Opinion > Star Staff
What Gives: A repugnant smell is emanating from this cover up
If perception is reality, then the current reality residing in the hallowed city halls of McKinney is distrust, anger and uncertainty.
It's certainly not the Utopian idea that the Collin County seat is "the second best place to live in America" at the moment.
By now it's a well-chronicled issue how City Manager Jason Gray unceremoniously dumped long-time Police Chief Doug Kowalski on Oct. 5. While city charter states Gray has jurisdiction over city personnel, it was the manner of the "reassignment" as much as anything that has citizens and city officials upset. Gray had the audacity to announce his sacking of the venerated Kowalski to city personnel via email, instead of an announcement. What's more, Gray then utilized the unprofessional mode of social media to inform others of his decision, by choosing to go Hollywood courtesy of YouTube.
Then there is the matter of it all. It appears Gray has orchestrated a coup in order to install long-time colleague Joe Williams as police chief. Williams, who seemingly has been put in a terribly awkward position, goes way back with Gray. Within a short time of Gray giving Kowalski the news on that black Friday, Williams was tabbed as the new head of police. He was moved from deputy city manager, "effective immediately, to maintain a continuity of command," the video stated.
Calls from numerous media have reportedly gone unreturned, and requests for comment on the incident have been met with a door slammed in the face. City spokesperson Anna Clark drew the unenviable task of being point on this case. Her scripted reply has been, essentially, no reason given and no further comment forthcoming.
What has been forthcoming from city officials is a lot of ire and surprise.
"The manner in which Mr. Gray executed his decision was extremely disrespectful, unprofessional and inconsistent with that which our citizens demand and city personnel deserve," fumed District 4 Councilman Ray Ricchi. "It was very disturbing, to say the least."
"I was not aware that there were issues," expressed fellow Council member Don Day.
Within the minimum amount of time chartered for Mayor Brian Loughmiller to call an emergency session of the council - 72 hours - it was done. However, following Monday evening's meeting, there still has been no definitive word given.
Thus, we have the perception that Gray is 1) on a power trip and feels he is above reproach from the mayor and city council, and/or 2) cronyism is alive and well in Gray's personnel decisions, and/or 3) there is some chicanery going on. That is the reality of this past week of McKinney government.
Did Gray ambush Kowalski? If it is a matter of there being a personal issue between the two, then state it. If there is documentation supporting insubordination, then produce it. A reader suggested it has to do with politics concerning Hank's Texas Grill. We aren't so naïve to not realize city government embodies politics, so if that is the case, then open up. The truth will come to light, so better it happen presently, than later.
Whatever the reason, Gray and now the rest of the McKinney government have done a dreadful job of letting the community know why all this has taken place. For his own good, Gray owes it to the community to let them know why he made this decision and why he chose Joe Williams. Otherwise, are any of the movers and shakers associated with McKinney's government going to trust Gray following this disruption?
By practically all accounts, Kowalski deserved better. Now, concerned citizens deserve better. Gray, Loughmiller, the rest of the city council, even Williams, owe an explanation. This idea of treating everyone like mushrooms by keeping them in the dark and feeding them dung is not acceptable. Because the dung has hit the fan.
J. David Barron is a staff columnist for Star Newspapers. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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