Monday, October 29, 2012

When a Robo-Call Is Not Just Another Robo-Call

There seems to be a robo-call going out in Richardson concerning the ballot initiative for direct election. But it isn't just another robo-call: It is a sign of something new happening in Richardson.

What started out years ago as just one or two people showing a concern about how the city was operating is grown. The start of it was when the city got sued over holding closed meetings in violation of the city charter. The next suit was about Richardson having over an illegal election to change the charter. Then came isolated incidents of which there are too many to name. Now, someone started a petition to change the way the election is held for mayor in Richardson and the ensuing robo-call.

Discontent is stirring, and growing, and citizens are taking action and speaking up. From my perspective this is happening because of the leadership giving little more than lip-service to citizen's concerns.

Years ago when William Gordon questioned the legality of closed meeting of the city council, he was told that is just the way it is in Richardson and if he didn't like they way they did things, in violation of the city charter, then he just needed to file a suit. He did.

That action led the city to change the charter. In the city's effort to quickly change the charter to allow for closed meetings, the city held an illegal charter change election.

During the most recent forums for city council, all of the present council members voiced support for a charter review. In February of this year, the council had two vote concerning charter change. They voted both of them down by votes of 6-1 against and 5-2 against. Even though they expressed support for charter review and change, they voted against doing so.

Earlier this year, another citizen decided to start a petition to press for changes to the charter to allow citizens to vote for the mayor rather than have the mayor selected behind closed doors and voted on, without any public discussion, in their first council meeting after they were seated.

Now we have robo-call being made to support the charter change for direct election. Who is behind it? I don't know and it doesn't matter. What matters is that yet another person seems to be getting involved and taking action where the council has made a choice to not take action and ignore citizens yet again. As for the content of the call:

"Did you know Richardson is the only city in Texas with a population of over 30,000 whose citizens do not elect its mayor? Thanks to a unanimous City Council action, you can vote 'yes', and make our City’s mayor an elected position. Early voting has started. This question is last on your ballot. Vote 'yes' to elect the new mayor. Thank you. Political advertising paid for the Richardson Citizens For A More Democratic Government."

 As Wild Bill notes, "There is no doubt that Council was not in favor of submitting a Charter amendment for direct election of the mayor to the voters."

So while this robo-call supporting direct election is just another robo-call, it is also something new: It represents yet another citizen getting involved and making a stand.


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