Saturday, June 14, 2008

EDITORIAL: In Defense of Our Publication

In response to our recent report of possible litigation from the City of Wilmer, the public and some syndication partners have expressed their support both financially and with professional referrals.

Comments on the blog have been quite supportive of our reporting. Comments from some citizens via telephone question our motives and methods as "nit picking". Our position remains that complete compliance with existing laws (statutes, codes, rules and ordinances) is the absolute minimal standard of ethical conduct for public officials and reiterate our pledge to report any and all occurrences that do not meet this minimal requirement. We continue to hope that one day our city will adopt a more rigorous standard of ethical conduct which includes avoiding the potential appearance of possible impropriety.

As we stand accused of misreporting this event, there are a number of facts in support of our article (Click Here to View) we hope our readers find relevant or informative:

The City of Wilmer and Dallas County have entered into a lease and maintenance agreement for the Cottonwood Creek Nature Preserve and Park which states:

"VII. The City shall perform and exercise all rights, duties, functions and services in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations."

Dallas County Code Chapter 50 governs Parks and Open Space areas:
Section 50-62 The park and open space administrator shall:
(13) Review and approve special access permits

Section 50-110 The county park and open space program shall be operated in accordance with all applicable state, federal, county and municipal rules, laws, policies ad procedures. (Ord. No. 99-2136)

Section 50-201 in no instance shall unauthorized motor vehicles, other than powered wheel chairs, be allowed onto county park/preserve property except within designated parking areas.

Section 50-201 (3) all special use requests for activities lasting no more than three days will be reviewed by the administrator.

Section 50-201 (4) Users whose special requests are approved by the county will be required to sign a use agreement prior to such use specifying among other things
a. the user will compensate the county for any damage...
b. when the use is for commercial purposes, the user will obtain a $1,000,000 liability/personal injury policy payable to the county; and
c.1. organizations desiring to rent a preserve for a function shall pay $250 per day or any part of a day;

Section 50-201 (5) Depending upon the proposed use, the county may require on-site security for appropriate crowd control and for the enforcement of provisions of this article.

Section 50-201 (6) The county reserves the right to deny any request for use of a county preserve which, in its opinion, may disrupt or hamper normal activity, offend public visitors, or endanger the preserve's natural integrity.

Section 50-201 (7) No alcoholic beverages or other intoxicants are allowed within a county preserve.

Section 50-241 Special use activities, which include, but are not limited to. the posting of signs, the exclusive use of a county preserve, or the use of a preserve in a manner that is different from which it was originally intended, and which will be conducted in a county preserve located within or managed by a municipality, shall be governed by these policies and by the policies of the municipality in which it is located.

Section 50-242 The county shall be notified of all income from the special use of a preserve located within and managed by a municipality. Such uses, which may include, but not be limited to, movie, television, or film use, and the fees charged for allowing such uses to occur must be approved in advance by the county. All such income is to be set aside by the city and county for future development and/or maintenance of the preserve.

Our article maintains that the required notification and approval of the special use permits were not applied for in advance, that funds were not committed to the county, that no special use agreement was received by the county and that no indemnification liability policy was received by the county, no use fee of $250 was collected and reported to the county. These facts were substantiated by the County prior to our publication.

Given these facts, we are left with the quandary of what aroused Mayor Hudson's ire. Perhaps it was the tone of our article and our characterization of the event as a "secret" "lobbying event" or "influence pedaling". About the same time the City of Wilmer came into existence, the "Hoosier poet" James Whitcomb Riley, wrote:
"When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."

Although we have yet to hear from City Attorney Bob Hager regarding any pending litigation, we have expressed our desire via email to avoid the court system and resolve whatever issues were raised by our reports. We continue to prepare to defend our first amendment rights against the spectre of official repression.

By now you may have noticed we have added a PayPal link for online donations to our legal defense fund. Please note these are not tax deductible. Presently, we have no other way of accepting monetary support and keeping an accurate accounting. If you'd like to express your non-monetary support (or not, please feel free to click on the comments link at the bottom of any posting and let us (and each other) know what you think. Thank you for continuing to engage our publication.


Anonymous said...

Again you have written a very investigated account of what took place on that day. If that were anyone else besides those council members that participated, we would have been charged with open containers or disorderly conduct or drunk in public. In case some of your readers don't know, the City has decided that the citizens of Wilmer can NO longer rent the Community Center. This center was build for the use of the community. They claim that people destroyed the center. If they (the City) would have collected the money that was to be received as a deposit towards any damage or if they had kept better track of the tables and chairs, maybe we would be allowed to use OUR facility. I remember a Hudson wedding, when they used the Gazebo and left all of the chairs outside, all night, never returning them to the center. Maybe this is why we can no longer rent the community center? So it would not surprise me that a Hudson was involved in this total disregard towards someone else's property. But, back to the issue. Those council members that allowed and support the use of beer drinking at the park should all be charged and handed a stiff fine. I would like to know how Commissioner John Wiley Price feels about this council and their total disregard for the laws and requirements of the County he represents.
Keep the reporting coming and continue to report the truth about these council members. You are doing the citizens of Wilmer a great service, even if they don't know it yet.

Editor Publisher said...

Thanks for your kind words of support.
Thanks also to the The Ellis County Observer and the Best Southwest Blog in the July 3 article at