Befuddled Rankings for Wylie City Council

Based upon the tax increase proposed by every city council member at the last budget work session, I decided to rank the council members based upon how well they listen to citizens, represent their concerns and how much they involve their own egos in votes.

Below are some surprising and not so surprising ranking results:

1. Councilman Toby Wallis - a DVM with cogent thought or two
This newbie is the best we've got and that's a sad statement considering he's only been on council a second. It should be no surprise that Councilman Wallis resides at the top of my list. He hasn't had time to make any ripples one way or the other. Still, his behavior so far has been exemplary, and it is obvious that he is paying attention to citizen's cries for help on our taxes. He made it clear from the start that he wishes to do what is in the best interest of all of Wylie's citizens.

His platform was "I believe that there are 3 S's that constitute a successful city: Stewardship- we must take care of what we have for our children, Service- we are here to serve the community as a whole, and Strength- one of our greatest strengths is our sense of community"

This is a refreshing perspective as long as he remembers that a strong community spirit is what makes a community great, not dispiriting them by increasing taxes and forcing them to move from their homes. If he lives up to this platform promise, it is certainly a far cry from the six other robbing hoods currently sitting on council. But this platform remains to be seen so I proceed with cautious optimism.

2. Councilman Jeff Forrester - underwhelmingly unoriginal
Without a viable opponent, Forrester was elected a couple of years ago. Though I had been warned that he was bffs with Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens, I felt he would be a conservative councilman willing to take the heat on behalf of citizens. Over the past two years he has proved neither. Instead, he stands with the Mason brethren and hasn't offered anything terribly useful. He certainly isn't backing the fight to lower our taxes.

He ran on conservative principles, fixing the roadways with common sense solutions (that hasn't happened) and as a good steward of the citizens, "By ensuring that they are heard and that they feel represented". Do you feel represented by him when he suggests a tax increase when polled? Um, no. Voters were looking for something new, fresh and sexy out of a councilman willing to stand up to the dais bullies increasing our taxes every year but instead, he brought his Z game. Truly disappointing.

3. Mayor Pro Tem Kieth Stephens - a confounding leader
This man is probably the most shocking of all because it originally seemed as though he was on council to side with the people and "make Wylie the best city to live, work, play and grow." He even stood up against a push by one former councilman to enforce a smoking ban on business owners, saying he was opposed to legislating business owners and that the people should have the right to choose businesses they wish to support whether they offer smoking or not.

Looking back, Stephens walked on council without an opponent for two elections and during that time it has become apparent that his overarching interest is in siding with the Wylie First Baptist Church (FBC) which he attends.

Probably to his credit, he was not at the last council meeting where members were polled as to the tax rate decrease they were in favor of, so we will never know if he officially wishes to increase our taxes this year with a paltry two cents, but past records show he voted for tax increases year after year.

That is an interesting dilemma for him, because he ran on, "Working to reduce the tax burden" according to his platform published in the League of Women Voters guide for May 7, 2016.

The real reason Stephens has dropped in my estimation of him is because of his votes against alcohol, based upon his religious beliefs and not based upon helping to lower that tax burden listed in his platform.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about drinking, enticing pubs and sit-down restaurants, like those in downtown McKinney and Plano would not be that difficult if the FBC folks got out of the way, but Stephens (and also Mayor Eric Hogue) routinely vote against anything that has to do with alcohol.

Wylie Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens
It's no secret that the FBC is an issue in the ability of businesses to get liquor licenses in the area surrounding them.

When the city stopped supporting the downtown area some years back, in favor of building the 544 discount shopping and fast food corridor, the downtown merchants had to form their own association and support system while struggling to remain in existence.

Without a lively nightlife, they will never be able to revitalize downtown Wylie to its former "Wide Awake Wylie" days.

Though Stephens will not vote to support alcohol in the city, I was sent this image of him drinking the signature alcoholic drink of the evening, a S'mores Martini, at a Collin County event earlier this year.

I have to wonder about the duplicity this image presents when it comes to his votes on alcohol, which would dramatically increase foot traffic and tax revenue for the downtown merchants, and help him live up to his promise to reduce the tax burden on citizens. With years of tax increases, Wylie is definitely not the best place to live or play in as he promised when he ran for council.

4. Councilwoman Diane Culver - can't hear us over her gums flapping
Back in the day, many people told me they didn't like Culver because she was loud, crude and rude. My estimation was that she was the breath of fresh air that the stale old-school clique of long-time Wylie residents sitting on council needed. At the time, she ran on conservative principles, so I supported her. Since then, her love affair with talking seems to have colored her common sense.

It's true, through the years she did some wonderful things on council, like getting the Code of Ethics passed, though it certainly didn't hurt that a couple councilmen made some bonehead mistakes, or that my continual blogging embarrassed the city to the point that mayor finally hopped off his picket.

Mayor was of the mindset that the city's charter was enough to keep leaders in line, and they didn't need no stinking code of conduct the blogger and Culver were pushing for. But Culver ran and won on fiscal responsibility and a code of conduct and contrary to her public statement that she got the code put into place, it would NEVER have happened without the deeply embarrassing antics of former Councilmen Bennie Jones and Nathan Scott, my continued blogging to get the word out and the newspaper finally acting like the informer of the publics they are supposed to be, after ignoring the Scott situation for over a year.

Culver was even honored by receiving an official endorsement from Empower Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, who provide that distinction to those who are recommended and make it through the interview process showing they are fiscally conservative. I made the recommendation and the rest was up to her, so why she has been voting for tax increases to citizens, despite a rather healthy budget  that would have supported adopting the effective tax rate the past several years, is perplexing.

Culver supported the small, tax rate decreases and, according to her candidate Facebook page, she claims the tiny decreases to the tax rate were done so that the city could continue on with expanding services. This is government speak for tax and spend, and pretending that established homeowners need to pay for the new people moving into the city, despite the fact that their homes are worth more and thus taxed higher. It's crazy talk because all those new homeowners for the past several years are now more than paying for their share of growth.

Clearly this is a difficult concept for all of our council members to grasp. Growth does indeed pay for growth, or at least it should if the city is well run.

Despite the small tax decreases Culver claims are the highlights of her seat, each year they still amounted to overall tax increases thanks to the city's unwillingness to offset the tax burden of increasing property values. She has never taken up that effective tax rate cross for citizens either.

I guess she is under the misconception that our taxes should increase each year to help pay for all these wonderful things we are getting in Wylie, though citizens are still at a loss as to exactly what they are.

Yet Culver even stated rather emphatically at last Tuesday's council meeting that contrary to popular belief, growth doesn't pay for growth. Facepalm.

Uh, I suppose new growth doesn't pay for new growth if you're Wylie and you are run by a group of useful idiots.

If the city is still running in the red after near build-out for a handful of years, then it is seriously mismanaged. Is she really publicly announcing that the city is losing money and needs to increase taxes every year for five in a row just to cover their debt and expenses? Truly embarrassing.

What's worse, the woman who used to be horrified at our mayor's egocentric license plate that read "Wylie One", now glances at him throughout the meetings for affirmation that she's on the right track.

It seems that the city pumps her with nonsense, knowing they can lob and spew with her incessant need to talk during council meetings. This was evidenced in the last meeting where she barely took a breath, even speaking on behalf of those presenting, such as the Animal Shelter and even the city manager.

5. Councilwoman Candy Arrington - the get along gal
Then there's Councilwoman Candy Arrington. She's smart as a whip and is probably one of the only ones up there that understands a bit 'o finance, but I'll be damned if she doesn't go along to get along on every vote.

Her platform when running? Your guess is as good as mine.

This about sums it up:
Texas League of Women Voters
I guess that's one way of not letting people know what you stand for. I supported her in a runoff, but the lack of rank is a direct result of her asking important questions, and then still voting with the herd. She is frustrating at best, and if she votes yet another year to increase our taxes, I suspect she'll have a formidable opponent next year, and we'll be bidding her adieu.

6. Councilman David Dahl - the yes man cometh
Oh man, no. When I poll greeted during the primaries in March 2016, Dahl stood outside of the polls and told me that we'll have to vote on a bond soon to pay for road improvements. But he's always been a tax and spend kind o' guy. It's no surprise his platform was built on taxing and spending. At least he made no bones about it. Well there's that.

He routinely sits on the fence on nearly every topic, seemingly grateful when he doesn't have to vote first on something. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to see him have any conviction whatsoever on any topic; his finger votes with mayor's finger virtually every time, especially when it comes to tax and spend.

The only person with a larger picket impression on their backside than mayor, is Dahl.

7. Mayor Eric Hogue - the tax and spend whore
What can I say about mayor? He's the media Hogue. He's even his own enterprise! No seriously, go read all about his spending highlights and then make your way back here.

In my opinion, he has turned into the Worst Mayor Ever. For all the good he did in getting Wylie's name on the map, he's undone five-fold with years of tax and spend that are now causing  "his people" financial hardship. 

So much for the servant/leader attitude he claims to have as part of his candidate platform. As a representative of the people, he claims to, "listen and work to meet the needs of a growing community".

Listen? Has anyone got that out of his votes over his four terms? Oh sure, he listens, and then he charges forward doing what is best for the Eric Hogue Enterprises - motivational speaker extraordinaire!

I suppose that's one way to get yourself some tax write-offs.
Eric Hogue, in his Clinky the Clown costume. (Eric Hogue)

If you are wondering why the realty market has slowed down in Wylie, look no further than the tax and spend magician who is making your money magically disappear from your wallet.

Oh, he's witty, cute and kissable sometimes, but that has clearly worn off according to taxpayers. He's pretty well disliked now, which seems like the perfect time to groom someone to run against him in three years.

It won't be difficult to beat him, especially when you see what people think of him:
"How do you get rid of Eric hogue? He has all his yes people around him and no one will run against him"
"That is horrible that we have 3 more years of him"
"I guess it's time to clean house and vote in a mayor and city council that will listen to the citizens. Same goes for the school district.Everyone I know in Wylie is fed up with the taxes. Many are moving out of Wylie because of the taxes. Time for change and lower taxes"
"Seems to me some of the people running the City need to be voted out."
"I've been participating in Wylie city elections for 15 years. We need a new option for 2018 city counsel seats."
"The appraised value is not the problem, it is the ridiculous high city and school tax we pay in Wylie. Wylie's city council and Mayor are out of control and yet we just re-elected the mayor without any opposition. Go figure."
"How can we do a recall of Eric and the bobble head council? We have lived here for more than 10 years. My son and Eric's were in band together. I have known the man for years. I wouldnt give him the time of day now. They are NOT listening to the people. Remember Dr Fuller @ WISD?"
Oh yes, I remember Dr. Fuller all too well, ramming bond after bond at voters, and when we declined, he repackaged it and rammed it at us several more times. Hell to the yes, he even rode from school to school in a caravan of shame, showing voters broken door locks, bent lockers and stained gym floors that should have been part of general school maintenance, certainly not a bond.

The point is, he wasn't listening. All the money he wanted from taxpayers was about building himself a "legacy". He even went so far as to have WISD purchase land across from his Seis Lagos neighborhood for a third high school!

The scary part is, Fuller sounds eerily similar to Mayor Hogue. Do you ever wonder if we'll soon be visiting Hogue City Hall?  I shudder to think, and you should too.

These rankings were a long-time coming, but I feel there is no time like the present, especially when another year of tax increases is staring homeowners in the face.