By walking out of the Council Chambers in advance of Tuesday night’s Meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Scott Turnbull and Council Member Adrienne Balkum prevented the city’s new Mayor, Keith Short from following through with plans that he and fellow council liberals, Jim Bloom & Herman Larkin, have concocted to obligate the city to another boondoggle which will needlessly raise taxes while expanding the size and scope of our municipal government. Short tried to sabotage the meeting by keeping conservative council member Jim Herren from participating via video conference so that the Mayor could become the deciding vote (the mayor can only vote in the case of a tie).
At issue is the Mayor’s new pet project, a multi-million dollar fire station that he is demanding strictly adhere to building standards that were adopted just months before Mayor Gary Moody was ousted from office by a landslide two years ago, which were adopted without the knowledge or consent of voters, just as Moody’s Taj Majal of a City Hall building had been. These new standards would necessitate a costly brick or stone facade that council liberals hope will necessitate another tax-rate increase like the one Moody had led for building the boondoggle of a city hall.
The three lone conservatives, Turnbull, Herren & Balkum, are advocating for a more affordable option that ditches the stone building facade, keeps the cost within the current budget, and prevents another tax-rate increase that mirrors the Moody Tax two years ago, which resulted in a taxpayer revolt where voters overwhelmingly rolled-back the portion on the tax-rate increase that was not locked-in by state law after Moody almost doubled the tax-rate (he attempted to quadruple it) to fund his city hall building project, which has put taxpayers into long-term debt for the first time in the city’s history.
However, Short, Larkin & Bloom can’t execute their plan so long as all three of the Council’s conservatives are present.
So last Tuesday, the new Mayor saw an opportunity to finally steal away voting control from conservatives by sabotaging Herren’s right to participate. Less than an hour before Tuesday’s City Council Meeting was to begin Short sent a bombshell email to council conservatives stating that he would not permit Herren to participate remotely via video conference, as had been done the previous meeting. Short made baseless assertions that the City’s setup was out of compliance with the State’s new Videoconferencing Guidelines that were established last November by the Texas Department of Information Resources [DIR].
The Rockwall Herald-Banner [RHB], the useful idiots of City liberals, reported that Short’s decision was centered on two requirements that he claimed the City could not meet, which were:
- The new minimum standard requires at least one 27″ monitor for the audience to view remote meeting participants, and
- the transmission speed for video & audio was unsuitable to meet the DIR’s new minimum standard of 384KB.
Unsurprisingly, the new Mayor lives up to his name as he is short on both fact & truth.
- The RHB failed to report that even with less than an hours notice, a fast and easy solution to the monitor size issue had been discovered and was in progress of being set-up in time for the meeting to begin, which would have utilized one of the 42″ video monitors that hang on the chamber’s walls (yet is currently disconnected from all other AV equipment and ready to be utilized). The monitor is clearly visible to both the Council & citizens present!
- The RHB also failed to report that Mayor Pro Tem Turnbull had directed that the easy solution be implemented and that as setup was in progress Short stormed into council chambers and demanded that it stop immediately because “it was not authorized.“ This despite the fact that as Mayor, Short has the full authority to grant authorization or to stop progress dead in its tracks. That’s right, the monitor size issue had been solved but Short prevented it from happening.
- Short also asserts that the transmission speed for the video broadcast was insufficient, which is an outright lie! City Hall’s communications lines are connected via fiber optic cable (which can provide speeds from 25MBps to 1GBs, far faster than the T-1 line used at the old city hall building), which ensures that the DIR’s minimum required transmission speed of 384KB (even the typical transmission speed for a smartphone using cellular service is between 500KB and 10MB) would be exceeded by a massively large margin.
- The Mayor could have verified this fact if he had the will to do so, but he didn’t because this was an act of sabotage. As most any middle school child can demonstrate by googling “internet speed test,” multiple sites exist that will provide an on-the-spot test of the current upload and download speeds in less than one minute, and all of them are absolutely free!
- In case someone tries to imply that the city’s ITU standards for the telephony equipment installed at city hall had to be verified, it is important to note that by waiting until after the close of business to announce his decision, Short made it impossible for either the Council or City Secretary to contact the company that installed the telephone and IT system.
- Of course, City Hall’s telephony equipment was the latest and greatest when it was installed two years ago as part of the gold-plating package that ousted Mayor Gary Moody, who was also a key donor to Short, Larkin and Bloom’s campaigns, insisted be installed in his boondoggle of a City Hall construction project, which put taxpayers into long-term debt without the knowledge or consent of voters!
- Third, Short also didn’t disclose that three weeks time had elapsed between the last council meeting that videoconferenced Herren and Tuesday’s, which was more than ample time to either alert the Council about his concerns regarding video conferencing and work to find a solution or to place the issue on Tuesday’s agenda, neither of which occurred. Instead, the Mayor waited until the very last minute to spring a technicality that has proven to be a complete fabrication.
As an added cover for Short’s deceit, social media thugs have launched a blistering barrage of misinformation falsely painting Turnbull & Balkum as unethical for walking out. The Mayor also used the RHB to levy a groundless insinuation that the two may have violated the law, when it was Short who was the true violator.
Citizens deserve better!