With this blog posting, allow us to toot our own horn. And provide a bit of information for those new to the Controversial Committee Report and its “‘cat kicking” mission.
……..from: the Dallas Morning News, Brandon Formby, January 14, 2011
Former Irving councilman has spent decades criticizing powers-that-be
One of Irving's longest-running political publications has made the leap online. The Controversial Committee Report for years has been an opinion-laden newsletter mailed to residents interested in the goings-on at City Hall and within the city's political circles. The commentary is written by Mark Holbrook, a pen name for former City Council member Mike Howard.
Howard served on the council for four years in the 1980s. But since leaving the dais, he hasn't kept his thoughts about city governance to himself. On the occasion of the CCR's leap to the Internet, I asked him to share some background on his decades-long skewering and roasting of the powers-that-be. (The CCR's tagline is "We don't raise sacred cows... we just butcher them.")
Howard on how the Controversial Committee Report got starts:
The CCR started in the Irving Rotary Club as an oral report by Leo Jackson. When I started writing the club's weekly bulletin, The Blade, the report was printed. I started publishing the reports for distribution at the club after I stopped writing the club's bulletin.
On finding a wider audience:
While serving on the council (four years total), I was very uncomfortable with folks sometimes voting for issues for all the wrong reasons. Since politicos really don't like adverse exposure, I received an okay from the owner, Jim Widener, of the local paper, The Journal, to publish "cat kicking" essays or opinion pieces regarding city business using the pen name Mark Holbrook. The early opines "kicked cats" and let the politicos know someone was watching over their collective shoulders.
On the penname:
The name is a combination of Mark Twain and Hal Holbrook who played Twain on the stage. Name was chosen because Widener and I were both Twain fans.
On the newsletter:
I had developed a mailing list and was "selling" the monthly reports for $10/year subscription price. The report continued in this fashion (losing money, I might add) until I retired from the DCCCD. Then, I took a few years off from writing the reports.
When I returned to writing the reports (again due to local politics), I just mailed copies to my old list of "subscribers" and any new folks who wanted to receive a copy free of charge. The expense again was significant, so that's why I went to issuing the reports via the Internet late last year, 2010. I still have a very small list of folks (older sorts) who do not even own a computer, so I mail them a copy.
On expanding the CCR brand:
Since going "viral," I have expanded the volume of tripe that is published. The CCR is still the mainstay and published once per month. The ZAP! was instituted to get word out to folks in a timely manner should they desire to participate in the political process or the issue before them. The blog was recently started to allow folks to respond to items that I have posted in the reports. The blog also allows me to pose questions for others to consider and respond to.