On Wednesday night the City Council and Carrollton Farmers Branch School Board candidates attended a  Forum sponsored by the Metrocrest Republican Club. Thanks so much to the club, and especially to Margaret Somereve, for taking on the difficult job of moderating that ambitious and valuable undertaking.

Those who attended understand that the MRC took on a daunting task: to get 16 political candidates in the same room to plead their cases before voters WITHIN A LIMITED TIME FRAME! Ms. Somereve was very brave (or maybe even a little insane) to keep this bunch in line. She did a great job and for that we all are grateful.

We 5 City Council candidates went first. Initially we  were scheduled to go up after the School Board candidates but we all got together and chipped in to buy one of us an airline ticket to fly out-of-town that night so we’d have a good excuse to go first.

Hah! Take that School Board – you think you know political tricks; you ain’t got nuttin’ on the City Council!

Oh – you know I’m just kidding. But we did get to go first.

That was my maiden voyage into the stormy waters of politics, and what an amazing learning experience it turned out to be. Most of the voters were, ummmm, uh, weelllll, okay –  I’m going to come right out and say that I looked around real quick and didn’t see any rope, or smell any tar, or sneeze at any feathers, so I felt a little better. But whoa. And what were the voters upset about? Well goodness gracious – they had elected representatives who seemed to be very good at spending their money, and raising taxes, and listening to the people so that they would know how best to ignore them, but little else. Well, wait a minute, a couple of them were very good speakers – I’ll give them that. And they knew it too because they spoke, and spoke, and spoke. And spoke some more. Ms. Somereve is a small woman, but that didn’t stop her from demanding the microphone back when she sensed that they had  ample time to pull the wool state their cases. Thank goodness, or else we’d all still be there.

Here’s what I learned last night:

“Bad policies, stupid policies, gutless policies have real consequences.” Oh wait – I already knew that; I heard it from Molly Ivins. But last night I got to witness it. The audience was fed up with the consequences and came “loaded for bear” as the old-timers say.

Issues included:

  • The Endless Money Pit of Litigation Against Illegal Immigration:

Here’s a tricky one because a lot of people understand this wrong. The City of Farmers Branch is already into this game for $5 million – and we’re barely half way to the Supreme Court. Some will have you believe that if you are opposed to spending more for chasing a lawsuit that is poorly conceived that you are “FOR” illegal immigration. Ya know what – I just can’t believe that anyone is Pro Illegal Immigration – not even the illegal immigrants. Well, wait, maybe the kids who come in on Student Visas and overstay – they probably like it that way, but surely not the illegal immigrants that we are thinking about. Oh come on – you know who I mean – the ones who put more than 5 decorative items in their front yards. The ones who store non-permitted items in their back yards. Heck – they probably even have grass in the cracks. And they don’t have a lot of disposable income. Those ones.

Now, the incumbents will tell you that it was “The Will of the People” that prompted this lawsuit, and that they are doggedly doing whatever is necessary to do what “The People Want”. Let me think about this for a minute. Oh yeah – now I remember: when “The  People” voted on this issue, they were assured that:

  • The City had a colony of lawyers (oh wait, the collective term “colony” is used for weasels; oh, wait – I guess that’s close enough) who were following the Hazlewood case and knew how to avoid the mistakes made there.
  • The expenses would be covered by the City’s insurance.
    • Exiting Mayor Phelps disputed that, saying the litigation would be long and costly, but did “The People” listen? Oh no. In fact, some of them even vandalized the Phelps’ home.
  • We would all be soooo much better off once this is settled.
    • Again, Mayor Phelps and others warned it would be counterproductive, and would divide the city, but then again, did “The People” listen? Still no.
  • Oh yeah – and after “The People” voted to pursue this lawsuit the ones who objected were told “You lost – get over it.” Remember that statement.

Let’s stop for a quick fact check – how many of these statements proved true?

  •  Former Mayor Phelps – you get the award for being right 100% of the time.
  • The rest of the Council: 0%, zilch, nada. Or, to put it another way:  wrong 100% of the time.

Now the ordinances against rentals to illegals have been shot down in Federal court. But they did not go quietly – oh my no – they invited countersuits that proved to be expensive also.

A gentleman in the audience asked each of the City Council candidates to declare whether they would “fish or cut bait” on the immigration litigation issue. Now, while I understand his analogy, my own personal one is this:

The Gambler

Suppose there was a guy who told you that he knew how to break the house at poker, and if you backed him financially he would play for you and make you rich. So you gave him a couple of million, then another, then two more. And he kept losing.

Now, would you keep giving him money, hoping that he would hit a streak? At what point would you decide the payoff would never be enough to cover the losses? Wasn’t it Kenny Rogers who spoke those prophetic words “You got to know when to hold ém, know when to fold ém, know when to walk away, and know when to run”?

So: City Council “You lost – get over it”. Move on. Let’s pick up our few remaining chips and go run home.

But Again – let me repeat; because this is very very important:

Just because you are AGAINST pouring money down a rat hole does NOT mean you are FOR allowing anyone to come and stay in our country illegally. That is not the case. But we have to have some sense about us, and about our finances, or we’ll lose it all.

 

  • Raising Taxes after they were told “NO”: Heck NO, lordy lordy NO, absolutely NOT, NO, NEIN, NE, NEE, HUWAG, NON, όχι!, NEM, 아니오, and let’s not forget the redneck term: “Negatory on that, Good Buddy”.

“To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics as well as morals.” William Penn

bun·gle //  (bnggl)

v. bun·gled, bun·gling, bun·gles
v.intr. To work or act ineptly or inefficiently.
v.tr. To handle badly; botch. See Synonyms at botch.
n. A clumsy or inept performance; a botch: made a bungle of the case due to inexperience

 

Last May “The People” were asked to approve a $30 million bond for “improvements” – at that time a water park in the four corners area was mentioned. The People had found their senses by then and overwhelmingly voted it down. Soooo – the City Council decided that they could issue a Certificate of Obligation for $10 million without getting permission from those pesky People. When The People found out about this they descended on City Hall like Caesar on the Gauls, saying No No No. But the City Council UNANIMOUSLY voted Yes Yes Yes. Then they raised our taxes.

Now, last night at the Forum I heard David Koch explain that escapade. According to his recollection, The People were all for spending lots of money and raising taxes, just not $30 million. So the City Council, trying their best to follow The Will of  The People guessed that The People wanted their taxes raised enough to borrow $10 million instead. So that’s what they did. Now, Mr. Koch says that he learned all of this through private conversations with The People, so he knew. Apparently he didn’t speak to many of The People who attended the Forum last evening, because they were not amused. 

Incidentally, someone told me that after that City Council meeting, when The People objected they were told something to the effect that “That’s our (the council’s) decision; if you don’t like it you can vote us out of office”. And again, the same councilperson told the audience that he was elected to make those types of decisions for The People. I didn’t see him give out a Bronx cheer but I felt it, and I think the rest of the audience did too.

We should take him up on that offer and speak with our votes.

  • Balancing the Budget:

I don’t even know where to start on this one. But I do know one thing: The People should vote for Charles Cox for City Council: he’s the one who’s stuck  cleaning up after the City Council’s boneheaded spending sprees. He’s the one who has to find the money and redistribute it so the budget is balanced. What does the City Council do? Well, they listen to Charles and they nod their heads and then they vote unanimously on something.

Our current City Council will tell you that our services have not been affected, companies are fighting to move to Farmers Branch, restaurants and grocery stores and developers are standing in line in front of City Hall, home builders are sabotaging each other in order to snap up land and build McMansions, etc. etc. etc. Good Times.

Next thing you know we’ll be building on that oceanfront property that is just over the horizon. I can hardly wait.

  • Lack of Direction and Planning:

Oh, wait, there were so many long charrettes and discussions and residential and business input into Our Vision. So all this spending and taxing and buying was very well planned. I’ve seen some pretty pictures, but I keep hearing that we’re going to build “something as yet undetermined” in the Four Corners. Oh, well, was that the plan? Then why did we have the pretty pictures?

 That’s all I have to say about that … for now.

  • Miscellaneous Sound Bites:

  • At one point David Koch stated that a watchdog group known as  Branch Forum conducted a  survey asking whether or not we should pursue the Illegal Immigrant litigation. According to David the results showed that 75% of the respondents said “Yes; spend however much it takes to win this lawsuit.” I know some of the Branch Forum members, and was forwarded the survey and accompanying pie chart so I could publish it here. Here it is:

 See what I mean about needing an engineer on the City Council? I know how to read, interpret, and understand graphs and data. That is a talent that is sorely lacking on our current council.

If you want to vote go to the Branch Forum website to vote and to be informed, follow this link: http://www.branchforum.com

Read their information, sign up for newsletters. They are an organization of “KNOW”: Know what your elected leaders are getting you into. Know the whole story behind the PR stunts.

  • Here’s more:

    • The People were told that they could become involved in decision-making for the City by joining one of the several Boards. That got a  laugh. Well, maybe not a laugh, per se. Maybe it was shocked disbelief and catcalls instead of laughs. By that time The People were a little testy and not in a jolly mood. Fact is, I know of people who have been waiting years to get on a board. Somehow, they are never invited. I wonder why that is.
    • In response to Matt Wenthold’s observation that The City paid $7 million for a parcel of land that was appraised for only around $4 million, Tim Scott set him straight. He said that Matt forgot to include the price of clearing the land. Heck – I would have cleared it, with a shovel and a wheelbarrow, for $2 million, and saved the city a cool million. I wish they had asked.
    • Also, on the purchase price for the Albertson’s corner: Mr. Scott graciously informed us that it would have cost around $12 million to have the property condemned, and thus stick the owner with the costs of demolition, etc. Hmmm – now, I’m not an expert on these matters, but something doesn’t seem right to me. Could it be that the buildings really weren’t in that bad of shape? After all, there were some businesses still working there. Hmmmm – could it be that if The City tried to condemn those buildings they wouldn’t be able to justify it? Because, let’s face it: with the crack professional ProActive and Innovative Code Enforcement Team we have in The City, dealing with a few landowners with really dangerous and decrepit buildings ought to be a piece of cake compared to the thousands of homeowners they hassle every year for minor infractions. I’m just saying ………….
    • This wasn’t brought out at the Forum, per se, but a concerned citizen did show me a campaign letter that he had received from Tim Scott. In the letter Mr. Scott states that Matt Wentworth’s campaign is one of No:  
  • No to beautification efforts
  • No to new ideas about redevelopment
  • No to our efforts to recognize and honor our nation’s veterans and their committment to our liberty
  • No to the idea that our immigration laws must be enforced
  • No to our city achieving it’s (sic) potential.

When I saw the letter from Mr. Scott I got this really weird feeling of deja vu. Then it hit me – this is the exact same letter someone else had shown me, but the other one was written and signed by Tim O’Hare. Hey – I always thought they were close, and they do have the same first name, but ……… (insert eerie music here).

Now, I know Matt Wenthold, and I know what he stands for. He is a strong supporter of Farmers Branch, and his ideas of redevelopment, beautification, and the city achieving its potential are well-researched and thought out, realistic, and achievable. He also supports innovative and sound development – I’ve heard his ideas.  But he is definitely against putting the City in an economic bind to do all this in a short amount of time. Matt, being one of those financial types, understands that sooner or later you have to pay the piper.

As for the 3rd bullet – that is just downright insulting. Matt is a veteran, as is his father and other family members. Let me see – remind me – what military branch did Mr. Scott and Mr. O’Hare serve with? Having your firm write a check to sponsor a military family at Christmas and then bragging about it on Twitter does not constitute recognizing and honoring our nation’s veterans.

As for Immigration Laws –  the City of Farmers Branch is not going to make a dent in the nation’s immigration problem; no matter how much money they throw at it. We’re small and we’re trying to go it alone. Get Real. Get a plan. The City has found that they can bully and intimidate the citizens to get what they want, but they can’t bully and intimidate the Federal Courts.

But maybe I got this all wrong. I know that Mr. Scott sometimes has trouble chosing the correct word, and this is something that  spell check wouldn’t catch for him, so he’s out of luck there. Maybe he meant that Matt Wenthold’s campaign is one of “Know”:  

  • Know what it’s like to be a veteran, and how to honor veterans
  • Know what is really important
  • Know how to formulate a realistic, honest, and doable plan
  • Know what the citizens need, what they want, and what they can afford
  • Know how to budget
  • Know where the money’s coming from
  • Know what you’re talking about

Okay – now that makes a lot more sense. And is truthful.

On that note, I’m going to end this post with a quote from Adlai Stevenson that Mr. Wenthold ought to use:

I offer my opponents a bargain:  if they will stop telling lies about me, I will stop telling the truth about them.  ~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952

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