Remember the TRE!

Do you remember the recession a few years back? Coming out of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, Keller ISD announced it wanted to raise its tax rate 13 cents! The district claimed it had lost mega-funding from the state and without the extra funding would have to slash football at the middle schools and eliminate free bus service – not to mention cut teachers and increase class sizes.

I was running for City Council at the time, and even though the city officially had nothing to do with it, the school district’s gigantic proposed tax increase was the hottest issue in our race. Everyone wanted to know whether I was for it or against it – even though as a councilman I’d have no say in the matter. They wanted to know what I thought. And you can guess I was dead-set against it.

Since I had my own campaign to run, I didn’t have time to fight the increase the way I wanted to. Most of the people I knew who were helping me couldn’t find time to combat it either. Enter Giovanni Capriglione.

Gio didn’t live in KISD, but he was willing to help the people here fight the largest proposed tax increase in HD98 history. He funded the fight, and he led the fight. And KISD took note. The district didn’t pull any punches and came after him hard. They attacked him personally, robocalled taxpayers relentlessly, and even badgered students to get their parents to vote for this massive tax increase. They held countless town halls advocating for their boondoggle and called people who opposed them anti-kid.

It was a tough battle, but thankfully level heads prevailed. Voters rejected the increase 56-44 due in part to Gio working hard to help Keller taxpayers. It was his first fight for Keller, but it wasn’t his last. He’s been sticking up for us since before he was even elected to the HD98 seat, and that’s one of the many reasons I’m still supporting him today.

And Armin Mizani? Records show he didn’t even bother to vote in the TRE election. Maybe he didn’t even live here at the time, who knows. Maybe he was working for Diane Feinstein to get legislation passed to kill babies.

All I know is that when taxpayers in Keller and N. Ft. Worth needed protection from the largest tax increase in our history, Gio stepped up to the plate.

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How It’s Supposed to Work

Well, except the part that NRH failed to respond or even acknowledge my request.

I posted this to Facebook last night:

I am the first to call city hall on the crap it pulls. My history with them is legendary.

But I will take the time tonight to tell you a good story.

The street lights on North Tarrant were out for over a month. I reached out to NRH (as the street belongs to them) and got crickets. One night a NRH cop had pulled somebody over by our street and after he finished up the call I went and requested he put in a request on the street light. Nothing.

I emailed Mark Hafner, the Keller City Manager about two weeks ago. He responded right away and emailed the City Manager in NRH and CC’d me. He got a response and Mark texted me to let me know the situation.

Tonight out of the blue Mark texted me to ask if the lights were back on. I let him know in fact the lights came back on about a week ago and thanked him for following up.

See how easy that is to be responsive to a citizen complaint?

I’ve been hard on Mark the last few months on some other issues. He could have easily ignored my email and not done anything. But he didn’t.

That’s how government is supposed to work

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Your Song

We all have our faults, and God knows I have a few. One of those happens to be paralysis by analysis. When I’m trying to make a major decision I try to analyze every aspect to make sure I’ve covered all my bases.

Maybe it’s because I have a business partner that is the opposite, one that makes a decision based on gut feeling and moves on. Or maybe it’s because I’ve always tried to be frugal and have watched every dollar I’ve ever spent. But, with that said, I do admit it as a character flaw.

We have been trying to buy a lake house for the past 10 months, we’ve looked at over 40 houses, made offers on three and have come up empty. With limited inventory, we started to revisit houses that we’ve looked at before, maybe something would speak to us.

We happened to look at a house last weekend for the second time, this house so happened to be the very first house we looked at 10 months ago. It has a weird layout, only has 3 bedrooms and the bathroom situation wasn’t the best. But the outdoor space was perfect with a nice pool and a great boat house.

We sat on the dock Sunday afternoon and looked at each other and said this just might be the one. After 10 months maybe we found what we are looking for in the very first house we looked at.

We told our agent (and by now a good friend) to get the offer ready. We were going to buy this thing.

I just got back from China last Friday, and Sunday I was still dealing with a bad case of jet lag, and when the offer sheet hit our inbox, I told Shannon that I would look at in the morning that I was too tired to proof a contract that night.

Well…..the next morning I started looking through the documents and a few things popped out at me. I called the agent and told her I needed to do some research, to find out about these issues before I felt comfortable putting in the offer.

Here it comes…the analysis I felt I needed to do. Multiple emails, phone calls and another visit to the house. Our agent spent the whole day on the phone trying to find out some answers for me, my wife as well was working the phone.

Finally by Tuesday evening, after yet another visit to the house just to really walk around the outside and get a better feel for the place, I was ready to make an offer. I got home and discussed our position with Shannon and we made the call to Laura, our agent and moved forward.

I’ve become addicted to Zillow the last year, I check the app on my phone almost hourly, and as I sat there waiting for the offer to come to my inbox to sign, by habit I pulled out my phone to look at the house yet one more time…..and it didn’t show up in my search parameters…that means one thing.

The house had an accepted offer on the house and was under contract.

I was sitting there watching the Home Run Derby and I started to panic a little bit. I changed the search parameters and there it was in black and white. PENDING CONTRACT.

I texted my wife (who was outside enjoying the evening on the back porch while I watched baseball) and the agent with the news….the response from my wife I could have heard from Shanghai.

I was in deep shit….I knew it.

When we didn’t get a house we had made a full price offer on this past spring, one that was absolutely beautiful and move in ready, Shannon went into a funk. While I think of this purchase as purely a financial transaction, she is built different. She already had envisioned us in the house, enjoying the lake with our family. It was an emotional roller coaster for her, rightfully so.

She was pissed, and she let me know it. She told me what I already knew, that it was my fault. I tried to explain, but I knew that she was right and hoped in the morning things would look better.

There was plenty of blame to go around, the listing agent knew we were working on an offer, but didn’t reach out to our agent before they accepted the other offer. It is a sellers’ market, there isn’t any inventory, the listing agent didn’t have to reach out. Our agent, Laura Holland from Texas Best Properties worked the phones and made our case.

So right now, our offer is in front of the owner. Will we get the house? I wouldn’t hazard a guess. Do I have a plan B? Of course I do and we are already working a few different deals.

But the purpose of this post is partially to put these thoughts to words, something that I have missed doing for the last couple of years. But also to acknowledge something that I don’t do enough.

Nearly 20 years ago I married a wonderful woman, one that was my soul mate from the first day we sat down and talked. Shannon and I had a history before we started to date, it revolved around small town city politics and to say we didn’t like each other very much is an understatement. We fell in love almost instantly, a love that continues to this day, as strong as that first day in the park.

We know each other so well, we can finish each other’s sentences. We agree a heck of a lot more than we disagree and we came together to raise some great kids.

As my friends know, music is a big part of my life. I take cues from songs and I don’t think it’s random that a song comes on a playlist on my way to work. When driving in, the music always sets the tone for the day, and many of blog posts have revolved around a song that happened to come on the radio during that drive.

While I was in China, I happened to be listening to a lot of older songs; Fleetwood Mac, The Cars, Tom Petty and Elton John. I spend a lot of time on trains and in airports during my trips, and to pass the time I put on my headphones and just escape into the music.

This morning on the way in, Apple Music decided I needed to listen to Elton John, and in particular “Your Song”.

I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

One day, I’ll get that big house for you honey. Just let me analyze it a little more and I’m sure I can come up with a solution………



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Golden Parachutes at City Hall

Way back ten years ago, there was a battle being in fought in Keller over City Managers Golden Parachutes.  Seems Lyle Dresser had negotiated a 230 day severance package and when it was found to be in violation of the City Charter, he was forced to renegotiate his contract.  It wasn’t long after that he left Keller.  This wasn’t a small deal, it caused a huge uproar in town.  At the basis of the argument was why would you give a public servant such a large severance package?  It makes them nearly impossible to fire, and therefore less likely to respond to citizen and council input.


Lyle was known for his top down management style.


Our current City Manager is a protégé of Lyle, and was present in Keller for that battle.  But do you know what?


When Mark Hafner signed his contract two years ago, your Keller City Council granted him three years severance…..over $600,000….if he was fired.  It basically meant that Mark couldn’t be fired without getting a huge payout.  I had one council member state to me that their consultant was telling them that nobody would come to Keller, that it was a mess.  And to get Mark to stay on as City Manager, they would need to put the clause in the contract.  I call BS.


This is the same consultant that has steadily driven up City Manager contracts in the area for the last two decades.  He was the same guy that found O’Leary ten years ago when “nobody would come to Keller.”


Mark has wanted the City Manager’s job forever.  He currently tells the story as if they all came to him and said it was “hit time”.


The Golden Parachute is absolutely absurd.  There are only two remaining councilmembers from that period….Armin Minzani and Debbie Bryan.  Both are up for reelection next year and we will make sure they have to answer to the voters for this absurd use of tax payer funds.


In the meantime, the current council should demand that Mark renegotiate his contract.  And if he refuses?  Then the council will know what kind of man he really is and can work to force the renegotiation.


Just to put this in perspective, Dan O’Leary had no severance package in his contract (in an arguably more volatile time) and Steve Polasek had 90 days.  Steve’s current contract in Cleburne has a 90 day package.  (Steve, with over four years experience as a City Manager also make 10% less than what we are paying Hafner).


Hafner’s contract does have a provision that drops the severance to 2 years after his first 24 months  We should feel so blessed that we taxpayers would only have to pay $400,000 to fire the City Manager if so chose.


I won’t even get into the fact that we are paying a yearly salary that is over $200,000 for a first time City Manager.



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The Blog is Back

Thanks to my buddy Jon who saved the blog from the hacker.  The last year or so I just really didn’t have the time to fix it, or write here.

That changed a couple of weeks ago when I was given some information about the employment contract with our current City Manager.  I’m currently in China on a business trip, but will begin to put together the post in the next few days.

Stay tuned……

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Glenn Norfolk

My dad sent word that one of his best friends passed away this weekend, a sad day indeed. I hadn’t seen or talked to Glenn since 1982, but dad always kept me up on where he was and what he was up to.

In 1982 my dad had an opportunity to take on a new career, and he needed that opportunity. You see, my mom was the breadwinner as a civilian employee of the US Army, which meant that we moved every couple of years to a new location. We would be forced to switch schools, and my dad to switch jobs. It was as tough on my dad as it was on us kids.

If you remember 1982, the country was in a major recession and it wasn’t an easy time to find a job, especially in NW Illinois where we landed after we moved back from Germany. The area, almost 40 years later is still a mass wasteland of depression. Most of the factories had closed, the railroad which was one of the biggest employers had moved out of town and the Army Depot where my mom was working was on it’s way to closing a few years down the road.

Not a whole lot of opportunities for a guy that was just plopped into the area with no real contacts. My dad’s hopes were on getting a job with the US Army, and due to some luck and some submitting of paperwork by another one of my dad’s friends he landed a spot in the training program…that program at Red River Army Depot outside of Texarkana.

It would mean my dad would be gone for nine months for training, leaving my mom to fend for the three of us left at home.

It wasn’t a good time for the Miller household. The stress of moving all over the world had taken its toll. Rich was off at college but not really trying and Denny had decided to take off to California to chase his dreams, he just didn’t let us know what he was up to and we hadn’t a clue about where he was.

Dad was stressed because he didn’t have a job and mom hated her job teaching at the QAS school. Me, I was plunked down to podunk Savanna, IL after being in Europe and wasn’t liking life. Having switched schools so many times that it seemed that it was a blur to where I really was.

The good thing about Dad taking the job was that he would be gone. At this point in life Dad and I didn’t see eye to eye, to put it mildly. With Rich not doing well in school, and Denny who knows where, I was the one left at home to take all of my dad’s shit, and it caused me to push back harder. The nine months apart would do us all some good.

Well, that is until when Dad left I went all teenager on my mom. I won’t go into details, but I wasn’t a good son. Mom had enough after six months and Dad came back drug me back to Texas with him.

It wasn’t pretty; we lived in a one bedroom apartment in New Boston, another hick town, but this one in deep East Texas. Yet another High School, yet another time trying to make friends. This time without mom to run interference between my dad and I, we were left to try to live together. It wasn’t easy… some ways it was probably the hardest three months of my life.

This is where Glenn comes in. Dad had made two good friends, Glenn (who they called Spike) and a guy named Bear (can’t remember his real name off the top of my head). Both of these guys were younger than dad (as was everybody in his class), and until my dad was saddled with me, the three of them were busy with “study group” at the local tavern playing pool.

But once I arrived, Spike picking us up at the local airport, I remember riding to my dad’s apartment in the back of his pickup, he had a camper on it and it was August, thinking I really did just arrive in HELL. My dad’s two friends ended up running some interference for me. Since they were both younger than my dad and closer to my age, they would give my dad some grief about lightening up on me, not being such a hard ass all the time.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. But when it did work it gave me just enough breathing room to make it another day or another week….just had to make it 90 days until we headed home…

But the whole point of this post is to say thank you to Spike, because you did make a difference, not only during those 90 days in the fall of 1982, but throughout the next 35 years, talking to my dad and giving him counsel. You were a good friend to my dad, and in ways you never understood affected my life until today.


Because everything about New Boston wasn’t that bad, in fact it left such an impression on me that when I was offered jobs in both Texas and California, I picked Texas. I thought Dallas was just a bigger version of East Texas….boy was I in for a surprise.

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The Chain

I posted this on Facebook yesterday, thought I’d put it here as the more I think about it the more it make sense.

RNC 2016

I’ve been listening to Rumors lately, Rumors being the Album released by Fleetwood Mac in 1977. It was the first Album I ever bought with my own money.

I was 11 years old and just dug the music. Didn’t really listen to the lyrics for the meaning. I soon moved on to my heavy rock and really never returned to Rumors, especially after the Clintons co-opted Don’t Stop for the 92 campaign.

But recently I read something about the meanings of the songs, and how the whole band was going through personal turmoil. So I gave the whole album a listen again and fell in love with the album yet again.

Now, how does this tie into the RNC 2016? Well, it seems a song from the album spoke to me today…The Chain. It kinda speaks to how I feel about the GOP.

Listen to the wind blow
Watch the sun rise
Run in the shadows
Damn your love
Damn your lies

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain.

Listen to the wind blow
Down comes the night
Run in the shadows
Damn your love
Damn your lies

Break the silence
Damn the dark
Damn the light

And if you don’t love me now
You will never love me again
I can still hear you saying
You would never break the chain.

Chain, keep us together
Running in the shadows


Added:  The bass line holds this whole song together, according to Wikipedia, the song is actually a combination of three songs into one, and if you listen carefully you can pick up on it.  The harmonies are classic Fleetwood Mac.


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Polasek Quits In Roswell….That Didn’t Last Long

There is so much I could say…. Steve disappointed me on so many levels that it just baffles the mind.  I hope you land on your feet Steve….never mind the folks you conned into following you.  After Steve left, he was known to cast dispersions on Keller as “people complaining but living in Disneyland”.  Yeah, how’d moving to the armpit of the world work out for you Steve?

I’m sure he will land on his feet, in some upper middle class suburb somewhere in DFW.  But to those googling his name and coming to this website, you might ask Steve about his Disney comments, and also ask him why it is whenever the shit hits the fan, he hits the road.

And as far as I know, none of Steve’s relatives live here, they are all out of state.  So transparent what the real reason is that it isn’t funny.


Roswell City Manager Steve Polasek announced Monday he will resign in August as the city’s chief administrator to be closer to his family in Texas.
Polasek, whose city administration recently decommissioned the Cahoon Park Pool, said while the pool closure was contentious, local violent crime and the state’s economy were his top concerns as the day-to-day operational leader of the city’s 600-position workforce.
“As a city manager, you have to focus on the areas of most importance,” Polasek told the Daily Record Monday. “While the pool may be contentious for some, I get that, for me, it’s never been. I don’t get angry about people or upset about this or that. They’re entitled to their opinion. I think it’s great. What bothers me, what keeps me up at night, quite honestly, are two things: people killing each other and hurting each other and disrespecting each other and our economy in the state of New Mexico, not just Roswell.
“And how’s this state going to survive? Those are the two things that keep me up at night because I want to help people and do things to make this a better place. If we really want to get down and dirty about what’s really important, what’s really important is our crime and our economy. Those are huge issues.”
Mayor Dennis Kintigh said he will recommend an interim city manager at Thursday’s City Council meeting.
“We’re having those discussions right now,” the mayor said Monday. “We’re going to be discussing this on Thursday night. We’re going to lay out a plan. I’m working on a plan on how we’re going to recruit our next permanent city manager. So we’re working on finalizing all that.”
Polasek’s successor is expected to be discussed in executive session at Thursday’s City Council meeting, with the possibility of a public appointment afterwards.
Kintigh declined on Monday to disclose his likely recommendation, but the mayor said he will recommend a current city employee for the sake of continuity.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to all the councilors yet, so I’d like to hold off on that,” he said. “Yes, it’s got to be a current city [auth] employee, otherwise you’d have too much turmoil.”
Kintigh also said he would recommend a fiscal hawk.
“That’s the temperament of this community,” the mayor said. “That’s the temperament of this council. We are a fiscally conservative community. We’re going to have differences on what that truly means in some ways, but, yes, we will deal seriously with budget issues. We’re not a tax-and-spend group. We’re not one of those progressive-type outfits.”
Kintigh said Polasek’s expertise in municipal government would be missed.
“I learned from Steve Polasek how incredibly complex city management is and how critical it is to have someone with a very serious background in that area, by that I mean an understanding of the complexities of cities, everything from wastewater to airports to zoos to public safety,” the mayor said. “There’s much that goes on, and understanding that dynamic, understanding budgeting, understanding public employment law, because public employees are treated differently from private employees. Whether you like that or not, it’s a fact, so understanding those aspects, there’s a lot to it. This is 550-some employees, $80 million to $100 million budget. This is the big leagues.”
Kintigh predicted hiring a new, permanent city manager would take up to six months. Polasek will remain in his post until Aug. 1.
Polasek began his tenure as Roswell city manager on Nov. 12, 2014, replacing former City Manager Larry Fry, who served for about three and a half years before resigning in May 2014. Fry is now the city manager in Clovis.
The previous city manager, John Capps, had managed the city for about 15 years, Kintigh said.
Polasek said his decision to leave his Roswell job was based on a desire to be nearer to family members in Texas.
“My decision is based primarily on family and a strong desire to be closer to them,” Polasek said in a statement Monday. “Situations have changed making it increasingly difficult to visit with, support and provide care for certain family members.”
Polasek, 47, came to Roswell from Keller, Texas, where he was city manager. He said he worked for three other cities, Hurst, Southlake and Keller, all of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, before coming to Roswell.
“It may very well be my final,” Polasek said. “I don’t know yet. My plan was to kind of make this my final city, so we’ll see. I’m still relatively young. Who knows?”
Polasek said the 10-member City Council is the largest city council for which he worked.
“It was certainly an interesting dynamic, but it’s been a really good group,” he said. “Overall, they’ve been really, really fantastic to work with.”
Kintigh said he was disappointed with Polasek’s resignation, submitted last week, but the mayor said he understands prioritizing one’s family over career. Polasek’s starting annual was $158,000. His current salary is $163,580.
“I would have liked to have had him here for three to five years,” Kintigh said. “There’s family demands that just take priority, and I get that. Steve and I talked about this. We talked and I understand why he needs to go. I wish it wasn’t the case. But he and his family need to take care of another family member.”
Kintigh noted Polasek and his wife, Maria, and son, Ethan, had planted roots in Roswell and had bought a home.
“He bought the house, obviously with the intention of staying here,” Kintigh said. “So this change in situation, it’s serious, but it’s private. It’s obvious that this was not what his original intention was.”
“It certainly wasn’t something we had planned. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have come here to begin with, to be quite honest with you,” Polasek said. “I think we got a lot done in a very short period of time, but there’s still a lot more to go.”
Polasek said his time in Roswell has been fruitful.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure. We’ve pushed the envelope on a lot of stuff. We’re doing a lot of neat things and I think the groundwork has been laid here in Roswell to hopefully keep the momentum going. It is change. Hopefully, again, our goal is change for the better. It’s really been enjoyable and we’ve had a great time in this community and obviously we wish Roswell all the best.”
Asked about possibly being known as the city manager that decommissioned the Cahoon Park Pool, Polasek said the label wouldn’t bother him.
“No, not at all,” he said. “From my perspective, I think it comes with the territory. There are different issues and items that are certainly going to be in the minds of some individuals, areas for contention.”
Kintigh said the pool debate “doesn’t even show up on the radar scope” regarding Polasek’s resignation.
“The huge challenge from a city management perspective is the budget,” the mayor said. “The cratering in our revenues and the way he handled that in a professional manner, I’m telling you, I’m so glad we had him here through that dark time when we’re adjusting for a significant downturn in revenues. He did a great job. This is a significant downturn.”
Polasek said New Mexico’s economy lacks sufficient diversification.
“It’s not just the local, it’s the state economy, because the state plays such a big role in our economy as well because they’re in city business quite a bit, obviously,” he said. “But the economy of New Mexico is right now in a very poor state of affairs.”
Polasek said the state’s economy is too linked with oil booms and busts.
“It hurts people, it hurts families, and I guarantee it drives up crime when people don’t have jobs,” he said. “It’s not a good thing. And we have nothing in this state other than oil and gas, which is about 36 percent of our economy. The No. 2 employer in this state is government. No. 3 is probably tourism and other. The last big economic impact in this state was Intel 25 years ago, and I guarantee you within two years, Intel won’t even be here.
“The economy in the U.S. is not in the toilet. The economy of New Mexico is in the toilet. Lots of places are doing fine. Why are we not looking at what other people are doing in other states? That’s the big question that nobody seems to want to answer.”

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SMH, slang with the kids these days…it means Shake My Head.

Sometimes you come across people in this world where it’s best you don’t respond….that’s when you just SMH. But this time I think I will actually respond to the latest and greatest slur coming from the mouth of Marie Howard.

First, a background on the election going on now in Keller. Both Candidates are friends of mine. I served with Mitch on Council for a time before he had to quit because the massive recession caused him to relocate to West Texas. Ed Speakmon is my Precinct Chair here in Keller, I also appointed Ed to the Transportation Advisory Board here in Keller. After he served for months on the board, hearing from citizens and from staff members, he approved of going to an election and to raise taxes.

When I appointed Ed, I told him, don’t go along to get along. Ask the tough questions. Make sure this is what the city actually needed. He came out of the process agreeing that the tax rate needed to be increased and the bond needed to be passed.

It was only after the Board served their duty that he changed his mind. It was because Marie was buds with Debbie and they wanted to defeat the bond for their own reasons, so she got into Ed’s ear and he refused to support the bond that he had voted to approve while on the committee.

Now lets get to Marie. While I was on Council, she published that I had a huge campaign war chest, and inferred that I must be on the take, because why would a local councilman have something like $75,000 in my campaign fund. Well, seems she was searching State Rep Doug Miller’s ethics report without even reading the first page, which lists his office (which should have been her first clue) and his address (not in Keller)…good research there Marie.

Now tonight I was forwarded her latest missive:

Ed Speakmon, Precinct Chair #3554, is in a runoff for Keller City Council. He received 45% of the vote in the May 23rd election with four people in the race. Ed needs your support to win. If any of you have some spare time, he would appreciate your help. If Keller were still using plurality, he would have been the winner. Unfortunately, former City Council Doug Miller changed the rule when he was elected after losing twice in his runs for Keller City Council. Hope with new leadership coming in that will change and save our City Taxpayers thousands of dollars. The former City Council went along with the change and it has created chaos for every election since.

First, she is the Area Leader for District 98…it’s a fancy term for running an email list to other precinct chairs. (That is who this email was addressed to)

Second, she failed to mention that Ed is running against a fellow precinct chair…yeah, that’s right. Mitch is a precinct chair.  She’s using her position to advocate for one precinct chair over another.  That’s just slimy.

Third, lets delve into her falsehood. The decision to have the City of Keller elections decided by a majority of the vote goes back to the very first City Charter in Keller. It was adopted long before I ever moved to town and I certainly did not have any part of changing the rule, in fact, the RULE HAS NEVER CHANGED. As a matter of record, a City Councilman does not just up and change the Charter….the citizens of the town VOTE in a democratic fashion to change it.

Yeah, just another slur from Marie who has no idea what the hell she is talking about. Again, if it wasn’t so important to get this out there, I’d just SMH.

I call on Jen Hall, current Tarrant County GOP Chair, and Tim O’Hare, incoming TCGOP Chair to get their “Area Leader” under control. District 98 deserves better than this crap.

And I call on my fellow Keller citizens to get to the polls and vote.

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Total Transparency… for Special Interest

This week Star-Telegram editors recognized Keller’s “petty political factions that have left the city deeply divided and almost unmanageable.”

It’s no coincidence that about the time Beyond Right Field retired from covering Town Hall a couple years ago, things began to deteriorate to the point that 20 or so of our high level city employees began to “find opportunities” elsewhere. How’s that? It’s not likely they enjoyed knowing that any blunder of bureaucracy was fair fodder for all Keller citizens to read and comment on. The answer is BRF was accessible to all, and many followed it, so it commanded a transparency on council that just didn’t take well to anything akin to a hidden agenda (its archives bare out plenty of examples). So it’s not a stretch to say the watchdog that BRF was, indirectly attracted a pretty healthy culture of service minded council members, and in turn, employees from the city manager on down. And the power at Town Hall resided not in any faction of council, but the people. All the people.

Today that power is all but gone. From the people, anyway. It’s shifted to a behind the scenes smoke filled e-room. A quiet club whose membership is drawn up from those old neighborhood gas well email lists. And its voice is now louder than Keller’s typically low voter turnout. Only its members on council know for sure, and they’re not talking, but their invitation-only club is speculated at over a thousand when measured by how quickly they can fill a council chamber on any given night, night after night, saturate half of Keller with yard signs of previously uninvolved candidates, or their council cronies fall in line on a vote against a landowner. Or an ethics policy. Or, as the S-T comments reflect, organize a recall and pack the petition to do it.

They pick council candidates whose code language of “quality, controlled development” is their pledge to one special interest… low density, 1-acre lots, all cost. When I knocked on their doors, the common response was, while pointing over to some else’s pastureland, “so you’re the guy who wants to build zero lot line houses over there.” They’d been sold a whopper about me and would not let it go.

I have nothing against low density. I love low density. I’ve owned low density. Nothing wrong with acreage if that’s what YOU want. The problem is, who is YOU? Is YOU the property owner, or a secret email group? Whoever YOU is, there’s one YOU that the Fifth Amendment intended to protect from all levels of government, including Keller Town Hall…

No person shall be . . . deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

… and if you’re a Constitutionalist, you respect that right. Yet I’ve watched the behind the scenes group, via their cohorts on city council, deny this very right many times, on both sides of Keller Pkwy. Last year they denied a land owner that cost the people of Keller a heavily wooded 35 acre park, a $2M gift that had been his dream to donate to the people for decades. All that fuss over 8 Medium Density lots, and a beautiful park that had actually been planned for years in our Parks & Trails Master Plan… lost. They say it was planned Low Density in the Future Land Use Plan. Not even close; a good piece of it was planned for Medium Density. The landowner just asked to shift it around to a part of the site where it made most sense with the park he’d wanted to donate. And therein lay their technicality on which to oppress both quality development and the intent of the Fifth Amendment at the same time. All for their special interest… Low Density, all cost. Every time they get together with their council partners to tell another property owner they can’t sell Medium Density lots, they, by definition, “take” some of their property in the form of value, call them greedy, and give that value collectively to their club.

And, for as many of them who, themselves, live on Medium Density lots (most lots north of Keller Pkwy are medium density), their agenda is just as hypocritical. Because they are denying other property owners the same right to divide, that they themselves enjoyed when they bought in Keller. I’ve watched in utter disbelief as they deny property owner after property owner the same high quality growth they themselves enjoy.

Unscrupulous. Oppressive. Hypocritical. So what’s their motive? It’s really pretty simple. They love being able to live near, drive by, look at and enjoy other people’s open green pastures, without having to buy it. And for as long as they can keep landowners from realizing the same full market value they gave their own sellers, they know they can suit their special interest.

They know chats that decide other property owners’ fortunes… chats that include their select council members and their chosen candidates running for city council… aren’t the kind of chats council members ought to be part of. So they keep it all under wraps of a private email group. Not in open forum where everyone in town can read, decide, comment and vote. A venue with no secrecy. No exclusivity.

A venue like Beyond Right Field.

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