Moving Addison Forward, Remaining Vigilant and Seeking the Truth

Moving Addison Forward,
Remaining Vigilant and Seeking the Truth
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)

Next Monday, Mayor Joe Chow and Councilmembers Lori Ward and Tom Braun will be sworn in. Re-elected Councilmember Ivan Hughes will renew his oath.  All four of these candidates ran positive campaigns, focusing on their visions for Addison, despite the negative and sometimes vicious tactics of some of their opponents.  The seating of Mayor Joe Chow and the new councilmembers will return Addison to a council of seven people who will work together with the best interests of Addison in mind.  I expect that they will commit to engage in thorough and respectful deliberation, enabling Addison to benefit from their unique qualifications, individually and as a group.

Addison will no longer be subjected to a mayor who espouses the view that the only acceptable solutions are those he advances or endorses. Thus, I fully expect Mayor Joe Chow and all members of the council to accept the will of the council, even if they disagree with the result.  There will be no pretense to any of it.  They will have their say, make a decision, and move on.

Addison will no longer be subjected to phony theatrics or other efforts designed to inflame the public or intimidate dissenting councilmembers. We will no longer have to watch the one-sided faux trials that replaced council meetings on Meier’s watch, where sarcastic, argumentative and objectionable questions were used to punish applicants and staff members.  I doubt we will ever again be forced to endure hours of inching through documents line by line, word by word, in slow, excruciating detail.  With the end of “agenda by ambush,” all councilmembers will have the opportunity to prepare in connection with such matters, if necessary.  Much of it was micromanagement anyway, but what wasn’t micromanagement was clearly better addressed at work sessions.

I fully expect that there will be fewer meetings and that they will be significantly shorter in duration, as the council returns to the Addison Way: courteous and efficient. That means that meetings – including their length – will no longer be used as a tactic or a punishment.  Meier used exhaustion as a strategy, hijacking meetings in an effort to undermine the council’s ability to act, or to force or prevent a certain result.  This discouraged the participation of other councilmembers, which was clearly part of Meier’s plan to consolidate his power.  It was improper and a poor model of governance.  You won’t see it from Mayor Chow or any other councilmember.  I expect that they will recognize that council meetings are expensive propositions involving not only the council, but also staff members, applicants and the public, and the time of all participating should be respected and used judiciously.

Council meetings will once again be about substance, rather than being a big show for the cameras. Agendas will focus on REAL issues Addison needs to address and resolve, not on phony issues that are in reality setups for deceitful political campaigns, such as we saw with the Kanter debacle in 2016.  Meier’s empty, self-serving claims of transparency will be replaced with real transparency.  True transparency.  Honest transparency.  Sincere transparency.  Fostered and nurtured by a true belief in transparency.

And, with fewer, more efficient meetings, the staff will have more time to actually do their jobs. They can also expect far less interference and micromanagement, as this council works to restore the city manager-council form of government that our Charter established, but that Meier ignored.

In other words, this council will return TRUTH to ADDISON, which places us squarely on a path back to the Addison Way.

But there is much work to do, and part of that involves understanding how Addison allowed itself to be victimized by a heavy-handed, lawless mayor. Even as his six years was coming to a conclusion, Meier shamefully used Addison’s email list to circulate false and misleading information in an effort to harm Mayor Joe Chow’s candidacy.  Part of that included instigating some type of investigation by the Dallas District Attorney, despite the council’s decision not to proceed.  Even when the DA had concluded, as Addison’s council had, that nothing untoward had occurred, Meier persisted.  And, in the end, Meier did nothing to retract the misinformation he had circulated.

We cannot let such conduct stand. It was nothing less than an effort to subvert our government by influencing voters with false information.  We need to have a clear understanding of how that happened.  Indeed, for many years, Meier has been the proverbial “lowest common denominator,” demonstrating the harm that can be done by one lawless person unbounded by any sense of decency.  We need to learn our lesson, and that means understanding how the train got off the tracks in the first place.  This will enable us to act to ensure that it never happens again.

We also cannot lose sight of the fact that Mayor Joe Chow’s opponent and the other candidates Meier supported did not condemn Meier’s tactics. Indeed, the same people who funded negative and vicious mailers attacking Joe Chow and others were also financial supporters of Joe Chow’s opponent and other losing candidates.  The fact that their tactics were not condemned by their candidates confirms that their conduct was met with approval.  But then, what should we have expected, given that Joe Chow’s opponent at one point advocated vandalizing Joe Chow’s political signs on the premise that they had been improperly placed on private property, an accusation with no basis in fact.  And, while Joe Chow’s opponent posted a conciliatory message after the election, to my knowledge it was never delivered in person.  That was disappointing, but may also suggest that the posting was simply for show.

The year of attacks on the councilmembers who were elected in 2016 remind us that we must remain vigilant, even as this election was a victory for the Addison Way. We will know soon enough whether those who supported the losing candidates will truly seek to bridge the gap and unite our Town, or whether they will continue the past year’s constant sniping against anyone and anything not Meier-endorsed. Will they accept and embrace a government that operates as our Charter envisions, which will surely be very different from the theatrics of the last few years?  Time will tell.

In the meantime, we have thankfully elected a mayor and new councilmembers who truly believe in the Addison Way. With our support, they will now have a real opportunity to start the healing process for Addison.

And with their pledge to work hard for our Town, we now start down the road to ensuring that ALL IS FINALLY AND TRULY WELL IN ADDISON.