Mayor John Harper vs The World

Mayor John Harper vs The World

Today, March 19, 2011, I saw something take place in the City of Rowlett, Texas that I would not have believed possible had I not witnessed it with my own eyes.

Today the Rowlett TEA Party sponsored a meeting held at the Rowlett Public Library that was, primarily, a pulpit for the Rowlett Mayor, Dr. John Harper, to rally support for his argument regarding the City budget, retirement, pensions and so forth.

That’s all well and good, Mayor Harper has every right to attempt to garner support for his position, but the fact of the matter is this, the Rowlett City Council consists of 7 members, of which Mayor Harper is only ONE. If Mayor Harper is out-voted, that’s the way the political ball bounces. Not everyone agrees with MY posts all the time, the Mayor isn’t going to have line item, carte blanche approval either. An elected democracy doesn’t work that way.

Mayor Harper was extremely upset when he got to the library to do his presentation and there were 5 of the other Council members already present.

These Council members were there in the capacity of a PRIVATE citizen. This was a PUBLIC meeting, one put on by the Rowlett TEA Party, and assumed to be open to everyone.

According to Mayor Harper, apparently not.

Mayor Harper contended that by those Councilmen being there, it constituted a quorum, and as such, was not allowed to happen. Mayor Harper was very rude in his insistence that the Council members leave the room and he refused to acknowledge, or even peruse the rules regarding meetings and quorums as stated below.

The definition of a MEETING: Tex Govt Code, Sec. 551.001.(4)

(4) “Meeting” means:

(A) a deliberation between a quorum of a governmental body, or between a quorum of a governmental body and another person, during which public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control is discussed or considered or during which the governmental body takes formal action; or

(B) except as otherwise provided by this subdivision, a gathering:
(i) that is conducted by the governmental body or for which the governmental body is responsible;
(ii) at which a quorum of members of the governmental body is present;
(iii) that has been called by the governmental body; and
(iv) at which the members receive information from, give information to, ask questions of, or receive questions from any third person, including an employee of the governmental body, about the public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control.

The term does not include the gathering of a quorum of a governmental body at a social function unrelated to the public business that is conducted by the body, or the attendance by a quorum of a governmental body at a regional, state, or national convention or workshop, if formal action is not taken and any discussion of public business is incidental to the social function, convention, or workshop. The term includes a session of a governmental body.

(5) “Open” means open to the public.

(6) “Quorum” means a majority of a governmental body, unless defined differently by applicable law or rule or the charter of the governmental body. SOURCE

Today Mayor Harper embarrassed himself in front of a lot of people. He may not KNOW that he did, he may not accept that into fact, but he DID embarrass himself, and cost himself quite a bit of political capital in the process.

Simply put, Mayor Harper basically told our City Council that they couldn’t attend a PUBLIC event as PRIVATE citizens.

Mayor Harper also made a special point of acknowledging his invited guests from the Rockwall TEA Party. Mayor Harper is the Mayor of Rowlett, Texas and has burned his bridges here in Rowlett to the point that he had to call in support from another city.

This is my letter to the Mayor, composed on March 16, and it was also submitted to our local paper. I don’t know if they will publish it, but I will.

I had originally planned to read this to Mayor Harper in the meeting, but the temperature of the room was already elevated, I didn’t want to cause a complete blow-out in public.

Mr. Mayor, might I ask you a couple of questions and make a couple of statements?

1st, you are the Mayor of Rowlett. WHY then are you calling in support from the Rockwall Republican Men’s Club, aka: The Rockwall TEA Party? They ARE one in the same. Why do you feel that they need to support you as you address an issue that is Rowlett specific?

On Facebook, on the Rowlett TEA Party page, you said, “John White and my Rockwall friends…thank you for your support!

Who’s Mayor are you Sir? The City of Rowlett or Rockwall?

2nd, you also said, “I am being attacked! Do not let the RINO’s defeat me…and you!”

You’re being attacked? By RINOs? I beg to differ Sir.

The Rowlett City Council is a duly elected political body that is, to MY understanding, a NON-partisan group, as is, supposedly, The TEA Party. Not in Rockwall maybe, but assumed to be a NON-partisan group as a whole.

Has the Rowlett City Council been deemed to be a Republican group? Have they become Bi-partisan and the residents of Rowlett kept unaware? Otherwise, the RINO remark makes NO sense at all.

Republican In Name Only? That’s what RINO stands for. I voted for non-partisan representation, not Democratic, Republican, Libertarian or any other specific political party. I support Conservatism, not dictatorial badgering.

Our Council is comprised of 7 elected members, just because the majority of the Council disagrees with you doesn’t mean you’re under attack Sir, it means that they have a different opinion, and maybe, just maybe, THEY are the ones you need to persuade, not the Rockwall Republican Men’s Club.

My old Cajun grandmother used to tell us, ‘you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar’, vinegar translates to vitriol and anger.

Mr. Mayor, there has been far too much anger and denigration of your fellow Council members and certain City employees. Maybe it’s time to work together and realize that if the majority votes FOR a certain issue, and only one or two don’t, well, this is a Council, and in America, it’s still supposed to be *majority rules*…

That is democracy in action!

I’m not the only one that is upset with Mayor Harper for his calling in forces NOT from Rowlett. I’m not sure if the gravity of that action has settled in on some of the Rowlett TEA Party members or the citizens of Rowlett that attended the event today.

I had long heard rumors that our Mayor was a wannabe dictator, in private. That is certainly not the image he had projected in public.

Until today…

I have been a longtime supporter of Mayor Harper, I have admired him, even when I heard the stories from our Police and Fire Fighters about how and why they disliked him so much. I was convinced that it was just a disagreement on position.

I felt the same way when I heard rumblings about dictatorial behavior in Council work sessions, but again, I wrote it off to a disagreement on position and I assumed it would be settled in the way political disagreements were intended to be settled, with a vote, and a majority rule decision, a we won this round, better luck next time scenario.

Apparently that’s not the case either.

Rumors float that Mayor Harper has stated, basically, that the entire Council is ‘out to get him’ and has turned against him, and that if he doesn’t get a result in the rapidly approaching election of council members that gives him the votes he needs to control the council, he will resign.

That may be the best thing to ever happen, because, you see, after the meeting today I overheard some Rowlett citizens talking about the need to launch a recall petition, against Mayor Harper.

That may be something to look at if enough citizens show an interest.

EDIT TO ADD 21:37:12: My email has lit up tonight, opinions from several Rowlett citizens, none of them are coming in favoring the Mayor.

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8 Responses to Mayor John Harper vs The World

  1. GM Roper says:

    Fred, it takes all kinds to make a republic. Fortunately this guy isn’t going to be a major part of the power brokers.

    And what’s this I heard about not everyone always agreeing with you? Balderdash! :P

  2. TexasFred says:

    GM — I know, hard to imagine isn’t it… LMAO :P

  3. W W Woodward says:

    In addition to the exemption you cited as it concerns social functions, works shops, and conventions, the gathering you described does not constitute a “Meeting” under the open meetings act under:

    (4)(A) if the quorum of the governmental body did not deliberate on matters concerning public business or public policy among themselves or between the quorum and another person. Key word being; “deliberate”.

    (4)(B) is also not applicable unless ALL four of the conditions (i) (ii) (iii) AND (iv)as the gathering you described (i) was NOT conducted by NOR was the government body responsible for the gathering, (ii)There WAS a quorum present, however the gathering was NOT (iii)called by the Governmental body in question. You do not indicate whether the members of the quorum received information from, gave information to, asked questions of, or received questions from any third person, including an employee of the governmental body, about the public business or public policy over which the governmental body has supervision or control. However, the word “and” requires ALL four conditions to be present and it’s pretty obvious that, at the most, only two conditions that would constitute a “meeting” were met. Key word being, “AND”.

    It’s also pretty obvious that the mayor didn’t do his homework and when caught with his pants down and one of the goat’s hind legs in his grasp decided to try to bullsh** his way out of an embarrassing situation.

    [W3]

  4. TexasFred says:

    Woody — Exactly right, and Councilman Kilgore did everything in his power to point that out to Mayor Harper, but the Mayor was having NONE of it..

    I had been told, on numerous occasions, that Mayor Harper engaged in *my way or the highway* bullying and browbeating, but I had never seen it displayed 1st hand…

    Until now…

    I was astounded, to say the least…

    I was terribly disappointed, I saw it ALL come together, citation for and of every accusation I had heard, and I saw his credibility leave the room, I watched as a man that I had admired greatly shot himself in the foot politically, and there was nothing I could do or say…

  5. TexasFred says:

    The below, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a video of the Mayor of Rowlett, John Harper, at the TEA Party meeting, arguing with Council Kilgore about a *quorum* and then immediately launching an attack against Councilman Michael Gallops, saying the Michael is “either a fool or foolish”…

    Mayor Harper engaged in that kind of behavior in what HE called a City business meeting…

    I am sorry to say that the quality of the video AND audio is less than desirable, but I didn’t shoot the footage, it was posted on the Rowlett TEA Party site and I copied the embed code and presented it exactly as they posted it…

    Now, the question begs to be asked, WHY did the Rowlett TEA Party allow Mayor Harper to conduct a City BUSINESS meeting under their banner? Also, why did Rowlett TEA Party president Jerry Berggren allow Mayor Harper to force his will on Council members that were in attendance, as GUESTS, as private citizens, at what was BILLED as a TEA Party meeting where OUR Mayor was a guest speaker?

    If this truly was a City business meeting, of sorts, as Mayor Harper indicates, would it then not be the express obligation of Council members to attend so as to assure that the City was being represented properly?

    The TEA Party in Rowlett is no longer a fair and balanced, non-partisan group in MY opinion, and has, again, in MY opinion, become a wing of Mayor Harper’s platform…

  6. Steve Dennis says:

    Kicking out fellow councilmen and bringing in supporters from other cities sounds like a desperate act. He may have done himself in with this move from the sounds of it.

  7. Power corrupts, etc.

    Your mayor thinks it’s all personal, not policy-driven.

    BZ

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