Saturday, August 27, 2016

CCR 08-27-16 "Carrot" or Unbiased?

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

"Carrot" or Unbiased?  

   For all those who could be humming an old tune by "Asleep At The Wheel," staff of the CCR wonders if enough of the silent majority will suddenly awaken and realize what the Tax Ratification Election, approved by the Irving ISD Board of Trustees, is all about.  And more importantly, what this September 10, 2016, election might have on future boards with regard to future property tax rates.

   It should be remembered, the actions of the current board of trustees are not binding on any future board.  And it appears the current board is moving full speed ahead to ensure the TRE passes.

   While the above brochure carries no disclaimer as to who wrote, designed, or printed the material, copies have been mysteriously appearing, like New Year’s Eve confetti, on IISD campuses.  

   Of course, the first assumption would be the brochure was prepared by the IISD administration…with tacit approval of the board of trustees.

   While it is highly illegal and unethical for the IISD administration to utilize district resources (money, personnel and equipment) to "campaign" for the TRE election (or any election), the line, in this election, could be very murky on what might be construed as "campaigning" when compared to informing or announcing an upcoming IISD election.

   The "Penny Exchange" brochure seems to compare the upcoming election to "Let’s Make A Deal."  In the IISD game, note how when you pick Door #1 you receive $10M.  However, pick Door #2 and your prize is $0.  And that appears to be all the pertinent information (except where to vote) provided to those who receive the brochure.  Really?  It’s that simple?

   Basically, the IISD administration and board have obviously dangled the "carrot" over Door #1.  Nothing else to see or understand here.  Let’s all move along now and go vote.

   Realistically, a teacher, living in Irving, who receives one of the brochures in their In box/desk/break room immediately thinks, "If I vote FOR the $10M, then I get a raise!  Count me in."

   And this, dear reader, is the carrot the IISD utilizes…playing to a potential pliable voting base which would benefit most…without having them worry or understand the possible jeopardy of district finances or a higher effective tax rate the district could face in the future.

   When playing to a pliable base of potential supporters, the task is made even easier for the IISD relative to the timing of this election.

   The IISD board of trustees chose to hold (and pay for) a special election in September as opposed to having this measure on the November general election ballot when turnout is greater and trustee slots are up for voting.  Paying for a special election in September also sets the stage for a possible repeat of what voters have seen in the past with other district elections.

   Voting places for the TRE election will be on most IISD campuses.  This adds a significant convenience to a pliable base of supporters.  Additionally, campus PTAs can make announcements and appeals just days before the actual election.  Or, PTAs can make announcements during the early voting period.  

   Formula:  Captive audience + pliable voting base = (draw your own ballot stuffing conclusions).
   In listening to the presentation by the IISDs chief number cruncher, the level of confidence, as to how the finances for future boards might be met, seemed a tad discouraging.  In essence, the final consensus was to pass the TRE and then address any possible future roadblocks or financial hickeys which might pop up.

   But then, Dylan Westie, Executive editor/Part-time wordsmith and Social Media Troll for the CCR, with his better-than-human hearing, was disconcerted with what he heard uttered by the chief number cruncher.  Advise staff of the CCR if the following sounds appealing to you for investing your future tax bucks:

"The TRE monies are not in the budget at this time."
"The budget will have to be revised if the TRE passes."
"I’m presenting a budget with what I know today."
"I cannot predict what future legislatures will do."
"I don’t know what the future is gonna’ bring."

   Already, the IISD board has approved a balanced budget for 2016-17 without the purported $10M in "free" State money.  And the likelihood of the budget being adjusted looms heavily.
   (The district has not approved the 2016-17 property tax rate at this time.) 

   The magical balancing act for the 2016-17 budget was performed by drawing over $9M from the district’s fund balance reserve.  The fund balance reserve will still meet any requirements for proper operations based on the revenues and expenses included in the new budget.

   While the IISD board of trustees contend the current tax rate of $1.445 will remain intact, will this be guaranteed if the TRE fails?  Should the TRE pass, what becomes of the $9M pumped into the 2016-17 budget from the fund balance reserve?

   The answer to those and other questions have been posed in previous CCR reports.  If you are just coming to a realization that a special called election is scheduled and requires additional information, visit and read: "Questions and Kool-Aid," and "No Sense for ‘Penny Exchange.’"

   As an added incentive to becoming involved or vocal regarding the proposed TRE election, take a gander at your 2016 Dallas County Property Appraisal Report.  Of particular note should be the percentage of taxes paid to the Irving ISD when compared to all the other taxing units.  This might cause one to reconsider rolling the dice on an issue which still requires considerable detail, explanation, and discussion.

   The only adage staff of the CCR could muster for voters to remember when considering how to vote on the TRE might be: "If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is."

………………………………………Mark Holbrook 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CCR 08-24-16 O M G!

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

O M G !

   Just Unbelievable:  Now, QueenB VD has dipped into the bottom of her humongous barrel of egocentricity to channel and assume a new gender identity for an official queenly made-up quote.  Yes, made-up quote!

   And yes, her gender identity crisis and political transition is to become a doppelgänger of Ronald Reagan.  Uproarious!  Even comic relief!

    Dylan Westie, Executive editor/Part-time wordsmith and Social Media Troll for the CCR, weighed in on his Twitter account.  One of his notes related: "I voted for Ronald Reagan. I knew Ronald Reagan’s values. QueenB VD, you're no Ronald Reagan." DW channels Lloyd Bentsen. 

   President Ronald Reagan, on his etherial ranch, must have fallen off his horse when he saw the above picture on one of the multi-Face(preening)Book pages operated by QueenB VD.

   While this made-up quote by the queen will not go down in history, QueenB VD hopes it will at least push back and quell the backlash and harsh comments made when she posted the following made-up quote on one of her multi-Face(preening)Book pages:

"Our nation cannot be so overly sensitive in defending other cultures that we stop protecting our own"  Beth Van Duyne

   Of course, QueenB VD fails to mention, state, or identify which "our own" cultures are in need of her regal protection.  Has she raised the draw bridge around her city hall castle and filled the moat with peon- and peasant-eating crocodiles and piranhas to protect "our own?"?   

   Let’s play the CCR guessing game.  

   Since QueenB VD has spent more time blathering and touring the countryside to promote her faux-image instead of performing the duties as Irving’s mayor, the following could be the "cultures" the queen is mainly interested in protecting: Her Red Meat TEA-carnivore sycophants; Gun toting Froot Loops® parading around religious institutions in the city; Lowering the city’s draw bridge for a Texas branch of the KKK to make an appearance; "Dark Money" pimps and cronies; Single source developers; And of course, her Sugar Daddy string pullers and handlers.

   Yes, QueenB VD truly believes those "cultures" need her protection.  Otherwise, the light of transparency could fry them into ashes slowly drifting towards Hades.

   And while on the subject of hellish things, some dear readers have mentioned to staff of the CCR that QueenB VD appears to be a separated-at-birth clone with another prominent lady running for political office.  After considering this, the parallels seem to be remarkably similar.  Consider:
  •   Who knows how many individuals might be paying and playing with QueenB VD via her "Dark Money" slush fund…otherwise know as the Irving Opportunity Council.
  •   The DMN has demonstrated in articles and editorials QueenB VD has, on several occasions, fabricated facts (polite way of saying lying) regarding actual events and occurrences in the city.
  •   While not Benghazi, QueenB VDs narrative, statements and tour babbling on the "clock kid" and the nonexistent Sharia law in Irving were actually the result of her YouTube videos and Glenn "Bloated Bloviator" Beck appearances.
  •   Individuals have observed that QueenB VD has more than one electronic device when attending city council work sessions and meetings.
  •   QueenB VD has protected accounts for some of her social media postings which are not available or accessible to peons and serfs of the realm.
  •   QueenB VD seems to have adopted a media policy of not responding to the DMN when caught in fact fabrications or inane actions.    
   Perhaps, the bottom line in all this is citizens of ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ have not been represented for the past six years.  Instead, QueenB VD has attempted to make Irving a sanctuary city for Red Meat TEA-carnivores which has little or nothing to do with making Irving the city it should be!

   Preening for higher office, photo ops and mane flipping have done little to move Irving forward.

……………………………….Mark Holbrook

Monday, August 22, 2016

CCR 08-22-16 No Sense for "Penny Exchange"

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

No Sense for "Penny Exchange"  

  Pennies? Really?  There are still multiple unanswered and unresolved questions regarding the "penny exchange" (which seems to be a highly misleading identifier) being pressured by the Irving ISD Board of Trustees on tax payers for the Tax Ratification Election scheduled on September 10, 2016.
   (Early voting actually starts this week — August 24, 2016!)

   Currently, the silent majority has done little to register their concern as to what this election could pose regarding the future tax rate the Irving ISD will be enacting.  Should one think most folks in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ are comfortable paying higher school district taxes? 

   Meanwhile, the staff of the CCR has hardly ever commended the Dallas ISD for any of their actions or policies.  However, this board did vote down the Tax Ratification Election for their school district.  Amazing!

   Did DISD run out of Kool-Aid for supporters of their "penny exchange?"  Or, did a few of the board members finally see the future problems the "penny exchange" sham might create on future finances and tax rates if passed?  

   Maybe the DISD board believed the Tax Ratification Election would be a severe burden on future finances.  If that was the case, the DISD board must have discovered the ‘pie in the sky’ of "free" State money might be ‘half baked!’

   And while on the topic of school boards and inane decisions (not the DISD in this instance), how about the McKinney group of ISD board-buck spenders?  The $62M+ football stadium, originally approved by voters, suddenly huddled on the field of unplanned expenses and will now cost $69M+.  Wow!  

   What a play and score the McKinney school board made against school district tax payers. 

   However, without even huddling, the McKinney school board ran a standard ‘Hail Mary’ play and tossed more bond money (even tapped their Maintenance and Operations fund) to cover the increased cost to move down the field and score one more for the special interest. 

   Does the emptying of the bench, for a football stadium by the McKinney school board, really go the distance for achievement by ALL the kids in the district?  Hardly! 

   The McKinney ISD board relied on their tired mantra — when recklessly spending tax payer funds — of everything we do "is for the kids."  Do they actually believe improved test scores, better teacher remuneration, and proper education equipment needs are best solved by a $69M+ football stadium?  Just consider what that additional $7M could have accomplished on the educational side of the field!

      And this brings us back to the current issue at hand…the Irving ISD.

   There must be some unknown method behind the madness of the Irving ISD to rush the Tax Ratification Election on Irving tax payers.  Within a month, the proposal has gone from board approval to a specially called election.  Why the rush?  

   Why not have the Tax Ratification Election issue on the November general election ballot?
   (Oh, the voter turn out is greater in November and the chance voters would be better informed is a risk the school board might not desire to take?)

   While the CCR documented many of the unanswered questions — in the 08-17-16 report available at — concerning the actions of what the Irving ISD board has cloaked and pushed forward on this issue, one additional and important consideration should be considered.

   At their August 22, 2016, board meeting (tonight), an agenda item to refinance current outstanding bonds is being proposed.  According to the agenda, this item will save the district a bushel basket of bucks.  How many dollars?  Well, this wasn’t disclosed in the agenda.  And also not mentioned was where those bucks would ultimately end up in the district’s budget.

   Normally, the Irving ISD approves their annual tax rate for the fiscal year in August.  As the August 22, 2016, board meeting is the last one scheduled before the new fiscal year starts (September 1st), there is no agenda item to set the tax rate for 2016-17.  Why?

   The next scheduled board meeting is September 19, 2016.  Guess what!  The meeting falls after the Tax Ratification Election.  And when the tax rate is set at this meeting, there will be little the already downtrodden district tax payers can do…should the TRE measure pass.

   In essence, approval of the Tax Ratification Election will set the stage for the Irving ISD board of trustees to enact a tax rate which will be unknown until after the election.

   Wouldn’t it be appropriate for the board of trustees to at least mention what the possible tax rate for 2016-17, will be, if the measure does or doesn’t pass, at the meeting tonight

   If nothing else, this announcement would at least allow a tad bit of transparent light to shine on the hastily formed black cloud floating over ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ regarding the  IISDs actions concerning the Tax Ratification Election.

   And the Irving ISD tax rate for 2016-17 will be ________ ?  (Dear readers should start holding their breath now.)

Sign Here:  There seems to be an abundance of petitions floating around ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ these days.  As previously mentioned in the CCR, two petitions — by two separate groups — have been circulating to advise the city administration and city council that trash bin containers should not be a part of the 2016-17, budget now, or in the future for residential refuse collection, "new" development collection, and "enhanced" recycling.

   Newly added to the list of petitions being circulated is one on behalf of Irving’s Community Television Network, or ICTN.

   Holy shades of ex-city manager Gonzalez, Batman! 

   Yes, dear readers, it appears the ghost of Gonzalez is still lurking around city hall.  And if the current administration has its way, you’ll never be able to see this dreaded apparition on ICTN.

   During the Tommy "Do It My Way or Else" Gonzalez reign, ICTN was stripped of personnel, funding and programming.  His actions, while not specifically identified as such, verged on being able to control openness in Irving City government and garner more bucks for his pet projects and cronies.
   (Sounds similar to what QueenB VD would desire…to keep the veil of transparency on her many inane actions out of the spotlight.) 

   What was once a recognized and awarded community television network has been left gasping for air time.  And it appears the current city manager is ready to pull the oxygen line on valuable ICTN programming permanently!

   Even though ICTN is still award winning due to nicely done public service spots about city services, this has been very taxing on the remaining staff and resources due to the diminished funding and functions enacted by previous ex-city manager Gonzalez.

   When staff of the CCR states ICTN will be permanently crippled in the 2016-17, city budget, the "new" city manager plan could further reduce personnel, programming and coverage by employing "social media clips" to replace actual programming.  What?

  One has to assume the city administration believes ICTN viewers are not very intelligent and must spend all day on social media to sate their news and information requirements regarding Irving.  Torofeca!

   If funding for a revised and fully functional ICTN is necessary and required, then why doesn’t the city administration allow (as provided under the franchise agreement) for sponsors to be identified to foot some of the cost?  Maybe this sounds too reasonable and doesn’t fit the "hip" profile being attempted by the administration to look tech savvy.

   Surely, there must be a host of potential sponsors who would want to assist in promoting Irving’s outreach and development.  Some sponsors could even bring a new level of creativity to ICTN operations and programming.

   After all, ICTN receives 5% of the franchise fee the city obtains from the cable provider.  Any additional or required funds are provided by the city’s General Fund which was raided and pillaged by former ex-city manager Gonzalez.  
   (Yes, Gonzalez was a real ‘money grabber’ for bucks to float his personal projects in the city!)

   If you happen across individuals requesting your signature on the petition to save and restore ICTN, then sign the petition…quickly.  The council budget retreat session is August 25-26, 2016. 

   Make your community viewing habits know to all council members and the city manager.

   Who knows?  With enough new sponsors, programming increases and adequate personnel to restore the luster of ICTN to its original major award winning status, Mark Knopfier of Dire Straits might consider foregoing retirement by pressing a new rendition titled, "I Want My ICTN."
   (And be assured, this will not be "money for nothing.")

……………………………Mark Holbrook

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

CCR 08-17-16 Questions and Kool-Aid

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

Questions and Kool-Aid

   The loud collective sigh heard throughout ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ this week emanates from parents of "rug rats" who will return to the "Blackboard Jungle" next week.
   (Yes, that expression is dated and also the title of an old — really old — movie.  And it is doubtful there are actually any blackboards remaining in the Irving ISD system.)

   Unbeknownst to the parents, of all the kids returning to school, is that the Irving ISD Board of Trustees will be giving parents a take home quiz which must be completed by September 10, 2016.  What?!

   Yes, dear readers, the IISD PR spin machine is in overdrive in an effort to hopefully convince voters to approve a Tax Ratification Election.  This election, on September 10, 2016, will shift monies from the Interest and Sinking Fund tax rate to the Maintenance and Operations tax rate.  The simplistic rationale, as stated by the IISD for this ‘sleight of hand’ shifting, is the potential of receiving $10M in State funds.

   While some view this windfall as "free" money for the district, the consideration that Irving tax payers have already contributed to the State’s "free" money pot is lost in any discussions.
   (Like "free" lunches, there also are no "free" State bucks.)

   To assist in the IISD PR effort to promote the approval of the Tax Ratification Election, IISD troopers and board members are picking the "low fruit voters" off the vines by visiting business clubs and PTA knitting circles; preaching to the choir of lemming supporters; and grinning at all the spin of how this tax rate shift proposal is necessary and should be approved without any questions asked by concerned voters.

   Otherwise, the IISD cannot move forward and achieve stated goals and objectives.  Really?

   And that brings us to the IISD Parental Pop Quiz.  The quiz, much like the rationale for approving the Tax Ratification Election, is extremely simplistic.  But then, maybe the IISD PR appeal is geared to a more simple element of the voting community.

   It’s time.  Turn your paper over and complete the following mandated IISD quiz:

IISD Parental Pop Quiz Questions
  • Shouldn’t all teachers be paid a decent wage for the strife they have to endure each day?  Y/N
  • Shouldn’t Irving schools be ranked and rated in the top tier of local districts?  Y/N
  • Shouldn’t Irving schools have the best equipment and technology available?  Y/N
  • Shouldn’t Irving schools equally serve all students in the district?  Y/N
  • Wouldn’t the Tax Ratification Election accomplish all of these items?  Y/N
(Turn in you papers on September 10, 2016…only if you answered Yes to each question.  If you did answer Yes, then you passed with flying colors.  Additionally, you will receive, as a bonus prize, a year’s supply of specially brewed IISD Kool-Aid.)

   What is not said in the pop quiz questions is the IISD PR machine would have potential voters believe none of the above could or would be accomplished without the passage of the Tax Ratification Election.  Claptrap!

   But Wait!  Dylan Westie, Executive editor/Part-time wordsmith and Social Media Troll for the CCR, was sniffing the grass around the IISD administration building when he discovered a document which had fallen from a trash bin headed to the district’s shredding room. 

   Apparently, the document included questions the IISD PR squad didn’t want to see the light of day or asked by voters.

   If the IISD troopers and board members were exposed to these questions in a town hall meeting, one wonders what the overall quiz results might be for the September 10, 2016, Tax Ratification Election.

Questions Needing to Be Answered for Voter Consideration
  •   If the current tax rate was to remain the same, what is the amount of NEW bucks generated — over last years tax collections — as a result of the tremendous spike in appraised property values in 2016?
  •   In addition to the NEW bucks from increased appraised values, what will be the new tax rate established for 2016-17 by the IISD board of trustees? (Bet at least 7.65% which is less than 8% and wouldn’t require a special election.)
  •   What is the total amount of NEW money generated in the 2016-17 budget by the to-be-approved new tax rate?
  •   Does the total amount of new tax money collected, as a result of a 2016-17 tax rate increase, represent more than $10M in State "free" money?
  •   Is the $10M State money incidental to any proposed 2016-17 tax rate increase by IISD?
  •   In all tax rate calculations, will the same percentage of collections be used in order to be consistent with prior actual receipts?
  •   If the shifting of rates between the M&O and I/S funds is "temporary," what provisions have been established should part of the $10M be used for 2016-17 salary increases?  (This will be a critical item for expenditure coverage in the 2017-18 budget.)
  •   Will the tax rate have to be increased in later years for this "temporary" shift of rates between the M&O and I/S funds?
  •   Specifically, what are the actual dollar commitments, by category, being considered in distributing the $10M State funds?  (Voters should know this before any ballots are cast!)
  • Was the September Tax Ratification Election date chosen to prevent this issue from having to be on the November general election ballot where there would be a considerably larger voter turn out?
  • How many Texas school districts are eligible or considering this tax rate shifting shell game?
  • What guarantees will the IISD identify to ensure voters this action will not create future financial shortfalls, or even higher tax rate increases? 
  • How long will the State maintain these "free" funds for use by school districts?
  • Wouldn’t school districts be better served if the State properly funded public education instead of bending to parlor tricks and financial sleight of hand?
  • If the Tax Ratification Election is approved, how long will it be before the I/S fund tax rate has to be increased to cover any necessary and required IISD bond sales?
  • How much will this special Tax Ratification Election cost tax payers?
  • As done in a past election, will there be specially called PTA meetings — at school voting sites — on the Tax Ratification Election day?

   Is there any wonder why the above questions might have been slated for the shredder by IISD PR folks?

   While the IISD ‘rah-rah’ squad attempts to sell the Tax Ratification Election, voters would be wise to ask when there will be genuine public hearings or a town hall meeting on this matter.  After all, not all Irving voters are members of local business clubs or PTA knitting circles. 

   Touring business clubs, which seldom ask meaty questions, or discretely ensuring faculty and staff of the IISD recognize this election as tantamount to pawning the Holy Grail for "needed" funds, leaves transparency and accountability in the closet of unanswered questions for Irving voters.

   Voters should be totally informed of all current and future details as related to the Tax Ratification Election to ensure this measure doesn’t slide through on the back of special interest groups, or slick PR promotion and selective audiences.

   As it appears now, special interest groups are being offered the IISD Kool-Aid brand to support this election.

……………………………Mark Holbrook


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

CCR 08-09-16 RIP Dr. Ben Thomas

the   Controversial  Committee   Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”

"The Coffee Shop Philosopher"

   If you have ever had the opportunity to be at a coffee shop gathering when Dr. Ben Thomas was present and the topic evolved around sibling actions, then you certainly heard him say: "Mothers have sons…fathers have daughters."

   That was Ben.  And this was just one of the many sayings he had available to stress a point, or provide nuance to a topical point of view.  And he probably owes William Shakespeare a huge royalty check for his vast knowledge and quoting of his writings. 

   Even though the Greeks nailed details of sibling relations, with a linkage to a specific parental personality, Ben continuously shared his vast knowledge of the ancient Roman and Greek philosophers to assure coffee shop attendees that what seemed to be current trends or actions were actually recognized and grounded in literature many years in the past.

   With the passing of Dr. Ben Thomas, another shining, shooting star of a community icon has arced across ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ and burned out.  

   The night certainly grows darker.  

   Ben joins the likes of Jim Widener, Gerald Stavely, Bob Power and Dick Lear as one of the early foundation builders for what many recognize as the vibrant community Irving is today.

   Ben generously gave back, to Irving and individuals, without any expectation of receiving anything in return.  He believed this philosophy was tantamount in the building of a community for all to share and participate in by making the city better.  And making Irving better was always at the top of Ben’s priority list.  

   There is no doubt his actions totally lacked egocentric motivation for personal achievement.

   His extremely active participation in the community reflected leadership roles in the Irving Rotary Club — especially the youth exchange program; leadership of the Irving Chamber of Commerce; elected member of the Board of Trustees for the Irving ISD; charter member of the Irving Junto gathering; as well as leadership and financially supporting major activities of the Salvation Army and Irving Hospital Foundation which benefitted greatly from his measured, informed and temperamental approach brought to the table for all his community service.

   Not one to enjoy or participate in verbal confrontations or heated rhetoric (especially political), his genial "siting on the middle of the fence" seemed to be a guide — regarding topics of the day — for those espousing unsubstantiated spin or ridiculous dogmatic points of view.  Ben believed fact should super-cede emotional rationalization.  His approach to differing points of view often included the art of compromise to achieve win/win situations for those involved.

   An avid reader, world traveler, collector (probably boarding on hoarding specific classes of items), community participant and advocate, and friend to many, Ben was an uncommon element among the common, upper echelon, or the kids of those parents who knew him.

   His intellect never failed.  His experience base and approachable personality were always welcomed as he could espouse on nearly any topic hitting the table, or articulate on perspectives being considered by the city.

   While his physical heath severely deteriorated and prevented him from celebrating his 90th birthday with his coffee shop gathering on July 2, 2016, he followed the tradition he initiated many years ago — buying breakfast for all those at the table.  Ben believed this minor celebration and marking of a life’s milestone was just one way to express his support for those who believed in active community participation…regardless of paths chosen.

   Another remarkable individual which Ben admired was Benjamin Franklin.  And Franklin probably represents the essence of what Ben Thomas was all about when Franklin stated: "Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones."

   With Ben Thomas, the only bad habit staff of the CCR was aware of was his daily ritual of eating a pecan waffle for breakfast.  But Ben, like those who manage to overcome bad habits, did find a substitute.  Ben finally effected change (mainly due to the gatherings at a new coffee shop location) and reverted to — two eggs over easy…much like he paced his life and service to Irving.

   You get to know someone after having early morning coffee and conversation with them for 39-years.  And while Ben offered advice and counsel, he also recognized reality.  One of his chunks of wisdom imparted one morning was: "I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me." (Maya Angelou)

   Perhaps, this is the essence of Dr. Ben Thomas.  A good man with good skills and the philosophical intellect to advocate what was right, required change, or would better serve Irving…but in a genteel way.

   Staff of the CCR sends their condolences to Bobbie and Ben’s family and friends.  Their loss is Irving’s loss. 

   And sadly, this closes another chapter of remarkable community and public service pride rarely witnessed in ‘beautiful downtown Irving’ today.

…………………………………Mark Holbrook