Editor's Note: This post is a response to an article published on May 5 titled "READER OPINION: Shame on You, Mr. Mayor!" and is reader-submitted content. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of BubbleLife.com or its staff.
I am a true believer in freedom of speech. It is unfortunate, however, that some choose to use that freedom anonymously to stir emotion, especially when only using partial facts and innuendo. I am not ashamed of my letter, which I sent to Dr. Shafi, our city council members, the City Manager and our City Attorney. I have been honored to serve Southlake for the past 16 years as a volunteer and am proud that I spent my time to help lead the city of Southlake to the place it is today...a community for which we take great pride.
I took an oath, which I take very seriously, to protect this city. After conferring with our City Attorney, I sent an email to Dr. Shafi to inform him of the city's potential exposure to litigation regarding some of his campaign practices. Additionally, I was concerned, as a citizen of Southlake has a right to be, regarding misrepresentations Dr. Shafi was making throughout his campaign. His allegations were not directed solely at his opponent, but rather to the council as a whole.
So as to not mislead anyone on the contents of the letter, I believe those that read the anonymous complaint should be entitled to read the letter and judge for themselves. I am posting the letter verbatim below:
To: Dr. Shahid Shafi, candidate for Southlake City Council
From: John Terrell, Mayor of Southlake
Dr. Shafi, it is with great regret that I feel compelled to write this letter to you, but I feel a responsibility to the citizens of Southlake to make clear the inaccuracies you have sown duringyour candidacy. I have never written a letter such as this in the past, and I hope I will never need to do so again. However, after a great deal of thought, I have determined it would be irresponsible of me, considering my current position within the City, not to communicate myconcerns to you and others. I owe it to you, as well as the citizens of Southlake, to make you aware of issues I see concerning your campaign platform that could put you and the city at legalrisk and that are misleading as to the voting record and service of your opponent in this election, Martin Schelling.
As you know, I originally appointed you to the Planning and Zoning Commission after many hours of discussions with you, so it is evident I hold no ill will towards you. However, when we originally spoke, you convinced me that your heart was for service and that you would dedicate your energies to the betterment of Southlake. In fact, the clear tenor of your statements to me was that you felt serving on the Planning and Zoning Commission was a way for you to give back to Southlake and that it would help you understand and learn more about the issues concerning Southlake and its citizens. Imagine how disappointed I was when, in spite of your promises of lengthy service to the City in this capacity, you chose to resign from the Planning and Zoning Commission not even a full year into your 2 year term to run for Southlake City Council. As a result of your incredibly short term commitment to planning and zoning in our City, it now appears that the only reason you had for seeking that appointment was to “build a resume” for a campaign — not service. Of course, in such a short time on the Planning and Zoning Commission, you could not have gained the experience needed to help you better understand our citizens’ concerns for the growth of Southlake, and our citizens should be provided accurate information as to your experience in serving Southlake before you ask anyone for their vote. For the sake of the voters making an informed decision on election day, you should include how long you have served in any City of Southlake related role to accurately reflect your stated “long-term” service and not mislead, particularly when your opponent has truly given long-term public service to our city. Providing accurate information when running for office is the right thing to do, and I know that the citizens of Southlake deserve having us all do the right things when we run for office.
Unfortunately, your mischaracterizations are not limited to your length of service. There are two main issues which you mischaracterize and which seem to form the base of your campaign platform: 1) the claim that the current city council has approved an apartment project in Town Square, and 2) the claim that the relationship between the city and school district is adversarial and/or uncooperative.
Indeed, you have repeatedly characterized a senior care facility and a 38 unit condominium (which are homes for sale with a minimum unit price of $550,000) in Town Square as “Apartments” and a departure from the Master Plan. If provided the true facts of the development, I don’t believe the majority of Southlake citizens would classify these individually owned homes as “Apartments.” The only reason I can conceive for you to make such amischaracterization is to attempt to distort your opponent’s voting record on development issues. Of course, if you were simply “honestly mistaken” in your characterization of this development, perhaps you would have avoided such a mistake by serving longer on the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to better understand development issues within Southlake.
The fact is, a residential component has been included in Town Square’s master plan since 1997which includes studios, lofts and condominiums. All of the recently approved condominium units are FOR SALE and the builder cannot obtain a permit to start construction until the council has verifiable proof that 50% of the homes have been presold. Additionally, the most recent action by the council has reduced the total number of residential units from the previously approved plan. Obviously, your claims that city council has approved apartments in Town Square and that the recent Town Square development is a departure from the Master Plan is simply not true and certainly a misrepresentation of the facts. You may want to closely review the City Council motion for approval of item 6K at http: weblink.cityofsouthlake.com/weblink8/0/doc740027/page1.aspx to get a better understanding of what was actually passed by city council.
Such misleading representations are not only harmful to the election process, they also can have direct and harmful effects to the City of Southlake. As you may know, I have given over 16 years of volunteer service to our community, and while everyone may not agree with every decision or vote I have cast, I have cast those votes in what I believed to be the best interests of our community. At all times I carefully consider my actions and whether those actions will place the city in jeopardy. Unfortunately, your campaign statements demonstrate that you either: (1) do not share that concern for the best interests of Southlake or (2) that you do not understand the laws or federal regulations surrounding fair housing and discrimination issues. Had you been aware of these legal issues, I would hope that you would not have made some of your provocative campaign statements nor placed the “No Apartment” signs throughout our community.
According to our City attorney, every council member or candidate is prohibited from “prejudging” a future use of property and each has an obligation of “impartiality” prior to an application being made to the city. Furthermore, any Council member or candidate that does “prejudge” a type of project puts the city at risk of litigation in relation to the federal fair housing laws and further exposes the city to claims of discrimination and potential individual criminal prosecution. My question to you is simply this: if you had been advised of these risks by the Southlake city attorney, would you still make pre-judgmental, public statements against Apartments and would you have placed these “No Apartment” signs around the city understanding that to do so could put the city at risk? I certainly hope your answer is “No.” Now that you have been made aware of this risk to the city, will you call the city attorney, as you should have done originally, to verify this fact? When verified, will you remove the signs and cease your “No Apartment” rhetoric in order to mitigate the risks you have already placed on our city?
You further continue to make claims about the poor relationship between the city and the school district. Again, these assertions are simply not true. The City of Southlake and Carroll I.S.D have diligently worked together to accomplish significant projects for our city and to share costs and make each a more effective entity for our citizens. There has been, and continues to be, a high level of respect and cooperation between the city and the school district, and this excellent relationship contributes greatly to Southlake being a premiere city with one of best school districts in the state.
Martin Schelling is endorsed by all 6 of the School Board Trustees giving endorsements. He has been a long-term advocate for our schools and our kids. He was instrumental in devising a plan to provide School Resource Officers in every school within CISD, utilizing over $1 million dollars per year of City funding to pay for these officers and keep our children safe. Does this sound like a poor relationship between the school district and the city, specifically Martin Schelling? Of course not. If you are going to make claims about Mr. Schelling in your campaign, you should have the facts to support your claims before you make them. Our citizens deserve candidates who give them accurate, truthful information so that they can make wise voting choices on election day.
Further, with respect to your attempts to mischaracterize your opponent in this election, I also need to help set the record straight. Martin Schelling is a true long-term public servant to our community. He has dedicated over 21 consecutive years to the city and has successfully saved the city millions of dollars in his capacity as President of the Crime Control Board. His conservative fiscal principles and keen understanding of our city’s finances led the way to paying for all of our DPS facilities using sales taxes, 70% of which are paid by people living outside of Southlake. He has a voting record of low and medium density housing and will not change course now.
With that said, I still encourage you to be involved, giving back to your community. I further encourage you to make every effort to be more informed and think about the responsibility one has, whether they are an elected official or running for office, to transparently communicate with the citizens of that community. If you are fortunate enough to gain the trust of Southlake citizensby being voted onto city council, I hope you will truly appreciate the honor it is to serve the great city of Southlake in carrying out the duties of an elected official of this city.
Mayor – City of Southlake