Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mayor's Supporters Lack Class On Way Out

Tuesday night marked another moment of change for Mesquite.
As you would expect, the city council meeting was a night marked by accolades and appreciation for the outgoing mayor and council. It was the right way to go. Instead of recounting all of the council's missteps, mistakes, blunders, offenses, and violations of citizen rights, the crowd was gracious and offered platitudes and reminders of the good things done during the last four years. Not a single person came to the dais and offered a cheer for the departure of what has been a very bad administration, or rubbed it in about a mayor who received just 20% of the vote in the April primary.
It was a tasteful farewell.
What wasn't expected is how the mayor's supporters showed no class on their way out.
In the back of the Council Chambers, a group of the mayor's supporters could be seen on TV wearing black t-shirts that said "Y.O.Y.O." The same black t-shirt could be seen draped across the back of the mayor's chair.
Since I was "enjoying" the meeting from the comfort of my living room, I had no idea what the group was about, so I asked a couple of friends in attendance.
It turns out that Y.O.Y.O. stands for "You're On Your Own." On the back, the t-shirts said "No Help Is On The Way."
I could be wrong, but it feels like a disrespectful slam, a nasty-gram to the people of Mesquite.
I certainly applaud the loyalty of a small band of supporters, but there were more dignified ways of doing it.
The negative vibe was particularly ironic on a night when the mayor continued banging the "let's be positive" gong during her parting remarks, part of the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" refrain she has relentlessly beaten to death during her term. While the "silver lining" approach may sound noble, in reality it was merely an attempt to hypnotize city staff and the populace into believing everything was rosy, when the exact opposite has been true. It's like the street magician saying "watch this hand, watch this hand" while using the other hand to empty the crowd's pockets.
Anytime an elected official starts telling you that everyone needs to be positive, beware. It means you're about to get a screwing so royal that you'll walk funny for weeks. They might as well say "trust me," and we all know what that phrase really means when uttered by a politician.
Citizens shouldn't always "be positive" when watching their government. They shouldn't always "be negative," either. What we should always be is vigilant and aware. When people see the government doing something bad or going down the wrong path, it's not only our right to make negative comments, it's our responsibility. To do otherwise is to drink the Pollyanna-flavored Kool-Aid.
But hypocrisy has long been a trademark of the outgoing administration and its supporters. My favorite example was brought up again last night when the mayor talked about her support of the Constitution and quoted Samuel Adams in her farewell. I always found it telling that she and her supporters would tout their devotion to the Constitution during the same meetings in which she would crush First Amendment rights with heavy handed rules that often prohibited people from having their public say on important issues during council meetings. The Freedom of Speech thing wasn't so important when the mayor and city manager barred people from making their "silent protest" with donated food in 2007, after enforcing another anti-freedom rule which barred the Boy Scouts from going door-to-door for a food drive. (To be fair, that approach changed dramatically during the final six months of the mayor's term.)
Her supporters are also big talkers about freedom, then in the same breath demand background checks on anyone who dares to think about opening a business or taking a job at City Hall. It's funny when you think about it...who would have thought that "Big Brother" would actually be a woman?
The good news is that it's finally over, and the circus will be leaving. It's just a shame that the clowns at the back of the parade would take that opportunity to flip the bird to the crowd on the way out.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Mayor

Mesquite is scheduled to get its new mayor and council on Tuesday night.
It should be an evening of celebration, particularly for the voters of Mesquite who demanded more transparency and openness from the city.
Almost like a nostalgic farewell, the Consent Agenda shows, once again, why the outgoing mayor and council were shown the door.
Why is an item about pay cuts to management on the Consent Agenda instead of the regular agenda where it could get a good airing?
Ditto for an item which will hire an attorney to defend the city against a lawsuit filed by one of the city's unions. For starters, why isn't our City Attorney handling this? It's precisely the kind of lawsuit a city attorney should be prepared to handle. But more importantly, why is this being effectively swept under the rug as a Consent Agenda item? Again, it's an important issue which needs to be discussed in front of the citizens.
Of course, what would a Mesquite City Council meeting be without an agenda item to pay more money to another consultant?
After renewing with the Robcyn consulting group at the last council meeting, without any pretense at putting such a contract out for bid, this time the council is set to extend a contract with another completely unnecessary consultant, the Furman Group.
The city has whacked longtime employees, but continues to pay big bucks to out-of-town consultants for work that some of our current staff could do.
It's a fitting swan song for a council which has wasted millions of dollars on consultants. And sadly, no surprise.
Good luck to the new mayor and council.