1114 10TH STREET
LUBBOCK, TEXAS 79401
TELEPHONE: 806/765-5481 FAX: 806/765-5591
June 29, 2007
Lubbock, Texas ____________
Re: Intimidation of Voters Who Signed The Petition to Recall
Councilwoman Linda De Leon
Dear Friend of the Democratic Process:
First of all, the purpose of this letter is to thank you for signing the recall petition which attempted to recall Councilwoman Linda De Leon. I thank you, not because I personally wish to see Ms. De Leon recalled, but because you thought enough of current public affairs to actually get involved! Many, many times, when I was in public office, people would tell me that they supported my position on issues and yet, were unwilling to sign on the dotted line, or speak on the topic or write on the controversy of the day. In the recent recall effort, not only did four hundred fifty three (453) individuals (whose names were validated by the City Secretary) sign the Gonzales' recall petition, but they were joined by hundreds of others whose names were not validated, but who nonetheless, took the time to get involved. BRAVO!
The second purpose of this letter is to encourage you to "take heart," and not be discouraged with the actions of a few, against those of you who exercised their civic responsibility and participated in the recall effort. Do note that many of us are cognizant of what has taken place in District 1 and are in total disgust and disagreement with what voters, who took part in the democratic process, have been subjected to. Let me explain further ....
"No Me Amenaces" (translation - "Do Not Threaten Me") is a song recorded by many artists, including Jose Alfredo Jimenez and Julio Iglesias. Apparently, this song is also being sung by many voters in District 1 as well. The difference is that, the citizens of District 1 are not grieving abandonment by a loved one but rather, mourning the fact that they are being abused, mistreated by someone in a position of authority.
The question on the mind of many people seems to be, "Is Councilwoman Linda De Leon engaging (either directly or indirectly) in intimidation1 and/or possibly unethical and illegal tactics/practices toward those individuals who took the time and effort to sign the recall petition circulated by Armando Gonzales and/or Chris Gonzales and/or their supporters?"
Prior to today, I had intentionally not participated, either way, in the recall effort initiated against the Councilwoman. I did, however, get phone calls and/or personal visits from supporters, on both sides of the recall effort, encouraging me to participate. In other words, I was asked to sign the recall petition by one side and I was asked not to sign the recall petition by the other. The reason I did not participate (either by signing the petition or by encouraging others to either sign or not to sign the petition) is very simple, that is, I strongly believe in our democratic form of government. I believe anyone, and I mean anyone, has the right to attempt to recall their elected officials. To me, a recall effort is part and parcel of what is considered a sacred right that citizens have, the right to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with those who seek to represent us. As a matter of fact, to this day, I support District Court Judge Sam Medina's "right" and Lubbock County Sheriff David Gutierrez' "right" to do what they believed in, some many years ago, that is, to publicly, very publicly, attempt to force me to resign as a City Councilman immediately following "Windygate" (i.e., the use of an expletive on my part directed towards then Mayor Sitton in public).
One would think that since the recall effort failed, Councilwoman De Leon would have put this behind her and attempt to mend fences with those who might have a bone to pick with her. Instead, I continue to receive phone calls and personal visits by individuals who signed the recall petition and who are being subjected to what they call "harassment, intimidation and threats". Unfortunately, Councilwoman De Leon is proving the adage that "she is her own worst enemy" by engaging in aggressive tactics which some are viewing as retaliatory, mean-spirited and un-Christian.
Examples of such objectionable conduct includes: 1) A report that Councilwoman De Leon is asking members of the Hispanic Agenda to actively seek out those who signed the recall petition and question their motives; 2) A report that an individual who signed the petition was approached and questioned at a banquet by Alice Lozada (formerly Chavez). Alice Lozada then proceeded back to Councilwoman De Leon, who was on the other side of the room, and reported the conversation; 3) A report that a small business owner in the District was threatened by a friend of Ms. De Leon with codes enforcement for his participation in the process; and 4) A report that Councilwoman De Leon is leading the effort to file criminal charges against the organizers of the recall effort. The list goes on and on and on and on and on.
As a former City Councilman, I know that people will not always agree with the actions/positions you take. However, as a former City Councilman I also know that this type of behavior by Councilwoman De Leon is not acceptable and quite frankly, counter-productive. Counter-productive because historically, District 1 has had low voter participation. Now, with adverse actions being taken against voters who are actively participating in the democratic process, fewer voters will participate in the future. The negative impact of what has already transpired will take years to overcome.
Councilwoman De Leon needs to learn to respect those with differing viewpoints. Councilwoman De Leon needs to take the moral high ground and practice what she teaches in Sunday School that is, to turn the other cheek. (Councilwoman De Leon's family and my family attend St. Joseph‘s Catholic Church and De Leon and her husband are my youngest son's Catechism teachers.)
I can personally report to you that I have called the Councilwoman on several occasions, over the past four weeks, to discuss the numerous complaints that I received concerning these actions. To date, she has yet to return a single phone call. Maybe she's too busy to return my numerous phone calls. Maybe she never received my messages. Or maybe she just doesn't care. I hope she does care.
I posed the following early on, "The question on the mind of many people seems to be, ‘Is Councilwoman Linda De Leon engaging (either directly or indirectly) in intimidation1 ... ?'"
And even though the question is legitimate, I think it is more important that we focus on what can be done from this point forward. We think it very important that Councilwoman De Leon cease and desist from taking any further action against these people. We think it very important that Councilwoman De Leon stop encouraging her family, friends and supporters from taking any further action against people who have done nothing more than exercise their rights as citizens and voters of District 1.
It is my hope, and the hope of many others in the District, that Councilwoman De Leon reexamines her position and allows the democratic process and the people of District 1 to prevail without further intimidation. In addition, it is our hope that Councilwoman De Leon learns to respect the right these voters have that is, to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with those who seek to represent us. Finally, it is our hope that Councilwoman De Leon returns to her duly elected task of properly and aggressively representing District 1.
In closing, I would again thank those of you who have participated in the process so far, and also encourage you to "take heart" in knowing that you are doing what you believe is just and right. Do not allow yourselves to be bullied by anyone, and do not stand still if you are threatened by anyone. By that I mean, write down the person's name, when the incident happened, any witnesses to the event, record the call, write down their license plate number, and/or write the caller ID number down. Document anything which will show who is engaging in these Draconian tactics. Once you have this information, call your friends and neighbors and share it with them.
If District 1 is united in stopping these abuses, they will not continue. It is time that we say "enough is enough," "ya basta."
cc: Honorable Linda De Leon
Councilwoman, District 1
City of Lubbock
P.O. Box 2000
Lubbock, Texas 79457
1According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the synonyms to intimidate are, "to intimidate, browbeat, bulldoze, cow, bully, bludgeon" and "all mean to frighten into submission, compliance, or acquiescence. Intimidate implies the presence or operation of a fear-inspiring force: ... Browbeat suggests the persistent application of highhanded, disdainful, or imperious tactics: browbeating a witness. Bulldoze connotes the leveling of all spirit of opposition: ... Cow implies bringing out an abject state of timorousness and often demoralization: ... To bully is to intimidate through blustering, domineering, or threatening behavior: ... Bludgeon suggests the use of grossly aggressive or combative methods: ...".