Keller City Limits

Discussion of Keller, TX politics

Browsing Posts published by Jim Carson

Thanks for visiting. For more information on the reasons for our planned petition to overturn the council’s decision to incur more debt, please read the TIF/TIRZ District Refinance category at Beyond Right Field.

Well it’s pretty clear that we’ve touched a nerve with our stated intent to overturn the council’s anticipated decision to borrow money to cover its budget shortfall.

The city manager sent me a memo from Stan Lowry, City Attorney this morning:


TO: Dan O’Leary, City Manager
City of Keller

FROM: Stan Lowry
Boyle & Lowry, L.L.P.
Leroy Grawunder, Jr.
McCall, Parkhurst & Horton L.L.P.

DATE: March 29, 2010

SUBJECT: Application of Charter Section 7.03 to General Obligation Refunding Bonds

The City of Keller (the “City”) is preparing to issue general obligation refunding bonds to refinance portions of its outstanding Combination Tax and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Revenue Certificates of Obligation, Series 2000, and Combination Tax and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Revenue Certificates of Obligation, Series 2001.

You have informed us that a citizen has notified you that he is planning to submit a petition pursuant to the City’s’ home rule charter to require a referendum election on the ordinance authorizing the proposed refunding bonds, and have asked what would be the effect of such petition on the issuance of the bonds. Section 7.03 of the City’s home rule charter provides that any ordinance passed by the City Council is subject to referendum if a petition, meeting the requirements of the charter, is filed.

The proposed refunding bonds would be issued pursuant to Chapter 1207, Texas Government Code. Section 1207.003, Texas Government Code (“Section1207.003”), provides that refunding bonds may be issued without an election, unless an election is required by the Texas Constitution. We are not aware of any constitutional provision that would require a municipality to hold an election with regard to the issuance of general obligation refunding bonds.

It is a recognized principal [sic] of Texas law that if there is a conflict between State law and a home rule charter provision, State law prevails. Section 1207.003 specifically authorizes a governing body to issue refunding bonds without holding an election. A home rule charter provision that requires, upon the filing of a petition, a referendum election on the ordinance authorizing the refunding bonds contradicts the authority granted by Section 1207.003, and therefore such ordinance would not be subject to the referendum requirement of Section 7.03 of the charter.

State law requires the refunding bonds to be submitted to the Texas Attorney General for review and approval. We have contacted the Public Finance Division of the Attorney General’s office to determine if they agree with our analysis and will let you know if they agree or not.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the above, or if we may be of further assistance.


First, Texas courts have ruled repeatedly that the power of referendum is reserved, not granted, to the people. As such, its provisions must be liberally construed in favor of the reservation [of the power of referendum].

Second, courts have ruled that the power of petition can be “limited…through either express directive or by implication. Quick v. City of Austin, 7 S.W.3d at 124. And, before it can arise through implication, the provisions must evince a clear and compelling intent to limit the power.

Let me stop here and ask two important questions:

  1. Where in Section 1207.003 of the Texas Code does Mr. Lowry find a clear and compelling intent to limit the power of referendum?
  2. Whom does Mr. Lowry represent?

The answer to question #1 is left to the informed reader. The answer to question #2 is found in the City Charter:

Section 5.04. City attorney.
The city council shall appoint a competent and duly licensed attorney practicing law in Tarrant County, Texas, who shall be the city attorney. He shall receive for his services such compensation as may be fixed by the city council and shall hold his office at the pleasure of the city council. The city attorney, or such other attorneys selected by him with the approval of the city council, shall represent the city in all litigation. He shall be the legal advisory for, and attorney and counsel for, the city and all departments thereof.

So the City Attorney represents the City. And that includes us. Page vi of the Keller Budget lays out an organizational chart that puts The People of Keller at the top. So whom does he represent when there is a conflict between the city council and the people they represent? History says he represents the council every time, and sometimes represents the city manager against the people and the council.

Here are some lowlights of Mr. Lowry’s tenure with Keller:

Mr. Lowry’s argument is without merit, and it’s time for his tenure to end.

So where was I? Oh yeah…

This blog has been resurrected, remodeled and renamed, at least temporarily, to take advantage of a rare opportunity.

How many times in the last few years have you anguished over government excess? And how many times were you able to do something about it? To rapidly effect real change?

Sadly, there’s little we can do about Washington or Austin. And due to our omnibus budgeting process, it’s usually impossible to limit Keller’s excesses, too.

The following letter to the editor of the Keller Citizen should appear in next week’s paper, to be followed the next week with a quarter-page ad displaying the same a week later:

Frustrated with wasteful government spending?

Think there’s nothing you can do about it?

Think again!

A year ago the city council, facing declining revenue, nonetheless directed the city manager to lay off NO city staff under any circumstances. In the year since, the circumstances have only worsened.

Development in Keller has slowed dramatically (more than 50%) but the Community Development Department is still fully staffed.

Now the council is planning to issue new debt to cover its budget shortfall. It will cost taxpayers an additional $2.7 million. Council members have flatly refused repeated pleas to even consider budget cuts instead.

We now have a rare opportunity to take a firm stand against wasteful spending. We can overturn the council’s decision and take away their credit card by filing a petition of referendum. We need only about 500 signatures, but we firmly believe we can get many more.

If you’d like to help in this effort, with time or money, please contact us. Signatures will need to be gathered April 7th through May 5th. Read more at or

Jim Carson, Keller City Councilman 2006-2008

Doug Miller, Planning and Zoning Commissioner

They say you shouldn’t discuss politics or religion in polite company, but does it still count if you discuss both politics and religion at the same time?

John McNaughton and I have a pretty good debate going on in another thread about the separation of church and state, and I’d like your opinion.

If the Supreme Court reversed itself on prayer in schools, which would you prefer KISD do?

My preference on school prayer is:
There should be principal- or teacher-led prayer.
There should be a designated period of silence when students are encouraged to pray.
There should be no formal prayer time in schools. free polls

…but not sworn AT, at least not publicly.

Tonight the Keller City Council swore in its three newest members, John Baker, Tom Cawthra and Jim Thompson. This was just another ho-hum, same-o same-o transition of power ceremony common in the West but unthinkable among vast swaths of the world’s oppressed peoples.

I used my time at the podium to pay homage to those who didn’t have to listen to me, didn’t have to consider my arguments, didn’t have to care what I had to say. But they did so anyway, and I had never bothered to say how much I appreciated it.

I will now withdraw from the public stage, not only at Town Hall but at Keller City Limits, too. If this blog survives as a useful forum, it will be because others take the time and effort to make it so.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of KCL—it’s just that my leading role in it has ended, at least for now. Like a scorned suitor, it is therapeutic that I step away and do something else with my time and talent. It is also just the decent thing to do for my opponent(s)—he’s (they’ve) earned the right to represent you with the benefit of the doubt, and he shall have it from me.

To those of you with whom I’ve been short lately (and you know who you are,) I’m truly sorry. I know you mean well, but this is a decision I made some time ago.

KCL will continue to be “owned” by me, but it will be administered by Doug Miller, Frank Flanagan, Mike Sivertsen, Monty Snow and John and Elaine McNaughton. There are many others with author privileges on KCL, and many more are welcome. If you have something to say that you feel is more important than just a comment, contact one of these people and get yourself signed up as an author. Just try to keep it about Keller, OK?

As for me, I will continue to write, because I really enjoy it. I just won’t be writing about Keller politics, at least for a while. I have another domain called where I might pontificate. Some of the things I’m considering saying there will preclude me from being elected to any office ever again.

Finally, I want to express my sincere thanks to those who supported me. I will always be grateful.

Early voting results:

Place 2: John Baker is leading with 57.8% of the vote.

Place 3: Tom Cawthra is leading with 56% of the vote.

Place 4: Jim Thompson is leading with 68% of the vote.

Here’s the link

I’ve called and congratulated Jim Thompson.

UPDATE, Final Results:

John Baker, 53% of final vote
Tom Cawthra, 52% of final vote
Jim Thompson, 67% of final vote

I honestly thought I could stir the fiscally conservative majority of Keller to vote in a city election. I was naive. I couldn’t even inspire my wife to vote.

What’s surprising about the phone & email feedback I’ve been getting from the letter I sent to Keller voters is how few were negative in any way. In fact, the most negative thing said was simply “what’s wrong with massage therapy at the Pointe or DVDs at the library?” I’ll address that in another post tomorrow.

Here’s the most positive email (not counting the email notifications of generous donors):

Mr. Carson,

Well done. Your letter in answer to your opponents’ open letter to Keller citizens was clear, to the point, detailed your voting history, provided explanations for your votes on specific issues, and avoided personal attacks against your opponents.

After reading your critics’ open letter to Keller citizens, I was very concerned that you were blind with power and using it against city employees and staff to intimidate and bully them. However, they failed to bring to my attention specific instances of your alleged abuse of power and intimidation tactics. Instead they raised general character attacks based on nothing specific. I believe their letter was an attempt to discredit you without providing specific evidence to support their claims.

As you well know, we citizens, whether local voters or state/federal voters, are tired of character attacks. We want to hear about specific issues and how they affect us personally. Your letter did just that and very well. You’ve proven to me that you represent voters who want limited government control in their lives; reductions and cuts in unnecessary spending for items that could be privately funded; and notification about abuse of public funding by a small few who want to further their own personal interests regarding the direction and growth of our city.

–Richelle Aldrich

Thank you very much, Mrs. Aldrich.

Here’s a link to the trumped up charges of intimidation and interference they were referring to:

[Admin Note: This is being transcribed by the slowest transcriber in Keller. Keep checking back for updates. kthx]

Introductory Remarks by Joe Petersen:

Good Evening! Welcome to the 2008 Keller City Council Candidates’ Forum. My name is Joe Petersen and I’m chairman of the Greater Keller Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is producing this event this evening along with the League of Women Voters.

First of all I’d like to thank the candidates and the incumbents for their participation this evening, as well as the live audience, for your time and interest in this important election. We truly have a wonderful, wonderful city. Our current population is hitting almost 38,000 strong, and the city is one of the most beautiful in the metroplex. We’re blessed with an outstanding school system, as well as a city staff that’s committed to absolute professionalism and excellence.

We’ve got 51 police officers and 44 fire fighters I’d put next to anyone in their professionalism, their training, and their readiness to help us in a time of need.

In fact this past year Money magazine, as most of you are aware, named Keller one of the best places to live in the country. We’re in the top 100 places to live in the country, simply because of the quality of life here in our great city.

I think Keller can best be defined by its diversity. As an example, our many churches, our many recreational offerings, even our housing offerings are so diverse in nature.

[pause for microphone feedback problem]

There we go. Other than our speaker system, what a great city we have.

Our city offers homes in older neighborhoods, absolutely full of character. In new, master-planned communities with well-manicured lawns and common spaces. And even large parcels that have room—ten acres and even twenty acres—for horses and cattle in the larger, northern part of the city. We have small, more affordable homes, all the way up to multi-million dollar estates, and everything in between. Our city is quite diverse.

Often, during our annual election cycle, candidates as well as incumbents sometimes look at our diversity and our differences, and find negative things in that. Statements are made in a negative way, that really do affect the other candidates, or affect our city in a negative way, or embarrass us. Over the years the political process in Keller has gotten quite ugly. As statements are made for the sole purpose of embarrassing one to show that I’m better.

I hope in this forum this evening, we can celebrate our diversity, and respect our differences. Because it’s our differences that make us strong. It’s not our differences that make us wrong. I hope tonight will be a very informative evening, a very factual evening, and again I hope we’re all going to be respectful of the differences that make this great city that we call home.

With that I’d like to introduce Georgia Kidwell with the League of Women Voters, who will be moderating.
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…that’s how many people showed up to vote today at Town Hall. That’s well short of daily vote totals in 2006 and 2007, but I’m not worried. I’ve heard from plenty of people who are withholding final judgment until they’ve heard from the candidates tonight.

My campaign letter went out in the mail this morning, and will probably arrive for most of you in tomorrow’s mail. Here it is, “below the fold.”

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He’re a fun way to waste some time in our cubicles: Go to, type in “positively keller” and then click the “I’m feeling lucky” button. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.

Hidden Lakes has come through again with a very good questionnaire (why can’t the Star-Telegram and League of Women Voters come up with questions that are important to Keller, instead of boring generic queries?)

Anyway, here’s the link to Hidden Lakes’ questionnaire:

I’ll surely have more to say, but you need to know in advance that Tom Cawthra is dead wrong about the Town Center UDC and what’s permissible there. Single Family (attached) does NOT include apartments, no matter how strained the interpretation. Once again, the city manager, after hearing my reasoning, denied Keller Station’s application because it included a multi-family use (apartments,) and multi-family is NOT permitted in the 2002 Town Center UDC.

I’ll lay even money that someone will write a letter to the editor of the Keller Citizen telling how Jim Carson wants to turn down offers of free money.

In our meeting tonight with the Library Board, the third agenda item was whether the city should actively seek grant money to supplement the $4 million expansion/renovation we’re planning to do. There were plenty of huzzahs and absolutelys around the table, but when my turn came I had to be honest and say, “I’m not comfortable with the idea.”

This is as egalitarian as I’m likely to ever get, but I just think it is unseemly for a city as rich as Keller to go around shaking a tin cup at potential donors. Our average household income tops $100,000 per year—can we really justify competing for library grant money against inner-city Dallas and dirt-poor rural areas?

So look for letters to the editor aghast that I would deny the poor, poor children of poor, poor Keller the ability to read because I don’t want to seek grants. And Positively Keller will be positively giddy that I’ve handed them another issue to spin against me. Oh well, I am very much counting on hyper-intelligent people showing up to vote.

Mitch Holmes brought up a good point about the library petition which became law in December, 2005:

Resolved, the City of Keller shall not construct nor remodel any public library, without first submitting the issue of whether to fund the building or remodeling of a public library at a particular site, to a vote of the qualified voters of the City of Keller.

Mitch’s concern was that, because the petition did not mention the source of funds, we could not spend even grant money without explicit permission of the voters. It’s an interesting point that we’ll have the city attorney check out. I’m in favor of asking the voters to repeal the petition, now that we no longer have to fear council end-runs around the voters. Or don’t we?