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My resignation from volunteer committees is fodder for the Colleyville Courier
a column by Nelson Thibodeaux
Updated 08/16/06 08:54:23 PM   

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August 17, 2006 Colleyville
After almost a decade of public service and volunteering on city committees,  Nelson and Jamie Thibodeaux have resigned from all city committees, after the July 28, 2006 Colleyville Courier "report" about the Colleyville Website.  Here is a trip down the Courier memory lane, before THIS Friday's Courier that somehow feels our resignation is news.

When the telephone message showed up on my home telephone from Scott Price of the "Alliance newspapers," translation Colleyville Courier,  I was fairly certain the call was not because the paper was planning to run a complimentary article on us for years of volunteer service to the city. The Courier has an excellent reputation of "Thibodeaux bashing"However, I did speak to Price at Tuesday's city council meeting, thanked him for at least contacting me before the article,  to get my input, something that had never happened previously.  The underlying reason for the resignations, as stated to Price, "the events represented by the various committees should be judged on their own merit and not by who is on the committee."  

Based on past experience with Celebrate Committee member, now councilman Mike Taylor, and the type of coverage afforded me personally by the Courier, I had every reason to believe we could expect more of the same.  For example, Taylor had been the source of accusations against me in the infamous "t-shirt caper"  (shown below as Thibodeaux accused of pocketing funds). Various other representations of myself in the Courier has included sitting on a "throne" with toilet paper and the "proprietor" of an outhouse.

Therefore, our decision was based on the fact that we support the concept of the Celebrate Colleyville event and the work of the Colleyville Historical Preservation Committee.  As such, we did not want to be a distraction from their efforts. Asked why Price thought our resignations were newsworthy, Price said because of the email resignation to Lindley, making reference to Taylor.  Hmmmmmm, wonder who was the source suggesting Price request the email under public records?

During his fourth run for office, after losing three times in a row, Taylor was said to have stated, in a gathering of supporters, that he had the ear of the Star-Telegram and he would use it to clean up matters at city hall. I don't know what he meant, but I am convinced Taylor at least has the ear of the Courier and continues as a source of "inside" information.  The most recent "clean up" had to do with the city's website, as noted below. 

During our brief conversation, Price volunteered without being asked, that the initial suggested problem with the website did not stem from Mr. Taylor. Mr. Price may not be familiar with the practice of "politics of self destruction by proxy" or this may be a  "protect your source" effort.

This has been a well practiced technique in Colleyville where the one wishing to cause damage plants the bad seed, but always has others bring it to light.  Plausible deniability then allows the planter to inflict damage without being tainted themselves.  One tactic is to create a "red herring", for example a "vulnerable website," then associate someone's name to the dastardly deed, resulting in derogatory  inferences designed to inflict personal damage.  For example, like the article below concerning the city's website that was published by the Courier.

August 4, 2006

The July 28th edition of the Courier top headlines pronounces that the city's website is "vulnerable."  The article claims that approximately the 50 citizens that had actually used the site to pay water bills were subject to poor security and could be the victim of identity theft.  While having absolutely nothing to do with the facts of the article, the paper couldn't resist throwing in this last paragraph:

After claiming the website was somehow flawed, the inference was that I "sold" the city a shoddy website by promising a half price deal. While the fact that one could not promise a price of 50% of competitors, without knowing what the competitors bid in advance, was conveniently overlooked.

City Staffers said the article reflected on their integrity and insisted corrections. This was the last paragraph the following week. Of course, no mention that clears the Thibodeaux name.

Mona Gandy, the city's marketing director is allegedly the source of the 1/2 price sale comments.  She told me that the Courier brought my name up and she specifically explained that 360 had nothing to do with the online bill paying aspects.  She confirmed she never said or represented that I promised anything except a quote for consideration.  

The decision to resign was outlined in an email to City Manager Bill Lindley after the July 28th article in the Courier. While, once again, the Courier misrepresented my involvement, their correction the following week, is not a quid pro quo to the prior's week's derogatory inference.

I requested open records, from the City of Colleyville,  concerning complaints received from citizens as alleged in the July 28th Courier article along with other records about this issue over the past few months.  We did not receive a shred of evidence that any citizen had made these complaints, so what inside source was the used to ascertain complaints were being made?  We also received the meeting notes prepared by City Manager Bill Lindley to discuss with Courier management concerning the numerous errors in the article.  If there was ever any doubt of the Courier's journalistic bias and with a deliberate attempt to ignore facts in favor of attempting to create a derogatory inference of Thibodeaux, citizens should carefully read Mr. Lindley's notes for the meeting and in the future keep this in mind when reading ANY article in the Courier.

The complete notes can be read in PDF, Click Here.

A brief history for the newcomers:
When Local News Only.com (LNO launched in 2001, there was not a local newspaper in Colleyville. Most observers feel the emergence of the Courier, with a list of owners including Richard Myers of Realty Capital, the developer of the Village at Colleyville, ex-Mayor Donna Arp and some of her closest allies, among them Butch Johnson, was in response to LNO's growing readership.  Those familiar with local politics, during 1999 thru May 2003, remember the Arp mayoral years were tumultuous and polarizing. Politics in Colleyville was a blood sport. LNO was seen as the anti-Arp publication and the Courier the anti-Thibodeaux newspaper.

In January, 2003. then Mayor Arp sent out a letter announcing she would not run for re-election in May 2003, LNO published our list of the top ten reasons she was not going to run for mayor, among them; "because she is planning to open a boutique in The Village selling all the free stuff she got while serving as mayor", and "because she wants to spend more of her leisure time with Bonnie and Frank Carroll".  While the list was meant to make a statement in a humorous manner, Arp supporters cried foul and vowed retribution. It should be noted that the Village store did not come to pass, instead, about six months after her term as mayor ended, Arp became the President of Realty Capital after it had received $7.5 million in City of Colleyville proposed TIF tax incentives during her term as mayor.

Joe Hocutt was elected mayor in May 2003, after Mike Taylor changed from running for a council seat to a 3-way race for mayor with Hocutt and Richard Newton.  However, after a year of rule by mayoral veto, in May 2004, voters overwhelmingly elected a new council majority, including Tom Hart, one of the individuals who had been consistently vetoed by Hocutt for a P&Z seat.

The week following Friday, after the May 2004 election, the Courier declared yours truly as the "King of Colleyville" in a derogatory cartoon.
The Courier decided that the voters had been duped by myself and this news site by my "negatively inspired campaign tactics," that resonated with a majority of voters.

A major issue in the 2004 election was a massive bond issue
opposed by LNO, the Courier made this flattering representation of me on a throne with a roll of toilet paper after the results of the election.
 The response column can be read here.

In the May 2005 election, Mike Taylor was making his third attempt to be elected to Colleyville city government when he opposed Tony Licata, a former campaign manager for Richard Newton.

Taylor, who had indicated to political observers that he had made inroads to the Hocutt supporters, lost for the third time in a row in a close vote. 
After Licata was elected, virtually confirming the 2005 results with five council members that had been supported by Newton supporters, the Courier once again found a way to memorialize the Thibodeaux legacy with this offering with more alleged bathroom humor, except this time it was Colleyville CAN on the door.

May of 2005, these were the Courier headlines.  You can Click Here to read my column in response to this totally fabricated self-serving story.  The accusation was only by Mike Taylor and former campaign manager Dezann Korbuly, which was adequate for the Courier to justify the headline. 

Taylor claimed that the Celebrate Colleyville logo was a valuable asset and, at his insistence, the city spent thousands of taxpayers dollars to trademark the logo. 

One year later, after being elected to city council, Taylor was of a different mindset.  After the city had asked for applications, without receiving any, for two months, I applied for a position on the Celebrate Colleyville Committee.   Taylor asked some other council members to "table" my appointment because he intended to lead the effort to withhold any further city support of the event.

When my name came up for consideration to be appointed to the Celebrate Colleyville Committee, Taylor voted Nay on a 6 to 1 vote.  The no vote, on an unopposed candidate filling one of three openings, was tantamount to a return to the old veto days of Mayor Hocutt.

Jamie Thibodeaux is the ONLY person that has served on the Celebrate Colleyville Steering Committee since its existence in 1999.  Despite news releases about activities that contained her name and even quotes, released by the City of Colleyville, the Courier has NEVER printed her name as the Chairperson of the event.  Last year was the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the City of Colleyville that I chaired, the same treatment was given to releases to the Courier and the Thibodeaux name was redacted.  The purpose of this revelation is not because we WANTED to see our name in print with this paper, but simply to provide readers a real insight into the Courier's management style.  Since we are convinced LNO gets a much broader readership than does the Courier, I can understand they don't want to mention our name in a favorable manner.  All we ever hoped was it be mentioned in a factual manner.

After the July 28th Courier article and the position of Taylor, Jamie and I felt it was simply time we removed ourselves from the fray.  Other than just the aggravation of it all, we felt that we could only expect more of the same in the future.  We loved working with the city staff.  I notified the city manager via an email that can be read below and stated why we had come to the decision.  We did not seek any publicity on the matter, nor did LNO write about the situation. Frankly, we didn't consider it newsworthy. 

However, I am obviously good for a parting shot by the Courier and a likely use of the "plausible deniability" clause on behalf on Mr. Taylor. The following is the complete email to Mr. Lindley.

July 29, 2006 @2:49
After a great deal of thought and discussion, I am sending this correspondence to you.

I value your friendship and admire the leadership, innovation and courage of conviction you have demonstrated, during my opportunities to work with you, for the benefit of our city in the past. 

The Friday July 28, 2006 article in the Colleyville Courier is symptomatic of an element that has been "reintroduced" in our city at the city council level. Certainly, the abject failure of the Courier in objectivity and the use of glaringly altered facts, in the above article about the city's new website, can be contributed to shoddy reporting and lack of journalistic integrity, or control, at the management level of the paper. 

However, the lengths the paper went to find a way to include my name, in a manner that was clearly and maliciously designed to infer the city had a subpar website because I had "promised the city 1/2 the cost of anyone else," which is of course a total lie, is suspected to have its roots at the city council dais.

From a personal point, the Courier prints scurrilous accusations about me, then uses alleged quotes from city staff members to legitimize their accusations and not subtle inferences of some sort of wrongdoing. The fact that a staff member later says they were "misquoted," is not a satisfactory quid pro quo. The comment attributed to Mona Gandy about me being a "salesman" offering 1/2 price deals, therefore allowing the Courier to infer I had anything to do with the alleged identity website issue, is simply and most emphatically the final straw. I can't dictate how staff members respond to the Courier, however I would suggest in writing would be appropriate in the future. Because, even if the city staff argues adamantly later about a misquote, the intended damage has been cleverly inflicted on me while using the city's name to provide cover.

Example for the latest Courier article: “We will weigh the pros and cons, and the benefit versus any kind of problems in terms of interfacing with other systems,” Gandy said. “But it’s absolutely something we’ll look at.” 
The site was designed by 360ideas.com, of Wichita, Kan. The company’s salesman in Texas, former Colleyville councilman Nelson Thibodeaux, promised it for half the cost of the competing designer, Gandy said. 

You may recall the Courier article concerning "Celebrate Colleyville" t-shirts, inferring that I had taken city funds, and used the Celebrate Colleyville logo to sell t-shirts at a profit. When in fact, I not only did not touch any money concerning t-shirts, I bought two t-shirts myself to help the small operation that voluntarily put on the classic car show on behalf of the city event. The genesis of that fabrication was, as a matter of public record from the meetings, one Michael Taylor, during his tenure on the Celebrate Colleyville committee.

After two months of advertising and no candidates, I submitted my name for consideration to be appointed to the Celebrate Colleyville Committee. Although there were no other names nominated, Taylor voted NO on a 6 to 1 vote. He eagerly made it clear to other council members that he wants to target the event and remove city financial support.

Jamie and I have been fortunate to serve in a volunteer roles, from city council to trash pickups, for more than a decade. The opportunity I had to Chair the 50th Anniversary Celebration and see my concept of Colleyville Hometown Heroes Day and the Heroes Park come into reality, was a great honor. During the 50th Celebration, Mona Gandy and I worked closely and, I believe very effectively, together with a small support group to complete the park and present the event. I am glad that I was able to work with Kevin Walling to reintroduce the concept of an annual Barbeque with a June event. Hopefully, the seeds of the June Heroes Day event will grow and become a wonderful community bonding event for the city.

I am confident that I have exhibited to you the spirit of my convictions to serve as a volunteer and friend of our city. I think you will agree my motives have always been honorably demonstrated through the results of my efforts, whatever the project.

The most recent years of volunteer activity have been especially rewarding because we have had a Mayor and City Council that has demonstrated its commitment in working to make Colleyville a better place to live, with civil and effective leadership. Personal agendas, personal attacks, polarizing vetoes and concocted red herring issues to serve personal agendas had disappeared from the Colleyville landscape. However, as evident by the 6 to 1 vote and the other issues mentioned, those elements are now finding their way back into the city's grapevine.

While you and I know the truth, the MO of these type of political cheap shots, that are orchestrated by feeding information to a local paper, only too willing to be deceived, is now surfacing with the advent of a new member at the dais. I had hoped that we would not see the reintroduction of cowardly stealth political manipulation, but I have seen it up close and personal..it's back! 

The result is, in eagerness to create fear mongering amongst citizens, and, as creaky old lighting rod, I am a convenient victim for deception purposes. Unfortunately, what others may be besmirched or tainted by the false accusations and deliberate sensationalism of the poorly contrived so-called news articles, is of no consequence.

A perfect example is the alleged website issue, tying my name to the problem. I will not point out the obvious to you, because you most of all know the truth. I regret that the bottom feeders that contrive and write this garbage are too cowardly to come out in the public and take credit for their actions. I take extreme exception to the attempt made to ding you, inferring you may have been influenced by me and my bargain basement sales techniques.

It should be evident to all that a form of demagoguery has found its way back to the dais. I have total faith in our Mayor and 5 of our council members that they will do everything possible to avoid letting this type of political poison overtake the dais.

However, Jamie and I do not want to detract from the work of our committees and be used as a scapegoat for the purpose of an ambitious local politico's personal political gain. Jamie and I do not want our names referenced to create a bogus problem resulting in a negative impact on your staff or any volunteer committees.

I would remind everyone that Jamie is the only individual that has served on the Celebrate Colleyville Committee every year, since 1999, and truly she should receive the thanks and admiration of our city for her incredible hard work in the past.

It is with deep regret that we are forced to make this decision in order to remove ourselves as the opportunity to be utilized as a distraction.

It is especially painful for me to offer my resignation from the Historical Committee. However, after the vindictive nay vote on my appointment to Celebrate Colleyville, paramount to the old veto antics, the simple fact I have a position on any of these committees makes them a target for unscrupulous attacks.

In addition, I wish to avoid future problems that could impact on our personal friendship and relations with city staff. We feel it is best that Jamie and I remove ourselves from the volunteer efforts and/or further attempts to introduce our city to any private business advantages.

By way of cc: to Mona Gandy to distribute as she sees fit:

Effectively immediately Jamie Thibodeaux resigns from her position as a member and Chairperson of Celebrate Colleyville.
I hereby resign from the Celebrate Colleyville Committee and the Historical Preservation Committee.

Jamie has informed other members of the Celebrate Colleyville Committee. While we did not encourage any others to follow suit, we have been informed by Mayor Ed Baker and Linda Baker that they plan to resign from the Celebration Colleyville Committee as well.

I want to personally express, on behalf of Jamie and myself, our sincere appreciation and humble thanks for the support of Councilmen Boll, Licata, Hendler, Hart, Mayor Pro Tem Jon Ayers and Mayor David Kelly for your show of support and confidence in the past.

Nelson and Jamie Thibodeaux

The following is the response from Colleyville City Manager Bill Lindley

July 31, 2006 @ 8:44 am

It is a shame that both you and Jamie would conclude to resign from active participation with Celebrate Colleyville and you also from the Historical Preservation Committee. However, I certainly respect and understand your decisions. As you and I discussed Friday evening, there are several points that I do not understand with the referenced article in the Courier and explained to you my scheduled meeting for this week with Mr. Young. 

You are absolutely correct to state that the role of 360 was simply the development of the city website. The company submitted a competitive proposal along with three other companies. One proposal was a "no-bid" while the second was approximately double the price of 360's. The value
and work provided by 360 well exceeded the price charged for their developing a new website for the city. 

The article questions the internal controls related to online city payments which are provided by a company wholly separate from 360. Neither you nor 360 have any operations or work related to the online payment. Revtrack provides online payment services for 300 other governments. This company has not financial or affiliate relations with 360 or you. I can count at least three separate and distinct companies providing separate services on the city website not connected in any way with 360 or you. 

Again, I would hope that you and Jamie would reconsider your decision. I do not have an email for Jamie so I would appreciate your forwarding this note to her as well. As the old saying goes, "you married well"! Seriously though, I certainly appreciate and admire the countless hours of care given to the community by you and Jamie. 

I value your friendship and commitment to Colleyville. Please reconsider...

Thank you,

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