WARNING: Lots of profanity in this one. Brace yourself.
Last week, I wrapped this column up with a bit called "I am a beaten man." It was intended figuratively. This week, I actually am a beaten man. Got to ride in an ambulance and everything. Here, I'll explain:
There are many professions that require a body to deal with crazy people, but there are three that put one in direct contact with hostile crazy people on the regular. Those three jobs are police officer, politician, and journalist. Here at the TX Citizen, where we hammer on the Chamber of Commerce, the 4-B Board, and City Hall on a regular basis, the insane accuse us of being "on the Chamber's payroll" or "working for 4-B" or "doing City Council's bidding" all the time. It's a constant barrage of "You're covering for Commissioner's Court" or "You let the District Attorney off the hook", all while we're the only media outlet taking any of them to task. It's surreal.
Here's another one we get a lot: "You hide behind words". We don't hide behind anything. Everybody knows exactly who we are and where we stand. If a bridge must burn to get relevant information to the public, it burns without question - I offer my relationships with the Chamber's Michael Meek, former Mayor Gale Pospisil, and former Mayor Pro-Tem Kathleen Krueger as examples. I was on excellent terms with all those people before I started covering them in earnest. More recently, District One Councilman George "Don't you know who I am?" Green was added to the tote board. We were tight with George, right up until he tried to get the Fair Association's lease with the City revoked for preventing him, a "City official", from parking in a restricted area. Because racism.
We've paid a steep price for going after the stories we do, especially the Chamber of Commerce stuff. While as popular as ever with you, dear reader, there's a whole class of businesses that would benefit from pointing their advertising at your face, but refuse to because of our stance on the Chamber's incestuous relationship with City Hall. We put our money where our collective mouf is. To say otherwise is insane.
I digress. I just wanted to give you an idea of the crazy we put up with. Right here I have an example of the crazy that City Hall puts up with. We've transcribed David "The Litigant" Goad's confrontation with Mayor, and Eighth Wonder of the World, Barron Casteel at the July 13 Council Meeting.
Note: Goad has been permitted back in Council Chambers after a six-month prohibition "from coming onto any portion of any and all municipal buildings, offices, appurtenant facilities, and adjacent parking lots located anywhere throughout the city, including but not limited to: City Hall, City Council Chambers, Honors Hall, any public common areas such as the front lobby at City Hall and sidewalks that border municipal buildings." The ban was Goad's penalty for punching Thor Thornhill, CEO of HMT Engineering, for being "too loud" in the Council overflow room during a meeting.
Anyway, here's how Litigant vs Mayor went down. The topic was a yes/no vote on a grant application to FEMA for Federal funds dedicated to flood mitigation assistance, and acquisition and demolition of flood plain properties. That's it. Once Goad stepped to the microphone, it was clear FEMA wouldn't be mentioned for the duration of his rant.
Goad's entire act is rooted in domination, intimidation, and swerving the conversation to whatever he wants to talk about at the time, and the Mayor wasn't having any more of it. It was heated:
Goad: "This has to do with some fees going here. You remember when I told you earlier that we're constantly paying two or three hundred percent more than anywhere else in the country? Well I'm speaking for the people back here (indicates audience). This side spends it (indicates Council), this side pays for it (indicates audience). And that, if you can see it up there (on monitor) it says 'Are you better off in 2000 when Perry took office...'"
Casteel: "Sir, if you'll move to the motion as quickly as possible."
Goad: "What motion?"
Casteel: "If you'll move to the topic at hand as quickly as possible."
Goad: "You know, when you interrupt me that's very rude. And I'm..."
Casteel: "I will continue to do so when you go off and waste this community's time."
Goad: "No I'm not because in here you have appraisal fee of $4,500, and I just explained myself I'm going to get into you lining your friend's pockets."
Casteel: "$4,500 for three properties, sir. Please get to the point as quickly as possible."
Goad: "That's right I called three of your appraisers around here the rate's 375, 375, and 400. So why are you paying your buddies $4,500?"
Casteel: "Ok. Thank you again Mr Goad..."
Goad: "Now may I finish?"
Casteel: "Please get to the topic."
Goad: "I am on the topic at hand."
Casteel: "You may not be able to finish if you don't get to the topic at hand as quickly as possible, sir."
Goad: "If you interrupt me I can't 'cause I lose track. It says the average household income was $52,227 in 2000. In 2013..."
Casteel: "Again, NOT ON THE TOPIC, SIR...
Goad: "Yes I am! When it went up to 53,000. (To audience) So in 13 years your folkses (sic) income, on average in Texas went up 800, now I'll tell you why. This is why. Appraisal fees going into friends pocket when it should be three hund... $400 max per unit, there's three properties 4,500, environmental impact survey, people, this is going on on every project in New Braunfels, hundreds of millions of dollars are being placed in engineers pockets and other peoples pocket that nobody else in this nation pays for, and you don't know about it. (To Council) Where we're going to get to some other ones on the other projects, I wanted to lay this out because you got other projects I'm going to show you more of this, how you pad bills, to, to supplement $250,000 to some of your friends. I know why you block me, 'cause try to confuse me, you know I have a heart issue and you know you confuse me 'cause my medications 'cause don't want the public to know what I've put together over eight years. And they are going to get to know it."
That's Goad's rant in its entirety. See, the topic was FEMA funds, but Goad wanted to talk about something else, so by gods he wasn't going to talk about FEMA funds. Goad's attitude and tone of voice add a lot to this, so we went ahead and pinned the two-minute video to the top of our Facebook page at facebook.com/txcitizen. Go have a look. How the Mayor didn't come across the dais at Goad is beyond our understanding.
Last year, District Six Councilman Stephen Diggs had had enough of Goad, prompting him to send the following missive to the City's IT department:
“Kern, I keep trying to block this asshole and it keeps coming through. I do not want to see any shit from this guy,.(sic) Can you make it happen?"
Goad is a civic menace. He takes up a ridiculous amount of time at Council meetings hurling insults and spinning convoluted, off-topic rants that serve no purpose other than to grease his ego. Just like everyone else, he gets five minutes at the start of every meeting to discuss any off-agenda topic he wants to talk about. After that comment period, Council starts running the agenda, and agenda items are to be discussed exclusively. Every other person who speaks to Council is able to abide by this rule.
It's time to give Goad a police escort out of Council Chambers each time he insists on abusing the public attention span. None of us have all night to sit there enduring endless narcissistic madness, no matter how entertaining it is.
Not Just the Mayor's Problem
He's not just a pain in the neck to City Hall. We're on his mailing list as well, and have been since the old NB Citizen days, back in 2011, when he would threaten us with legal action every week for throwing the paper in his driveway. Never-ending combative nonsense, from a guy that considers himself, despite constant losses in court, a legal expert, and is clearly itching for a fight so he can then file a lawsuit. Here's our latest exchange via the electronic mail, wherein Goad explains my job to me, as if, somehow, I'm accountable to him in any way:
Goad: "Mike, it appears you are near the last when it comes to learning of the corruption here. The first news of corruption I was told about in NB was the undervalue of taxes for the good-ol-boys. When I called the Zit-tong about nine years ago they refused to write about it. When i checked Camareno's taxes I found the same and planned to use it.
“The part about your story that undermines you is YOU DID NOT LIST THOSE INVOLVED. Privacy is simply BULL SHIT, you got your info the same place i did "county records" NOW start acting like a reporter and publish all the FACTS.
“One day someone with some balls will publish the millions upon millions in no-bids going to locals who should be put in jail for the poor quality of work they perform, mainly Owens.
Me: "Fuck off."
Goad: "You never were man enough to face a man with those words PUSSY"
Naturally, the next time I saw him, I felt it incumbent to tell him to "fuck off" face-to-face. I don't know why he'd think I wouldn't. I say that to at least one person a day. Last Friday was his turn. Here's how that went:
Me: "Fuck off."
Goad: "You're a pussy."
Me: "Really? I just told you to fuck off to your face. I'd have thought you'd be satisfied now."
Goad: "You would do it in public, pussy. Pussy, pussy, pussy, pussy. You hide behind words, you pussy."
So I punched him.
As a witness told police while EMTs were strapping me onto a stretcher, "I've never seen an old guy (Goad) kick somebody's ass like that."
The only thing I remember about the whole event is punching Goad, Goad punching me, and then Goad punching me again while I was being restrained by three very nice gentlemen. Ah, sportsmanship...
The witness said I was knocked to the ground and got back up to go after Goad, and kept going after him even though I was being held back. I don't remember any of that, but apparently, even after a major blow to head, I'm a scrappy little fellah. Still can't open my mouth wide enough to eat a sandwich, but hey, we all know I can afford to drop a few pounds.
Is this a moral failing on my part? Most definitely, and I'm going to pay for it. There will be legal consequences, and Goad will now attempt to seize everything I own. The Litigant will be a major part of my life for the next few years as he drags me this-way-and-that through court. But you know, he's been screwing with a whole pack of people for a good long while, and no matter what happens, I'll always be the guy that gave him a taste of what he deserves. Plus another restraining order against him to add to his collection.
By the way, if you're inclined to fight with The Litigant, be aware that you will be knocked near unconscious, or worse. This is no joke. While he's not accustomed to taking a punch, court records show that he's got plenty of experience throwing hands, especially at people significantly younger than him. You will ride in the ambulance. You will get the brain scan. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend you engage David Goad. Unless you're a cop, in which case I suggest the regular and enthusiastic use of a nightstick.
I'll have to review the security camera footage to know what exactly happened between the time he clocked me and when I was wheeled off the premises, but there is one more thing I remember. As Goad made a fast exit while I waited for the police, he wasn't wearing his signature smug expression anymore.
Postscript: Goad was due in court Monday for an arraignment on a completely unrelated assault with bodily injury charge. According to the District Clerk's office, he failed to appear.
There's really not much to say about Wisconsin. We stopped only overnight in a campground that was unattended. A sign asked that you find a spot and leave your money in a lockbox, indicating a level of trust beyond my imagining. It did work on us though (yea for anarchy), and we spent a pleasant eight hours there before heading out for Minnesota.
The point of this trip was to allow my step-father, Steve, to see his children. One lives in the western part of Minnesota and the other in South Dakota near Sioux Falls. We stopped in Adrian, Minnesota, a small town roughly equidistant from both, an hour's drive or so. In the end, we stayed in Minnesota for nearly a month.
I have more than a little to say about the area, but I thought it would be best to start with a concluding thought before moving on to my standard political/libertarian conclusions and mundane observations. In this case, that conclusion is one that is more emotional than rational.
This portion of the trip was distinctly Steve's. There can be no question that he did, and will, enjoy other aspects of the trip as a whole. In fact, he had been promoting the trip as a "once in a lifetime" adventure long before we ever left. But, because this was an opportunity for him to reconnect with his children, and because of the stage he finds himself in his life, this portion of the trip overshadowed everything else for him.
There's a point in everyone's life where the idea of mortality falls into view. This lack of awareness is probably the most endearing and frustrating thing about young people. They usually retain this blissful ignorance a bit beyond their teens, but no one can hold visions of the Reaper off forever. This is especially true when dealing with your own children, and in this case grandchildren.
Steve's children are grown now and have children of their own. They have lives, loves, careers and problems of their own. Steve, having been some 2000 miles away for years, feared that they might not have time for him or that their lives might have changed so much that they had no connection to his any longer.
He needn't have worried; though, I think all parents do. His children were thrilled to see him and spent every moment they could with him. Little league games and other plans simply offered more opportunities for his son and daughter to invite him back into their lives, and with each chance to be with them, I saw him brighten.
In addition, this area was where Steve had grown up, and he had relations all around the area. He got the opportunity to reconnect with aunts, uncles and cousins, some long forgotten, others sorely missed. And with all these people, Steve found himself transported back in time. I could tell that while the years that had passed were clear, the emotions hadn't changed at all. (I should also point out that there is apparently nothing like the welcoming nature of the Midwestern culture. I have seen Southern hospitality too, but never have I met a more approachable and friendly people than on this portion of the trip.)
But, I can't just leave things here. I began by talking about the nature of and human feelings about mortality. They took a back seat to the joy Steve was having during his time with his family, but as that time came to a close, the specter of death returned in full form.
In our last few days of the stay in Minnesota, Steve met with relatives whom he knew he would never see again. An aging aunt who represented the closest connection Steve had to his now dead parents hugged him as she left the campground the day after we had all participated in a family reunion. It was easy to see in Steve's eyes that he knew he would not see her again. Likewise in his last meetings with his son and daughter, I could see on the faces of both the concern that this might be a final goodbye. Promises were made to visit by both sides, glistening eyes in evidence. The world is a smaller place than it was a generation ago, but a mile isn't really any shorter, and good intentions often evaporate with other troubles, and we lose touch with people for years at a time.
Steve's never been much of one for outward expressions of emotion, so I often got to see him suck up tears as best he could during these parting moments. The joy of his time in Minnesota was matched by the pain of his leaving. In the end he hurried us all quickly into the truck to roll away to our next adventure.
When asked later what his favorite part of the trip was, Steve said, not surprisingly, the time with his children. We all expected this, and in fact, when Steve was asked the question it was assumed that this was unquestionable, and the real question was what beside that time was his favorite.
Even so, perhaps it's not so self-evident. The love we have for people close to us can be both a blessing and a curse. There is little question in my mind that who and how we love defines us as people; it makes us who we are. But I'm not sure that it's true to say that it provides us with the greatest joy in our life, or if it does, perhaps we should also note that it also provides the greatest sorrow.
What do I mean for people to take for all this? Nothing really. Nothing I say will change the way that these encounters play out for you or anyone else. Steve wouldn't have traded this section of the trip for anything, and I have no doubt that he would do it all over again, including the tearful partings, tomorrow. In the end, this will be the trip of a lifetime for Steve certainly, but I hope it's not the last trip in his lifetime where he gets to experience these emotions.