Rowlett mayor says he will likely step down soon

Rowlett Mayor John Harper has apparently had it with his City Manager and City Council.

Yesterday, at his monthly “Breakfast with the Mayor” at Hubbard’s Restaurant, he said he’s had enough of all the lies, name-calling, lack of support and personal attacks on him and his family by the City Manager, Council members and special interest groups.

So much so that he said it is time for a change and he will likely step down soon.

“I just don’t know what the timing will be,” he explained. “I’m not stepping down tomorrow. I’m not going to disappear into the sunset. I’m going to be here for a while to be a part of the budget process – at least through September and October. I’m going to continue to provide responsible leadership. I’m pretty proud of our progress. It’s been a good four years.”

But he said all the friction and name-calling which has erupted in recent weeks “has taken a toll on me and my family.”

The Chief Financial Officer of the Cooper Institute Research Division, and former Vice President for Business & Administration said, “There’s just nothing left” regarding his efforts to work with the current City Council, which he said changed its personality when Council members Donna Davis and Michael Gallops were elected in 2010.

He added that none of the current Council members have experience with running a business, which he has done for many years – the cause of one of the primary problems at City Hall.

The second term Mayor, who was elected to his first three-year term in 2007, said he really wants to hear from the citizens before he decides just what to do. He realizes many have not yet even heard about all the problems between him and the City Manager and Council.

“My first commitment is to the citizens. I’ve only heard thus far from opponents. I want to hear from citizens before I decide what to do.”

But the second-term Mayor explained that he now sees himself as more of a transitional leader who brings about change – good changes, he believes, such as the George Bush Tollway extension, the DART train station, new highways, rehabilitated neighborhoods and improved parks.

Because he said he is dedicated to continuing to make changes, and will do so on a regional basis after he steps down, he believes if he takes himself out of the equation, and new leaders are elected to the Council, the focus will no longer be on him. It will be on his message.

“The message should be the center of attention, not the Mayor,” he said.

The message he wants to communicate to citizens is that the City Council has not kept their promises they made when they ran for office and the City Manager is making too many poor decisions.

“My message is simple. The City Council is not listening to the citizens.”

In a separate prepared statement he wrote: “The Rowlett City Council wants to stop your Mayor from speaking out about their failures to keep their promises to control spending and not increase taxes or fees. They want me to resign. They are not hearing the voice of the people.”

“I will very likely step down from my post as your Mayor. I am considering the most appropriate time to do that and still do my best for the citizens of Rowlett.”

But before he goes, he said wants to be sure that citizens hear his message and get more involved.

“I want to be sure that my message is heard by all the citizens and not drowned out by special interest groups who want to continue the status quo.”

He explained the status quo means “their strategy is to piecemeal,” rather than to adopt sustainable, long-term financial plans.

“There’s no question that the City budget is unsustainable,” he said, meaning the City is now spending more money than it has coming in.

He handed out a Fact Sheet which contains numerous transactions approved by the Council which he wrote “cites sufficient factual incidents to show that this City Council is not listening to the citizens.”

“Taken individually, each incident might not seem too concerning,” he wrote. “However, taken together, it is very disconcerting. Where are the kept promises? Will this continue in the future?”

Transactions include:

  1. Purchase of non-critical goods and services during the extended economic downturn of office furniture for the City Manager, Assistant and others; 100 new high-end desktop computers for City staff; Out-of-town retreat for City executives; and a $4,500 dishwasher for the animal shelter.
  2. Use of needed contingency/emergency funds to pay for operating expenses, including supplemental payments for the City Employee Retirement Plan, plus lease payments and interest payments for new equipment.
  3. Reallocation of employee vacancy funds without Mayor/Council review
  4. Adoption of self-insurance for City employees health program
  5. An increase of 57.5% in City employees retirement benefits
  6. Purchase of $700,000 worth of public works equipment using funds designated for repair of neighborhood streets, alleys and screening walls
  7. Increased water and emergency 911 fees
  8. Tax rate increase of 3% for debt service
  9. Reduction of five City employees from the workforce. when 19 positions are already vacant and budgeted for but long unfilled

Harper said he believes new Council members must be elected this May to also change the status quo.

“It is time to elect new Council members who will keep their promises,” he said.

“No doubt the crazies will continue to attack me personally. Some will say that I’m quitting. I’m not quitting; I’m just taking myself out of the equation.”

He said he believes that Rowlett has a bright future and needs another dedicated and proven leader to continue with what the City has accomplished thus far.

“Four years ago I promised you that I would lead the City of Rowlett forward and bring professionalism to our local government,” he explained. “You trusted me and I kept those promises. Now Rowlett is on the move!

By J.J. Smith, Publisher


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8 Responses for “Rowlett mayor says he will likely step down soon”

  1. TexasFred says:

    Ron — There are rumors to that affect… Just sayin’… Next Council meeting, walk up to me and ASK ME that, face to face…

  2. Ron says:

    Is TexasFred mentally ill?

  3. Ginger says:

    The childish behavior exhibited by all involved (including bloggers) should be an embarrassment for Rowlett. Sadly it isn’t.

  4. Robert says:

    Okay I’ve been following this for a while now and seeing a NEWS organization print it got me fired up. How can you be a fair and balanced NEWS outlet when you wait a week to print the other side? That’s an MSNBC or CNN tactic. You slant the article to your liking, then after folks have made their minds up… Oh and here’s the followup to the story on the back page under the OBITS…

    The watchers are failing miserably in their duties.

  5. TexasFred says:

    And IF you took the time to read my blog instead of criticizing it, you would have seen where Harper himself made comments, and still can, but, has not done so…

    This isn’t reporting either J.J., you’re telling John Harper’s side of things and you are, along with the Rockwall TEA Party and their mentors, The Rockwall Republican Men’s Club, John’s cheerleaders, and being it’s ALL Rockwall, and John is Mayor of Rowlett, that’s strangely hilarious…

  6. I report what – in this case – the Mayor said. You opinionize. There is a difference. I’ll be reporting next what the City Manager and Council members have to say – both sides of the story.

  7. [...] this story: Rowlett mayor says he will likely step down soon Yesterday, at his monthly “Breakfast with the Mayor” at Hubbard’s Restaurant, he said he’s [...]

  8. TexasFred says:

    And J.J. Smith has the GALL to say that MY reporting is one-sided?

    As I said J.J., when you criticized me, I already knew YOUR slant, and I was right on the money too…

    You can come to my blog and register if you like, comments there are welcome, but I won’t engage you in a battle of words in email.. Let’s take it public, shall we??

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