoped to be able to reduce taxes at one point or another, but none have figured out a way to do so with any measure.  How to lower taxes with a glut of inexpensive homes and no serious property value climb in the near future is beyond comprehension.  Especially so, when employees want raises in order to stay in their jobs, and the growth brings the need for new police vehicles and more fire equipment, not to mention hows about hiring more police by the way? How can a city pay for it all and also protect citizen’s pocketbooks?  They simply cannot.  The money has to come from somewhere. 

There was a time that future homes in Wylie were the answer, but I’m afraid that time has passed us by.  Postage-stamp sized lots galore have been rampant.  I witnessed Herzog stand up in a council session telling council and audience members alike that numerous surveys asked people what they want in Wylie.  He claimed what people want is cheap-assed, zero lot line homes crammed together.  Give me an effing break.  In my opinion, the city had their titty twisted by developers like Herzog who raped the system and came back for more lot size and home size revisions, just as Herzog did recently.  He asked council to allow fitting a handful more of cheaper homes than was originally planned into Woodbridge. I suspect very amenable councils of past said yes to these requests over the years and now we must live with the consequences. 

The tide has changed in Wylie and it wasn’t until a recent meeting that I witnessed Councilwoman Diane Culver motion to accept changes to the coming Bloomfield Homes development. As she motioned to accept the changes they requested, she also demanded specific home sizes and specified what quantity of each size was acceptable to council.  That’s right.  WE should tell THEM how it’s going to be and not the other way around.  Too bad nobody was brilliant enough to think this through in the past.  When Phase II looked an awful lot like Phase I and Phase III was just a threepeat, nobody defined what the actual future taxpayer might really look like in the end.  Love the Bloomfield Homes community concept but 100+ homes priced around the breaking point are not enough to ease the current tax burden on the other homeowners, even multiplied.  There is not enough room left to make that plan work. 

How did Wylie end up with so many recessionary priced homes over the years?  I can’t help but wonder if some back-door deals weren’t done years ago, but as the foundations have already been poured, I suppose that is all academic now.   The question is how do we get the tax burden relief that citizens deserve?  How do we stop the sucking sound which is our wallets being picked clean by a combination of county, school, and city taxes?  How do we do right by the city employees?  How do we do right by the fire and police?

We must now look to commercial property as the answer.  Will the movie theatre help increase property values?  Will the hospital help toward that goal?  Would hike and bike trails bring people willing to spend more for a home?  Yes actually they all do have a cumulative effect on taxes, but it brings a slow growth in surrounding property values to be sure.

As I see it, the true visionaries that exist in current day Wylie are Sam Satterwhite and the WEDC.  I feel that at this juncture they may be our only saving grace.  You know, one conversant stated something that stuck in my craw last night.  I heard the words “low-income housing” uttered and my radar rose quicker than a Grackle can splat the ground with some good old fashioned guano.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me seriously suck wind, especially after my Habitat for Humanity post the other day.  Good God is this what Wylie needs, along with a retirement community on 544?  Are we going to drive through Wylie and feel like we are in the Bronx as I do when I drive North Westgate?  Is Wylie going to become the government housing capital of North Texas?  I hope not because those people will not be bringing the bread and butter to lure commercial entities and Satterwhite’s commercial endeavor work may be for naught.  Is this what Wylie has come to?   Wylie kowtows to the indigent and the first-time and last-time home-buyers?  

The home value to tax rate quotient thing isn’t cutting it, especially if we have more low-income and retirement home communities coming our way. If we want a snowball’s chance in hell of having our taxes lowered anytime soon, it will have to be EDC that gets that done inadvertently through their commercial development deals.  Personally, I am looking to WEDC Executive Director Sam Satterwhite to pull some miracles out of his magic hat for us.  Sam has bode very well for us in the past because you can  thank your lucky stars we now have Target & Kohls helping ease our tax burden, along with the Extruders deal many years ago.  Will Sam be able to write yet another chapter in the book of Wylie?   Like the little engine that could, I think he can.  No pressure old Sam, no pressure. 

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.

New Challenges

Today's news brought even more challenges ahead for conservatives.  The Iowa Caucus couldn't officially name Santorum as the winner after they lost some precinct votes, but he did have more votes than Romney in the end.  Have to say I was surprised that uber-conservative bread-basket Iowans would support a moderate for the GOP, but hey stranger things have happened.  

Next in the news was Rick Perry.  You know, you gotta love that guy.  Only Rick Perry could have enough gumption to flub up memorizing three departments he would cut as part of his own platform, and continue on in the race as if nobody had noticed.  They say everything in Texas is bigger, I'm thinking his kahones must be the size of grapefruits.  Sayonara.

Finally in the news was Newt Gingrich.  Well, good ole boy Newton is being called out by his ex-wife.  Yup, Newt is being called a horn dog.  Big news there.  Don't you wish you had a dollar for every politician who couldn't seem to keep his pants zipped?  Hells Bells, Clinton and Kennedy made a sport of it.  Even after Cain's indiscretions came to light, he still had support out the wazoo and he only left the race because I'm certain his wife told him to get her name out of the newspapers or else loose a nut. At least that's what I would have said.  

It's not that it's proper, or acceptable, but in this day and age I am not altogether certain that anyone is really going to care much about Newt's desire for an open marriage and getting squelchy with a Congressional aide.  Honestly, it happens a lot; probably more than most people would like to know.  Now that's not to say I accept it, but I think that generally speaking people are willing to overlook a lot if they think the person is doing a good job otherwise.  Just look to Bill Clinton's sexcapades in the Oval Office to show you just how many people are willing to look beyond it and just how much societal mores have changed.   

I cannot say with any certainty that this news will not harm the Newt in any way, but he does have time to recover from it, and it would be very easy for people view the ex as bitter.  I mean, isn't that usually the case for the stereotypical scorned ex who wants paybacks?  She sees this as the ultimate payback and has made comments that she will murder his career.  Hmmmmm....I'm thinking it will be the ultimate bounce back.  Still, my money is not 100% on Newt.  In fact, I have yet to give any of the candidates any money which is a true testament to how befuddled I am about this whole GOP political scene.  

I'm sure tomorrow's news will bring even more opportunities for befuddlement. One thing I can guarantee is All My Children went off the air and something had to replace it.  These are interesting times and we are getting quite a show. 

GOP Conundrum

Rereading yesterday's post, wow I can see I was in rare form.  Didn't mean to shred Mindy so much.  Frankly I like her, but that type of lazy response is truly unacceptable from any city manager.  Today I will tone it down a tad and move my focus instead to the GOP candidates.

I am still undecided.  Big shock there.  I cannot believe this is the best conservatives have to choose from.  I am also annoyed that by so many possible candidates holding tight to the race, the votes are being taken away from someone who has the ability to beat Romney.  Nope, I'm not a Romney fan.  To be honest, I see him as more of the same.  Probably the only thing he does have going for him is that because he is a moderate, he just may be able to cross party lines and get the two radically divided sides together on some issues.  Still, I won't be happy if he gets the nomination because I will be forced to support him.  I will not support Obama's ridiculously divisive and personally intrusive policies.

Paul is still a viable candidate as well.  I don't care for his international policy, or really, lack thereof.  I find him to be a scary little dude.

Santorum is still whiny and I can't stand that. 

Perry needs to pack his bags, he is so out of his league.

Gingrich's strong stance brings me oodles of warm fuzzies, if only it were coming out of someone else's mouth. 

I am torn to be sure. Looking toward North Carolina, I cannot help but wonder if Santorum and Perry pulled out, would their support shift to Gingrich?  As I see it, there is the anything but conservative Romney, and everyone else.  Why can't these candidates see that?  I cannot and will not believe that their ultimate goal is to splinter the tea party vote.  Moreover, I think they want to beat Obama and make a name for themselves and they are doing this without looking at the larger picture.  As long as so many people insist on staying in the race I believe the tide will flow with Romney, especially since the media is hitting so hard to get him nominated.  The media probably think Romney cannot win against Obama and they may be right.  If the undecided group doesn't think Romney is much of an improvement over Obama, why would they rock the boat? 

Looking to the future, I cannot see Paul beating Obama.  He's just too goofy.  Perry is over.  Santorum and Gingrich could both debate Obama quite successfully and would be able to draw out the independents and undecided as well as the conservatives.  Romney could also debate Obama successfully but in my opinion, I believe he will suffer with independents and the undecided. 

Who I personally want to win the nomination is Gingrich because I find him to be the lesser of all evils at the moment, but that is all academic now because in reality, it is a media numbers game and they have the dumb quotient on their side.  When God said the meek shall inherit the earth, I am wondering if it was a polite way of saying the stupid shall?

Petty Hate Machine

An individual sent me an email regarding yesterday's blog post I made.  If you recall, I had published Wylie City Manager Mindy Manson's response to an email I sent her.  In my email I asked for clarification on the minimum home value break even number because I heard it was $250K.  I published her emailed responses because I didn't want people to think I had pulled that number out of the air.  Evidently, it came out of someone's ass though, because I ran that number up the flagpole like a dirty pair of boxers and it came back pretty rank.  

I found the response below to be absolutely spot on:

----- Original Message -----
From: Removed for Private Citizen
Sent: 01/17/12 04:48 PM
To: TXunz Inthehouse

If you were sitting in Place 2, I think she would be a bit more responsive to your questions.  Don't you?
What the devil is going on at City Hall?  Oh she did not just. Seriously?  Did Mindy lie to make me look inaccurate?  Did she truly not know how to calculate that number?  Did she not care to do her job?  Did she not answer me because it was me?  Is this the type of workmanship a city manager is proud to stamp their name on?  OMGosh, if I responded to a customer in that manner, I would be placed in front of the firing line at work.  It's just not acceptable.
I wonder, does Manson respond to any and all random public requests in this lackadaisical manner, or was it merely because it was me?  You know, if I were to place a bet on it in Vegas, I would probably be able to retire early.  
Lets face it, many of the city employees and council have made it pretty evident that they don't like me.  I have been told by some people that I am called 'That Woman' by City Secretary Carol Ehrlich and Councilwoman Kathy Spillyards.  I was told I have been called 'Clueless' by Councilman Rick White and Mayor Eric Hogue.  I am sure I've been called worse and if not, these people need to expand their vocabulary.  
To be honest, I don't give a flying fart in a windstorm.  They don't know me.  They only intimate they know me because I have made their jobs a wee bit more difficult. I ask questions.  I interview people.  I do my research.  I have a strong opinion.  I am organized and quite frankly I have my shit totally together.
Clearly, they don't like that someone is sniffing around what they deem is 'their' business.  Perhaps that statement is too rudimentary because people have sniffed around in the past but gotten nowhere.  Revised, that statement should read that they don't like someone sniffing around and pointing out inconsistencies, laziness, or downright dumb ass decisions to the whole of Wylie through a blog.  You see, they are under the misconception that they own their daily work lives but they forget who they are truly beholden to: the citizens of Wylie.  
Would I have received a more accurate response from Ms. Manson had I actually held a council seat?  Well one would like to hope. Still, I find the whole situation about as disturbing as necrophilia.
Exactly who is in charge up there?  To be honest, I don't frigging know.  What I do know is this kind of crap cannot continue to happen. Whether it is me or someone else asking the question. 
Mindy, Eric, Rick, Kathy, Red, don't make me effin' run.

$250K Backup

I received a text today from Councilman David Goss who wanted to know where I came up with that $250K figure I used in my previous blog post.  He did some calculations of his own and came up with $211,245.  Though the new number does not change my opinion about how the rash of small, inexpensive homes made their way into Wylie in such unusually large numbers, at least I have a more accurate number to use in the future.

I wanted to post the backup for how I receive the $250K figure because I didn’t want readers to think I pulled that number out of my ass.  Here are the backup emails:

From: Removed for private citizen
Sent: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:55 PM
To: Mindy Manson
Subject: Home Values


What is the 'break even point', so to speak, with regard to home values and taxes here in Wylie?  Someone told me that a home value of $250K or above  no longer costs the city money with regard to taxes collected.  Is that correct?

Your help in clearing this question up is appreciated.

My best,

Removed for private citizen

From: Mindy Manson <>
Removed for private citizen
Sent: Thu, March 17, 2011 8:10:33 AM
Subject: RE: Home Values
Removed for private citizen,

I don’t know that figure off the top of my head, but I will do some rough calculations and get back with you later today.


From: Removed for private citizen
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:46 AM
To: Mindy Manson
Subject: Re: Home Values
Any information on this yet?

Removed for private citizen

From: Mindy Manson <>
Removed for private citizen
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 10:54 AM
Subject: Re: Home Values

My apologies - our e-mail was glitchy last week so it must not have gone through. I looked at the total cost/expenditures of General Fund departments and the estimated number of homes. Based on that simple analysis only the $250,000 is fairly accurate.

Hope that helps.

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device