My Dog In This Hunt.
After I wrote my last Addison blog, I was asked if I had a dog in the hunt? Thank you for asking, for I surely do. I grew up in Farmers Branch and went through high school in Carrollton. Addison and Coppell were part of my hometown. Two of my classmates worked for Addison. I did consulting work for Addison when it was just about to burst into a thriving employment center. Even before Ron Whitehead, the City Manager for 32 years, got there – just as you could see building cranes in all directions. I attended staff retreats in those early years.
I handled the search process when the very professional Randy Moravec came on board as finance director for over two decades. My son graduated from Trinity Christian Academy in Addison, and my wife worked at TCA for over a decade. We spent thousands of dollars in Addison restaurants when we moved to Carrollton just on the edge of Addison for 14 years. Lastly, I was a charter member and treasurer of the Addison Noonday Rotary Club until we moved to McKinney.
So, yes, I have have a dog in the hunt.
Even without that direct connection with Addison, it is hard for me to not get riled when the city management profession is being attacked. Worse, when there is a vicious attack with a companion action to thwart a defense. And then the ultimate insult, a news media that publicizes the attacks while being strangely silent regarding the attempt to respond and expose the political motivation behind the attacks. Especially when the entire political process is being orchestrated to manipulate an election process.
What explanation could one use in a case like this? The mayor and council hire an outside forensic auditor with no apparent specific scope of work. The auditor bills $125,000 and produces nothing of substance that anybody can examine. In a simply weird council meeting held on April 22, 2014, it is clear to see on this video that the City Council itself is generally confused and clueless about what is about to happen. There are two firms (Kanter Financial Forensics, LLC and Gradient Solutions Corporation) being hired to do what one councilmember says sounds like the same work. The Mayor demonstrates how he is trying to sound balanced but is manipulating the Council. The more you watch him, the more you have to give him credit for being a master manipulator.
Jump ahead to October 28, 2014 where Larry Kanter and the Mayor are trying to sound professional, but what is suspected becomes reality as this is all about taking a shot at the current and past city managers. If a new media person unaware of the Kanter/Meier saga just came on board in 2015, for instance, they could track this story and, most importantly see how it unfolds in meetings that are held on April 8, 2014; April 22, 2014; June 10, 2014; August 12, 2014; October 28, 2014; November 11, 2014; and then January 13, 2015.
If an alert reporter knew the history or spent the time learning the history, he or she would have fallen out of their seat to learn that the forensic auditor topic popped up again on February 23, 2016. What the hell! This presentation is an assassination attempt on the former city managers. Listen to Kanter’s choice of words and the tone of the delivery. It is a reading of charges before the Guillotine blade drops. Mr. Kanter is not wearing an executioner’s hood, but he should have been so his dress matched his voice.
Ron Whitehead is not there. Lea Dunn is not there. But this is where it gets interesting. This disconnect in the timing of Mr. Kanter’s presentation coincides with an election coming up where there might be some candidates who would view the previous city managers more favorably and Mayor Meier’s antics less so. The newspaper reporter in attendance or writing a story from watching the video would have to have a finger in his or her nose to miss this artful but poor theatrical buffoonery.
So 13 months go by without a council update and now this gotcha comes just a few weeks before an election. Give me a break. Are the citizens of Addison so imperceptive that they can’t see what’s happening?
So what is one to do? You do an Open Records Request to try to get details of Mr. Kanter’s findings. Your ORR also includes wanting to see copies of invoices to understand how much new work was performed by Mr. Kanter between the last report and the most recent report. That would help evaluate the validity and severity of Mr. Kanter’s findings. Those are critical pieces of information. I included those items in my own ORR to Addison.
I had heard from Sue Halpern on her blog about how she was trying to get that information and was being blocked. Ms. Halpern is not a local gadfly. She is a former councilmember and is a lawyer. Audit workpaper exceptions where shoved in Ms. Halpern’s face. Attorney-client privileges were being claimed.
I received a letter from Addison on Saturday, March 26, 2016 dated March 22 on my own ORR. They are stalling me. Surprise, surprise!
I asked for a copy of all reports provided to the Town Council by Larry Kantor regarding the publicized forensic audit. The Town wants clarification. Do I want drafts or final reports? What part of “all” is confusing or needs clarification?
I asked for any campaign reports showing any financial contributions by Larry Kanter to any Council Member. The Town wants me to clarify which councilmember term I am requesting? Well, of course, I was talking about the council of 1952!
I asked for the standard Conflict of Interest form provided by Larry Kanter. The Town has informed me they don’t have such a document.
On my other two items, a copy of the agreement with Larry Kanter and copies of invoices, the Town has asked that I clarify if I am asking for any information in those two requests that are attorney-client privileged or anything that would require AG authorization. They didn’t think that dumb question through very well.
You can’t make up this kind of stuff!
This sure seems to me that the election process is being manipulated in the most egregious sense I can recall ever seeing. I think this is a FBI matter or at least something the state or federal elections or ethics commissions need to investigate. There is something very wrong going on in Addison. And the news media is either cooperating or sound asleep! LFM