Don’t Be Distracted By False Issues:
The Council Speaks For Addison,
Of Course (It’s In The Charter)
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)
Well, I was partly right. As predicted, the negative spinners went on the attack at the Town Hall meeting. Under the guise of a question, a resident railed on about recent blogs by Councilmember Paul Walden and Truth in Addison regarding the Farmers Branch creek dispute. The sarcastic question was: “Who speaks on behalf of Addison?” That was followed by the statement – it seemed like more of a complaint – that “the people of Farmers Branch” didn’t agree with some of what was stated in our writings. This, of course, was followed by a nasty blog claiming that Addison lacks leadership. These folks are predictable, and as I suggested before the Town Hall meeting, they are desperate to find something negative to say about the current council and, well, anyone who isn’t them. So, let’s break this down a bit.
I first wondered who “the people of Farmers Branch” were. And, more importantly, I wondered how the questioner and the negative spinners felt somehow authorized to speak on their behalf. The best I could come up with was that I wrote a second article about the creek issue because my first article was challenged by two members of the Farmers Branch council. I think “the people of Farmers Branch” must mean those two guys. I feel like I answered their comments politely but firmly, calling them out for what I think are unhelpful tactics, all while expressing my hope that both sides will try to mediate their dispute. Beyond that, I think the overwhelming majority of Farmers Branch citizens have never heard of me, and I certainly don’t sense widespread angst about my articles.
The irony is that the questioner and the negative spinners seem to be taking up the cause for Farmers Branch. They are essentially announcing their view that Addison is somehow divided on this issue, which I don’t believe at all. But sowing the seeds of division is the stock in trade of the negative spinners, even as it is unhelpful to the current issues Addison faces. And yet, these folks rattle on about how Addison needs “real” leadership? Good grief. Try reconciling those positions! I sure couldn’t.
And here’s the other thing I found bothersome. The questioner and the negative spinners have shown absolutely no concern for those impacted by Farmers Branch’s cancellation of the interlocal agreements that have nothing to do with the creek dispute. Or the businesses that might be impacted by Farmers Branch’s latest tactic: encouraging its citizens to boycott Addison’s events and businesses. It’s just more of the same old tactic we’ve seen time and again from the negative spinners: the welfare of Addison is always a distant second to their insatiable quest for control. Sorry, but taking up the cause for Farmers Branch doesn’t show leadership when it comes to Addison.
And here’s the other thing that’s really disturbing. When you read what the negative spinners think “leadership” is about, it’s downright scary. Consider that these folks proudly published comments from the Town Hall questioner’s email to City Manager Wes Pierson, who was advised as follows: “Time to get a hold of the message, stop other voices from Addison” and “I think it is imperative that you control the narrative” and “It does not help to have other council members or the Truth in Addison bloggers addressing Farmers Branch officials.” Stop other voices? Control the narrative? Holy cow, have these people ever even heard of the First Amendment?
But you know, this is exactly how Addison’s ex-mayor acted for six years before Joe Chow was elected last year. “Stopping other voices” and “controlling the narrative” allowed the ex-mayor to dominate the message and mislead Addison’s residents and voters. He fed them a steady diet of conclusions, all the while concealing the facts and, in the end, the TRUTH. It was all about power, and was nothing less than a subversion of our democratic form of government. It caused Addison untold harm. Indeed, those six years were a case study in the danger of “stopping other voices” and “controlling the narrative.” We should all be concerned about such comments, and it should not be lost on any of us that these folks quoted them proudly. All of which tells us that these folks are not in any position to tell the rest of us about leadership.
At the end of the day, the creek issue is yet another problem inherited by the current Council. It is common knowledge that it was resolved years ago, until Addison’s ex-mayor got involved and blew that settlement. So, tens of thousands of dollars later, it has fallen in the proverbial lap of the current Council, and Farmers Branch has escalated its tactics. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. I’ve said many times that it will take years for Addison to recover from all the harm the ex-mayor did to our Town. This is simply one more example of what happens when you “stop other voices” and “control the narrative.”
Most importantly, we can all rest easy knowing that Addison does not lack leadership. We have plenty of leadership in Addison. True, democratic leadership. Leadership genuinely dedicated to Addison’s best interests. Leadership that acts in a manner consistent with Addison’s Charter. Seven leaders who respect each other, and a Council that speaks with one voice regarding Addison’s affairs.
And you can count on Truth in Addison continuing to speak TRUTH to power. Because TRUTH is the Addison Way.