New Author at BRF

Today I had a long chat with former City Council Member Mitch Holmes. I invited Mitch to be an author here on the site.

You should be seeing posts from time to time from Mitch going forward as he has carte blanche to post what he wants, when he wants.

If you would like to be an author, send me an email doug at rdasolutions dot net

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Update From My Visit To City Hall

First, I did receive a phone call from Trina Zais, Director of Public Services/Economic Development for the City to apologize for her phone call the other evening and to apologize for not getting a return phone call. Funny how that happens when called to the carpet by the City Manager.

Second, I have been contacted by a number of readers stating that they also have been not getting a response when emails or phone calls are made to City Hall. I have passed along Mark Hefner’s email and phone number to them, told them to top. Most felt that overkill, I told them do that, or show up at City Hall and tell Libby (the front desk receptionist) to go get the person they are looking for so that could actually see if this person actually exists.

Third, a former Councilman texted me the other night that it’s time to remind the folks at City Hall who they work for….and I agree 100%.

Fourth, no, I do not have any immediate plans to run for office. That could change if things at City Hall do not change…and change in a hurry.

Fifth, thanks to all the readers of the blog. I had over 1000 hits in two days. I love to write, even though I’m not very good at it, but real world issues like running three different companies take priority.

Sixth, thanks to all the former Keller employees that reached out to thank me for the post. I had almost forgotten how large that number was.

And finally, I had Big Bob place a bet on the Rangers to win the west when he was in Vegas last week….six days to opening day! Never ever quit!

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Return to City Hall

I haven’t been to City Hall but a few times in the last 23 months, and most of the time I was inside the building it was to vote. I don’t watch Council meetings or P&Z meetings, I had turned into the regular unaware Keller Resident.

Last week two things happened that changed that. I received an email from a friend that lives in Hidden Lakes:


Hey Doug,


I know this is out of the blue, and inappropriate given I never reach out to you. But I’m emailing you to see if you could give me some guidance?


My neighbors behind me constantly drain water into my yard. It has horrible natural drainage. I can’t get anyone at the city to return my call.  I’ve already spent over $4500 putting in my own drainage and it still looks like this. 


Who can I contact?


I called him up to find out this situation has been going on for a year, and he has made repeated attempts to get somebody to call him back from the city with no success.


Then on Monday of last week I received a call from a neighbor stating that she received a zoning change notification for a property to the rear of Sarah Brooks Estates. She sent over a copy via email and I made a call to City Hall on Tuesday and left a message for a staff member whom I know pretty well. Not receiving a return call, I called up to Community Development and left another message after hours in the general mail box that evening. Wednesday I called during the morning to the specific person handling the Zoning Change….crickets.


Wednesday after work I sent the city manager an email, asking for some help nudging the folks in community development to return my call. Later that evening I did receive a call from the new head of that department, a very non apologetic phone call with nary a worry that her staff hadn’t returned my call. Stating, well they are busy.


That didn’t go over well. I have also made a few phone calls about the street lights being out on the corner of my street, never receiving a return phone call over the last few months. So this is becoming a pattern. I reached out again to the City Manager to set up a meeting to discuss the situation.


I met with Mark Hafner, whom I have known for 15 years or so, and he was apologetic, stating his policy is that City Staff return phone calls within 4 hours. He would address the issue. We will see.


So why the long blog post over such trivial matters? Because if a guy that knows how to work the system is not getting return phone calls from City Hall, it is just the tip of the iceberg. I know from the stats from when the blog was active, that over 20% of the hits to this page are from within City Hall. As a former staff member told me last night, maybe it’s because there isn’t a watch dog anymore in Keller.


Well, I might have went away for a while, but I will reengage. The first thing that needs to be changed is the way the city now allows staff to “recommend” approvals of items before P&Z and Council.


This was the standard procedure when Lyle Dresser was the City Manager. This put staff in a position of deciding, rather than the appointed and elected representatives of the city. These staff members do not even live in Keller, what makes it right for them to say that they recommend a project? It also sets a bad precedent, as then the staff is up there defending their decision to the P&Z or Council. Staff should be up there presenting facts, with no opinion.


I attended the P&Z meeting last night and spoke in opposition to the zoning change that was presented. The project as a whole is a good concept, but they are trying to shoe horn a large project into a small lot. When a commissioner asked the Planner II that works for the city if she felt the lot size was appropriate, the answer should have been “Mr. Commission, that is what your job is to determine” rather than the answer that was given.


The city employee stated that yes, she felt the lot size was appropriate. Why would she say that? Because she is up there having to defend her recommendation that the project be approved. When I approached her after the meeting and asked why she would make such a statement, when in fact if the lot size was appropriate, the applicant wouldn’t be asking for any variances encroaching on the landscape buffer, she had a deer in the headlights look. By the way, this staffer lives in Denton, not Keller.


So you ask, why did the city change it’s policy on recommendations? It’s simple; the new director for the department is also the head of Economic Development. So she only looks good if these projects get approved.


Let me be clear, this is wrong, it sets a bad precedent, and I will continue to push to have this changed. It is not in the best interest of the tax paying citizens to have government bureaucrats cheerleading zoning changes, which should be left entirely to the developer to defend their position and the appointed and elected officials to make their decision based upon their own independent thought process.


And if it takes that for me to reengage, so be it.


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Mayor Mark Matthews Recall Effort

I was in China when I received a text from a TV reporter asking if I knew any information on this, of which I didn’t. So I asked around, talked to some folks and found out what is going on.

Seems the folks that supported Matthews’ election are now pissed that he isn’t a blind believer in their mission statement, and to punish him, they are going to pass a recall petition.

They have some complaints about his ethics on voting for some items that his wife/uncle/friend of a friend had interest in. Folks at City Hall tell me that he precleared those relationships with the City Attorney Stan Lowry before he voted.

Funny, how the same folks can’t be saddled with signing an ethics policy are now pushing the mayor to be recalled over the same policy. But, hey, it’s politics.

As I told someone yesterday, I enjoy seeing the infighting in their wing. It only weakens them, and turns all those new voters they brought to the polls off of ever voting in a City Election ever again.

Bring on the recall, and hey, you need me to sign the petition, give me a shout. I think he should be recalled just because of the way he treated all the board and commission members he so unceremoniously kicked out, without so much as a thank you hello, goodbye. Hundreds of years of experience kicked to the curb because he wanted only “true believers” in those positions. How’s that working out for you now, Mr. Mayor?

When Tom Soulsby is there on the 2nd, you need to personally thank him for pushing for a higher threshold for petitions and referendums. It’s the only thing that may save you.

Bitter? You bet. As I’ve stated before, once he publically apologizes for the way he treated those board members, then maybe I’d give him a chance.

Until then, where do I sign?



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Yes, it’s been months since I’ve really even thought about writing on the blog…..priorities have changed over the last couple of years, and while I have begun a couple of posts, nothing seems to get published.

I’m in China yet again, third trip this year and this is the first one that I was really not looking forward to. The newness of the far east has worn off, this is all about work and getting some of my factories sorted out.

I’m thankful that oil is still above $40, that the construction company is having its best year on record and that all is well in the Miller Household. We are in the process of starting yet another business and hence my trip to China. Reagan also has started her own little company selling some items on Amazon, her first product should hit the shelves before the end of the month.

You can check out her website at

Since my last post, we lost Beyond Right Field’s prolific commenter….and local political expert Randy Leake. Randy was a good friend and a great citizen of Keller. A former Councilmember, KYA board member, father to two sons and one hell of a salesman. Randy was also the one that spent many phone calls and emails explaining the dos and don’ts of a business trip to China, as he visited often. Randy is missed, and I think of him every time I drive down Rapp Road which is nearly every day. Cancer is a mother fucker…..he was way too young.

Wing and a prayer down 65,
Five best friends on four bald tires,
I can still see Billy smiling
When we finally made it.

With the death of somebody so close to the blog and my political involvement, it makes it difficult to even think about local politics much anymore. But who knows, once it’s in your blood it’s always in your blood. It was 15 years between my first two terms of serving on a Council, it may be another 15 or it may come as soon as next May…..only time will tell. Right now my priorities are helping Gio if he gets an opponent and Ted Cruz for the March primary.

We saw two local kids play in the big leagues this year, I think that’s a first for Keller. Jonathan Edwards and Max Muncie both spent time up with the big league clubs and both have great futures ahead of them. Edwards was traded to the Padres from the Rangers, and I hope he gets his shot there. At one time this summer he led the minors in saves and ERA. He has the stuff, he just needs the opportunity. Max just has to find his stroke….and with that swing it’s just a matter of time.

Like a stone, time rolls on,
You can’t hit pause, that’s just the deal,
Most days in life don’t stand out,
But life’s about those days that will all like

Two of the best employees Keller had moved out to New Mexico to go to work for former Keller City Manager Steve Polasek. Jonathan and Deanna Phillips were married and now are expecting their first child. I couldn’t be more happy for them….well, other than having to live in New Mexico and having to work for Steve…….. just kidding Steve…well, maybe not.

When the winds grow cold and it blows October,
I think about us shoulder to shoulder,
Like those cars, my thoughts roll over and over and over,
In my mind

Former Keller Deputy City Manager Chris Fuller is now the Deputy City Manager in Colleyville…as the long time readers of the blog know, I’ve always had a man crush on Fuller. I think he is one of the brightest guys in municipal government that I’ve ever met. I still text back and forth with Fuller, but it seems to be more about the Chicago Cubs than anything municipal related. Speaking of the Cubs….tough loss this year, but this is a young team and will be a force for years to come. And your Texas Rangers? Loved the fight from the boys this year.

Speaking of young, it makes me proud every day when I look at my youngest….Reagan, what a fine young woman she’s turned into. She is thriving at Booker T, just as my wife told me she would. She will be one of the leads in a Opera in December and her voice has matured so much that sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that is really her singing. She fell in love with University of Utah when we visited this summer, and she still wants to become a biomedical engineer….so we will see where that leads her.

Nicholas got a job for a great company up in North Dakota after graduation from University of Houston in May. His first winter up there will be a challenge; God I hate the cold. So proud of him though, as he beat the odds. Left school for a couple of years, changed his focus and major and powered through it and graduated with honors. Much smarter than his old man.

To Talladega, boys raise the
Whiskey in your glass, here’s to turn it up,
Slowing down and cars that go real fast,

For those of you in Keller that know Tom Soulsby, take the time to give him a call or text him. Tom isn’t getting any younger and I’m sure he’d love to hear from you. Mr. Soulsby served longer on boards or commissions than anybody in the history of Keller, he truly is an icon in the city. I am proud to call him my friend.

We were laughing and living, drinking and wishing,
And thinking as that checkered flag was waving,
Sure would like to stay in, Talladega.

This song that I posted today isn’t about NASCAR racing, but about life and the memories you make. Take some time and go make some memories, or take a moment to remember the memories in your life.…put some whiskey in your glass…

I keep telling Shannon that when we buy our sailboat in the Caribbean….when we push off from the dock for the first time I’m going to drop my cell phone and laptop in the water as we get under way……sooner than she thinks!

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No Comprehension of Finance

Today the Mayor sent out this email, I’ve added my comments in red to explain to the Mayor how the City’s finances actually work. SMH

What can you get for about $100 a month?

Each month when I pay my cable bill and it’s over $100, I wonder what I am really getting for my 100 bucks — other than frustrated when my movies won’t download correctly or it comes in all scrambled and I have to call customer something and spend 15 minutes (ha) getting it to work right. My electric bill, especially around this time of year, is up over $100 a month as well. I’m happy with my electric service; two or three times a year we lose power during a storm, but it’s always back on in about 20 minutes. Cell phone bill? Ouch. Definitely more than $100 a month.

Once a year, I also pay my property tax bill. What you may not realize is that only 17 PERCENT of the property taxes you’re paying go to the city (the rest goes to the county and Keller ISD)Did you forget Hospital District and Community College District?, . For the average Keller homeowner, whose home was valued at $284,237 in 2014, that means they paid $1,242.66 in city property taxes this year — just $103.55 a month.

What do we get for a little over $100 a month?

Well, I know when I call 9-1-1, I have an award-winning police force ready to come to my service. 911 service is paid for by fees collected on all of our phone bills. We also have a regional center where other cities pay to be part of the service. This doesn’t come from your “$100 a month” When I’ve been stopped and given a speeding ticket, they were professional and courteous (though I now follow them on Facebook to know the location of the traffic enforcement officers); I’ve seen them give Ice Cream “Citations” to children for wearing helmets while riding their bikes, locate missing loved ones and assist stranded motorists; and I know our crime is lower in Keller than it has been in 18 years despite double the population. I also know that they are the only police department in the State of Texas that is accredited at both the state and federal level on their police standards.

Sticking with my 9-1-1 call for another minute, I also have access to one of the most skilled fire departments in the state. They stand ready to save lives on a daily basis (and often do); they’ve been honored by the American Heart Association for their incredible work with heart attack victims; they work to educate our children, keep our businesses safe, and prevent fires (and of course, fight them); and if a disaster were ever to befall Keller, they would be there to evacuate, rescue and revive — every Keller firefighter is cross-trained as a paramedic.

That same $100 or so also gets me access to a gold-standard park and recreation system with nearly 20 miles of beautiful, well-maintained trails and one of the best, most vibrant and utilized parks systems in the state. A park system that is partially funded with a ½ cent sales tax, again, not completely from that “$100 a month” I can Rock the Park every September, go Fishing for Fun three times a year, chill with 1,500 of my friends and neighbors at Keller Summer Nights enjoying live music, outdoor movies and picnics at Keller Town Hall, and more. My kids play sports at the Keller Sports Park Funded entirely from the ½ cent sales tax, and when we go to The Keller Pointe Again, funded 100% from ½ cent sales tax, not a dime of general fund revenue (the $100 a month the mayor is talking about) has ever gone to the Pointe— wow! That place has won national awards for outstanding fitness and aquatics, and it shows.

Don’t get me started on our city buildings. Keller Town Hall is beautiful Funded by the TIF district, not from general fund revenue…well, until 2018; you would never believe it’s 12 years old because it is so well maintained. Our police station, same way New PD funded 100% from Crime Prevention ¼% sales tax. I hope you haven’t had a real reason to visit our Regional Jail, but if you do, you will be impressed. Even more impressive is our Regional Animal Adoption Center. OMG! You have to check this out whether you’re in the market for a new pet or not; nothing short of first class for our four-legged friends.Again, funded from the Crime Prevention fund. Each of these buildings, from fire stations to the Municipal Service Center, reflects the pride and professionalism that our city staff have and delivery to our citizens every day.

What else? Oh yes, how about reading with 1,700 of your little neighbors at our library this summer as part of our popular Summer Reading Club? We’ve invested in an RFID system to efficiently check materials in or out, and boy are there a lot of them: The library circulates more than 500,000 books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks and more every year, to say nothing of the great selection of online resources, community programs and family-friendly events. Why so busy? The Keller Public Library is one of only a few dozen that has achieved the statewide Achievement of Library Excellence Award, and they’ve done so now five years running. Stroll next door, and the Keller Senior Activities Center is keeping our seniors active and engaged throughout the week, providing opportunities for fitness, fun, crafts, companionship, travel and more.

I drive on streets that are some of the best in Northeast Tarrant County. I saw Mt. Gilead Road get reconstructed over the past two summers and work begin a few weeks ago on South Keller-Smithfield. Mt. Gilead was a joint project with Tarrant County, a way to get some of our county taxes back to the city. We also have a ¼% sales tax for road improvement which makes up the balance of funding projects like Mt. Gilead and Keller Smithfield. I’ve watched work finish this year on the intersection of Hwy. 377 and FM 1709, and begin at the other end of town on FM 1938. And I see more than $1 million of street repairs done each year inside our city. As a bonus, I also get my streets plowed when it snows; Keller is one of the only cities in DFW that does that! Snow plow? I wonder who came up with that idea?

My trash and recycling get picked up religiously; the city provides opportunities to shred documents, dispose of my household chemicals and recycle my electronics twice a year; and I can even get rid of brush and tree limbs easily enough through garbage pickup or the city’s Yard Waste Drop-Off program. Again, not a dollar of this comes from the general fund, but we actually pay for this through our water/trash bill. This is typical government speak…look at what we do for you? Oh yeah, you pay for that anyway, whether you use it or not.

And while these are the people I can see and the things I can do, and they’re incredible, I know there is a whole lot more. During this past year, I’ve spent well over 1,000 hours watching, talking, listening and working with our city employees. I can assure you that there is an entire army (very small army) of dedicated men and women who are behind the scenes serving our city day and night, every day of the year — from first responders on the night shift to IT staff that keep all the systems running; the backroom accountants who earn finance awards 25 years in a row to the guys mowing the grass and cleaning the restrooms at the park; the crews that show up at 3 a.m. to begin sanding the streets to the workers fixing leaks in our water infrastructure on the weekends. I have watched our employees pursue excellence. They work hard, push themselves to learn more, stay late and come in early, volunteer without pay, go the extra mile. I am proud to have them as our city employees and you should be, too. They are some of the best! Then why have you run off over a dozen high level staff members since you were elected?

To know that our residents get all of those services and amenities for a little over $100 a month on average is astounding to me. I, for one, can confidently say that I’m getting my money’s worth. Yeah, sure you can. It’s just you don’t really know where the money comes from that funds all of these little projects you talk about. It sure doesn’t come from the $100 a month

Now if only I could get that movie to download. Maybe you can download “City Finances for Dummies”

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Dead cat bounce or a fundamental change?

Short covering or a double bottom breakout?

A million theories on the price of oil. All I can say is my phone is ringing off the hook. There are over 3,000 wells in Texas that need to be finished (fracked and brought online). 

Really depends on the House of Saud


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Friday Really Quick Hits

What a crazy week, busy as hell. Both businesses are running at redline capacities which is good, and we finally got our receivables under control this week. We did a trade show in Houston last week and headed for one in Atlanta in two weeks. As a good buddy of mine says, it doesn’t matter how busy you are, keep selling.

Today we learned that Economic Development Director Deanna Beseda submitted her resignation. So you can update the count to 11 from the post below. Deanna will really be missed as she knew the real estate market front and back, and it will be really hard to replace her. As it will be all of our losses this last year.

There was a Political Debate last night, didn’t go, didn’t watch. Will try to watch it this weekend if I have the time or the stomach.

The gal from a Better Face For Keller dropped out of the Council race yesterday. Kudo’s to her for running, and it seems she has had some life changes that took her out of the race. I understand completely.

Taste of Keller is this weekend, I don’t know if I will make it there or not, but you should go down and see Charlie Robison. One of the best guys out there!

First verse reminds me of myself, second verse reminds me of my son.

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Sinking Ship?

The City of Keller is a sinking ship, with everybody running for the lifeboats.

This week we learned that yet another Director has put in his notice and is leaving the city. At my count, that is 10 high level administrators that have left in the past 12 months, and that isn’t counting a couple of high level Fire Department retirements.

The people that have left, as I’ve written here many times, are the folks that run the City’s day to day operation. These are the folks that help make Keller a great place to live. Them leaving and folks coming in to replace them only means that their years of experience and their own love for the City they worked for is gone….forever. We are becoming Watauga.

Not only has this council and mayor terminated hundreds of years of experience on their boards and commissions, they have watched hundreds of years of experience head out the door taking new jobs, ones that don’t have the volatile nature of working for Keller. Not only are they leaving, but a more than a few have left while filing for retirement first, so they can double dip at their next job. So guess what? They will continue to cost you and me, the taxpayers of this city, money for benefits that are paid out of the general fund to retirees.

The last time I posted about a Director leaving, I got a few phone calls. Some from very high up telling me everything is fine, but others from city staff saying everybody is looking to leave, morale is low and the leadership team is in shambles.

This whole thing reminds me of the Texas Rangers in 2014, we are playing a AAA team right now at Town Hall, and the Mayor and Council has no clue what they are going to do to rectify the situation.

The list as of today:

  • Steve Polasek (City Manager)
  • Chris Fuller (Deputy City Manager)
  • Johnny Pfiefer (Director of Finance)
  • Tom Elgin (Director of Community Development)
  • Dona Kinney (Director of Parks and Rec)
  • Keith Macedo (Director of IS)
  • Matthew Kite (Director of Public Works)
  • Greg Dickens (Director of Public Works)
  • Brandi Stegler (Only Staff Accountant at City)
  • Jonathan Phillips (The Fixer, Special Projects Guy, had a new title before he left, forget what it was)

Word on the street is that there will be a couple of more in the coming days. Who will be left?

With such upheaval, the city will now be forced to pay more for new managers than the ones they replaced and also will have to start bumping the pay of the remaining Directors and leadership positions to try to retain them. That’s OK, it isn’t their money they are having to pay, nobody will notice.

Maybe the Bryan/Dodge camp can write a new book, How to Ruin a City in 365 days.


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Mitch Holmes

Word came out today that Mitch Holmes filed for Keller City Council Place 1.

To me, that is great news! I first met Mitch when I ran for City Council back about 10 years ago, I lost my race, Mitch won and went to serve multiple terms on Council before the economy forced him to take a job in West Texas. Mitch has moved back to town and is looking at adding some adult leadership to the Council.

I commit my support and will offer him any help he asks for. I ask you to do the same.

Big Bob has committed $250, which is him being a cheap skate. I will challenge him and anybody else reading to match a $500 contribution I intend to make to his campaign.

It’s time to put the adults back in charge at City Hall.

On that note, word came out that the Public Works director quit with very little notice this week. The body count at City Hall continues to grow.

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