Catching up... There was a Richardson City Council candidate forum on March 31, 2015, at the Canyon Creek Baptist Church hosted by the Richardson Republican Women and the North Texas Republicans. The video of that forum is now available on YouTube (h/t to the unidentified party who recorded it). I wasn't in attendance, but I did watch the video. Two questions caught my attention.
Actually three questions. The first is my own question, not one asked at the forum. Where was Claudia Tatum? She told the Highland/Terrace Neighborhood Association Forum, "I go where they tell me to go. I have a consultant." Why isn't she her own candidate? Why did that consultant not tell her to face the voters in this forum? OK, I know that's two more questions...for a total of four if I add them to the two asked at the forum that originally caught my attention... Moving on...
OK, back to the two questions asked at the forum.
Q. Plano passed an ordinance extending legal protections to LGBT people in employment, housing, and public accommodations. What position should Richardson take in response to "vocal minorities"?
Before I get to the candidates' answers, I have to ask: "vocal" minorities? Really? Is that the problem, that minorities are "vocal," not that they are discriminated against?
Bob Townsend said he hasn't thought about it. Really? This ordinance was the most controversial action taken by the City of Plano in the current term. For a Richardson City Council member not to have given this any thought boggles the mind. At the least, it shows that we should not expect Townsend to be proactive about protecting Richardson citizens from discrimination. Or maybe Townsend is dodging the question to avoid taking a public position on a controversial subject. That's not much better, in my opinion. Take a stand.
Mabel Simpson said there doesn't need to be a law to fix everything. If you are discriminated against, take it up with the person or business doing the discrimination and work something out. Right. Tell that to the LGBT person who is fired for being gay. Tell that to the LGBT person who is denied service in a restaurant or store or hotel because of his or her sexual orientation. Would Mabel give the same answer to a woman who is a victim of sexual discrimination? Or an African-American who is a victim of racial discrimination? Or a Jew who is a victim of religious discrimination? Take it up with the bigot doing the discriminating? Wrong answer, Mabel. Sometimes laws are exactly what's needed to protect human rights for all.
Rick Wilder said he's a Christian but he's also human. He likes to let his neighbors make the decision about their lives and their lifestyles all by themselves. So far, so good, Rick. Then Wilder says if this came before the council, there's going to be a lot of hard thinking. Wrong answer, Rick. Why does it require hard thinking to insist that people not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, any more than it requires hard thinking to be against discrimination on the basis of sex, race or religion? You know the right answer, Rick. You opened with it. Don't hope to avoid it when you are on the council. Promise to bring the matter before the council yourself. It's the right thing to do.
Q. The City of Irving recently passed a resolution supporting the bill in the Texas legislature for American law for American courts. Would you be in favor of passing the same kind of resolution?
Rick Wilder says resolutions are fine but carry no weight. He's right about that. He sympathizes but he doesn't think a city council has to come up with a resolution that its residents haven't given you. WTF, Rick? You sympathize? You do know you're sympathizing with a desire in Irving to forbid mosques (and, inadvertently, churches and synagogues) from offering voluntary mediation services because those services would consider religious law? Providing such services in Irving is what triggered this resolution in the first place. Does all it take for you to be on board with such a resolution is that residents ask you to pass such a resolution? Wrong answer, Rick.
Mabel Simpson said there are jurisdictional limits for a reason. When you start crossing the line, it's going to fall on deaf ears. Irving is crossing the line when the city starts deliberating legislation for the State of Texas. So far, so good, Mabel. Simpson also knows (she's a lawyer) that American courts already follow American law. No new law is needed to achieve that. What triggered the Irving resolution was not what's happening in American courts, but what's happening in a mosque in Dallas. That mosque offers voluntary mediation services, separate from the legal system, for civil disputes. Irving residents wrongly equate that with Shariah law being imposed on the city of Irving in the courts. Simpson is the candidate in the best position (she's a lawyer) to explain this distinction to voters. Instead, she went off on a tangent, sounding like she sympathizes with Irving's misguided citizens. Simpson said, "You come from another country, you're going to follow these laws. I don't care where you come from, when you're in Rome, you do as Romans do." No one is asking otherwise as far as the courts go. But, here in "Rome," use of voluntary mediation services in churches and synagogues has a long and non-controversial history. "Roman" Catholic Americans have been doing that since about the time the US Constitution guaranteed religious freedom. But when Simpson hears of mosques offering similar voluntary services, suddenly she is concerned that people aren't doing as "Romans" do? Wrong answer, counselor Simpson.
Bob Townsend said he would not support any resolution like Irving passed. He thinks American law should be the only law. WTF, Bob? Irving's resolution called for that, so don't you mean you *would* support it? But if you really do mean you would not support it because Irving's resolution is aimed at religious discrimination against Muslims, then say so, in so many words. Based on your seemingly contradictory statements, I can't tell where you stand.
It's going to be hard to decide how to vote. Everyone is falling over themselves trying to disqualify themselves. Maybe that's because they were tailoring their answers to the Richardson Republican Women and the North Texas Republicans. I hope that doesn't explain it. Pandering is another disqualifier. In case anyone thinks Claudia Tatum's absence helps her in comparison to the other candidates' unsatisfactory answers, think again. Declining to face voters' questions in a public forum is yet another disqualifier.