Monday, July 25, 2011

Elections Have Consequences

The mayor won the election. Elections have consequences. A revealing exchange of emails was published this weekend on David Chenoweth's blog that shows how this old rule is playing out in Richardson and how some don't like it.

The first email is a personal email from Richardson's new mayor Bob Townsend to City Plan Commission member Jim Henderson. The mayor informed Henderson that he will not be supporting him for reappointment to the Plan Commission. The mayor gives no reason. The short email reads like a courtesy email intended to ensure that Henderson learns of the decision directly from the mayor himself.

The second email is the response by Henderson, in which he suggests that the mayor's decision is politically motivated.

Then a former candidate for city council, Bill Denton, comments. The mayor is accused of acting in "your vendictive [sic] ways when someone crosses you."

After the jump, the emails.

From: [address redacted]
Subject: City Plan Commission
To: James Henderson
Date: Friday, July 22, 2011, 11:01 AM

Jim -

There is an item on the City Council July 25, 2011 agenda to consider appointments to the City Plan Commission and other boards and commissions. These appointments are to be effective immediately. This email is to let you know that another citizen is being considered for the position you hold on the City Plan Commission. I can not speak for the other councilpersons but I will be voting to approve that appointment.

Bob Townsend

From: James Henderson
Subject: Re: City Plan Commission
To: [address redacted]
Date: Friday, July 22, 2011, 4:22 PM


I consider the information as a disappointment although confirming my thoughts about your feelings about my commitment for the better things for the City of Richardson.

I will be sharing this information with my friends and neighbors as I feel they will likewise be disappointed and that it is in no way linked to a term limit on my being on the City Plan Commission. I am proud of the time and effort I have served on the commission.

I recall your challenge several years ago on the rearrangement of council districts, that challenge being made to the then councilman Tom Rohm, when he stated that the realignment was not a political move in a public meeting.

I would hope that your decision is not politically motivated as that of Tom Rohm's.

Jim Henderson

Bob...You place individuals on boards and commissions that you think will do their best to make our city better. Your email to Jim Henderson troubles me greatly. I have known Jim for 31 years and found him to be a true friend and someone that only wants the best for Richrdson. If an agenda item will make our city better he will vote yes. If it will not, he votes no with very good and sound reasons. Can you give me good and sound reasons for your email in voting against Jim to continue as a member of the Planning Commission? Would it be that Jim doesn't vote the way the city wants him to vote? He doesn't vote to benefit any individual or individuals. Jim votes for the citizens and our city.

I look forward to your response to this comment, though I doubt you will respond because I firmly believe you can't come up with one reason other than your vendictive ways when somone crosses you. I only wish there were more Jim Henderson's out there. This would be an even better city if there were.

Incidentally, I don't need Margaret to respond. Her name is not Bob.

Bill Denton
July 23, 2011 10:21 AM

I can't confirm the authenticity of these emails, but I have no reason to doubt them.

Incumbent commission members don't have a right to be reappointed to their positions in perpetuity. Members of the city council have the duty to exercise their own good judgment in making appointments. I would expect them to appoint commission members who share the council's vision for the future development of Richardson. Henderson's response suggests that he doesn't. His questioning of the mayor's motives suggests he doesn't have the temperament for the position, either. Denton's comments don't help Henderson in any way.

No matter who is appointed to the Plan Commission, Jim Henderson's prior service is gratefully acknowledged. Everyone should pledge to support the efforts of whomever is appointed for the next term.


mccalpin said...

You are correct, Mark, that actions have consequences.

There are probably two things that did Mr. Henderson in:
1. Being closely associated with the Richardson Citizens Alliance, a group that viciously attacked the City Council and City Manager's Office, usually with accusations that were false on their face. Aside from attending RCA meetings, Mr. Henderson also shows up in their campaign finance reports as having contributed food to an event.

2. While the vast majority of Plan Commission votes are unanimous, there were a handful of votes in the last two years where Mr. Henderson was the lone dissenting vote. That perhaps wouldn't have mattered so much if two of those votes hadn't been on the Spring Valley PD and the Bush Turnpike PD, the two biggest planning issues for the 2009-2011 Council. By those votes, Mr. Henderson showed that he was not on the same page as the City Council, which approved both measures by unanimous votes.

The email attributed to Bill Denton is not surprising. Bill Denton starred in the famous three and a half minute video that tried to describe Richardson as a cesspool of corruption and that, among other things, falsely stated that the City had laid off police officers - as you yourself have previously noted.

Had Mr. Henderson not been so open in his support of the RCA and had the RCA - specifically, Mac McDowell, David Chenoweth, and Bill Denton - not made their attacks so bitterly personal, the Council may have been inclined to look the other way on Mr. Henderson's occasional dissenting vote. But when you combine his opposition to two of the biggest planning issues for the Council in the last two years with his unfortunate active participation with a group whose founders showed no sense of shame or decency in their public statements, well, no one can be surprised that Mr. Henderson would not be reappointed to the Plan Commission.

After all, does anyone seriously think that if the RCA candidates would have won a majority of Council seats, that there wouldn't have been a wholesale purge on the City's boards and commissions?


Mark Steger said...

At Monday night's City Council meeting, Tom Maxwell, Jr., was appointed to the City Plan Commission, replacing Jim Henderson. Ian McCann has the story in The Dallas Morning News.