Watch Your Tax Dollars Magically Disappear

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I've really tried to leave Mayor Eric Hogue alone these past couple of years, because he really is a good guy. Frankly, I like a lot of the things he has done to help promote Wylie as the awesome place to live that it is. However, this latest stunt leaves me with the inability to remain silent, as I shake my head.

Why are we paying to send our mayor and city manager to Washington DC for the vote on House Resolution 642? Oh the publicity is nice for him and all, as he landed his likeness in US News, NBC News, Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, Business Insider and other news sources.

Sure, it's a great diversion from the sickening daily drudge in the news, with images of Donald Trump pulling faces while Hillary Clinton walks yet another day without an orange pantsuit, but who is paying for all this clownery? We are.

I refute the summation by the US News article How an Ex-Clown Got Magic Bill Introduced in Congress. This isn't ex-anything, this is ass-clownery at it's finest.

During the last Wylie City Council meeting, Hogue requested $1,200 to cover his trip to visit playmate Representative Pete Sessions for the vote on H.R. 642, recognizing magic as an art form. It was also announced that city manager Mindy Manson would be attending as well, with what I can only surmise is an additional $1,200 coming out of her travel budget.

Is this really city business? In a word, no. It's not.

What's next? Will the City of Wylie be publishing these wonderful articles on their official website? To what lengths will this pet project be promoted on our tax dollars? Just how much in salary have we already paid city employees to fuss with this?

I cannot believe I have to point this out here, but this is a fanciful extracurricular activity taking place on our dime and time. This is not official city business. Period.

What makes this any different than former Wylie Mayor John Mondy writing a letter to the court at the behest of his pal on council, asking for leniency in sentencing of a convicted child molester, all on official City of Wylie letterhead? It was personal business, and so is this.

Congratulations Mayor Hogue, for doing the wonderful thing you are doing for the magic industry, but I don't appreciate my tax dollars paying for it.

If council has the ability to fund the mayor's pet project, they had better be giving us a healthy tax decrease. Though the magic and clown fun and games will only take us so far, the fact remains that we are still the highest taxed city in North Texas. Clearly we have some of our own work to do around here, especially if the city has funds for various pet projects. You know, $2,400 is $2,400 and it belongs to the taxpayers.

A good friend of mine always says that when people get into office and are there for too long, they get stupid. I don't know if this is a "stupid" moment or not, but I do know our tax dollars are magically disappearing buck by buck.

When Our Egos Get In The Way

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I heard Wylie High School had their award ceremony yesterday. I recall sitting through the three hour fete two years ago, while hundreds of students were called up to get their awards. Why they make it so excruciatingly painful, I have no idea. Actually, I do have an idea.

I guess it's because everyone has to get an award. Not to pick on Wylie High specifically because I know they all do it, but school administrators are so afraid of hurting anyone's feelings. It's not as if the honor roll is enough. It's not as if having a teacher praise a student for their hard work is enough. Student's must be coddled ad nauseam.

Award ceremonies that used to last an hour back in the day, with speeches from the principle and teachers, have turned into multi-hour gala's with a stream of students climbing the risers to get multiple pats on the back, while parents sit on pillows and stadium chairs because they heard it was ridiculously long. The adults in the room feel the incessant need to make sure nobody feels left out.

Rather than our children being taught that not everyone wins but hard work, perseverance and determination pay off, the overwhelming sense of social justice felt by the adults in the room outweighs any potential benefit to the students. We just feel better knowing that everyone got a participation award.

To add insult to injury, I heard the school no longer announces the total amount students earned in scholarships, unless the student is in the top 10% or got a football signing. Give me a break.

There was nothing quite like hearing what all the students were offered, as the school counselors made those announcements and patted themselves on the back, as if they had a little something to do with it. Parents were able to relish in the hard work their student did, regardless of class standing. But obviously  that practice was found hurtful to the top 10% of students. But by who?

It wasn't as if the students complained or anything, I'm willing to bet school administrators felt bad about announcing all the other scholarships . Because, you know, we are the monsters that created entitlement. There sat Oprah back in the late 80s shouting, "Everyone gets an award! Everyone is a winner!" and we just lapped that battle cry up as we licked our own wounds from not winning that spelling bee or being crowned King of the prom.

It's a shame too, because I was horrified to find out on graduation day that our kids were told to hide their honor cords. School administrators didn't want those who had a ton of silk hanging around their necks to make the "others" feel bad. It's a terrible policy that harms those who worked hard and rewards those who didn't, all so the adults in the room can feel better about doing something to iron out the wrinkles in social justice. I'm certain if the students were polled, they wouldn't care one lick about who has honor cords and who earned more in scholarships.

Our generation is the panty-waist, sugar-coated, politically correct, everyone needs a green fricking participation award weenies, and we are responsible for creating the entitlement mentality. The more we hoist our Oprah award policy on our students, the more we change their very being.

If everyone earned an award, fine. But don't hide the hard work of some students under the guise of protecting the others, when it is our own egos we wish to protect . Our kids were fine until we pulled that nonsense, and it is our own egos that need to be checked at the door.

Adulting in Wylie

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Normally I don’t care for Wylie First Baptist Church’s politics. Not because they don’t mirror my own in most ways, but because they hurl a crap-ton of power within the city. I don’t care for the fact that their restrictive no alcohol practice affects votes on our city council. I don’t care for the fact that they took over the downtown area, making it virtually impossible for anyone to sell alcohol down there. Let’s face it, if we want the downtown to become like the next Shops at Legacy, we are going to have to face that demon like rational adults. Like adultier adults. Giving the people what they want is often better than proving to be a stranglehold on growth and maturity of a city.

The Wylie Economic Development Corp is tasked with helping grow the city and they intend to expand the downtown and make it more hip and trendy. But where upscale restaurants were quasi-promised, we get a Chick-Fil-A instead. Yippee, eat more fast food.

I cannot blame the FBC for those disappointing decisions. I cannot blame the WEDC either. I blame our city’s inability to prove we know how to adult. In fact, we missed the adulating boat completely as Rowlett wooed a massive Bayside Lagoon Resort at Lake Ray Hubbard. I cannot help but feel like Wylie really screwed the pooch on this one, when our lake sits completely untapped of all it could offer, all it could be if only we were good at adulting.
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That could have been us, and as much as I didn’t like former Councilman Bennie Jones’ refusal to take responsibility for his stupidity with his City of Dallas foibles, that was one of the most brilliant things we discussed during our many visits at the local yogurt shop. He was spot on with regard to building up the lake and he had a lot of good ideas. Too bad he could never materialize them. Talk about a rebirth. I've blogged about developing the lake before and it's such a shame that it hasn't been tapped as a revenue source. Such a project would have been practically biblical for Wylie.

Photo credit: City of Rowlett
People truly do not understand what Wylie is facing at the moment with the hailstorm recovery. Every street I drive down causes me to gasp and utter, “Oh my God!” Even streets I go down often as I pick up insulation foam and duct tape from the local Home Depot, cause me to shudder. There is a change in the landscape, and it's not in a good way at the moment. The tarps are getting larger, and the roof paper is blowing in the breeze. The trash piles at the curb grow, are picked up, and grow again as citizens tackle yet another job that needs mending in the renewal process. I don't think anyone can grasp the full effect without driving around town and through the neighborhoods. This wasn't like a tornado that rips through a block or three, this is the entire city!

Though I don’t care for the FBC’s power, I can’t help but like Pastor Kris Segrest. He's a small bundle of calm and patience. Though some have confided to me that he rules like an ogre, I like his positive message for the city. I like how he was part of taking lemons and making lemonade after the hail from hell. He even had a little something to do with the hashtag #rebuildWylie, and I love that. As I read his message in the Wylie News opinions column today, I know exactly where he’s coming from. 

Photo credit: Wylie First Baptist Church
Though Segrest focused on the crumbs and being at the mercy of God, I am going to take that a bit further and consider the rebirth the hail brought. As the city rebuilds, there is a renewal about us. Citizens have had to learn to trust their neighbor; trust they won’t loot their homes before boards could be put up, trust their advice on contractors and insurance, and trust that everyone will pull themselves up by their bootstraps rather than languish in a damaged house because they cannot afford to repair it. 

As a city, everyone seems to be pitching in and providing each other the emotional support that will be necessary for the long haul. They readily chat at the grocery store, they readily chat at the restaurants. The trauma is forefront on every citizen's mind, and frankly it is energy and creativity sapping. I can see why barely more than 2% came out to vote in last week's election. Just the energy it takes to even think about something that doesn't involve getting windows, a roof, fixing siding, or replacing that garage door, oh and then there's painting trim and ugh, you get the point. It is very difficult to deal with much else these days as we anticipate this rebirth will continue clear through the summer before everything is touched. It is absolutely exhausting and to think about anything else is just an assault on our patience. Though we must look to the power of God to help explain what has happened, we also have it within us to accept what has been done and help make that lemonade alongside all the other citizens that are in this with us.

Let's just hope that with the rebirth, neighbors will continue to wave at each other as they pass on the streets, let’s hope that the city can rebuild better than what we were, and make some positive impacts that show we can adult like Rowlett and even Plano. We have been given a chance to be adultier adults, let us not waste it.


Don't Forget! Runoff Election Early Voting Starts Monday

You did your job for the March 1st primary. Now don't forget to go back and finish the job by voting for the run-off election! Early voting starts Monday!

Early Voting Starts Monday, May 16th and goes through Friday, May 20th only!
 7 am - 7 pm 

Election Day is Tuesday, May 24th.

CLICK HERE for Early Voting
Locations & Times

Below are my official endorsements for Wylie voters

Texas Railroad Commission
Wayne Christian
Statewide Judicial Endorsements
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Ray Wheless
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Brent Webster
Regional Judicial Endorsements
Andrea Thompson – 416th District Court, Collin County

My endorsements were selected based upon research of the candidates, what I know about them, and based upon my March 1st Primary endorsements.

For help with decisions, you can check out Empower Texans endorsements page and don't forget to scroll all the way down for the regional endorsements.

Illegal Executive Bathroom Order Will Affect WISD

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This news is just in. Your president has just issued yet another illegal executive order, this time on your kid's potty business. 

The U.S. Department of Education has issued a letter to be delivered on Friday to school districts across the country stating that federal law requires them to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms "consistent with their gender identity." 

If you read the WFAA article, it states that districts can make whatever modifications necessary to accommodate this unlawful order. 

So let me get this straight. To be all inclusive, districts can modify changing times, put up curtains and handle trans students differently than everyone else. Gee, sounds real inclusive. Just another day with an unlawful order by a liberally insane idiot in the White House.

I sincerely hope Wylie ISD reflects seriously upon this before allowing an unlawful order to set policy. What about bullies? What about the disabled and impaired? They should be building single enclosed bathrooms for one person each with a locked door so EVERYONE can be safe. To do anything else will set them up for a serious lawsuit when, not if, something bad happens.

Stay tuned....

Our Town

You never really think something bad is going to happen to you. Those things always happen to someone else; but when it hits you, your perspective is forever changed.

In an agonizing 15 minutes, 80% of our community was forever changed. An astounding 80% of our city was ravaged by hail as large as grapefruit, which shredded vinyl siding, tore holes through roofs, smashed windows, totaled cars, and forever changed the look and feel of our town.

Photo credit: Facebook
As people came out of their homes, there was sheer disbelief, fear, and even weeping. The enormity of just how many people in our town that were affected was unfathomable at that moment. Within days, the sleepy bedroom community feel was lost to a sea of blue tarps, papered roofs, boarded windows and trash piles. Three weeks later there are still cars with tarps parked along the road, waiting for the wrecker to pick them up.

There is no shortage of work to be done.

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Trees and bushes are shredded and sparse and I wonder how any birds could have made it through chunks of ice falling from the sky at ridiculously high rates of impact.

Though the numbers visiting my yard are severely restricted from what they were pre-storm, I am happy about the mockingbird who was building a nest in the vine along the back fence just before the storm, and has a brood to feed this week. Somehow she made it through alive and her instincts to build on the south side of the fence were spot on.

I am also excited at the rabbit who has been building her hutch under the holly bushes for the past week. Fat and happy, she's a survivor too. In fact, we all survived. Amazingly, there were no deaths or severe injuries to report.

We are not without effect, however. Tensions run high every time there is a storm warning. When vehicles or voices can be heard, it's hard not to look out the window to see what truck has pulled up where, and who's getting what done.

It's also hard not to fret over May, usually the worst month in our annual spring storm season.

People are cycling through Kubler-Ross' five On Death and Dying stages, from denial, anger and bargaining, to depression and then acceptance. I recognize and acknowledge each distinct feeling, and love my general contractor for having the patience of a saint.

Three weeks later, with glass at a shortage, there are still boarded up windows and tarped roofs everywhere you drive. There is simply no place to escape what has happened.

Three weeks later, there is progress, but it crawls at a snail's pace, as roofers pound their way around the one- and two-story skyline. There is a hum of the nail gun somewhere each day, you simply cannot get away from it.

It is overwhelmingly sad, and every new street driven is an exercise in shock.

In our town we read stories about our eye doctor and his wife hugging for dear life in the back seat of their car, as windows smashed. We read about dear friends who also hid in their cars, screaming their heads off as the windows shattered overhead. We read about city employees and council members racing to various damaged city buildings to assist with cleanup, despite their own homes needing attention. We even read about how hard our mayor has been working to reach out to the community, trying to get assistance through a disaster declaration which has not been approved by the governor yet.

In historic downtown Wylie, many stores are closed including our own Brown House event center, the place where every senior class has held its annual tea party in April since as long as I can remember. Other iconic businesses like the quaint Shoemaker and Hardt coffee house that I often meet people at, still closed to this day. Our winery, 96 West, finally opened on April 30th.

Even the local Albertson's grocery store sign is smashed.

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Photo credit: Facebook
It's incredibly bizarre driving around town. No matter how many times I've had to drive to Home Depot for duct tape or to order the replacement storm door, I'm taken aback by the power of nature. I cannot think of one person I know in Wylie who has not had their life as they knew it, changed by this storm.

Yet since the storm, our town, with the sweet little country feel, makes lemonade out of lemons on a daily basis. Wylie's First Baptist Church has teams of volunteers to help with cleanup, and they are also taking donations to assist those in need.

Additionally, the neighbors chat on the neighborhood website; neighbor helping neighbor advising their way through discussions on insurance, contractors, and decisions.

Who knew when this storm happened that we would be offering up good siding to a neighbor who only needs 5 planks replaced? Who knew someone's call to put up their fence panel would be heeded by good neighbors on the way home from work? Who knew that neighbors who had their own damage would still find time to ask for help for other neighbors, such as the call that went out today where someone needs help replacing their roof because their insurance is refusing to cover it, and they only received enough funds to cover their windows, having very little money of their own.

There's been talk of upgrading windows, new roofs and upgraded shingles. People are cleaning up. Out with the old and in with the new. Over the past three weeks, it's been a trash picker's delight around our town.

There is a new sense of pride as front yards are cleaned up, damaged bushes are tidied and trim is painted. I'm even a little envious of our neighbor who replaced his hail damaged metal shed with a beautiful wood one, which is precisely what I am trying to talk the hubster into doing. Hey, a little pocket money never hurt anyone's home values.

Through it all, the community is closer than ever, and we are sharing ideas and goals for upgrades to make our community a better place to live. When the nightmare is finally over months from now, and the scars begin to fade, our town will have proven that stoic, gracious and giving community spirit we share will have made Wylie one of the most desirable places to live.

Headline photo credit: Dallas Morning News

Digging Out

My apologies for being too busy to write lately. With the epic hail storm, we've spent weeks cleaning up the glass, rubbish and broken items.

Digging out from all the hail storm damage has taken its toll and the stress from having the house torn apart has been simply too much.

Couple that with a week long steady stream of anticipated damaging storms, high winds and large hail, and the social media posts were enough to make you want to cry. Obviously many people in Wylie are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, including myself.

How can you not, though? The stress is literally zapping my energy and my creativity.

The extended family had 5 cars between us totaled by our insurance companies. It's what they did, even with brand new cars because it was cheaper for them.

My husband's car was towed away to be stripped and crushed. I know he would have driven it for years that way, but with the moon roof blown along with water damage inside, a headlight and both back lights blown, the $4K+ to make it drivable simply wasn't worth it.

With more severe storms the past week, many of my friends cleaned out their garages after years of neglect, just so they could get their cars in. But what do you do when you have more cars than garage?

Many resorted to parking under any cover they could locate. We took our rent car to a parking garage twice in the past week.

Photo credit Virdie Montgomery

Photo credit Virdie Montgomery

Many even resorted to wrapping their cars like we did. to my mother-in-law's car.

Photo credit: Sheerah Nooner
We have tens of thousands in insurance claims and these storms are totally working my last nerve.

There are still no windows because glass is in short supply. I'm anxious to get new windows, which our insurance covered because the tracks are bent up on all six windows. The lack of windows and outer panes broken out both upstairs and downstairs, make the house extremely humid which has my fro acting up. In fact, it's so humid it's not even worth doing my hair because the curls just fuzz out, so I've taken to braiding it.

I honestly never gave it a thought as to just how much having windows rather than boards can keep the weather out of the house. Everything evokes feelings, and they aren't the warm and fuzzy kind.

The air conditioner has to work extra hard because I'm keeping it cooler to try to control the humidity. But the  A/C is so beat up from the hail, that it has to be replaced as well, including the box inside.

Since 2/3 of our siding is shredded, we decided we are going to pay to have the whole house re-sided. I know many people are going with HardiePlank lap siding because it is difficult to find vinyl contractors in the DFW area, but I can't stand that stuff, so I'm insisting on vinyl to replace what was there.

We did get a new roof and upgraded to the radiant barrier. I've already noticed a difference in the temperature in rooms that were normally quite warm. Still, the banging from our roof and the neighbor's roofs is nearly too much to handle day after day, especially when you work from your home office. You just can't get away from it every day, several roofs going at a time, all day long.

I anticipate the fence being replaced next. You know, it is amazing how karma can also work in your favor. Our friends on the other side of town needed to secure their fence, so we gave them our orange temporary fencing, and in one of the storms this past week, our damaged fence finally fell down, and our neighbors, gave us their orange temporary fencing and some posts. Wylie has seen neighbor helping neighbor and it has been truly heartwarming.

I was so excited when I went shopping and found the exact same ottomans that were damaged and tossed out in the trash.  You know, it's the little things.

Despite all my complaints, the elbow grease has made a huge difference in the yard, which is truly my refuge, despite the hanging siding and the boarded windows.

We have even made time for roasting marshmallows.

It truly is the little things....