I attended the City Council meeting in which the council voted unanimously to appeal the March 25, 2010, Court judgment that city Ord. 2952 is unconstitutional.  Ord. 2952 regulates who may rent property in Farmers Branch by requiring landlords to secure a permit from the city before leasing to prospective tenants, and to check the immigration status of those tenants.

As expected, there was a large crowd, and there were many speakers: pro and con. I carefully listened to each and every one and tried very hard to understand what each was saying while maintaining emotional detachment. Some speakers were very eloquent, some not so much, but all wanted a chance to voice their opinion and all were given that chance. Mayor Tim did a great job of keeping a potentially volatile situation under control, with the timely assistance of Chief Fuller and the professional Farmers Branch Police Department. Therefore everybody got a chance to have their say without fear of being publically harassed and intimidated.

So what did We hear?  

Political Arguments

  1. The more expensive aspects of the litigation are behind us and that to appeal (this time) will cost the city a relatively small amount: the guesstimate is around $100,000 – $150,000; because all the heavy lifting has already been done.
  2. If Farmers Branch finally wins this litigation other cities will follow suit. Thus, even though it’s expensive, and painful, and divides the city, the end result will be well worth the cost, because The City will be known as a trailblazer.
  3. Success will put Farmers Branch “on the map” nationally as well as internationally.
  4. Farmers Branch is merely trying to Uphold The Law, and since the federal government isn’t stepping up to the plate it is our patriotic duty to fill the void.

Well, isn’t that interesting? If you read this without knowing what the litigation was about you might think that the City is just trying to stoke someone’s ego: to Put Us On the Map. I can think of many cheaper, nicer, and more effective ways to do that.

So let’s address the other issues.

First, the quotes: are there facts to back up every assertion? Most, if not all, of the members of the City Council are Rotarians, so let’s borrow the Rotary Club’s 4 way test:

Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Okay then: I’ll put each statement in italics, and we’ll run the test.

Quotes from City Leaders

  • “We did what an overwhelming majority of our town wanted to do.”

This is sort of true, in that the City Council did go on with what a majority of the people who voted in 2007 wanted to do. The problem is that the voters were misinformed about the cost, the legality, the constitutionality, and other little details. So that statement was not fair, did not build goodwill and better friendships, and was not beneficial to all concerned. The lawyers on both sides have to love it, though, so maybe that built goodwill and better friendships with them. And they are, um considered Upscale and Desirable, but they don’t live in Farmers Branch. I wonder why. 

  • “Illegal immigrants are overburdening the schools.”

 In interviews school officials disagreed with that notion, so we have an unproven statement here. Also not fair, no goodwill and friendship, and no benefits, well, except if you want to count riling up the uninformed – that benefits the politicians.

  • “Illegal immigrants are committing crimes at a disproportionate rate.”

Police chief Sid Fuller noted that in a community where violent crime is very low, illegal immigrants stand out only when it comes to driving without a license or insurance. Okay – I know what you are going to say “well, that’s a crime, and being illegal is, by definition, a crime”. Good point. I’m thinking along the lines of the chief, though: crimes against other people.  Again: not fair, no goodwill and friendship, and no benefits except for the throwing gasoline on a fire component.

  • “We had a Montessori school owner complain about how she’d find used drug needles and used condoms in front of the school, right across from a place everyone knows rents to illegals.”

Those who stayed on after the litigation vote could have seen the school owner speak to the council about other undesirables around her school. This time it was an issue with the students at the Dallas Can academy. So it’s not just the illegal immigrants in the apartment across the street who are causing grief. In fact, I wonder how many of the used drug needles and condoms come from sources other than the apartments.

  • “They would go through drive-throughs and the people on the other side couldn’t understand English. They were getting frustrated over pressing ‘one’ for this and ‘two’ for that.” 
  1.  
    1. Oh yeah – now you got my attention: that is frustrating, and with the dearth of fast food joints around town it’s so hard to find one where the workers speak English. NOT!
    2. As for pressing one or two – I wish that was all I had to do. I get tired of pressing 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0 every single time I want to talk to a service provider on the telephone. I’d be happy to speak with someone who is in the same time zone as me. Someone, anyone. Maybe we can bring a lawsuit for that once the illegal immigrants one is settled.

Ya know what – this is getting kind of repetitious, and is not going to sway any of the hard-core believers. So let’s try this test instead: in place of “Illegal Immigrant”, put the word “Disadvantaged”. That’s like,well, poor people: People who are living on fixed incomes, people who are disabled, people who lost their jobs, senior citizens, single parents; people without a lot of disposable income. So let’s do that, and move on to social arguments.

Social Arguments

  1. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged are disproportionately represented in the lists of uninsured motorists.
  2. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged don’t pay their own way – with taxes, consumption of material goods, etc.
  3. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged are overburdening the schools. 
  4. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged are overburdening the health care system.
  5. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged are overburdening the welfare system.
  6. Illegal immigrants  Disadvantaged are committing crimes at a disproportionate rate – to the extent that many people find themselves living in areas that have been taken over by shady characters who are also disadvantaged, and they are frightened.
  7. This year, over 11,000 anchor babies were born to illegal immigrants in Dallas County.

Okay – the anchor baby thing doesn’t apply to this situation, as I don’t have any idea how many Disadvantaged kids are being born in Dallas County each year. But do you see where this is going? You can use the same tired arguments for any group that some people don’t like. And if you don’t have facts and data to prove your claims you can still say anything you want, and you can appeal to emotions, and you can make believers of the uninformed.

SUMMARY

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am against our porous borders. I am against allowing anyone into our country without the proper documentation and permission. But I am also against stereotyping, hypocrisy, bullying, and blatant lies. And that is the basis of my concern over the direction the City Council is leading the citizenry of Farmers Branch.

 The members of the City Council have unanimously agreed: by word and by action; that they want only Upscale and Desirable People in Farmers Branch. People with lots of Disposable Income. People who think the same way they do. People who are more than happy to have their taxes raised, and raised, and raised so that the City can go on their shopping expeditions beautification campaigns. People who don’t mind that their money is being spent on frivolous pursuits. People who don’t care that the City, time and time again, has voted unanimously for projects that were opposed by a large proportion of the residents. People who are Not Disadvantaged.

It sounds like the City Council want only wealthy people to live here. People like:

  • Kenneth Lay
  • Bernie Madoff
  • Jack Abramoff
  • Paris Hilton
  • <You get the idea>
 

I’d like to remind you of one of my favorite poems, but I am going to change the wording a little to put it in the proper perspective. This was written during WWII by Martin Niemoeller, who was a decorated u-boat captain in the First World War but subsequently became a minister of religion and a relatively high-profile opponent of the Nazis as they increasingly gained firm hold of the reins to power in Germany. 

Niemoeller was active as a leader in a so-called Pastors’ Emergency League and in a Synod that denounced the abuses of the dictatorship in the famous “Six Articles of Barmen.” Such activities finally led to his arrest on 1 July 1937. When the subsequent court appearance was followed by his release with only a modest ‘slap on the wrist’ Hitler personally ordered his incarceration with the result that Niemoeller remained in concentration camp, including long periods of solitary confinement, until the end of the war.

Niemoeller occasionally traveled internationally after the war and delivered many speeches and sermons in which he confessed of his own blindness and inaction in earlier years when the Nazi regime rounded up the communists, socialists, trade unionists, and, finally, the Jews.

In this regard he framed a now famous quotation that is often presented in a corrupted form. Niemoeller himself however lived through the events associated with the Nazi seizure of absolute power and knew which groups had been persecuted by the Nazis and also knew the order in which those groups had come particularly under persecution. I am going to copy the popular quote below, and change some wording so it will apply to what is happening here:

First they came for the communists  renters, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a communist  renter;
Then they came for the socialists,  poor  and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a socialist poor;
Then they came for the trade unionists  senior citizens, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a trade unionist  senior citizen;
Then they came for the Jews middle classes, and I did not speak out–
    because I was not a Jew middle class;
Then they came for me–
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I’ll finish with the following observation about prejudice and hatred – and logic:
 
“It is possible to violently disagree with something intellectually, but the emotional visages of early training survive the logic of intellect. In fact, the emotions of prejudice and hatred have a chilling logic of their own. The Holocaust perpetrators seemed to be acting on the logic of their Anti-Semitic heritage.”

Read more at Suite101: Historians Interpret the Holocaust: Did Global Depression and Anti-Semitism Produce the Shoah? http://weuropeanhistory.suite101.com/article.cfm/historians-interpret-the-holocaust#ixzz0lwrv40Tx

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