Thursday, March 3, 2011

Richardson City Council Races Heat Up

Kinda. Sorta. We don't have any new officially-filed candidates, but the agitators are beginning to stir. In a move eagerly anticipated by many (and by many, I mean me), the Richardson Citizens Alliance launched a website this week.

After the jump, what we can learn about the Alliance from their own words.

Who is the Richardson Citizens Alliance, many are asking (and again by many, I mean me). Judging by their website, it's a group of Richardson citizens (and by group, I mean at least one person) who are very shy. No names are listed anywhere that I saw. Maybe I could track some names down (an address is given in the footer and I remember an interview with some of the people behind the Alliance in The Dallas Morning News), but why the anonymity on the website? As it is, the website has the feel of the anonymous criticism that's all too common on the Internet.

What are the Alliance's goals? They seek a return to the "vibrant community Richardson once was" -- with "booming businesses" like Richardson Square Mall and movie theaters (maybe like the one on East Belt Line Road converted long ago into FunAsiA, which is still a movie theater, but maybe not showing the kind of movies patronized by members of the Alliance). The Alliance also bemoans the lack of grocery stores, which mostly left Richardson because the city was slow to allow beer and wine sales (the Alliance is silent on where members stood on that issue back in the good old days they want to restore).

How does the Alliance propose to accomplish their goals? They say they are "a-political" but everything else indicates their plan is to elect a new city council. The last time I looked that is a political undertaking. At the bottom of the page where they claim to be "a-political", there's a footer saying the website is "Political Advertising."

What kind of candidates is the Alliance likely to look for? Backward looking, apparently. It's like the council election of 2009 and the 2009-2011 council term never happened. The Alliance's slogan is "Transparency and Fiscal Responsibility For Richardson," which harkens back to the campaign issues in the election of 2009. In the 2009-2011 council term, the city council began televising city council meetings, adopted a code of ethics, and put the city's check register online. The fiscal responsibility part of the Alliance's slogan harkens back to the bond election of 2010. The Alliance says it formed only after dissatisfaction with the voters' decision in the 2010 bond election to approve the issuance of bonds to pay for street and alley repair, a new fire station, parks, a rec center and a swimming pool. Apparently, the Alliance's love of what Richardson once was translates into a desire to stick with Richardson's decades-old infrastructure.

The Alliance hopes to "once again be extremely proud" to call Richardson home, which implies they aren't currently proud to call Richardson home. Their website, top to bottom, pretty much contradicts their claim that they are "positive, optimistic, and forward-thinking people." They trash the city council (accusing members of having "deaf ears"). They trash their political opponents (accusing them of telling "slick half-truths"). They are even condescending to their neighbors with different opinions about what's best for Richardson (saying voters didn't fully understand what they voted for in 2010).

A word of advice to candidates: if you want to project a positive, optimistic, forward-looking image, steer clear of an endorsement by the Richardson Citizens Alliance.

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