Monday, November 4, 2013
Part Three....C/O Straight Up, With Sugar Coating or No C/O
In Parts One and Two, the subject of controversial Certificate of Occupancy issues in several of the downtown businesses was introduced. I shared some of the mystery and subterfuge regarding some of the businesses operating in the Q Office Suites and Art Center Building…A’Vouloir Apothecary, Wylie Art Gallery, and Keller Williams. What is still not understood, is WHY the Mayor, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, some other City Officials, Lynn Grimes of the Wylie Art Gallery & Keller Williams and others in the Q building collectively created such webs of deceit for the purpose of causing Dwight’s job loss and to close down The Crafter’s Co-op. As I shared in Part Two, Dwight first became aware of the February 12th Special Called Meeting when the ACM came into his office placing him on Administrative Leave 4:00 p.m. February 14th. He informed Dwight he had already started investigations into the serious accusations Lynn Grimes claimed to be true.
During the duration that The Crafter’s Co-op was open, the Mayor made two visits into the shop. His first brief visit was not long after the shop opened for business. The next visit was made February 13th, the day AFTER the Special Called Meeting. His stated reason was he “wanted to stop and say ‘hello’ on his way to see Lynn at the gallery”. I was really surprised to see him as I had seen him countless times going into the gallery during the 17 months the shop was in business and he never felt the need to “favor” me with his presence those times. He was very gregarious, acting like my new BFF and said that he wanted to make sure that Dwight and I came to the “State of the City” Chamber of Commerce Luncheon to hear his speech as he was going to talk about all Dwight had done again to help retain Wylie’s ISO-1 rating and he even planned to mention the shop when he talked about Wylie’s downtown. We had an article coming out in The Connection that very day about Robyn B., one of the crafters and her ministry “Faith Like a Mustard Seed”. I told him if he did talk of the shop, to please tell them about the 98 awesome artists and crafters and 28 ministries represented in the shop. He left and went next door smiling that “I LOVE WYLIE” smile. I had no idea what he had just done… painting me a huge rainbow BEFORE the biggest storm in our life was to begin. Why was our Mayor so incredibly deceitful? Did he want me to think he knew nothing of what he and Lynn had done and the plans of their meeting the very night before? Did he want to make me think that he was on our side for the fateful meeting he was planning to set us up for the following Monday, February 18th? These are questions that still make no sense to us. But of course, the duplicity of people never does make sense.
As I shared in Part Two, it was not until 4 p.m. on the 14th that I was first aware of anything amiss when my landlord’s son came into the shop very upset demanding Dwight’s private numbers. And I later found out that at that exact time, the ACM was in Dwight’s office placing him on Administrative Leave. It was that evening during our Valentine dinner that Dwight told me he had been placed on leave and the few details that he knew of the accusations and the investigation. We stayed up all night trying to make sense of what had happened and believed there was no other choice other than to close the shop. Since The Crafter’s Co-op was a ministry that Dwight helped me fund, there was no way that I could fund the shop without some financial help that Dwight’s job had afforded me. In the meeting with the ACM, he had NOT given Dwight encouragement for a positive outcome and the options he gave Dwight that afternoon painted a bleak future. To stay in the shop, meant that we would be spending money we would need for our living expenses as our income was going to be reduced by 80 per cent. I also had more than seven months left on my lease and it was clear that Lynn Grimes would never give up until the doors of The Crafter’s Co-op were closed for good.
Friday, the 15th after a long night of crying, talking, and planning, we decided to go to breakfast before going to bed. We put a sign up at the shop to let everyone know that the shop was closed until further notice. We then went to Taste of Home for a late breakfast. We parked in the front, curbside on Ballard Street. When we left, Dwight opened my door and walked around opening the driver side door. I immediately heard an engine roar and the screeching of tires as a car came to a fast stop and the driver had used a police type “tactical block” nosed in where we could not move our car without backing up. Dwight turned and leaned over into the passenger side window of the “blocking” car. Minutes later, Dwight got into the car and said “Well that was no accident”. He then told me that it had been the Mayor and he set a meeting up for both of us to come to his “office outside of town, so we would not be seen”. Dwight said the Mayor acted as if we would be able to “put this to rest” on Monday, February 18th.
Saturday evening, February 16th, I sent an email out to all the artists and crafters telling them we were closing the shop and needed to vacate by the 28th of February. I hoped to be out in order to avoid the March rent IF my landlord would let me out of my lease. That evening, Alicia White (Councilman Rick White’s wife and an artist displaying her photography in the shop), called me after getting my email. She was very upset and did not want me to say anything other than YES or NO to her questions. I had thought all the council members were in the Special Called Meeting, but she informed me Rick was not and knew nothing about the meeting. To this day, I believe that Rick and probably all the council members (except maybe Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Spillyards) were OUTSIDE THE LOOP of this group, and probably only know the same stories that the Mayor told Dwight and I that fateful Monday “that everyone would be told”, which were their own lies of deception.
On Monday, February 18th we went to the meeting to “put this to rest” so Dwight could get back to work. We arrived early for our 10:00 a.m. meeting at Cottonwood Church of Christ where the Mayor is Pastor. The Mayor was definitely “in character”. The first 20-25 minutes he “primed” us, making us feel at ease in the company of an “ally”, a “friend”. We settled in for the kill as he told us about how he had been painfully shy as a child, all but paralyzed to speak until his parents bought him a clown costume. Behind that face of a clown he became the person he is today. That very costume shaped the direction of his life as he became a clown performing at parties, an early career choice as Ronald McDonald with his own “driver” taking him to events. He talked about the various clown figurines in his office, the clown book he authored, and probably all the honors he has received lifelong. He shared his demise at the hands of Hewlett Packard and said he “understood” just how Dwight felt to have had something like this happen to him as his own job loss was still a fresh wound, but people had helped him as he was now a pastor…….the warm and fuzzy Eric Hogue did a very fine job of completely disarming us. We did not see the attack coming and were truly annihilated before we even woke up from the warm and fuzzy scene he created for us in his office.
It was like we had been slipped Rohypnol into the water, as we came out of the dream into the reality of the set-up. As the Mayor shifted the gears from his own story to ours, it was unbelievable how masterful he was at accusing and twisting things to his favor. He was no friend, but a man bent on our destruction. His anger was so alarming yet very real as his indignation towards us was disclosed with the unveiling of his mask. He was crafting the story before our eyes of “what everyone would come to know”. He said I had caused a Wylie View implosion by sending the email of the “closing” to my artists and crafters. He threatened us that if we did anything else, talked to anyone, he could promise that everyone in town including all my crafters would hate us. If Dwight was to ever work again, we had to go along with all he was saying OR else life as we had known it would never be the same for us. When we tried to correct his diatribe, he would always interrupt, not allowing us to voice the truth into the scenarios that had been fabricated. The very few explanations we were actually able to express were met with his contempt, insults and ridicule and again were told “what everyone would come to know”. The Mayor even looked me in the eyes saying “Who will everyone believe…you or a Pastor? Everyone knows Pastors don’t lie.” At the end of the meeting, Dwight was chastised for coming to talk to him AND accused him of violating the chain of command in addition to everything else he accused us of. The Mayor had literally cornered us for the sole purpose of setting up this meeting. He arranged the date, time, and place of the meeting for BOTH of us to appear. It was done in such a way that Dwight did NOT feel like he had any choice but to go and Dwight did want the issue put behind him “so that he could get back to work” as The Mayor indicated. If Dwight had refused the Mayor, it would have been an act of insubordination. But by Dwight’s acceptance and going to the scheduled meeting, the Mayor deceitfully enabled the City to charge Dwight with insubordination for breaking the chain of command.
Months after the Mayor’s meeting, one thing has come out that brought some sense to the Mayor’s accusations of Dwight “turning the Certificate of Occupancy debacle into a POLITICAL ISSUE”. In the June 5, 2013 Wylie News paid advertisement……”ERIC HOGUE: REAL ESTATE AGENT…REAL-LY?” and the June issue of In and Around “LOOK WHO’S JOINED THE TEAM!” shows the Mayor on the Kathy Spillyards Team. He started his “new career path” back in January 2013 BEFORE they maneuvered Dwight’s job loss. In our meeting with the Mayor, he kept saying what Dwight “did” was an offense because he made it a “political issue” because of Mayor Pro-Tem Kathy Spillyards and I guess that made sense to him, but certainly not to us. What he did not say was that before ALL this Certificate of Occupancy mess started, he too was involved, thanks to his “long-time friend and real estate agent, Kathy Spillyards”. If they were not having Open or Closed meetings at the gallery during those late nights, then he must have been studying and/or preparing for his exams. Ssssoooo the Certificate of Occupancy ordinance requirement was EXCUSED because his friend Lynn Grimes did not want one….Kathy Spillyards being the Wylie Mayor Pro-Tem did not want one and was absolved as a politician from this ordinance requirement….and the Mayor, he too is absolved from ordinance requirements because he is The Big Kahuna or why? Of course, he too denied that any real estate business was being conducted at the gallery, even though Lynn’s Keller Williams ad had run for four consecutive years 2010-2013 in the “Wylie Chamber of Commerce Community & Business Guide”. To simplify things, it sounds like the ordinances are going to have to be re-written for “Wylie’s Exceptions To All Rules” so that good and innocent employees are not hung out to dry because of the whim of the day of the Mayor and all his BFF’s. I definitely understand that these three individuals DID NOT WANT TO HAVE TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDINANCE, but I still do not understand WHY?? What is being hidden in plain sight?
The Mayor was especially angered that we were closing the shop and told me to “take a week off and quit this emotional knee jerk reaction, but keep the shop open”. We kept trying to explain that The Crafter’s Co-op was never intended for OUR profit, but a community ministry to help others during the economical downturn and without Dwight’s job to help fund it, we had no option but to close. I also tried to explain that Lynn’s concentrated efforts to close the shop since the very beginning would not end IF we were even able to keep the shop open at that location. The Mayor would not accept ANY of our explanations which made NO sense to us at all, as it was so obvious that they ALL had gone to painstaking efforts to close the shop down AND get rid of Dwight. So why were they demanding that we keep the shop open when Dwight was NOT going to have an income to keep the doors open? It was not until several months after the shop was closed that the Mayor’s and ACM’s “presumptuous orders” to keep the shop open began making sense. Little by little, things Dwight and I had said to each other began filtering back to us and we realized that they had the shop “bugged” with audio devices and had been listening to conversations in the shop for some time. Why were they doing this? Obviously to find out what we knew, when we knew it, for the purpose of damage control before any exposure could happen. After all, in the games they play, their best defense is a good offense. And the best offense is to completely discredit anyone that could be a threat. Our Mayor, former HR Director and CIO for EDS and Hewlett Packard knows how to exact character assassination so at our first cry of “WOLF”, nothing we could say would be believed. And that further explains why this ‘gang of character assassins’ continue in their trumped up efforts with our friends, community pastors, business associates, the council and chamber members, etc., working to completely disarm us of all credibility and even our Christian witness. Yes, they have hurt us tremendously, but the Lord is still in control and they can NOT change that. Each day we see His Hand in it all, as things are being uncovered and so many people over past years are coming forward with their own stories. Pieces in this huge puzzle are coming together and we all are seeing His light shining through each of our dark, dark tunnels now. We know that the Lord is in this battle and those waging this war against His children will not continue to prosper. His Promises are there for us and we shall remain eternally grateful that we are on this side of this battle—for even with all our huge losses, there is so much more to gain.
To be continued………..