Before I leave my forum for penning (OK, typing) my preferred type of writing — op-ed pieces — there are a few last words that I want to share, even though no one asked my opinion.
Here are some of my thoughts concerning the situation that I wrote about with regard to the McKinney Police Department. I’m referring to the Chief of Police Joe William’s apparently unethical and childish behavior as well as malfunctioning equipment in the department. The former police officer I interviewed spoke on the record, willing to allow me to use his name, because he has moved on to his own business venture. An engineer, Aaron Smith, is fortunate enough to have another career option other than being a police officer. Everything he said, on the record, I recorded, then, as committed journalists do, I began the process of vetting him and the information he shared.
I spoke with a number of police officers and others who know Mr. Smith. Over and over I heard the same answer:
Aaron’s a good guy.
Everything he says is true, however, you can’t use my name because I will lose my job.
Surreptitious conversations took place at clandestine locations, during which I was told over and over, “Angie, I have no respect for our Chief of Police. He’s set us back years with his mindset of the ‘good ol’ boy’ network. If you aren’t one of his inner circle, things are tough. He doesn’t have the experience to manage our police department. We have no avenue for input. If we disagree with the Chief, we are reprimanded, if we say nothing, we are told we should have said something.”
Additionally, I’ve heard from reliable sources who are close to the situation that if you get on the Chief’s bad side, for whatever reason, communication with him will cease. He won’t respond to your emails. He may or may not respond to your phone calls. Childish? You bet! Acceptable? I think not!
The atmosphere of fear is pervasive — pretty ironic, isn’t it, that the very individuals who courageously protect us, the citizens of McKinney, work in fear for their jobs?
I was told that the “vote of confidence” that was taken inside McKinney PD and reported by McKinney Police Association President Jose Quiles at a city council meeting in Feb. was “a joke.” Again officers said that they felt they had no choice but to vote that they had confidence in the current Chief. The fear was that if they didn’t vote yes, the Chief would find out, then jobs would be lost. I must confess that as I watched that meeting online that particular night, I felt that the entire thing was forced – a production – and not a true representation of the feelings of the members of the police force or MPA. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that many officers feel this way.
There are other situations that I’ve been told about, but in order to protect the identity of my source, I’m not at liberty to describe those situations. The details would give away my source’s identity. I would not want to be responsible for an officer losing his or her job.
Again though, it appears that it’s time for a change in leadership. Our city has gone through, and will continue to go through, change. As I have always told my own kids, “The one thing you can count on is change.” As Spencer Johnson says in his book, Who Moved My Cheese … “If you do not change, you can become extinct !”
We deserve great leaders in McKinney. We are a growing, dynamic, diverse community made up of intelligent, well-educated and caring citizens who warrant excellence, as opposed to mediocrity. Let’s not become extinct! Let’s make the changes we need to make and get on with the business of life where we can respect and follow our leaders. We will not always agree, but in those cases, let’s agree to disagree with respect.
I am reminded of a quote from Jim Collin from his book Good to Great: “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.”
I wonder, sometimes, if we are simply settling in McKinney.
Angie Bado is owner and publisher of TownSquareBuzz.com.
Publisher’s final note:
Since I made the announcement this past Friday that TownSquareBuzz.com will be shutting down due to lack of funding, I’ve received a multitude of inquiries asking what we need to stay in business. My question in response to those inquiries is, “Do enough of our citizens care about local news? Do they want to be engaged and know what is going on in their community? And more importantly, are the residents of McKinney, Texas willing to pay for that news? Evidently, the answer to those questions is no.
I’ve already addressed the reasons that we began charging a subscription for our product. After all, last time I checked, I couldn’t drive through Taco Bell and ask for free tacos. Everything has a price.
That being said, perhaps TSB will somehow survive, however, it’s obviously time for me to move on. I want to thank our thousands of readers who used us as their go-to source for local news. I am saddened that we couldn’t convert enough of these thousands of readers to paid subscribers. The revenue would have gone back into the business to make us better . Oh well, that ship has sailed.
I especially want to say thank you to our many advertisers who supported us through our nine years of growth. Although too numerous to list, you know who you are…sending a heart-felt thank you from me to you.
Lastly, I want to make certain that the public knows that without our terrific staff, all of whom brought different strengths to our team, we could not have made it this far. They are each rock stars in my eyes. Special thanks to Sara Thomas for her work on Square Off – we will miss the laughs.