Political Wonk, Charity Ronin & Oracle Hack

With all of the Buffoonery He allows, God must have a great sense of humor.

Contemplations of a Run for City Council

Posted by Mike O on January 28, 2011

As various candidates for city council come to me (as if I’m some sort of Tea Party equivalent to the Godfather- I’m not, folks!)  and, with my previous dealings with the Plano Council, one significant question arises:

Is there no place for someone who is merely representing the average Taxpayer?

Each candidate I have met, many of them very good people, represents some interests that are not the norm for 80% or more of the city.  A large number of them are either professionally or personally involved in local real estate (other than their domicile).  Others are involved in the legal profession, often in areas dealing with the city and zoning.  And these professional, financial involvements- with all of their related social networks- cannot help but influence their viewpoints and decisions.  They deal vastly more day-to-day with those whose profession revolves around the city decisions than their tax statements- and not just as a councilperson.

And then there are the hoops that such candidates are expected to jump through; the ‘leadership training’, service on various volunteer committees, the Chamber lunches, and the like.  Yes, educational and they establish working relationships, but also are intended to ‘mold the potential candidate, to start them down the path of ‘thinking like the rest of us’.  The upside of that approach for most is far greater than the downside.  The city is pretty well served by many who have gone this route.

But is the city served best if these are the only voices heard, the only experiences represented on the Council?  Is the City of Plano served best by vote after vote that is 8-0 (or 7-0 because of someone’s conflict?)  Is the continuing rubber-stamping of whatever passes through the City Manager’s hands really the best thing for the citizens?

There is no question that Tom Muehlenbeck has done a pretty good job overall, but questions must arise, simply because someone who has so long held the position will inevitably develop a rigidity of thought that may not see things from any perspective except the past (which- in Plano- has been filled with ever-growing economic growth and such growth can cover a LOT of managerial sins).  The fact that the ‘found’ $5 million suddenly in last year’s budget cycle should have certainly caused more than offline grumbling by council members.  It should have gotten people significant downwind from Tom up before the council to adequately explain this.

And, with a new City Manager in the offing, it won’t serve the City well to only hear the people shaped by the ‘Muhlenbeck’ experiences with the city, as the high-growth phases gears down somewhat through the normal lifecycle of a suburb.

I guess Ben Harris can be thanked (more likely cursed) for setting my decision in motion.  I decided to visit the Council meeting on one of their more typical days.  Ben came up to me and said: ‘What are you doing here?  We’re not spending any money.”  My response was “You’ve got the lights on, don’t you?  You’re spending money.”  However, while I watched the meeting and reviewed the agenda, I added up  what was there and informed Ben at the end of that meeting, they had spent $1.27 million at that meeting.  He was taken aback by that; it was all routine stuff, so his viewpoint was they weren’t ‘spending any money’. But that amount represented the tax payments of over 1,000 houses just like mine and need to be thought about.  That is the mindset that is troubling at City Hall.

So I have the paperwork to file and I contemplate my options. Three of the four slots I am qualified to run in; let’s see where this all leads.

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7 Responses to “Contemplations of a Run for City Council”

  1. Tim Trylovich said

    Mike,
    Excellent idea. I only hope that running for council, and potentially winning, would not take you away from the outstanding job you are doing for the Tea Party. We need your experience in both places, so if you can handle both, go for it!

  2. Q COLEMAN said

    don’t get side-tracked on a battle. You have teh ability to lead a war. Patience,’Grasshopper’.

  3. Mike O said

    That’s the problem, Tim; I couldn’t do both and that’s the biggest part of the calculation. Is this race worth giving up the biggest part of the Tea Party work

  4. Rosalie said

    I vote “NO” because what you are doing for the Tea Party is critical and you already stated that you “couldn’t do both”, lead the Tea Party and serve on the concil. We all know that you would serve the community and not special interests as a member of the council but you need to remember what you told you son to do if you ever ran for office.

  5. Greg said

    I agree with Rosalie and remeber what your son will do!

  6. Mike O said

    😀 😀 True Greg & Rosalie (Don’t know if Alan has gone shopping yet, since he usually uses mine at the range). More worried about the wife and her meat cleaver when she gets back from Taiwan 😀 .

    Two opposing conditions here: the need for the average JOE to have city representation and my effectiveness within the Tea Party structure. There are others that could step up in the Tea Party to fill in but most of those people are saying the same thing Greg and Rosalie are saying.

  7. Rick said

    Whatever you decide to do be sure to prayerfully consider it an be sure your family is 100%behind the decision. Since Plano has its issues but is not in dire straits at this momentI believe you would better serve your country through the teaparty. It is growing across the country and will get huge after the debt and fiscal collapse radically change this country. I believe that is the time you set your sights on bigger fish with the teaparty behind you 100%.

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