Sometimes things come to a point where it’s time to seriously question motives. It appears that time has come.
This past Monday evening Addison residents gathered at the Conference Center for an Addison Town Hall meeting where they received an update on Town activities and an opportunity to ask questions.
One resident who is actively working to unseat the incumbent candidates chose to use the questioning time to accuse the Mayor of violating ethics by campaigning for the incumbents.
Unfortunately, this resident neglected to check his facts and quickly found out that it is perfectly legal for not only the Mayor, but for all current Council members to exercise their rights and campaign for any candidates of their choice.
But this line of questioning does open the door to prompting another viable question — why would a retired City Manager be so actively involved in recruiting and orchestrating a team of candidates to unseat three incumbents?
Fact: Not only is former City Manager, Ron Whitehead, treasurer for his former Council member Jim Duffy, he is actively coordinating the overall efforts of all three opponents.
Here is a portion of the latest email sent to his campaign workers on April 12.
On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 6:03 AM, Ron Whitehead wrote:
“Subject: The Vote in 2014
“These were the results from 2014. This emphasizes the importance of every vote and that we have 25 days until the election and we need to work every day. It also shows how important early voting is to the final results. We can do this. They have alienated a lot of people that voted for them last time. We need you to call all of your friends and neighbors and make sure they vote early starting Monday, April 25th. Addison has never had this many people come together to work on a campaign before.
“There is still a lot to be done, so we will be calling you. Ron”
Could it be that the inference of the Mayor breaching ethics has anything to do with what one resident told us after the meeting? This resident is hearing that the opponents expect to sweep the elections and then do a recall of the Mayor.
We have not been able to confirm this and since we deal with “facts” we can only report what is factual. What is factual is that this is sounding a lot like déjà vu.
Fact: Jim Duffy, on March 20, 1992, the year after he left his Council position, filed a lawsuit seeking “a writ of mandamus ordering the Addison City Council to call a recall election for council member John Branch”
Ron Whitehead was City Manager at the time and hired Duffy as a “consultant” on the construction project of the Addison Theatre and Conference Center. Today Whitehead is Duffy’s campaign treasurer. (After realizing how this might look, Duffy’s treasurer was changed to his wife, Donna.)
John Branch explains: “The recall was a moot point since my term was over. If I would have been re-elected they would have needed to have another recall. The recall helped my opponents during the election to get additional votes to vote for them.”
Or could it have anything to do with a little financial controls history that also appears to be repeating itself ?
Fact: In November of 1987 the Council voted to retain the law firm of James A. Rolfe, to conduct an investigation of possible financial improprieties
Findings resulted in a report that expenditures were authorized by the then Mayor, Jerry Redding, “for which his authority to do so was questionable, and the City Manager (Ron Whitehead), Council members and particularly the Finance Director, acquiesced. “
The report further stated that, “Responsibility should be specifically fixed on the City Manager and Finance Director to insure that the policy and procedures are adhered to.” Redding committed suicide in February 1988, the day he was set for investigators to interview him.
Apparently the recommended policies and procedures were not adhered to because in 2014, with the retirement of Ron Whitehead as City Manager, after 32 years, the current Council hired Kanter Financial Forensics for a transitional audit to review policy and procedures.
Fact: As has been reported previously, the initial report found deplorable lack of internal controls to track millions of dollars
Although Kanter said that he did not investigate any fraud, “In general, when a system of internal controls is poor, bad things happen,” he said. Adding that the Town “was at risk of an inability to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and or misapplication of assets.”
This Mayor and Council have come under criticism from some noting that the report is “politically motivated” and remarking that Kanter hasn’t found one dollar missing, despite the fact that this was not the purpose of Kanter’s work.
Well, it looks like we may now find out if anything is missing and the critics can thank themselves for what will now be a “real” audit, most likely spurred by all their public criticism about the Kanter report.
LOOK WHO IS COMING TO TOWN!
Fact: City Manager Wes Pierson reported at the Tuesday, April 12 Council meeting that the Town has been notified by the State Comptroller’s Office that they will be conducting an audit of the criminal costs and fees at Addison’s Municipal Court
While this audit is routine, the Town has been advised that the audit could delve into other revenue sources that come under the purview of the Comptroller’s Office if they determine a need to audit other revenue sources is necessary. This audit is scheduled to begin on April 28.
It appears that it may be time to take a deeper look at what’s really going on regarding this upcoming election. Sometimes change is necessary; yet sometimes change is unwarranted and merely promoted for veiled and misleading reasons. Perhaps it’s time to realize that a serious, relevant question needs to be asked:
Why is the former City Manager orchestrating a campaign to unseat three incumbents who have challenged the status quo to do what’s right in order to protect the Town’s finances and ensure its fiscal responsibility?
This is an important question that any rational citizen might want to ask.
Just one more thing: About the so-called unhappiness about the police and fire compensation
Well here’s what Chief Paul Spencer had to say when asked about the officers’ reaction at the April 12 meeting and whether we are at a competitive point now:
“I believe so, I really do,” he said. “Very positive. Everybody is very appreciative of that [the raise], especially the 5%; that’s a big deal. I’ve said all along, there’s a difference between being grossly underpaid and being maybe a percent or two here and there.
“It’s my job to keep people here as long as we’re close on salary and competitive. But everybody is very, very complimentary of that. Haven’t heard anything other than positive.”
It’s time to stop the misrepresentations, the misdirected hate and the deceit. It’s time to support the people who care more about Addison than those who misconstrue facts to satisfy their own personal petty grievances.
Photo via Sarah (msKoach) via Flickr
Editor’s note: This post was amended on April 19, 2016 to include information on Donna Duffy replacing Ron Whitehead as Jim Duffy’s campaign treasurer; a scanned copy of the Texas Ethics Commission Form CTA showing the 2-19-2016 appointment of Ron Whitehead as campaign treasurer by Jim Duffy; and the quote from Addison Police Chief Paul Spencer regarding officers’ reactions to police compensation returning to competitive rates.