An Open Letter to the NCAA

(A recent Facebook post by our current mayor, Maher Maso prompted me to write my letter today.)

Let me start by saying, that my adopted home of Frisco is one of the best cities to live in (not just by my standards, but by organizations that analyze these types of claims). While this letter may appear to be critical in some ways, it does not take away from the fact that I have continued to call Frisco home since 1999, and am proud of all that our city has accomplished since I’ve been a resident. Continue reading “An Open Letter to the NCAA”

We All Should Value Privacy

Especially in the bathroom!

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Caroline Cossey – former Bond Girl and Playboy Model

This is Caroline Cossey, a transgender woman who is a former Bond Girl and posed for Playboy in the 90’s. Frisco has two candidate’s in the runoff election (early voting starts June 6, election day is June 18) that want people like Caroline to be forced to use the male restrooms in our city and state. Caroline was born male and under laws being promoted by our state leaders to “protect children” (based on the North Carolina law), she would be required to use the male restroom.

This is what Terri Green and Cindy Asche (see update below) want for Frisco.

Privacy is incredibly important, but so is safety. Our city should be a safe place for everyone, without exception. If Caroline was forced to use a male restroom (as Terri and Cindy insist should be the case) to use a stall, she would most likely be arrested or assaulted. How is that protecting the privacy and safety of people in our community?

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Aydian Dowling – Fitness Model

And then there is Aydian Dowling, a transgender man who recently was featured in Men’s Health. Aydian was born female and if Terri or Cindy have anything to do with the best interest of our city, they would require Aydian to use the female restroom. If someone like Aydian was to walk into a female restroom (because they were required to), there is no doubt that Aydian would be putting himself into a very hostile environment – through no fault of his own. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be assaulted, or worse!

Ask yourself if this makes sense. Ask yourself if this is the type of city you want Frisco to be known for? Rockwall City Council recently tried to change their laws to follow the North Carolina law, but it failed as their Mayor was not able to get a second for his motion. It’s an issue here in Frisco under the umbrella term “quality of life” (and being promoted by groups like the Frisco Tea Party). If Terri Green and Cindy Asche are elected, this is practically guaranteed to be placed on the Council agenda for consideration.

Shouldn’t our candidates and city council be focusing on more important issues? Frisco can do better and must.

Update (6/2/2016): Cindy Asche has stated that she does not believe this to be a local issue, and has not taken a position on this. I have sought feedback from her – as I have with other candidates – on whether she would support or oppose bathroom restrictions for transgender individuals. She has yet to reply.
Update (6/7/2016): Still no reply from Cindy on my request for clarification.

Pat. Seriously?

So today I get an invitation from City Councillor Pat Fallon to attend a fundraising event at his home for Texas GOP Chair Steve Munisteri. For $250 (minimum donation required), I’d get to listen to Mr Munisteri tell me how – among other things – the GLBT community should never be a part of the Texas landscape (remnants of Gov. Perry comments encouraging gay veterans returning from duty to live somewhere else1). I’d also learn the reasons (I assume) why the Texas GOP wants to ban oral sex, re-criminalize sodomy, and provide government housing (i.e. jail) to anyone who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple or marries them.

So I declined.

from: James Nunn
to: pat@fallonforfrisco.com
date: Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 12:40 PM
subject: Re: Dinner with Texas Republican Chairman Steve Munisteri

Pat, I’m going to decline. I’d thank you for the invite, but it was quite offensive given the recent actions by the Texas GOP in relation to the GLBT community, so excuse my lack of appreciation for your gesture. If you were the “friend of the community” as you told many earlier this year (and last year), then you wouldn’t be doing this, or you certainly wouldn’t have offended me (and countless others) by not culling your list before sending this out.

James

Note 1: “Texans have made a decision about marriage, and if there is some other state that has a more lenient view than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.” – Gov. Rick Perry, in response to a question about returning gay veterans who might want the right to marry in Texas.

Frisco City Council Place 4 Election

As a neighbor, friend or work colleague, I am invading your inbox for a short moment to remind you that voting for the Frisco City Council Place 4 runoff election started today. Early voting runs through June 8 (no voting on June 6), with the runoff election being held on June 12, 2010. Details on voting locations and hours can be found here.

Another reason for this note is to answer a question that I’ve been asked by some of you: who would I like to see as the new council member for Place 4?

The answer to that question – for me – is simple: Jim Joyner.

I base this on two main factors. The first is based on his experience and secondly, Jim’s vision for Frisco as a vibrant and livable city. Both of these are extremely important to me for the following reasons.

Experience: Jim has previously served on city council, the CDC and other commissions and boards within the city. While I have not applauded every decision that Jim has made in his previous tenure on city council, Jim has always been open to discuss the issues with any citizen of Frisco to hear the different sides of the story. Much of the time, his judgment has been solid and his intentions always true.

Future Direction of the City: For years we had a very strong city council that had a clear vision on where Frisco should be in the future. Through these council members a city was created that became the jewel in Texas as one of the best places to live, work, play and grow (to borrow our city’s old motto). In that vision, Frisco has been a partner with other cities to build a strong regional response to the growing needs of our community and those around us. Jim has proven experience to understand the needs of our community and had the vision to support major initiatives like the Arts of Collin County project. Just as importantly, Jim is a fiscal conservative and also knows when to exercise restraint. A council member is one voice amongst 6 (7 in the case of a tie), and right now we need Jim’s voice on council to maintain a balance amongst those that support the vision that made Frisco what it is today.

Your vote is important, and I hope that you will stand with the many voices that know that a vote for Jim Joyner is a vote for a voice for all the citizens of Frisco.

If you have any questions or comments on my email, please reply to my email or call me at 469-287-8488.

Regards,
James Nunn

Arts Center, Part 2

Further to my recent post on the Arts of Collin County discussion currently happening in Frisco, Bob Allen has responded to questions posed to him following the City Council meeting where the “re-vote” consideration was discussed. His email is copied below (thanks Bob for being so thorough in addressing many of my concerns).

Thank you for the note and for the opportunity to share my perspective.  I apologize that it has taken me a little longer to respond than normal, but I have been trying to spend available time to find a positive resolution to this issue.  To date, I have received a large number of both pro and con messages; this message will be sent in reply to both.  Finally, I apologize for the length of this message, but I do not know how I can provide a complete response without taking the time here.

I remain a strong supporter of the Arts of Collin County project.  People can articulate this as either a luxury, an amenity, or a necessity, but that is not the issue in my mind.   I do however believe this project will someday be one of the single greatest cultural accomplishments in the history of Far North Texas.  Most importantly, a project of this caliber could never be accomplished by any single city alone.  It will take a regional approach to address a project of this impact.

I recognize this issue has been raised by one of my fellow Council members, who has made no secret about his desire to eliminate the project, but I could not disagree more with either his approach or his intentions.  For me, it marks the first time in my Council experience where we are looking for a way to fail, rather than to succeed.  Elimination of this project would result in the loss of over $3,420,000 of taxpayer money that has already been spent.  That will be money lost forever, with no opportunity to either recover it or benefit from it. This represents almost 14% of the original approved bonds, as well as the operating costs since the project’s inception.  Lost also will be the hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours which have been expended during the past 10 years this project has been underway.   Lost will be the voice of those citizen’s that represented the “will of the people” in 2002.  And most importantly, lost forever will be Frisco’s reputation as a regional partner that keeps its word and follows through on its commitments.

I understand that some people now assert this issue should be re-voted because it was originally slated to be a four-city commitment, but let’s go back in time to look more closely at all of the dialogue that took place in 2002 and 2003 before we discount the “will of the people” in 2002.  I accept the fact this fellow council member didn’t live here at the time, so there is no way for him to have any insight into the situation.  However, I did live here and I was totally involved in the vetting/decision process and I can assure you the will of the people was clear.

So, what would have changed if we had re-voted in 2002/2003?  Nothing, except that we would have incurred additional taxpayer expense for another election and the overall project would have been delayed before we could have completed the Interlocal Agreements and established the Arts of Collin County Board.  Remember, both of those activities were critical so that we could begin the fundraising efforts that would ultimately be necessary to build the project.  The donation of the land was one such critical and valuable activity that was accomplished during this time.  The actual language in the bond amendment would have been exactly the same.  The amount of the bond amendment ($19M) would have been exactly the same.   The estimated operations cost of the facility would have been exactly the same.  All of the published information supporting the bonds would have been exactly the same. Were there citizens that wanted a re-vote at the time?  Yes, but they were well within a very small minority and many openly admitted they voted against it originally and wanted another opportunity to oppose it.  An overwhelming majority of public opinion was that we should move forward the project as is.  Despite that support, the vetting, research, and public input process took place for over a year after the original election.  Only then, after weighing all of the factors, citizen input, and implications of what would be necessary to create a successful product for the citizens of Frisco, it was decided that the original vote that passed by a 2 to 1 margin should stand.

Another concern seems to be that the population has changed since 2002, and that somehow the will of the 2002 voters means less today.  I could no more support that contention than I could a re-vote on the Senior Center, the Library, the Grand Park, the Economic Development Corporation, or the Community Development Corporation. The elections of the past are in the past and it is a disservice to those citizens to suggest their voice is any less worthy today.  The fact that new citizens have moved here is a testament to their past contributions.  And although these new citizens did not have the opportunity vote in 2002, the results of that vote have been well known and publically available, up to and including the time that Frisco was selected for their new home.

I’m particularly confused by this change in population argument, since it is one of the arguments raised by my fellow council member, yet even he made an assertion at a recent council meeting that had the revote occurred in 2002 he would be totally supportive with the project today.  I can only assume that even he no longer agrees this as a viable reason to revisit the issue.

A third concern I hear voiced – “this is this is not the time to issue the bonds”.  This argument certainly carries more weight for me.  You have elected your council to manage the city on your behalf.  I believe that decisions about the timing of expenses is absolutely within our core obligation to each of our citizens.  What I’m finding in some of the email messages and conversations lately however seems to be confusion between the “sale” of the bonds and the possibility of a “re-vote”. Although I do not support the latter, I agree that a great deal of thought must go into any upcoming bond sale.  But I do not believe that one should be connected to the other.

Lost in all this discussion has been the value of this project, the fact that no single city in the area could possibly go it alone, and the fact that it will forever change the landscape of our community. Yet, the positive aspects of this project are not merely cultural.  There are also economic benefits.  Yes, the operations of this project are not projected to make money, but neither do operations such as the Senior Center, the Library, or any of our parks.  Each of these are components which build into our overall quality of life.    And while we can always find people that do not want to utilize some of these specific facilities, we cannot be a sustaining community without them

A study published by The Perryman Group (renowned expert on Economic Development) in 2001, The Arts, Culture, and the Texas Economy, attempts to quantify the value of the investment and the value specific to economic development.  To quote a small portion of the study, “Virtually every city with sustained expansion over an extended time horizon has embraced the arts and the arts are a vital part of our lives, our communities, our well being, our economy and our very social fabric”. While I appreciate we are also doing other projects to support the arts, this project is unique.  It has been touted around the world as a model of regional cooperation for the good of its citizens.

During my service to you, I have always focused on the tasks necessary to ensure Frisco is a sustainable city.  We cannot have a city that lives in the past, we cannot sit where we are and believe “it’s good enough”, and we cannot exist in an economy that does not receive revenue from outside of our borders. Our success will depend on revenues from outside of our city, our state, and even our country.  The success I describe must come through regional partnerships and promises kept.  I have always promised you that I would work on your behalf to provide a balanced view between a competitive tax rate and value added services that benefit our community.  I will continue to keep that promise.

The topic at hand today should not be about a re-vote.  As a result of decisions made in 2002 and beyond, we have been working collaboratively with our regional partners and we have an obligation to continue that collaboration. The opportunity for a re-vote on the issue could have been addressed through public sentiment in any or all of the representative elections since that time.  They were not, because they were not an issue.  The four city issue only became the lightening rod, when it became a means to an end from a single individual searching for a way to stop a project he does not support.

Again, I apologize for the length of this message.  It is not a simple topic and I’m sure I still did not do it justice here.  Still, there are many complexities that deserve attention.  Although I have not included a copy of the original report here (it’s about 140 pages and 3MB in size, so I didn’t want to clog your email box), I will however share it with you if you are interested in looking at it.  I believe it is further evidence of the total due-diligence which has been a part of this project since its inception.

Finally, I cannot impress upon you enough the harm that I fear will occur should Frisco decide to revote this issue.  It’s not a matter of whether it passes or fails; the damage will occur long before any vote would actually take place.  It will be swift, immediate, and permanent. However, you can still have a voice.  If you find this information is of value to you, I urge you to share it with your friends and neighbors.  Then I encourage everyone to make sure the Council hears your wishes.  Since I am sending this note as a response to everyone, authors of both pro and con messages, I know there will be some that disagree with me.  I respect that will be the case, but I hope to you will also consider some of the background and perspective I have provided here.  I’m not opposed to citizens being heard today, but neither can I discount the voices of those in 2002.  I humbly request your support.

Respectfully,
Bob Allen

Currently Bob Allen and Bart Crowder are the only council members that have indicated support for Frisco’s continued involvement in the project. Email the Mayor and Council to share your thoughts before Monday (March 8).