Like most, I believed that those we elected were honest & trustworthy, until I learned that they were not.
Trust was broken after facts revealed that our city’s mayor and majority of the city council intentionally held-back information and distorted facts to bolster support for the largest tax increase in the city’s history while defending their decision to put the city into long-term debt ($2.9 million), which was a first for the city, to fund construction for a new city hall/administration building, without voter consent. Following are the facts to support our contention.
1. Information was kept from voters.
The first time that the city mailed out any information about the city hall/administration building was six months after the $2.125 million bond had already been approved (four months after construction had begun).
Even the less than 60 people that attended the one and only “town hall informational meeting” about the project before it was approved, received no hand-outs or any written details.
2. Voters were locked-out of decisions.
The mayor and majority of the city council argued that “the decision to not place the city hall/administration building on the ballot was made because of so little citizen-pushback, which,” they argue, “was tantamount to support.” However, opposition would have been impossible as no information about the project was ever handed out, mailed out or posted to the city’s website.
3) Distorting facts to mislead citizens:
Despite a city communications budget of $1,500, the city council voted (3 to 2) to pay a public relations consultant, with a Washington DC, “inside the beltway” pedigree, as much as $12,000 to write two letters (signed by the Mayor) to convince 1,200 registered voters of the necessity to support both their upcoming tax increase and their decision to approve the funding for a new city hall/administration building, all without voter consent. (View Letter #1) (View Letter #2)
The final bill for the spin doctor to work their magic ended up costing taxpayers just over $8,000! Wow what a bargain to be lied to!
To promote the tax increase, the very first letter emphasized public safety, even though only a small percentage of the overall budget was earmarked for emergency services.
To defend the bond-debt, the letter states that “the city council was unanimous in support to build a new city hall,” which is not true. The last time the city council was unanimous about the city hall was in 2013 in a vote to hire an architectural firm, which would allow the city council to better evaluate the costs, establish a budget, get citizen feedback, and determine if the project was a priority for the city.
4. Backtracking the $600,000 increase:
The mayor and city council majority are now saying that the initial $1.5 million city hall price tag “was always a rough estimate that was expected to increase,” which is not true. Public records of meetings demonstrate conclusively that the cost never once deviated from $1.5 million, until the day of the vote, when the city council added $600,000 to the bond, without comment or discussion in the meeting minutes.
5. Silencing the opposition.
To further inhibit opposition, then Mayor Gary Moody prevented contrasting presentations from public meetings, granting time exclusively to presentations that support the city council majority’s viewpoint, even at town hall meetings. (Outside of minimal state standards for public meetings, the mayor has absolute authority to govern meetings, where no written or established rules-of-order have been adopted by the city.)
6. It all may be legal, but it’s just not right!
The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:23 that “All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.” Likewise, though the actions of the mayor and city council may have been legal under Texas law, it doesn’t make them right.
Those elected to McLendon-Chisholm city government should represent the will of the people, not to act in opposition to them. A tax rollback is the only way to restore the public trust, as citizens take back control of our city government by inhibiting city leader’s ability to spend more of the people’s money.