The Prosecutor Strikes Again
By: Liz Oliphant and Susan M. Halpern
(Addison councilmember 1992 – 99)
A trial was held in Addison on Tuesday night. Well, not exactly a trial – and not a fair trial, certainly – but the event had most of the components of a trial. Actually, it was a city council meeting. But Addison’s mayor turned it into a trial, with a clear purpose to “convict” the two former city managers Meier has so openly detested and mistreated.
There was a jury (council members, the audience and citizens watching by video), a prosecutor (the mayor) and a witness (the forensic accountant employed by the council). But there were no defense attorneys, no cross-examination of the witness was allowed, the “accused” were not present, and, in fact, were never notified that they would be targeted. Only Todd Meier was allowed to present a case.
Of course, we have no recognized processes in this country where only one side is allowed to present evidence. There are always procedures that allow for cross-examination and an opportunity to present other evidence, a clear recognition of the danger of hearing only one side of any story. Unfortunately, Meier and his cadre have taken Addison in a different direction.
Meier is one-hundred percent about telling only one side of any story – his side. Everything he does is rigged to make it difficult, if not impossible, for opposing viewpoints to be heard, for anyone to make corrections to his many misstatements, or to provide additional information so often necessary for the all-important “rest of the story.” Indeed, Meier’s ability to succeed has been dependent upon the public hearing only his side of any issue.
And so, there are always “rules.” Public speakers at meetings are limited to three minutes each. “Town Hall” meetings consist of lengthy presentations but very little time for questions. When then-Councilmember Chris DeFrancisco attempted to add his own views to our Town’s newsletter, Meier claimed to own both the newsletter and the email list associated with it, and even wrote that the Town’s Charter gave him the exclusive right to communicate with Addison’s citizens (don’t worry, it doesn’t!). Then, when citizens who obtained the email list through an Open Records Act request tried to use it to publish an alternative newsletter, Meier (and Addison) took a different position regarding the email list, threatened these citizens, and then orchestrated a council vote to sue them. Meier cannot afford for the other side of the story to be heard.
So, here we were on Tuesday, with Meier orchestrating yet another one-sided “trial,” this one regarding the supposed “transitional audit” that was started more than two years ago when Ron Whitehead retired. With none of the former employees in attendance (read that no one to challenge what was said) Kanter claimed that a long time ago, when Lea Dunn was still the City Manager, he experienced an “intense lack of cooperation” from town management. He claimed that Lea Dunn told him: “Why are you here? We don’t want you here.” Hmmm. Really? I wonder what requests he made for information, and when, and whether they were disruptive of the real work employees were doing? Watch the video and consider what tone he took with Addison’s employees. Surely there are documents that will address these issues… But you didn’t see them on Tuesday…
The witness offered his credentials, but no mention was made of his publicly-declared lack of experience with government accounting and processes. His exhibits were interesting, but of course there was no defense attorney present to point out possible explanations for his concerns or his harassment of employees as he sought privileged information. And, there wasn’t a discussion of how the current (and some previous city councils) declined to fund technology and adequate staffing levels that could have impacted the issues raised. None of it served the purpose of this council, with three key Meier allies now up for reelection… So you didn’t hear it on Tuesday…
Kanter’s ultimate conclusion was that he didn’t find anything missing, he just claims he “can’t tell” from the records. But then, without any basis for believing anything untoward had actually happened, he insinuated and speculated about all the bad things that could have happened. Despite the fact that he “can’t tell.” You have to ask yourself: What motivated Kanter to make inflammatory suggestions about what might have happened, and to attack prior management (who wasn’t there to tell their side of the story), even though he “can’t tell?”
And no one asked: Why are we only hearing about this now?
So what was the point? Well, it’s election season and three viable candidates, not beholden to the mayor, are running. The trial charade was staged to persuade citizens that only the mayor’s three cronies, up for re-election, can save the community from all this unsubstantiated, hinted-at, speculated-about, sort-of-suggested, kind-of-alleged mismanagement. Expect to see a BIG section about all this our Town’s newsletter tomorrow, and our prediction is that this created issue will be the springboard for the three cronies’ common campaign.
But don’t ever forget this: Addison was united and wildly successful before Meier. And how sad is it that the only way he and his cronies can succeed is to attack and undermine the 30 years of innovation and excellence that made Addison what is was before these guys got their hands on it.
Don’t be fooled, and don’t ever trust that you get the whole story on any issue from this mayor.