Since last week’s Flower Mound Town Council meeting I’ve received several emails and phone calls from residents wondering what’s going on in this town. When I watched the video on the town’s website the reason for their alarm was evident.
As a resident of 25 years, with more than 15 years of activity in this community, I’ve seen a lot of council’s come and go. When I ran for mayor in 2000 it was because every well-known and prominent resident was too intimidated by the tactics used by the group that held this town in its grip. Realizing that I was unknown at the time, I met with many notables, all of whom were similarly shocked by the smear campaigns being used against opponents of the council, yet, unwilling to put themselves through the ordeal. When I had the audacity to run, they unleashed the dogs of war to teach me a lesson.
What I learned, after my ignominious defeat, was that something was terribly wrong in this town. Afterward, I had decided to steer clear of local politics, since it appeared to be a closed shop. Then, I began finding ugly unsigned notes in my mailbox with warnings such as, “Okay Weir, you got your ass kicked! Unless you want more of the same you’d better shut up and go away.” Other notes included references to my former New York residence, urging me to “go back to where I came from.” Even my opponent made references to my birthplace during a debate at Town Hall. All the aforementioned made it clear to me that my fight had just begun.
It took a few years of building groups, writing columns and cultivating candidates to take on the regime that had bullied this town for too long. When Jody Smith was elected in 2004, things began to change for the better. She not only put us on a more practical path to growth, but she added a sense of humor and conviviality to the TC meetings. Sure, there were some volatile sessions; we wouldn’t be Flower Mound if everyone agreed all the time. It’s no easy task to keep order when there’s so much passion on each side of the issues. Nevertheless, someone has to keep order! It’s bad enough when people yell comments from the audience, but, when council members are publicly bickering back and forth among themselves, even bringing the Town Manager into the fray, it seems as though this burg has come unhinged.
A quick recap of this mess begins with Councilman Rountree’s request for an investigation of Councilman Webb’s violation of Executive Session, namely, talking about an issue that had been discussed during that esoteric gathering. In my opinion, inasmuch as Webb had admitted the infraction, a simple public slap on the wrist would have sufficed. Instead, the call for a probe of one breach of the rules, has morphed into a huge inquisition that will now cost the taxpayers at least $35,000. Apparently, everyone who ever sat on the FMTC has become a suspect in this massive inquiry, which is being handled by an outside firm. I’d like someone to notify me when they reach back to Bob Rheudasil’s term as our first mayor. Yes, I’m being sarcastic because I’m amazed that this ludicrous exercise in futility has once again embarrassed our town.
Mr. Rountree says he never intended it to go this far, and didn’t anticipate spending residents’ money on it. I believe him about the unintended consequences, but, as Mayor Hayden reminded him several times during that disputatious TC meeting, he asked for it. Okay, maybe he did, but, did all the residents ask for this raucous display of anger and bitterness by their elected reps? Sadly, what viewers witnessed was not this town’s finest hour. Most of us believe in transparency, but that doesn’t mean watching our reps throw spitballs at each other like unruly children in a classroom. Incidentally, it couldn’t be more obvious that this is politics at its worst. It’s been said that some people refuse to accept the voters’ choice in the last election. Furthermore, the claim has been made that this expanded inquiry is designed to overturn those results and oust one or more councilmen from their seats.
Well, I don’t think it’s a good idea to go there, unless this in-depth records search uncovers some despicable episodes in the careers of these public servants. Given the mood at the last TC meeting, removal of the people’s choice could turn our town into a war zone. If voters are unhappy with the choices they made, they have a chance to do the ousting themselves when the next election comes around. In the meantime, there’s plenty of important work to do. The town has had a lot of positive growth and residents need a council that keeps its mind on future prosperity, rather than on past hostility. The question is; who’s going to be strong enough to take the lead by calling for an end to this ill-advised and potentially disastrous inquest?
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor.