Monday, June 20, 2011

CCR 06-19-11: Power Outage

the Controversial Committee Report

“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”



The Required Re-zoning of 825 W. Irving Blvd. from a Red Light District

Actually, the title of this tome is a little misleading. Gears did not single-handedly destroy Irving’s political system.

To give credit where credit is due (and release a little air from an over-inflated ego), Gears had two significant and willing accomplices: the reigning champion of political money-pimps, Billy Bob Barnett, and the Irving firemen’s union PAC. While Billy Bob basically financed both parties, the folks accepting his bucks knew their roles and the ultimate Herb Gears at any cost to Billy Bob.

In essence, it was actually money that led to the total blighting of Irving’s electoral process this campaign. Billy Bob and others in the Las Colinas Group’s stable only ensured that the pipeline to Gears was open and flowing at the speed of a green-back tsunami.

Gears’ actions during the mayoral campaign have made it nearly impossible for an average, independent, run-of-the-mill citizen -- with no political inroads to wealthy mucky-mucks -- to be elected in future local contests. Not only has he put the cost of running an election out of orbit, he has cemented the foundation for wealthy Politicats to name the game to be played.

How was all this possible? Well, does spending nearly $1 million on a mayoral campaign with probably 84% coming from one source sound like something most average citizens will ever be able to muster? (Note: Totals estimated until the final reports are filed.) Will all future candidates have to trek across Hwy 183 into the northern territories to kiss the rings of the powerful, rich and wish-they-were famous political money-pimps and special interest group chieftains?

When political “sugar daddies” and special interest groups rule local elections, does the common citizen even have a prayer at getting elected or their voice heard? Should all future candidates fill their campaign war chest with bucks from those who either have, or will have significant business dealings with the city? And no, these questions have little to do with attempting to restrict “freedom of speech” by establishing contribution limitations. The questions beg for there to be a recognition of ethics and arms length transparency in accepting campaign donations. Maybe, even honesty in filing campaign expense reports could be considered!

Let’s face facts. Gears acted and performed -- to Oscar standards -- as the greedy, money grubbing, sleazy conduit for the most obscene amount of bucks ever spent on an Irving political campaign. And since money was not a factor in his campaign, Gears used print, TV and any means possible to publicize his character assassinations, fabricated facts and gutter politics...all designed by a high priced Fort Worth consultant. Really: ”resume fraud,” “slumlord lawyer,” or Mickey Mouse ears on an opponent’s picture? These charges and depictions were not only misleading, but certainly false in many cases. Sadly, he knew this! However, all of his smoke-and-mirrors was designed to keep campaign-weary voters from questioning his condescending, flashy, spendthrift, tax evading and dismal record as mayor.

As mentioned, a major supporting role in Gears’ campaign of wrecking the local electoral process was played by the Irving firemen’s union PAC. It seems that they also hopped in bed with the Gears political money-pimps. The firemen’s union PAC provided the manpower to walk neighborhoods, plant campaign signs and work the polls for Gears. The funding they received, primarily from Billy Bob, was used to pay firemen and others to campaign on Gears’ behalf. While their work on the campaign should be considered an In-kind contribution to Gears, the staff of the CCR will have to wait for Gears’ final campaign reports to determine if this is noted and documented in his filings.

What seems to be ironical now that the election is over is that Billy Bob could have saved a lot of bucks. Instead of giving all of this money ($513,000 before the final report figures are known) to Gears and thousands to the Irving firemen’s union PAC to spend on sleazy brochures and newspaper ads or walking neighborhoods, Billy Bob could have just handed $100 to each registered voter and asked them to vote for Gears on election day. The effect would have been the same and the cost might have been considerably less on his part.

While voters recognized the perils of what Billy Bob Bucks could do to the office of the mayor, voters should now concentrate all their efforts to ensure that the monetary Red Light District created at city hall during this past campaign is extinguished. Only Gears’ lights were turned out by the final vote tally.

Irving government and the current elected officials shouldn’t become known as the Bunny Ranch of the Metroplex. And it remains to be seen if VanDuyne can really turn off any remaining Red Lights still flickering over the city hall entryway.

............Mark Holbrook