Note:  Salting and smoking a herring will turn it red.  Red herring when put on a trail will confuse and distract bloodhounds from tracking a scent.  Thus it was that the term “red herring” came to be known as a propaganda technique to distract people from the trail of truth.


If you find yourself frequently saying things like “Huh?  I don’t get it?” or perhaps in Texas vernacular:  “Du whut?”

1. It could be an indicator that you are dumber than a rock


2. You could be a person of perfectly normal intelligence who is caught in the cross fire of a game of red herring badminton as such games can be quite confusing. 


Name Calling—a Propaganda Technique and also the Lowest Type of Argument in a Disagreement

At the October 3 meeting of the Garland City Council I stood up and spoke the whole and simple truth:  The Parks and Recreation Board had never seen the Dog and Skate Park Plan for Central Park prior to the presentation of this plan by the Parks and Recreation Department to the City Council. 

[Note: This is a breach of our standard protocol and a breach in the checks and balances in place for our local government.  Prior to presentation to the City Council of any park design or enhancements to existing parks these plans are to be first reviewed by the Parks and Recreation Board and then passed on to the City Council.  That is the main function of the Garland Parks and Recreation board--to be part of the checks and balances system for our local government when decisions are being made regarding Garland parks.]

Mr. Aubin, a member of the City Council promptly, like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, declared me a “disgrace to the Park board”.  The only addition to his ridiculous proclamation would have been if he had declared:  “Off with her head.” 

Prior to his declaration, I had thought Mr. Aubin was only a lawyer.  I didn’t realize he was judge and jury as well.  Calling me a “disgrace” is also a propaganda technique known as name-calling, which is the lowest type of argument in a disagreement. 

NOTE:  By the way, in case you didn’t notice, I just deployed a propaganda technique myself by comparing Mr. Aubin’s behavior to that of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. *    My propaganda technique, Ad Hominem, however, is a step up on the ladder depicted in the diagram below from Graham’s Hierarchy of Disagreement.

*Actually, in my opinion, the character of the Mad Hatter better characterizes Mr. Aubin’s behavior.—there I deployed ad hominem again.  Congratulations if you recognized it--A+ if you recognized it both times.


SOURCE:  A triangular graphic representing a "hierarchy of disagreement" from clear refutation to mere vituperation, based on the essay "How to Disagree" by Paul Graham.  WIKI Commons


What does red herring badminton look like?

A recent game of red herring badminton was also played at this October 3 Garland City Council meeting.

After establishing me as a disgrace to the Park Board, Mr. Aubin, later in the meeting engaged two Garland City employees in a game of red herring badminton.  Here is a description of that game:


1.  The invitation is made to serve a red herring. 

The invitation is usually extended to someone who is recognized as an “authority.” Sometimes, due to the phrasing of the question, the "authority" may unwittingly engage in the game not even realizing that he is participating in a deception.  However, more often than not, both players know what they are doing and in some cases have even rehearsed their dog and pony show.

Mr. Aubin asked Assistant City Manager Mr. Rick Vasquez if he thought the proper procedure had been followed.

2.  The invitation is accepted and a red herring is served.

Mr. Vasquez skillfully served his red herring over the net at that point said yes the parks and recreation board never reviewed contracts.   The relevant issue being discussed was about the Park Board’s duty to review park designs prior to presentation to the City Council—not review of contracts. Of course it’s true and that's the value of a red herring.  Although unrelated to the topic at hand, they are most often true.  Park Board members don’t review contracts.

The desire to review contracts is not the reason that three Garland Park Board Members to date have resigned from this board.  The issue of contracts was the red herring—a complete irrelevancy to the topic at hand introduced by Mr. Rick Vasquez who even produced a visual to substantiate his irrelevant testimony by returning from his seat with a fistful of papers to wrap his red herring in. Nothing impresses some of the "truth" more than a fistful of documentation. Of course the documentation only substantiated Mr. Vasquez's red herring about contracts--not the real topic which concerned the fact that six City Council members and Mr. Vasquez totally disregarded the process of having the Parks Board review design plans (not contracts) prior to presentation to the City Council.


From there Mr. Aubin proceeded to initiate the next game of red herring badminton—this time the invitation was extended to Mr. Jermel Stevenson, Garland Parks Director. Mr. Aubin asked Mr. Stevenson if the Parks and Recreation board were duly notified.  To which Mr. Stevenson served his red herring over the net and replied that we were given a briefing the very next day at our monthly September meeting regarding park criteria. 

Again, this red herring led away from the trail of truth as it did not address the central grievance that the Parks and Recreation Board had not seen the plans for the Dog and Skate Park prior to presentation to the City Council which is a breach in our process and the systems of local checks and balances for our local government.  The duly notification Mr. Stevenson referenced was about a five minute briefing of the criteria that the City Council had given Parks staff.  It was not the plan which at that point had not even been written.


So where does all this end?

Our community no longer has a $700,000 (tax value) building that over 200 citizens petitioned for adaptive reuse. Those who are supposed to represent us ignored the people and rushed ahead to demolish this building.  Some are saying they did it for money.  I don’t think this is  true.  Based on some of their rude behavior toward Mayor Athas, my guess would be they did it to spite him because among other things, the Mayor is a member of the Garland Makerspace Discovery Group and he advocated for adaptive reuse of the Armory building, a permaculture approach to life.  Again that is just my guess as I have no knowledge or understanding of their destructive motivation.

At the council meeting last night I heard more than one person uttering the phrase “Let’s move on.”

I agree.  However sad, we should move on; however, at the same time we will remember what has happened here and understand how wrong this decision made by six members of the City Council was for the majority of the residents in our community.  We will move on but we will also remember what has happened here.


Anita Goebel Is not a Martyr 

Last night at the Garland City Council meeting, three people stood up and suggested that Anita Goebel was a martyr in all this since she is a woman and  noted there are five other members of the Council who voted with her to demolish the Armory building.

Anita was chosen for this recall effort because District Two is her district and this is where Central Park and the armory are located and

2.  It was Ms. Goebel herself who made the motion to vote and thus ignore citizens in her own district and move forward with the demolition of the armory.

We could not recall all six of them at once.  But no, Anita Goebel is not a “sacrificial lamb” as one of the speakers on her behalf suggested.  Thanks to our recall effort in the Second District, we have a list of over 1,000 people—most of whom are as angry about the role the other five council members played in this as they are about Anita.  We are not forgetting them.  

May 2018

I would be very surprised to see any of these six City Council members re-elected or elected for any office as a result of their behavior on this.  Yes, we will move forward but we will not forget.  Even if we only engage half of these 1,026 petition signers to participate in the democratic process, that’s still 500 and a considerable local base ready for real change in our local government.

I anticipate a record turnout this May for our local election and that will indeed be a refreshing change in Garland’s local government—people waking up to the fact that those who sit on our City Council wield enormous power that directly impacts the quality of our lives.

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