Tag Archives: Politics

Not Dentoning……….

The Mercer Stone

The Mercer Stone

Let’s face it, we all have times when we can’t be in Denton. It happens. It doesn’t make us bad people, maybe miserable people while we’re gone, but not bad people. Surviving those times can be a challenge. The times away from Denton can be caused by a multitude of different reasons, none of them good reasons, but they are what they are.

Family-emergency-caused absenteeism is probably the most well accepted of all the excuses……I mean, reasons. Business travel is another. Vacation still another. The last one I don’t get, but hey, that’s just me…

Family reunions, helping your brother-in-law move out of the house, visits to the Mayo Clinic for exacerbated ingrown toenail appointments and dead grandmothers are all legitimate and exempted occasions which can remove us from Denton and thus Dentoning…..

I’ll give you an example of not-Dentoning. There really isn’t a typical variation of this, each person’s separation from Denton is unique, in and of itself, and should be dealt with accordingly. Of course it should never be bragged about, but sometimes telling your story of time away can help others when they have to confront such times in the future.

I am now not Dentoning.

I’m not proud of it, but it’s happening.

I am in Virginia, helping out a friend. This is a friend I’ve known since junior high, and I consider him my 3rd brother. I am minding the manor while he is away. If one is forced to be away from Denton, this is not a bad place to be.

My friend lives in a very nice house built in 1753. The ruins of an old mill are behind the house and there are still regular fox hunts in the area. 1753 of course, predates Denton which is really difficult for me to wrap my head around. How can that be? As I sit here in an office where George Washington used to buy flour, I have to feel sorry for him and those of his time who didn’t even have the ability to go Dentoning. Oh…..the humanity.

I will be here for a total of eleven days. That is a LONG time not to be doing it.

As you can tell by the age of the house, this is an area ripe with history. The house itself was built on British Territory before being liberated by patriots of the American Revolutionary War. The house has seen three wars……..the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. That is a war-rich environment!

The countryside surrounding Sally Mill is speckled with historic markers, 250 year old houses, low, stone fences built with rock cleared from the fields centuries ago, old slave quarters, and some really nice people. There are only 625 people who live in this town and I don’t know all of them yet, but I’ve only been here 4 days.

As of yet, I know (by name) Cindy who owns the local coffee shop, Barbara who works for her, Jack who is the caretaker of the Mercer Stone (more to follow) and his brother Bud. I’ve shook and howdy’d with some others, but these I know by name.

Cindy and Barbara are nice and called me “Tex” until we properly introduced ourselves. Jack and Bud are a different and fascinating story.

Jack is now in possession of the “Mercer Stone”. This stone is claimed by many to be the predecessor of the “Stone of Scone”, on which the Kings and Queens of England have been crowned for over a 1000 years. Queen Elizabeth was crowned on a throne containing the stone in 1953.

The story is told that the present Mercer Stone was taken to Ireland in the years BC from the Holy Land. This was in the time of Moses and before Christ’s birth, so this thing is OLD! The royalty of Ireland was crowned while seated on the stone for centuries until it was “borrowed” by the Scots. They continued the tradition of rock-related crowning until the British got jealous.

Well one day, the King of Scotland heard that the King of England was coming to get his rock, and he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He hid the Mercer Stone and replaced it with a hunk of Scottish sandstone for the English King to take. Having never seen the stone, he took it back to Westminster Abbey in London and the royalty from then to now have been crowned on an imposter stone.

So, you might ask……..why is the Mercer Stone in Virginia now? It seems back in the 1700′s, a man named Charles Mercer somehow obtained the stone and brought it to the Colonies to give to his daughter as a wedding present. Evidently, she wasn’t too fond of it and had it placed in a spring where it remained until just the past few years.

A while back, my new friend Jack, mentioned above, heard that the land from which the spring flowed was for sale and bought it. Within a month…..and before he could retrieve the stone, some Free Masons from about 100 miles away came with a truck and a crane and stole the stone!!

Well fortunately, a lady saw this stone rustling as it was happening and took a picture of the truck which included the license plate number. Jack was able to track the truck and thus, the stone to where it had been secreted by the vile, thieving Free Masons. Jack and brother Bud quickly went to said place to retrieve their rock. They were met with guns and nastiness. The sheriff was called, and before long, the Mercer Stone was returned to a safe place near Sally Mill……..where it resides today.

Not all non-Dentoning stories can be as intriguing as this one……I just lucked out. Suffice it to say, while not-Dentoning is something to be avoided at all costs, one can learn irrelevant information in the process.

I have six additional days of not-Dentoning and it IS a challenge. I’m pretty sure I’ll survive, but I can’t wait to get back to my town and to my way of life……

Dentoning….Invisible Denton

There is the Denton we all see and love……..vibrant, fun, comfortable, familiar, busy and diverse. There is another Denton that few see and many don’t know exists. Homeless Denton co-habitates with our daily lives and is anchored in places that would amaze many.

We all see people we suspect are without daily shelter…..we may even be approached on occasion by someone asking for a handout, but we don’t have the obvious clues of people at busy intersections, signs in hand, asking for money for one need or another as we do in larger cities. The absence of this does not mean there are not people struggling to live beside the roads, under the bridges and in camps in the woods of Denton.

A Denton home...

A Denton home…

Denton has programs to feed and provide essential needs to the less fortunate. Our Daily Bread is probably the most noticeable of these essential centers. Our Daily Bread has food, personal hygiene items, some transportation and even medical care for the homeless. When it comes to shelter though, the pickings are slim. The Salvation Army has very limited space, with separate areas for men and women. But they cannot begin to handle the numbers that live within the City of Denton.

The homeless are homeless due to many different reasons. Some have mental issues, others substance abuse problems, some are homeless due to the economy……….some just chose that life. I think the average Dentonite would be dumbfounded at, for the most part, the invisible population of homeless people in our city.

Some live in alleys, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, but a large number of the homeless live in camps within a mile or two of our Square. These camps consist of visqueen (yes, that is the correct spelling) covered mattresses and sleeping bags, in tents, boxes, or out in the open. Often tucked in thickets which provide additional protection, these “homes” are the only shelter from the elements these people know. Some are bunched together, but most house just one person.

Homeless camp

Homeless camp

The people who live in these “towns” within our town are fiercely protective of their locations. The less people know, the better. A couple of the camps are amazingly large with populations of elderly, runaways, baby-boomers and even children. The police are aware of these camps, but for the most part allow the residents to live as they must. During the daytime, they are mostly abandoned as people go about their lives. As dark settles, small fires are lit, cooking stoves started and bags are occupied.

These areas, of course, do not have the simple things like water, sewers, trash collection etc.. that we take for granted and thus have the looks of a refuge camp which, in fact, they are. Piles of trash, large collections of empty bottles, clothing, bikes and “natural” bathrooms litter the camps. The people get by, but it is a very hard life. The “real” world to these people has very little resemblance to the world we know.

Homelessness

A home

A home

The homeless “problem” is around us and is part of Denton. We may not see it, but it is here and it is close. Society struggles on how to help these people in towns and cities around the world. Here in Denton, we can give to our Daily Bread, the Salvation Army, and support Dr. Filipo Masciarelli, who along with his wife, provides medical care to Denton’s homeless population……..there are other ways to help if they are sought out. The Holiday Season is usually a time we think of giving to and helping others, but there so many who need assistance year-round.

Transportation

Transportation

We are so fortunate to live in Denton, let’s think of ways to help those who live in Invisible Denton……….

Dentoning….the rest of the story.

……Sometimes stories just need to be finished.

[This article was offered to the Denton Record-Chronicle to allow them to complete the story. There was no reply.]

Recently, the Denton Record-Chronicle ran an article about Mayor Mark Burroughs’ travel expenses for trips over the past year while representing the City of Denton. Once again, half-researched, half-reported “facts” misled DRC readers, yet when a little deeper record checking is done, the story becomes clear.

Denton Mayor

Mark Burroughs

I did that record checking, and here is what I found.

1) That the City’s budget was “busted” by the Mayor’s travel: The truth is that the Mayor (and the entire City Council) stopped most travel during the recession. The records show that the budget was not adjusted to post-recession travel demands until a few months ago. (Adjusting from $30,000 to $45,000 for the entire City Council per year). And remember, as the City’s chief representative, the Mayor does the majority of the travel.

2) That the City may have paid for the Mayor’s family to travel: The truth is, the City has never paid for travel, food or other such expenses for the Mayor’s wife or children while accompanying him on City business. (Although some cities do)

3) That the Mayor charged the City for premium rooms while on City trips: The truth is, the City only paid the lowest available rates at the facilities where events occurred. Mayor Burroughs paid the costs of any upgrades to accommodate his family every time they accompanied him.

4) That the Mayor of San Antonio apparently pays much of his own travel while on City business, so the fact that Denton’s Mayor asking for reimbursement is somehow wrong or unfair: In fact, the Mayor of San Antonio is a PAID position, while our Mayor is not paid at all (neither is the rest of the City Council). San Antonio’s Mayor also often travels with up to three personal staff who appear to often report meals and other Mayoral travel expenses on their travel reports………..our Mayor is assigned no such staff. Besides, what is the point here? Should our UNPAID Mayor be asked to pay for travel expenses incurred while on City business out of his family’s pocket?

5) That the Mayor of Frisco’s room costs were less (for the same USCM conference attended by Mayor Burroughs) than those of our mayor: The reason for this is, Frisco Mayor Maso left the conference and inauguration events days earlier when rates were considerably less.

6) That some individual orders at one meal during a USCM conference were high: The truth is, the average meal costs over the whole trip were not out of line, a fact vaguely referenced in the DRC story. Remember too that entertaining is a universal practice in conducting business, something Mayor Burroughs was doing during his trips for the City of Denton.

7) That the Mayor was taking trips to vacation destinations on the City’s dime: In the original article, you may have noticed that the DRC failed to mention the names of the cities the Mayor traveled to, (Ponta Grossa and Ciritiba, Brazil and Tartu, Estonia) and which account for the majority of the costs. Presumably, that is because few have ever heard of them and they are certainly not “tourist destinations”. Additionally,
travel to such “off the beaten path” locations is just more expensive by nature. Gabriel Carranza, Assistant Vice Provost of International Cooperation, University of North Texas said that these trips by Mayor Burroughs were requested and organized by UNT to establish sister city, university and corporate development opportunities and to explore sustainable community initiatives. Next to nothing was said about this in DRC article, because as the reporter herself said………”That was not the direction of my story.”

So a partial story was?

While on this subject, it’s probably a good time to address the fact that Denton has an unpaid City Council. I wonder what it COSTS each Councilperson to serve our great city? Cities of similar size pay their Council members something to reward the enormous amounts of time spent by each doing City business. Denton has been growing and continues to grow and with growth comes larger, more complicated and more time-consuming problems. At the very least, I think its time to offset the out of pocket expenses each councilperson accrues. We live in a great city, and those who work hard to represent us should not be asked to pay for the privilege to do so.

The City Council itself would have initiate pay for the council, so maybe the action could be drafted to go into effect after the last of the presently serving members leave office. That way there could be no accusations of anyone trying to enrich themselves.

Please Share so that those who still read the DRC will read……