The headline of The Dallas Morning News May 25, blog post by Julie Fancher describes the new council’s “fresh start” in the following way.
Despite calls for fresh start, Addison’s new City Council is already fighting
Published: May 25, 2016 3:36 pm
“At their second meeting Tuesday night, they bickered for more than an hour about a town newsletter,” the story states. Bickering. That’s right. Unfortunately, there was plenty of it. Bickering is what this Council was void of for the past two years. Now it’s back.
If you missed this article following the May 24 Council meeting, the article was published in the actual paper Sunday, five days after it appeared in the blog under the title “After Push for unity, new council resumes fighting.” If you missed it altogether, you can read it by clicking on this link to read the entire blog article:
Facts Matter has learned that following the May 24 meeting several citizens have expressed their disappointment at the newly elected Council’s divisive behavior by writing letters stating their displeasure and disappointment at the termination of the Mayor’s newsletter to Council members and the City Manager. Given the response several have received from new council member Paul Walden, acknowledgement of these citizens’ concerns seems to be falling on deaf ears.
“I am sorry we disagree on this issue,” writes Walden. “As you may or may not know I served six years as a City Councilman in Farmers Branch (1999-2005). There was (and still is) a staff generated and taxpayer funded Newsletter in existence. There never was any controversy associated with that document.”
“I wouldn’t hold out Farmers Branch as a stellar city government in any way; it has a shameful national reputation as being racist,” responded one citizen who seems to express a concern that several are making about this councilman’s relation to the neighboring city.
As for the informational quality of the Farmers Branch newsletter, check it out for yourself if you can easily find it on the city’s website.
A Sick Sense of Pride
Fact: Supporters of the new council members are so proud of the personally vindictive comments that Guillermo Quintanilla delivered during the Public Comment session of the May 24 Council meeting that they recently sent out an email to their followers that contained all of the actual content of his derogatory remarks. Now that same content has proudly been posted on the Truth in Addison website.
Fact: Among one of Quintanilla’s distortions was his statement that an email (he undoubtedly was referring to Facts Matter) “falsely told people that it was the new councilmembers who put the newsletter on the agenda.” That, in fact, is a lie. Facts Matter found out about this agenda item the same night some fifteen residents and councilmember Ivan Hughes found out about it—at the Mayor’s Coffee on May 18 at the Sidewalk Café in Addison Circle. What Facts Matter actually wrote was: “What you will also find on Tuesday’s agenda is a discussion and consideration of the termination of the mayor’s newsletter. This will also include a public hearing.” As you can see, there was NO mention of “who” put this item on the agenda.
Fact: What Facts Matter did state was that an item would be on the agenda dealing with “the complaints filed with the Texas Ethics Commission by Jim Duffy and John Oliver that the Mayor’s newsletter is ‘political advertising’.”
To adhere to full transparency, if there was some other so-called email that was sent out, Quintanilla, or whoever helped him write his speech, needs to provide the actual email and reveal who sent it and its full content.
As you can see by the actual cut-and-paste of the initial part of the concerned_citizens16 email, the recipients have all been “blind copied” so as not to reveal their identities. Further, the individual who sent the email has used a veiled email address to hide any transparency as well.
Date: 5/28/2016 9:37 AM (GMT-06:00)
Subject: Last Council Meeting
These are the comments made by Guillermo Quintanilla at the last council meeting: (The disgusting commentary follows in its entirety)
The Mayor’s Coffee
Still in existence are the Mayor’s Coffees-primarily because the Mayor pays for everyone’s coffee with his own money and has even personally purchased the PA system used. Yesterday’s coffee at Dunn Brothers was packed. The question and answer session following the Mayor’s update was intense and emotional, including a relatively new resident from Addison Circle expressing that the division she saw at the last council meeting “greatly disturbed” her.
Another resident questioned how candidates who ran on fiscal responsibility, once elected made decisions which immediately increase the city’s costs—namely the additional costs involved in a staff produced newsletter that will still need to be reviewed by the town’s lawyer and the legal costs now required to reimburse the Mayor from ethics charges filed by two citizens-one of whom now sits on the council. “How do I rationalize that?” the citizen asked.
Residents even questioned whether the transparency provided with the video taping of council meetings might also be at risk while another questioned whether it was a violation of the Open Meetings Act that four council members can gather each week as members of the private Midday Rotary Club. The Mayor explained that a quorum consists of 5, not 4. While this clubby weekly gathering at Ron Whitehead’s Rotary group may not violate the Open Meetings Act, it may be seen by some as an appearance of impropriety.
One other question dealt with the “rumor” that AMLI Residential, the apartment developer which was to be part of the Addison Grove project, has withdrawn. It was explained that since the Addison Grove project is the first project in which the council prohibited the apartment developer from including Section 8 housing, and since AMLI requires a percentage of their apartments to be Section 8, they withdrew.
Caution: Watch for any future apartment development proposals, which may include Section 8.
A Positive Note
Fact: You may recall that as part of the past council’s fiscal control decisions the town set out to refinance a portion of its bond portfolio. It was projected that the savings from this refinancing could range from $2.5 — $2.8 Million over the period of the bonds. Fortunately, the results are even better. The town has retained its triple A rating and has refinanced a portion of the bonds at an overall savings of approximately $4M, or approximately $230,000.00 per year. Now that’s being fiscally responsible.
We had hoped that at this point Facts Matter could begin providing more positive information. Unfortunately, little positive has transpired with the new council’s actions. We are hopeful that soon we will be able to report information that positively impacts our town rather than actions that only serve to provide The Dallas Morning News with headlines that tarnish our town’s once fine reputation.
Facts Matter is limited in being able to replace all that we have lost with the loss of the Mayor’s newsletter. With the loss of transparency from the Mayor’s newsletter on important issues such as how your elected officials vote and how they interact within the community and its businesses and other important activities that connect you to the community, the burden has now been placed on you to stay engaged and informed. Some ways to do that are to attend formal and informal meetings, watch the council videos if you can’t attend the actual council meeting and stay in touch with your elected officials. It is now more important than ever to become as fully engaged in your community as possible.
To that regard, here are a couple of activities coming up that you might want to attend:
Finalizing the Council’s Strategic Planning Process
Friday, June 2 @ the Treehouse from 3-7 p.m.
While this is not a public input session, it is an opportunity to be informed of the Council’s thinking regarding the strategic planning that will impact our town’s future.
The Mayor’s Coffee
Thursday, June 16 @ The Sidewalk Café in Addison Circle @ 6 p.m.
Hear an update from the Mayor on recent activities and ask questions.
Photo by TownePost Network via Flickr
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