Mayor Brandt Rydell and cohorts attack Taylor Councilman Robert Garcia and G21 car shows.
by Tom Mowdy
May 17, 2019, Taylor TX. -- Who hasn’t heard about G21, the frequent car show in Taylor, and Councilman Robert Garcia? G21 stands for “Giving in the 21st Century.”
G21 is not a business or non-profit. G21 is an event concept that has become a tradition in Taylor. It is one man, Councilman Garcia, with a car club contact list. Councilman Garcia coordinates with non-profit charities and agencies like the Williamson County Sheriff’s Victim Assistance Unit, to sponsor each G21 auto show event.
Councilman Robert Garcia - Taylor District 4
The charity or agency becomes an auto show benefactor and collects the registration fees. The car owners get to show their fantastic cars, the public sees and enjoys their work. Whatever is not their own expense becomes a financial benefit to the charity or agency. Taylor businesses benefit from the commercial traffic generated by the event. All, thanks to Councilman Garcia.
Councilman Garcia receives nothing more than the intrinsic reward of seeing the community and charities and public agencies come together, enjoy life, and help those in need at the same time. Many have been helped. That intrinsic reward is a treasure beyond count.
A Taylor G21 Car Show
Taylor Press Editor Jason Hennington and recently sworn-in Councilman Gerald Anderson both operate charitable organizations that have benefited from Councilman Garcia’s G21 passion. They know how G21 works.
G21 and Councilman Garcia became a political target at the May 9, 2019, Taylor City Council meeting. The reason he was targeted was because Garcia is a successful and admired Councilmember and in January 2017, he voted against Councilwoman Christine Lopez’s mowing business contract with the City.
The May 9, 2019, Council meeting attack scene was almost straight from George Orwell’s book, “1984.” The scene reminded me of the passage:
“O'Brien held up his left hand, its back towards Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended. 'How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?' 'And if the party says that it is not four but five — then how many?'
"The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it."
The attack started with agenda item 11, about clarifying the Taylor City Charter "qualification" prohibition against a Councilmember having a conflict of interest. The discussion quickly transitioned to Councilwoman Lopez claiming the Taylor City Charter never had any such restriction. She falsely stated:
"What has been debated on for the past three years was never voted on, was never a part of the charter and was not a part of anything within our charter or ethics that should have been taken into consideration."
Former District 1 Councilmember Christine Lopez
Neither the City Attorney or Mayor, both lawyers, offered any objection or correction to Lopez’s false public claim.
Even though, the City Attorney developed and signed the Taylor City Charter, and based on that Charter he forced Mayor Rod Hortenstine to resign for the exact same kind of business conflict of interest. A conflict as defined by Texas Government Code Section 171.002.
Now, incredibly, the City Attorney supports Lopez's false claim.
It reminded me of Orwell'S "1984," and I thought: “The party now says there is no conflict of interest in the Taylor City Charter and the Taylor Housing Authority is not part of Taylor.”
It reminded me of North Korea and the Soviet Union communist regimes. Very discomforting. Those regimes also deliberately misinformed their citizens to achieve whatever advantage was needed at the moment. "Komrads" who did not conform were purged. There is no accountability, to the citizens, in those kinds of government.
In fact, Section 4.2 of the Taylor City Charter disqualifies a Councilmember for having a substantial business entity Conflict of Interest. The provision is under “Qualifications” for City Officers. There are no provisions in the City Charter for waiver of any officer qualification. That means the Taylor Councilmember qualification requirements are absolute and cannot be waived by affidavit or any other means. Taylor citizens voted on and approved the Charter.
One might think Councilmen Drummond and Ariola would do their homework for the Council meeting by reading over the agenda packet and the actual wording in the City Charter. If they did, they ignored their research and any pretense of integrity and supported the surreal attack against Garcia.
The City Attorney, Ted Hejl, Mayor Brandt Rydell, and Councilmembers Drummond, and Ariola were hysterically backing Lopez’s claim that there was never anything addressing “Conflict of Interest” in the City Charter.
They supported the false claim that Councilman Garcia drug the whole community through three years of "Holy Hell" for no reason and implied he was a fool who damaged the community.
That whole scene was George Orwell’s “1984” in living color, in Taylor Texas. What is true is only what the “Party” says is true. We are there.
The conflict of interest issue is not new. There was no "fake" confusion when Taylor Mayor Hortenstine was forced to resign from the City Council for his "conflict of interest." That happened back in 2014. The Taylor City Attorney, Ted Hejl, said Hortenstine had to resign for "Conflict of Interest."
Mayor Hortenstine was forced to resign, by the City Attorney, for the exact same situation as Councilwoman Lopez. Both had a "substantial business entity conflict of interest," as defined by Texas law. Nothing about that Charter has changed since then.
After claiming Councilman Garcia did harmful things to the community, Councilman Dwayne Ariola continued the lie with a coward's attack. Ariola then asked the City Attorney to investigate Councilman Garcia for “Conflict of Interest.” Councilman Ariola was claiming Garcia’s work with G21 was a "Conflict of Interest."
Wait, wasn't Ariola on the side that claims there is no conflict of interest restriction in the Charter or ethics ordinance? Back to "1984."
Dwayne Ariola - Taylor Councilman at Large
There was some form of hysteria in that Council Chamber because all those who were there to vote on the agenda item had clear reference to the Taylor City Charter, Section 4.2, in their agenda packet. Then suddenly they were all agreeing with the ludicrous statement made by Councilwoman Lopez that there was no such thing in the Charter.
The whole scene was orchestrated by the influence of Councilwoman Lopez attempting to end her last Council meeting vindicated about her conflict of interest problem. She was trying to go out as a martyr, trying to appear unjustly treated and punished. She was intent on making Garcia pay a public price for her failed greedy expectations and willing ignorance about the Charter and the law. Mayor Rydell rushed forward to help Lopez put Garcia in his place.
If you haven’t watched the May 9, 2019, Council meeting video, you should. Go to agenda item 11. Click here for the link. Be sure to watch the practiced ability of Councilwoman Lopez to generate hysteria with a lie. That begins at the 10:00 minute time mark of the agenda item 11 video. Watch it to the end.
Instead of standing for their oaths to observe our City Charter, the City Attorney, Mayor Rydell, Councilmembers Lopez, Ariola, and Drummond attacked Councilman Garcia with outright lies about the City Charter.
With their lies they attacked Garcia for voting against giving Councilwoman Lopez a mowing contract that his constituents did not want and that he knew contained fraudulent calculations as admitted by the City Manager and confirmed by a City employee who quit in disgust about the mowing contract fraud.
Councilman Garcia knew a vote for Lopez would be in violation of Section 4.2 in the City Charter. But, there is more.
Councilman Garcia was also threatened by Councilwoman Lopez’s lawyer immediately before the January 2017 mowing contract vote. The public threat from Lopez's lawyer was a clear and direct threat during that City Council meeting. It's on the video. The message was: If you don't vote for the mowing contract, you will be legally and politically attacked.
Those threats were made by Councilwoman Lopez's hired lawyer. The threats were made to Councilman Garcia and Gonzales minutes before the vote was called. It was done for the purpose of making them succumb, ignore our City Charter, and vote for Lopez's contract.
Lopez's lawyer threatened a law suit and political action against Garcia and Gonzales if they did not vote for her mowing contract. Here is a link to that January 12, 2017 Taylor City Council meeting. In item 7, part 2, Councilwoman Lopez's lawyer begins speaking at 53 minutes into the video. The lawyer will sit down and will be recalled to the podium, so be sure to catch his whole pitch.
Who would expect a Councilmember to vote for something after being publicly threatened about how to vote? What kind of coward would? The Taylor Mayor, Jessie Ancira at that time, should have admonished Lopez's lawyer and tabled the issue until a later date. We can’t have a government that operates by succumbing to false contract calculations and threatening demands to ignore our Charter and ethics.
Councilman Garcia stood up to the corruption of Lopez and her cohorts. He stood behind his oaths and our Ethics ordinance with integrity and he faithfully served the City as well as the moral principles citizens want to see in their elected officials.
Councilman Garcia and former Councilmember Chris Gonzales were the only City officials who had the integrity to vote against Councilwoman Lopez's hired bully and mowing contract on January 12, 2017.
Councilman Dwayne Ariola, a retired Senior Navy non-commissioned officer, attacked another veteran from a foundation of lies while knowing that Councilman Garcia stood against false information and public threats intended to control votes. Ariola displayed no honor or respect for his oaths of office, the Taylor Ethics Code, or the democracy he swore to defend. Glad I did not have a guy like Ariola as my co-pilot in Vietnam.
The attack against Councilman Garcia was obviously organized with cooperation from the City Attorney. That would be Ted Hejl, the same City Attorney who ignored the criminal report of $ millions missing from the Taylor Housing Authority (THA) and who now has THA suing itself and making his friends rich.
Taylor Mayor - Brandt Rydell
Mayor Brandt Rydell used the Taylor Council Chamber for political theater. He presided over a disgusting public ambush on Councilman Garcia with a pack of lies. Rydell should apologize, but, he won’t.
Rydell and his cohorts, do not have the moral spine to demand a criminal investigation into the HUD Inspector General's evidence of the THA felony crimes, or apologize for publicly supporting false claims against a good and honorable man who refused to be a puppet.
"Corruption in our courts and government will not be stopped by those at the top, they benefit too much. It can only be stopped from the bottom, by each voter becoming informed and holding city and county elected officials responsible."