Thursday, April 30, 2009

Executive "Sessions"

Semantics has never really been Pete Sessions' strong suit.

Some of you may remember the 40 Deuces incident last year when a PAC Mr.Sessions belonged to held a fundraiser for him at a Las Vegas burlesque club. A burlesque club owned by a prominent porn star nonetheless. Pete's Defense: It was not really a burlesque style show; just one where women dressed up in 40's style attire and danced on stage for a room full of men and women. (The fact that there were ladies in the audience was somehow supposed to neutralize the offense.)

Well, as rumor has it, Mr.Sessions is once again being vexed by his semantics, or his assistant's perhaps. Allegedly, he was planning to attend Gary Slagel's campaign rally. Once a handful of concerned Richardson residents caught wind of this, they called to express their dismay. But rest assured residents, this is in no way an endorsement, according to Taylor Bledsoe, Congressman Sessions' Chief of Staff. Since this is a bipartisan race, they do not endorse city council candidates. They're just friends, who go way back... hanging out!



Technically speaking, if you were to go to a very publicly promoted rally supporting a particular incumbent, have a big meal on their dole, and then get shuttled over to City Hall to vote for said incumbent that's not really an endorsement...is it? I mean, technically speaking of course.

This concerned voter considers it so.

In all fairness to Mr.Bledsoe, he DID say this was the first their office had heard of this commitment in Sessions' schedule, and he probably wouldn't even be there. But when asked to go on the record stating Mr.Sessions WOULD NOT be in attendance, he declined.

Pete, you're known by the company you keep and Richardson voters will be watching who's company you're in this Sunday.

25 comments:

  1. Good for you! Pete no longer lives in GS's neighborhood & therefore cannot vote, but be sure he influences others.

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  2. That a Richardson City Council member has as his friend our district's Congressman is a big plus for the city.

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  3. The fact still stands, if you do not endorse candidates in city council races, you have no business going to a rally for one candidate unless you plan on attending all of the other candidates events as well. This is a clear endorsement, which violates their protocol.

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  4. I haven't heard that Sessions is endorsing Slagel, although that would significant if it happened. I've seen campaign fliers by many candidates that proudly list endorsements by public officials who were elected in partisan races. I think your outrage is misplaced.

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  5. Perhaps...

    I think I still had some left over from that burlesque thing anyhow.

    This has been almost therapeutic.

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  6. Your comments about Sessions and burlesque were spot on. I've had some things to say about our Congressman myself:
    http://tinylink.com/?MjuZlkVhDI

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  7. Candidate Chris Davis' website has the following endorsements (plus others):
    "Maurine Dickey - Dallas County Commissioner [Ms. Davis' boss]
    Jodie Laubenberg - Texas State Representative
    Hon. Mary Poss - Former Mayor Pro-Tem of Dallas
    Hon. Mike & Sandy Pappas - [Mike is Road & Bridge Superintendent for District 1]
    Cobie Russell - Texas Commission of the Arts & Parkland Board Member"

    So we have 2 elected officials (Dickey and Laubenberg), one former elected official (Poss), an appointed official (Russell), and an employee of Dallas County who was appointed by Commissioner Dickey to be her road and bridge superintendent, along with his wife.

    And none of them seem to be registered to vote in Richardson, so they can't even vote for Ms. Davis anyway.

    But I am pretty sure that no one in either the John Murphy or Sheryl Miller camps is burning up the phone lines demanding that these officials cease endorsing Ms. Davis.

    I am not surprised that only "a handful of ... Richardson residents" was "concerned" about this; most people think that this is perfectly normal.

    As for the burlesque thing, I don't know the full story, but it seems from your description that this is the sort of situation that a good chief of staff is supposed to keep you out of ;-)

    Bill

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  8. Mr. Pappas was in fact an elected official for 12 years as Dallas County Constable. Chris' endorsements show that she enjoys broad support from around the Metroplex just as Mr. Murphy claims his regional ties benefit him.

    Most importantly, it should be pointed out that Mr. Murphy has a HUGE conflict of interest by sitting on NCOG. ("Sitting" is probably the appropriate word, because we haven't seen anything actually accomplished for Richardson. Maybe "reclining" is a better word? "Napping?" "Languishing?" He comes to meetings... he smiles... he slaps people on the back... and virtually nothing gets accomplished that benefits Richardson.)

    Meanwhile, while, um, napping at NCOG, Mr. Murphy has proven himself the king of hypocrits by accusing Chris of having a conflict of interest because she happens to work in the County Commissioners' office. ("Work" is the appropriate word here. She actually accomplishes things... what a concept!) She's in a support role - and doesn't set policy - so there's absolutely NO conflict of interest.)

    But it shows the hypocrisy of John Murphy.

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  9. ddd,

    You misconstrued what I said about Chris Davis' endorsements, and you are totally wrong in your criticisms about John Murphy.

    First, about Chris Davis' endorsements. If you read what I said as opposed to what you think I said, you would have recognized that I said "most people think that this is perfectly normal." From the context, I clearly meant that the Murphy and Miller camps feel the same way, since they're not calling these officials to complain...just in the same way that I don't know why anybody would feel it necessary to call Pete Sessions to complain. People endorse other people all the time, whether or not they're elected officials and whether or not they can vote for them.

    Unfortunately, it appears that you assumed that I was criticizing Chris Davis for having these endorsements, when, in fact, all I was doing was pointing out how common this is - even among the people that Destiny supports (since she brought it up in the first place).

    As for the false charges of conflicts of interest, do-nothingness, and hypocrisy, you are wrong on each count, but for the sakes of the readers of Destiny's blog, I will break here and make it a separate answer.

    Bill

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  10. ddd,

    Now, to your second set of claims.

    First, you say "it should be pointed out that Mr. Murphy has a HUGE conflict of interest by sitting on NCOG. "

    I'm glad you brought this up, since it gives me the opportunity to correct a lot of misstatements and misinformation that have been racing around Richardson. I'd like to explain to you and the entire audience why John - by law - can't be engaged in a conflict of interest in being an elected councilman and a member of the board of NCTCOG.

    The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG or frequently COG for short) is, under the law, a "regional planning commission". In one sentence, "[t]he general purpose of a commission is to make studies and plans to guide the unified, far-reaching development of a region, eliminate duplication, and promote economy and efficiency in the coordinated development of a region." You can see this and the other references that follow at Texas Local Government Code, Title 12, Subtitle C, Chapter 391.In other words, the NCTCOG gives its 230 member cities, counties, school boards, and other taxing entities (like water districts) in our 16-county area a formal structure in which they can come together to discuss regional issues like water and transportation - but it is only an advisory board, as the COG has no power to force its decisions on any member (see 291.004(b)). Because the COG has no power to force decisions on its members, this means that the COG works very hard to achieve consensus (so everyone will be happy with the plans and voluntarily adopt them). To quote NCTCOG's own website: "NCTCOG is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, but has no regulatory power or other authority possessed by cities, counties, or other local governments."

    So, clearly, there is no way the NCTCOG can force Richardson to do something it doesn't want to do, which removes one possibility of a conflict of interest.

    But isn't service as an elected official and as a executive board member of COG prima facie evidence of a conflict of interest? Absolutely not! Here's why.

    391.006(b) states "At least two-thirds of the members of a governing body of a commission [i.e., a COG] must be elected officials of participating counties or municipalities." That is, not only is it permitted for an elected official like a city councilman to serve on a COG board, for the large majority of them, it's required.

    Later, at 391.010, the enabling statue defines potential conflicts of interest for people providing legal services to the commission and to member entities. This section makes no mention of conflicts of interest for other reasons.

    So, since the enabling legislation of the State of Texas requires that most COG board members be elected officials, and since the enabling statute enumerates possible conflicts of interest but is silent on the issue of an elected official having a conflict by serving on a COG board, it is clear that the State Legislature determined that - by law - that no elected official could have a conflict of interest between being an elected official (like a councilman) of a member entity (like Richardson) and being a board member of a COG in the normal performance of his/her duties.

    To believe that Councilman Murphy has a conflict of interest or is breaking the law by holding a seat on the board of COG, you would have to believe that all the other regional leaders on the Executive Board also have conflicts of interest or are breaking the law, such as
    • Council members from Dallas, Ft. Worth, Arlington, Allen, DeSoto, University Park, and Wylie
    • County Commissioners from Dallas, Tarrant, and Johnson Counties
    • And the County Judge of Collin County

    This is quite a conspiracy of silence. Who else must be part of this conspiracy?
    • the 230 members (mostly elected officials) of the COG assembly that elect the Executive Board
    • the 1,000+ officeholders on the various city councils, commissioners’ courts, school boards and so on of the 230 member organizations that choose the members of the COG assembly
    • 10,000+ governmental employees, members of the news media, and informed citizens living in the 16 county area that NCTCOG covers who are aware of how COG works

    And yet, out of this huge pool of people, only a few anonymous people in Richardson think that COG is engaged in structural conflicts of interest or is breaking the law in how it populates its board?

    Which would be easier to believe:
    that tens of thousands of hard-working, civic-minded Texans are engaged in a massive campaign to subvert justice…or
    that the few people passing this 'information' around don't realize how mistaken they are?

    More in the next post...

    Bill

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  11. Hey, I just checked and http://billmccalpin.blogspot.com/
    is available.

    kidding, kidding. (:

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  12. ddd,

    As for John Murphy sleeping or napping or whatever at COG, he doesn't just "come to meetings", as president of the NCTCOG in 2008-2009, he's actually running the meetings...so the odds of him reclining or otherwise relaxing are pretty slim.

    Look, the NCTCOG is an advisory body, as I noted above. Advisory bodies are not places where individuals push their personal agendas...because if they did, many members would opt out (remember that a COG can't force actions on members) and this would destroy the spirit of consensus that makes a COG effective.

    What John is doing now on the NCTCOG (besides running the meetings as the chair), is making sure that a spirit of co-operation and openness exists so that all the member entities can come together in the many subject-specific committees in that spirit of co-operation to plan for the best results for the region as a whole - which necessarily benefits Richardson.

    For example, the City of Richardson and all the cities along the Cotton Belt Line are very interested in accelerating the use of the Cotton Belt Line to improve mass transit (in the case of Richardson, it would enable rail riders in Richardson to eventually take a train direct from UTD to DFW Airport); John is supporting their interests on the Regional Transportation Council (an NCTCOG Committee).

    By definition, though, if this comes to pass, it won't be because "John Murphy" did it, it will be because all the members came together to work out the best plan that would be the most widely accepted, and John would be happy to be in a position to help.

    Bill

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  13. "Hey, I just checked and http://billmccalpin.blogspot.com/
    is available.

    kidding, kidding. (:"

    No problem, Destiny, I was about to apologize to you for taking up so much space here, but I am glad that you are providing a forum in which I can reply to some of these untrue statements that have been running around for weeks now...thanks (and sorry, I do have one more thing to reply to :-0 )...

    Bill

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  14. Hahahah, that's fine Bill. Comment away!

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  15. ddd,

    As for your final claim that John Murphy is a "hypocrit" (sic) for allegedly spreading rumors about Ms. Davis and any possible conflict of interest, I can tell you that I have personal knowledge that this claim is totally false. I am now going to give you an inside peek to the John Murphy campaign.

    When this campaign began, John Murphy held a meeting in my living room with the senior members of the campaign. Among the issues that we discussed was the question of whether it was a conflict of interest for a County employee to be seated on a city council in the same County. We knew that in some counties in Texas, that the counties prohibit employees of the county from running for city council seats, although we also knew that Dallas County was not one of them.

    After some discussion, John Murphy made the executive decision that this issue was between Chris Davis and her boss, County Commissioner Maurine Dickey, because the Code of Ethics used by the County of Dallas specifies that "The ethical county official [which applies to County employees as well] should not:
    - Engage in outside interests that are not compatible with the impartial and objective performance of his or her duties.
    - Improperly influence or attempt to influence other officials to act in his or her own benefit. " (This link is to the Dallas County Treasurer's Office, but since the text is identical to the Code of Ethics enumerated by the National Association of Counties, I feel safe in assuming that this Code of Ethics is generally adopted throughout the County's government.)

    If you read the other content at the NACO website, you will see the recommendations that if a County employee is concerned about any possible of interest issues, that he/she should discuss them with his/her manager. Based on this information, John presumed that Ms. Davis and Ms. Dickey had had that discussion and presumably concluded that there was no conflict (for the County anyway).

    Because of this, John directed that the John Murphy campaign would make no issue of any possible conflict of interest - it just wasn't the type of negative campaign that he wanted to run.

    This is why you have never heard John Murphy mention this issue in a forum and why you have never seen this issue appear in any printed communication authorized by his campaign. In fact, it was Sheryl Miller who brought this issue up at the Mohawk forum, not John.

    I have attended every forum but one (my wife was at that one) and I have read every piece of literature published by the John Murphy campaign, and I can personally tell you these are the facts.

    Certainly, as John toured neighborhoods and spoke to individual voters, sometimes the voter would ask about the question of Ms. Davis' employment with the County. John's response would be pretty much what I noted above, that he is not making an issue of it, although the voter is free to judge for him/herself if he/she feels that this was an issue for Richardson.

    I have sadly noted the statements made in a number of places that John Murphy is conducting a smear campaign against Chris Davis. These statements are simply not true, and I am willing to put my name on the public record as having personal knowledge that they are not true. If only the people making these allegations would do the same.

    I think it's a shame for Richardson that a candidate makes the ethical choice to not discuss a gray issue that wouldn't really contribute to the public debate (which ought to be on the issues, for heavens' sakes), and yet is lambasted by untrue rumor and gossip as one person after another just repeats negative 'news' without taking the time to verify it.

    William J. 'Bill' McCalpin
    billmccalpin (at) mccalpin.com

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  16. Destiny, I'm done...you can have your blog back! ;-)

    (and thanks!)

    Bill

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  17. Whew! Glad Mr. Bill is finished! Enough is enough . . .

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  18. http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c046f53ef010536da73b6970c-800wi

    Mr.Bill....I like it!

    Speaking of, Bill will you show me how to add links in comments?

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  19. I understand what Bill is saying about endorsements and agree that the Sessions/Slagel situation is a tempest in a teapot. (Interesting, though, that the Sessions blog has spurred so much debate and discussion.) We are in complete agreement on that.

    We also agree that NCOG is technically not a conflict of interest for Murphy. (I was incorrect in asserting that, and was just making the same incorrect statement that has been made about Chris.) Jim Shepherd - in endorsing Chris Davis - has pointed out that there are several issues where NCOG's consensus will conflict with the best interests of Richardson. THAT is the real point. Our difference is that you seem to think that Murphy's position at NCOG is the best thing since disposal diapers. But I see NCOG conflicting with Richardson's interests and also serving as a DISTRACTION. I wish that Murphy would pay just a wee bit of attention to RICHARDSON issues. (Remember Richardson? Dallas suburb? Decaying infrastructure?) We all know how much Smilin' John likes to parade around and be seen as an important person... but let's accomplish some things for RICHARDSON! It's a great thing to have a board reaching a consensus on regional transportation, air quality, water, etc. issues. Bravo! But - at some point - there needs to be some things actually accomplished. Right?

    When the first Cotton Belt Line lands at UTD, I'll join you in crowing about Murphy's great accomplishment. I'll buy your ticket. Until then, it's just a lot of hot air. Hey, we live in Texas and summer is fast approaching. We already have enough hot air! :)

    Now, about Murphy's smear campaign... you're joking, right? You think that the nasty little whisper campaign just happened on its own? Smilin' John had nothing to do with that? If you believe that, I have some office space at StarTech for you, rent-free! Funny that Coalition opponents are always the subject of nasty little whisper campaigns. What an odd coincidence. But John Murphy is like Colonel Klink in Hogan's Heroes: "I know NOTHING! I know NOTHING!"

    But, hey, I'm gullible. For a moment, I'll suspend reason and figure that the whisper campaign started spontaneously, despite the pleadings of Smilin' John for everyone to just get along. I'll believe that he stood up at a campaign meeting and said (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean? know what I mean?) we are NOT going to conduct a whisper campaign against Chris Davis.

    Still, even gullible little me has noticed that Murphy hasn't stood up and denounced Slagel and the Richardson Coalition for unfairly maligning his opponent. Hasn't happened, has it?

    We're all smart people here. So, let's not play along with the charade that Smilin' John is just an unwilling pawn in this game, OK?
    I was born at night... but it wasn't LAST night! :)

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  20. "Speaking of, Bill will you show me how to add links in comments?"

    It's the <a> HTML tag (for Address).

    If you want to say "Yahoo" and link to yahoo.com, then you enter the following:
    <a href="http://www.yahoo.com">Yahoo</a>
    where
    "a" is the tag name
    "href=URL" is where you want to link to (remember to always include the "http://")
    "Yahoo" is the text that you want to print with the hypertext link
    "/a" is the end tag for the address tag

    I did the stuff above so it would print correctly; now look at what happens when I really type this:

    YahooI don't know how many HTML tags are available to be used here in blogspot, but <b> is for bold and <i> is for italics - but maybe you knew this, I can't remember if you've already used them...

    Bill

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. sorry, the previous answer did not format well, so I am reformatting and reposting it...


    "I understand what Bill is saying about endorsements and agree that the Sessions/Slagel situation is a tempest in a teapot. "
    Good."We also agree that NCOG is technically not a conflict of interest for Murphy."
    Good."Jim Shepherd...has pointed out that there are several issues where NCOG's consensus will conflict with the best interests of Richardson."
    I've read Mr. Shepherd's email. He didn't name any issues. He said, "His [Murphy's] votes are equally likely [to Chris Davis' votes] to conflict with the best interest of Richardson taxpayers, and occur more often." His statement is disingenuous and puzzling; if he is saying that both John and Chris have equal types of conflicts, by that logic, shouldn't he want to remove John from COG and as well as not elect Chris Davis to Council?

    "I wish that Murphy would pay just a wee bit of attention to RICHARDSON issues."
    I certainly never said that John paid attention only to COG. John has done many things here in Richardson, which we list in our campaign literature and on the website. In our campaign mailers, the COG stuff is one paragraph or even just one line - check it out if you don't believe me. I brought it up only because you did.
    Our literature is full of other stuff: city-wide drainage policy to control erosion, supporting the Neighborhood Development Ordinance and voting to place the overlay on Huffines, keeping up infrastructures improvements, supporting the home improvement tax rebate program, support the transit villages, supporting the fiscal policies that led to a AAA bond rating...I could go on and on, but in deference to the infinitely patient Destiny, I'll stop there. ;-)



    "You think that the nasty little whisper campaign just happened on its own?"
    Since Sheryl Miller brought the subject up publicly at the very first candidates' forum in March, I see no reason for you to assume that John Murphy somehow orchestrated anything...unless you think that John Murphy persuaded Sheryl Miller to say that - and if you think that, then...well, I'm speechless that anyone who lives in Richardson would ever believe that.

    "Funny that Coalition opponents are always the subject of nasty little whisper campaigns"
    This is disingenuous, as I am sure that you have read the vicious, personal slander leveled against John. These are crocodile tears.

    "Still, even gullible little me has noticed that Murphy hasn't stood up and denounced Slagel and the Richardson Coalition for unfairly maligning his opponent. Hasn't happened, has it?"
    On April 26th, shortly after the Richardson Coalition flyer came out, I said in a posting in another blog: “One can wonder if the negative comments on the [Richardson Coalition] flyer will be just as counter-productive as the negative tone of the questions at this forum.” (see Ed Cognoski blog). Then the next day, I made an even stronger statement on this blog: “And while I am a staunch supporter of John Murphy, I personally believe that the Coalition went overboard in what it wrote. I would have been much happier if the Coalition would have simply said who they endorsed and let it go at that.
    What we don't need is for the Coalition to be mimicking in any way the tactics of a certain other person in Richardson who prints gross untruths and vicious personal slander on his website and dares to call it "news".” (see Conserveandprotect blog)
    I think you will agree that the mutual bashing going on in some other races between the candidates and outside sources is not good for the City. John wants to avoid commenting on the other candidates or publications from various factions for good reason. I don't think we've even mentioned either of our opponents in any of our publications.
    But given my position, it’s not likely I would have written this if were out of sync with what John thinks, is it?
    Sadly, there’s probably nothing I can do to persuade you otherwise. This is the problem with dirty politics; once these behaviors start, then everyone assumes the worst about everyone else, even when there is evidence to the contrary.


    Bill

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  23. What is the "vicious personal slander against John?" Are you talking about Nathan "Mr. Vicious" Morgan's stories about Murphy's love child?

    I haven't heard either Miller or Davis bring that up, either in Forums or any kind of whisper campaign.

    Frankly, I think they should. I think John Murphy leaving his wife to live with his mistress is fair game for a campaign, don't you? I'm actually shocked that Miller hasn't brought it up at a Forum. After all, Murphy's the only unmarried person on the Council, right? He's the only Councilperson shacked up with someone.

    Character counts... and Murphy's character has been displayed for the whole city to see.

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  24. ddd,

    What this shows is that Ms. Davis and Ms. Miller have better sense than you. The people of Richardson don't want to hear NM's rantings; they don't want to hear RC's attacks on candidates that they oppose; and they don't want to waste any more time on negative personal attacks by unsigned mailings and anonymous posts like this - the candidates understand this even if you don't.

    This is too bad; I was hoping that we could continue to have discussions on the issues, but I see that you have a personal animosity against John, so further discussions are pointless...

    Bill

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  25. Naw, no personal animosity. It's just like I said... character counts. Look at the sleazy things that Murphy does and says. For example, he was quoted on the T.V. report about Slagel's Startech dealings as saying there was "no conflict of interest." Hello? Look at how Murphy has conducted his life and it jives with that statement.

    Compare that to Jim Shepherd. Any questions?

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