Wylie Sister Entities - One is Not Like the Other

Guess what showed up in The Wylie News last Wednesday? Front cover, above the fold even. An article about how concerned citizens would be protesting the Wylie ISD board meeting last Monday, just like they protested at the city council meeting a couple weeks ago.

Except, they weren't. For anyone following the We the People Facebook page, or even Nextdoor, there was no discussion of a Wylie ISD protest. Still, the notice was worth sharing on social media to see just how many people are concerned about the school taxes. Precisely two people showed up.

So exactly how did this article make it into the paper then? As I've mentioned before, the newspaper often prints articles at the behest of Mayor Eric Hogue. They are, after all, the "official city newspaper of Wylie", a title bestowed upon them by a council vote each year.

So think back to the city council meeting last week. At the end of the budget work session, Mayor Hogue was sure to mention that people need to protest the other three taxing entities: Collin College, Collin County and Wylie ISD. Conveniently, the next day the newspaper article hit the newsstand.

So if Collin College and Collin County have been routinely lowering their tax rates to citizens, what entity do you think Mayor Hogue was referring to? That's right, Wylie ISD. There's nothing quite like your mayor playing adversary against the school district.

Now think back to The Wylie News article mentioned above. If there had been zero discussion among protesters about attending the Wylie ISD meeting, why, then, did the newspaper publish this article saying there was?

I suppose the newspaper might have attempted to insinuate a protest, but that does not represent journalistic integrity, making it highly doubtful that the newspaper just made up this story. For this story to go to print, they would have been approached by someone feeding them information; or misinformation as it were. I wonder, who would gain from taking some of the tax heat off of the city and placing it on the school district? Obviously, a rhetorical question.

What came out of this faux Wylie ISD protest is the ability to show people the difference between a Board of Education that behaves as a partner with citizens and which sits quietly and thoughtfully through public comment, versus an unruly and unprofessional Wylie City Council, that seems confounded as to the definition of "public comment" and how to behave through it. Here is an assessment of my last two meeting experiences, as I watched how other citizens were treated by both entities.
From the moment citizens walk into a city council meeting, they may be stared down or just plain ignored, unless they seek to approach someone. Certainly, our mayor is not working the crowd in the entryway or welcoming citizens into the chamber. When you walk in, it is reverent, like a courtroom. When you speak to council during a work sessions, some sit with their fist propping up their head in what appears to be boredom, some attempt to shut you down while you are talking, sometimes they invite staff to do a mic grab and they even debate your point of view.

Contrast that starkly with Wylie ISD. Once a citizen enters, they are hard pressed to avoid a practical bear-hug from Superintendent Dr. David Vinson, If he doesn't go in for the hug, he is happy to chat with everyone and make them feel welcome. There are smiles all around and some of the other board members also work the crowd, as do staff. Everyone there does their best to make citizens feel welcomed. When you walk in, it feels warm and lively. When you speak to the board, they actively listen. At this particular board meeting, when the citizens finished speaking, one board member gave heart-felt encouragement to concerned citizens.

Notice if you will, the difference in how the public is treated by these sister entities:

Wylie City Council Work Session http://wylietx.swagit.com/play/06132017-1265

Wylie ISD Meeting (video to be updated once Wylie ISD publishes it to their website).

Turns out the crap bomb that Mayor Hogue had intended to spatter on Wylie ISD, when he suggested taxpayers should protest the other taxing entities, instead exploded on him. So not only does Hogue's mayoral legacy include increasing taxes over the past four years, soon to be five, but it also includes his inhospitable council meetings. He does, after all, lead by example.

Many sisters get along very well, but every now and then there's that petty family member that tries to cause trouble. It's too bad, too, because the Wylie ISD trustees show us how easy it is to have grace and compassion for those who are affected by their decisions. I have never witnessed this at a council meeting.

Image credit: White Christmas